Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Planning to be Present

Special thanks to Tara (a incredibly inspiring missionary in Haiti) for posting this quote yesterday:

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Nouwen speaks right to the heart of the what we've struggled to keep in mind as Hill Country Hill Tribers has (slowly) grown over the past 4 years. We're not called to "have plans and organize people around an urgent cause." We're are called to know these women by name, to listen to where they come from and share our own struggles with them.

This past year, more than ever, we've had time just to be with the women. To truly hear about what is important to them. To understand more of where they come from and what they dream for the future. And they've been able to see us make mistakes and laugh with (and at) us. It hasn't been the most organized year. We haven't sold thousands of products. The artisans are not rolling up to Monday classes in gold Rolls Royces. But we are slowly learning more about who they are and building priceless friendships.

We have goals for Hill Country Hill Tribers this year. We're excited about helping develop new products, expanding English classes and creating more income for these struggling families. But we're heading in the wrong direction if we let these goals stand in the way of our "ministry of presence" alongside some of the strongest, funniest, most brilliant women we have ever met.


  1. Being "present" is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone (sorry for the unintentional pun). Often in my work with the Benevolence ministry the people are just as grateful or more so of the fact that we want to just sit with them and listen to their story without judging them. Often their problems are so big that our one time help seems pointless, but just being willing to listen and help where we can is what God calls us to do. I love this post and how you have realized the most important thing you're doing!

  2. Oh, I love Henri Nouwen.


  3. I do like the idea a lot! I would like to see one more strand on the brown and in a bright orange or turquoise. Also, it may be nice to do different size beads. i have found that our turquoise pieces sell like crazy!! I am glad you all are expanding! see this necklace http://www.vivaterra.com/women-s/jewelry/vintage-silk-scrap-necklace-12554.html