I was so honored that she asked, but with our wedding rapidly approaching in December, I was unable to commit to a two week workshop until after the start of the new year. In January, she contacted me again, and I was so thrilled!
The first week of this two week workshop was a time for me to share my testimony, the story behind Renmen Abonde, and I opened the floor at the end for a brief question and answer session. Although public speaking has never really been hard for me, I definitely felt some serious butterflies. There's not a doubt in my mind that I had faithful friends praying for me, because, like any time you are trying to do something good for the Lord, Satan tried to intervene. About 2 p.m. the day of my first meeting with the ladies, I got a terrible headache that medicine did not seem to help at all. Then, after getting about ten minutes down the road on my way there from all the way across town, I realized I had forgotten some important materials I had prepared to take with me that night and had to turn around, putting me very close to being late. Then, I sat in traffic with my gas light on, frustrated, and wondering why this was happening.
However, the second I walked in the door, I felt a peace that could only come from Him wash over me, calm my spirit, and focus my mind. I was able to speak that night with words that came straight from Jesus and it was a sweet time of reflection and fellowship.
During the question and answer session at the end of our meeting, one lady asked me, "If this is your business, why are you so willing to teach us how to make bracelets? Don't you want to kind of keep it a secret?"
This is HUGE.
The answer to this question is simple, really. There is almost nothing unique about Renmen Abonde bracelets. I do think making them out of old jewelry, allowing customers to send me sentimental pieces to craft into a bracelet they can keep forever, and the fact that 100% of the profits goes towards mission work sets Renmen Abonde apart, but the bracelets themselves are not special. I could easily list 20 people that I know of right now who make bracelets like these.
It's not about me. It's not about how many bracelets I've made. It's not about being the best or the most famous. It's about Jesus. It's about serving Him. It's about loving people enough to do anything for them, anything to get to spend time with them, and anything to continue building intentional, Christ-focused relationships with them. Without Renmen Abonde, it would be close to impossible for Grayson and I to afford another trip to Haiti this year, but because of our customers generosity, support, and encouragement, we get to answer the Lord's calling by saying, "YES Lord, send us!" I don't ever want my bracelet-making to become a pride thing. I want it to always be totally and completely about Jesus.
I've never been competitive. Maybe it's because I'm an only child, but I've just never seen the need to compete. I hope we all make it. I hope everyone succeeds in their own way. That's why it hurts my heart to see young business owners who selfishly (and quite pointlessly, if you ask me) try to further promote themselves by putting down others. Just because you like one brand doesn't mean you have to hate another.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that Jesus makes beautiful things, and if we are called to be like Him, being made in His image, should we not make beautiful things too? Lets all do it together!
And if you feel called to buy Renmen Abonde bracelets to support our mission trips, that's just the cherry on top.
The second part of this two week workshop was a teaching session. At the end of week one, I handed out a supply list, detailing exactly what the ladies needed to bring. They were all excited when I got there, and after a brief Word and prayer, we dove right in! I was impressed by how quickly the ladies picked it up, and before we knew it they, too, were creating little masterpieces out of beads and wire.