Visiting Cercadillo

My heart is singing today because I just got back from Cercadillo. I have been going out for the past couple of weeks to help the women of the village sew. What a beautiful ministry my friend Ina has with these women. They live in a campo outside of town with no electricity and only water accessible by a well put in by the ministry. The campo consists of very simple colorful wooden houses bleached by the sun that are scattered all along the dirt road and a colmado that does triple duty as the grocery store, hardware store and beauty salon. The bumpy dirt road is lined with people walking on foot as there are very few cars, if any at all. Moms carrying water buckets on their heads from the well, kids running barefoot with sticks chasing our jeep, a group of althetic boys jogging toward the baseball field wearing their hopes for being scouted by the American leagues with every flex of their muscles.

When we drove up to the ministry site today the Bible study was already in full swing, women sitting on green benches and yellow plastic chairs listening intently. A few children were running around from one mama to antother, dirty shirts and shoeless feet smiles a mile wide. The open air pavillion we meet under is painted bright yellow and turquoise with a concrete floor.

After the prayer time ends it's time to get busy and set up the sewing machines and work tables. Eight sewing machines are set up and plugged into the bright red Honda generator that soon hums to life. Everyone retrieves the projects leftover from the past week out of the big blue plastic bin and starts to get to work. Some are cutting out patterns, some are pinning their seams together and some are at the sewing machines. Patterns become bags before our eyes as these women use their new talents to create something they can sell. The money they earn from selling their bags will feed their families.

It's a beautiful thing to see these women learning a new skill that brings them a sense of confidence they can use this to change their future. Some sew with relative ease, while others struggle with the simple things like sewing a straight seam, but all are diligent and eager to do their work. The finished bags made from a pattern I helped create lie in a neat pile with colorful tags attached bearing the name of the person who made them. What a gift it is to help them for a few hours, using the basic sewing skills my grandmothers taught me, helping Yaquelin tear out a bad seam and then helping Dona Carmen (a sweet grandmotherly woman with weathered hands and cataracts) finish her bag on the sewing machine. I've learned new words to help them along...hilo (thread), tejiras (scissors), agujas (needles).

Today I walked away with a new bag sewn by Marleni and a necklace made by Yaquelin, everytime I use them I will think of their faces. But, as tired and sweaty I was returning to my home I wore a smile for the rest of the day because I knew my time spent there nourished my soul. Lending a few hours and a hand once a week is a small sacrifice, and yet I am doing something that is making an immediate difference in their lives. It's hard to say who is more blessed...me or those lovely ladies of Cercadillo.

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