Most of you know that I started a small business three years ago to raise money for the mission work I do in Haiti with my church, Calvary Baptist. Today, I wanted to share my blog entry from yesterday, discussing something I have prayed over and sought discernment about for quite a while. I don’t usually blend Coffee Date with Kate with Renmen Abonde, but I want to share my heart as this sweet season of ministry comes to a close for me:
The past three years of starting and growing Renmen Abonde have been such an incredible journey. I’ll never forget that day at the daycare where I worked in Boone, NC during my last year of college when I was inspired by a precious lady who also loves the Lord named Peggy Eller to start a business of making bracelets to raise money for my trips to Haiti. Someone commented on the pretty scarf she was wearing, to which she replied, “Oh, thank you! I bought it from [so-and-so] for her mission trip to Africa!” That’s when I perked up and said, “Mrs. Peggy! I’m selling pine needles with my church for our upcoming mission trip to Haiti! Want to buy some pine needles?!” She then replied with a laugh, “I can’t wear pine needles!”
I remember looking down at the pretty bracelets on my arm that a dear friend of mine, Lee Lankford, had given me months before. She had made them out of beads and wire, and I loved them and wore them every day, but the thought of making them myself had never crossed my mind until that day at the daycare. When I got off work at 5pm I drove my broke college student self straight to Michaels, the only craft store in Boone, where I spent $48 of the $50 I had to my name on beads, wire, pliers, wire cutters, and a small tupperware box.
I sat at the desk in my dorm room that night and made bracelets until the sun came up. I was exhausted, but it was like something came over me and I just knew that Jesus was going to use this. The first onecouple of bracelets I made were not the prettiest things in the world (it definitely took me a while to get a hang of it) but I soon began to see the fruit of my labor take shape and pretty little bracelets that I could hardly wait to share with the world. These bracelets weren’t just bracelets to me. They were a plane ticket and a bumpy landing into Port au Prince. They were new shoes for my Haitian friend, Junie. They were the money used to pay the sweet Haitian ladies that cook for us at the hospital in Jacmel where we stay, helping them provide for their families. They were the money for repairs and renovations at the hospital and church where we serve in Jacmel. They were so much more than bracelets.
The next day, I took them to work with me at the daycare and I not only sold every single bracelet that I had made the night before, but had orders for almost 100 more. Clubs, sororities, church groups, sisters, friends… they all wanted my bracelets. I was floored. It’s amazing what God will do if you’re obedient to Him, and I’ve never seen that more true than with these bracelets. Soon after that, doors began opening at local boutiques and hair salons…. all wanting to sell my bracelets. I shared with each person the story behind these twisted pieces of wire and beads, so excited to have opportunities to tell them about the Haitian people. Soon after that, I outgrew that small tupperware box.
It wasn’t long after that I chose a name for this blooming ministry: Renmen Abonde, meaning “love abounds” in Creole (the beautiful language of my beloved Haitian friends).
The rest, they say… is history. And to me, it’s the sweetest, most precious gift. Jesus used people in my life in such incredible ways through this journey. People opened their homes to me for bracelet parties, where they decorated, provided snacks, and invited all their friends- all the while providing me with yet another opportunity to share the mission behind these bracelets, explain what God is doing in Haiti, and give people and opportunity to be a part of the wonderful revival that’s happening there through willingness to share the Gospel with them. Churches invited me to come share, strangers sent me extra donations for the cause, accompanied by sweet letters of encouragement. It has been more of a blessing in my life than I could ever explain.
As we prepare for our upcoming trip to Haiti this December, I know without of shadow of a doubt that it’s going to be special. Going back to see my brothers and sisters in Christ, continuing to build relationships with them, and see the growth they’ve experienced since I saw them last, warms my heart in ways that only Jesus can. Please continue to pray for our team from Calvary Baptist Church as we prepare for our trip, pray for the Haitian people- that they will continue to learn and love Christ, and that healing, restoration, growth, and revival would happen like never before.
Renmen Abonde has (including this upcoming trip) helped send both Grayson and me to Haiti two times, helped support a team of guys from our church that went to Haiti last December, fully sponsored a child from our church to go to summer camp, which had a focus on missions, and has been used in every way we could find to support both local and global mission work.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that God allowed me the privilege of this ministry for this season of life. It’s been such a sweet season, and I’ve seen His faithfulness and provision through this in every way. However, after much prayer, I believe that this season of life is coming to a close. Merry Market will be Renmen Abonde’s last big outreach, and after the current supply of bracelets are gone, this ministry will come to an end. There aren’t enough thank you’s, not enough hugs, not enough words to ever begin to thank each and every person who has believed in me, supported this cause, encouraged this mission… I am so humbled and eternally grateful to the gracious hearts who have helped make Renmen Abonde so successful. I have been pushed, challenged, and stretched through this journey in the sweetest ways, and God gets all the glory. His love for us is so powerful, His plan for us is so much bigger than we could imagine, and this story is proof that He doesn’t call us to be able- He calls us to be available. When we make ourselves available and say, “God, use me,” our request will never be ignored. It might be through beads and wire, it might be through making pies for our neighbors, it might be getting out of our comfort zone and completely moving to a new place to share the Gospel, or it might just be through mowing someone’s yard for them, but God will show you. He always provides a way.
With all this being said, I hope to see each and every one of you this Saturday (11/7/15) at the Grand Hall in Mount Holly, NC for Merry Market 2015. I love everything about the heart behind Merry Market and I’m honored to be one of the 48 local artisans offering handmade goods at this craft fair. Bring your friends and stop by Renmen Abonde’s booth between 10-4. The address of the Grand Hall is: 400 East Central Avenue Mount Holly, NC 28120. I can’t think of a sweeter way to bring this season of ministry to a close than by sharing it with you all at such a sweet, special event. See you there!