May I Ask…Where Will Your Feet Be Working Today?

Feet in Motion...I did not know the day my mother left.  I did not sense her dread, fear or discomfort.  Our lives remained well ordered and secure.

In my 5 year old world, her journey created an unforgettable adventure.  For my sister and I were placed in the care of two missionary families. They did their best to amuse us and keep us active while my mom undertook a dangerous humanitarian project.

Her trip was the culmination of a program named Operation Dorcas which derived it’s inspiration from a widow lady who sewed clothes for women and orphans in distress in Biblical times.  The difference of this modern day Dorcas operation in the early 1970’s expanded the outreach to men and women who labored long hours on treadle style sewing machines under Mom’s direction to make clothing for the victims of the Biafran war.  It was her job to teach them a trade and help these individuals who were refugees to get back on their feet by making garments for others.

It was only later, that I would hear of the journey my mother took in the belly of the beast; an apt name for a cargo plane stripped of essential elements, such as seats.

I was told of how she carried her own chair which was braced by the relief items that the plane was carrying to war torn Biafra in the eastern region of Nigeria.  Brutal scenes of devastation and starvation unfolded as people rushed to the landing strip when the plane landed to unload the clothing, food and relief supplies.  These were scenes which she would never forget  in the aftermath of the horrific war that almost divided the most populous nation on the African continent.

But the ongoing tragedy of our world today is that every day around the world, someone is still being devastated by war.  Today, there are more wars and more suffering human beings than at any other time in history.  And the aftermath of this reality, which displaces a vast sea of humanity with searing physical and emotional scars, still requires that people somehow learn anew the work of re-building a life.

So, when I heard about a fellow real estate agent, Sue Prins from Grand Rapids who went to South Africa to teach people how to sew and make a living through the use of treadle machines, my interest was piqued.  For it reminded me of the work my Mom was involved with in her 30’s.

This project named Vox Threads is using the treadle machine to fight another form of war…a war caused by the devastation of poverty and HIV AIDS which has left so many in this impoverished South African community without any means of livelihood.

Sue  & her daughter Ginger travelled to Kliptown, South Africa to give people the gift of life.  The gift of the tools through which to build a skill to knit together a new framework of provision to sustain themselves and their families.   This reminds me that many of the solutions that our world needs today are not new nor do they need to be to work.

The solutions we need require things like persistence, patience, generosity, perseverance, common sense and compassion.  These are ingredients which all of us have the capacity to give in some measure.

It can be as simple as keeping two little girls distracted and happy while their Mom was on a mission in Biafra, or donating to an organization like Vox Threads which helps people mend their lives again.  Or, you can simply GO…as Rocky Turner, the founder of Mothers Fighting For Others is to the little girls at St. Monica’s Children’s Home where she will work alongside others who are caring for these incredible young women.

The treadle machine symbolizes how our feet can be in motion to make something of value anywhere we are or choose to go. When one uses a treadle sewing machine, the motion of the feet creates the power to drive the motor which moves the sewing needle forward.  A metaphor for the path of life isn’t it? It’s about walking the walk, not simply talking the talk.  Where will you choose to put your feet to work today?

Picture courtesy of aussiegall on flickr

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6 Responses to “May I Ask…Where Will Your Feet Be Working Today?”

  1. The Charismanglican August 6, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Hi Lola – it’s Joey (fka, the Hemet Home Loan guy)

    I’m so glad you posted this, and it’s so good to know more about your family history.

    I’m so looking forward to the day when we beat our swords into plowshares…and our drones into treadle machines.

  2. Tom Vanderwell August 6, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    Lola,

    Thank you. That was truly a wonderful and inspirational piece. The timeliness of it for my family makes it extra special. My wife, Cheryl, and my 17 year old daughter left tonight and traveled to Detroit. Tomorrow morning they are, with 8 others from our church, boarding a plane for Haiti where they will spend 10 days at God’s Littlest Angels Orphanage (www.glahaiti.org) teaching the older kids about the love of Jesus and just loving on and caring for the younger kids.

    When you said, “It can be as simple as keeping two little girls distracted and happy while their Mom was on a mission in Biafra” that resonated with me. You see, my two youngest children, ages 7 and 8, were adopted from that orphanage. For the next 11 days, I’m going to attempt to balance the role of Dad, Mom, Banker and blogger while their Mom is gone. If I wasn’t able to be flexible and adjust my work schedule while they are gone, my wife and my daughters (my 19 year old has been in Haiti for 5 weeks already) wouldn’t be able to go down and help those who are there.

    There are so many ways we can help those who are less fortunate than us. Thank you for sharing your and Sue’s story so very well.

    Tom Vanderwell

  3. Sue Prins August 6, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    This blog post brings fresh tears to my eyes of the seriousness and magnitude of so many who suffer a kind of suffering most of us may never know. Yet it is so easy to make a difference. If we would just slow down long enough to be still and allow ourselves to hear the heartbeat of God. “Love one another as I have loved you” for “If you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me”. We all have something to offer. Our time, our talents, a listening ear, a helping hand, an open door, finances, food, clothing, a skill to teach, a warm blanket, a vehicle to taxi, resources to share, equiptment to donate, encouraging words, a gift to bless etc etc. I wanted to go to Africa for so long. Fears kept me from going. How stupid and selfish of me. If I would not have gone I surely would have missed out on perhaps one of the greatest blessings in my life.

    I am guilty of the sin of selfishness. I hope my trip to Africa and helping others will have changed me not for a while but forever. It is about time I realized just how truly blessed I am and how important it is to share what was never mine to begin with (even my time is not truly my own- it is a gift from God).

    Blessing!

    Sue Prins

  4. Lola August 7, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    Hi Joey, Thanks for dropping by our blog. I think that every time we participate in projects that bring hope and help to others, we are promoting the work of peace in the tradition that you refer to. Blessings…

  5. Lola August 7, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    Tom, Thank you for your comment. I appreciate and admire the work that your family is doing in Haiti. Your staying home to provide for the family and take care of two little ones who went through so much is important because of what it allows others to you. Blessings to you in all that you’re involved in…especially over the next 10 days. 🙂

  6. Lola August 7, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Sue, I love this:

    We all have something to offer. Our time, our talents, a listening ear, a helping hand, an open door, finances, food, clothing, a skill to teach, a warm blanket, a vehicle to taxi, resources to share, equiptment to donate, encouraging words, a gift to bless etc etc. I wanted to go to Africa for so long. Fears kept me from going. How stupid and selfish of me. If I would not have gone I surely would have missed out on perhaps one of the greatest blessings in my life.”

    Thank you.

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