Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jehovah Jireh gave her a needle and thread...

If you are my friend on Facebook, you've seen PAM Bags.  Lots and lots of gorgeous, vibrant cloth bags.  And although I've shared this story before, I am recently bombarded with questions from people who didn't get the chance to hear the story.  What is PAM Bags???

Last year, we spent some time in Lesotho.  Our missionary friends ran a soccer outreach ministry where we began to meet young people.  Many of of these kids came from families devastated by the AIDS epidemic or poverty and were being raised by distant family members.  Through the soccer ministry, the Lord put it on my heart to begin an after school program to help high school students with their homework.  Classroom sizes were astronomical, students sometimes didn't have access to textbooks, and there was very little teacher-student help offered.  Twice a week, I tutored French, English, and Business and when Sam got home from work, he would do Math.     

Homework Group
Sam tackles math
I came to understand that one of the kid's moms could sew.  Her name was 'Me Puseletso.  I asked her to sew me a cloth bag out of Lesotho's vibrant seshoeshoe material.  She did such a fantastic job that other missionary women began putting in orders for bags as well.  Shortly, her bags became the perfect souvenir for short term international teams who visited Lesotho.  

One of the first bags ordered

Upon moving to South Africa and continuing to pray for 'Me Puseletso and her son, the Lord opened my eyes to what He had in store for her.  South Africa had a large pool of potential clientele that was just waiting to be explored!  I set up a skype date with 'Me Puseletso through my friend, Carolyn, and we came up with the roughest of rough business plans.  We committed to praying through the Lord's timing on how to proceed and He granted us patience and wisdom.  Several weeks later, 'Me Puseletso made her first stock of 20 bags to send me and named her business "PAM Bags" after her name, Puseletso Asteria Mathetse.  She was skeptical that they wouldn't sell.

I took her bags to several local shops that sell African artifacts and asked if they would be interested.  The first stock sold quickly and I needed more bags!  Since that time, the Lord has opened 3 shops to sell PAM Bags and we are on our third stock of sales.

You see, Jehovah Jireh our Provider, started His plan by giving 'Me Puseletso a needle and thread.  Although it has taken time, patience, a lot of hard work, and prayer to get to this point, we're HERE.  'Me Puseletso has a gift from God...a thriving small business that is providing for her and for her son.  God is her Jehovah Jireh.

But the story gets better, friends.  Jehovah Jireh works in the hearts of believers to come together, to support each other, and to walk this thing called "LIFE" alongside each other....even if there are thousands of miles between us.

Recently, a friend from the US contacted me and asked if she could buy a new sewing machine for 'Me Puseletso.  This friend knows business through and through and has a heart to support micro-businesses as a platform to share God's love.  You can imagine the response when I asked 'Me Puseletso if she could use a new sewing machine :)

Last week, 'Me Puseletso made the 10 hour bus trip from Lesotho to the coast of South Africa to pick out her new sewing machine.  While she was here, she got to check on business at the shops that sell PAM Bags.  She got the experience of asking a new store if they would be interested in selling her product.  She got to spend 2 days in a sewing machine shop trying out different machines before picking out the one that will work best for her.  She got to share with me her story, her struggles, and her hopes.  She got to join our Bible study for a night of prayer.  She got to connect on email with the woman who gave her the sewing machine.  Let me tell you, friends, THAT was an emotional experience.  

'Me Puseletso, owner of PAM Bags

Checking on business at the Waffle House

PAM Bags at the Croc Farm

Visiting the sewing machine store to pick out a new machine!
Trying out different machines
'Me Puseletso's new machine!
So, what is PAM Bags?  PAM Bags is a gift from God started by a single mom with her needle and thread in her livingroom.   It is now a sustainable micro-business whereby she provides for her family.  My connection?  I just get to deliver these goodies to shops on the coast and watch God work :)
Rejoice with us, friends, at the Lord's provision, for He is good!

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