In our age of technology and social media, I love how we can connect with people across this big spinning globe of ours who have similar interests. Recently, I have been learning more about the fair trade industry and one small business here in the United States that is helping to make a difference in the lives of families around the world.
Let me introduce you to Sarah!
Sarah graciously allowed me to interview her for my blog so that I can share with all of you the great work and products she has to help each one of us make better choices as consumers.
1. Tell me a little about you and your family.
My husband and I have been married for 5 years. We have 2 kids - Nora is 3 years old and Nate is 20 months old. We live in a small rural community near my parents farm. Both my husband and I grew up on farms so agriculture is a big part of our lives. We are also active in our church and community. My husband works for the University of Missouri as a Beef Research Specialist. I am a stay at home mom and business owner. I love to travel internationally, and have been blessed to have served in 24 countries around the world.
2. When you were a little girl, what did you dream about doing when you grew up?
I dreamed of being an agricultural missionary for as long as I can remember. I specifically remember wanting to go to Brazil on a mission trip while in the 8th grade. But my parents thought I was too young and that maybe it was just a phase! I desperately wanted to see & experience the world, while serving and sharing the love of Christ.
3. How does International Blessings fit into that dream?
International Blessings keeps me connected to the international world. It gives me opportunities to make a difference by serving impoverished people and to connect 2 worlds, 2 lifestyles, 2 cultures so that they can support each other. And this year, it has led me back to my roots as an international missionary by taking me to Peru to visit artisans and to serve the Peruvian people. In Sept, I will also be going to Haiti to visit artisans I currently work with, create new partnerships, and to serve alongside ministries that are already impacting the Haitian people.
4. Tell me a bit more about International Blessings...how did you get started, why did you start it?
My first mission trip was in 2003, and I had just finished my junior year of highschool. It was to Ecuador, and I then proceeded to serve in Panama, Bali, Burkina Faso, Belize, Mexico, and India. While I was in Burkina Faso, I made friends with a local girl and hung out with her family. She taught me how to macrame (crafting with knots) bags and/or purses. It was here that God laid on my heart a desire to help families like hers. I saw those creative, handmade bags and thought about the impact that selling those bags in the U.S. could make on families in poverty. But it took me awhile before I seriously pursed this dream. After graduating from College of the Ozarks near Branson, Mo, I went on the World Race in October 2008. The World Race is a life changing experience, serving in 11 countries in 11 months, sharing God's love through children's ministry, construction, prayer walks, etc, living out of a backpack, and pushing every comfort zone you have.
Shortly after arriving home, I married my husband (we dated before and during my trip, well, as much as you can when you are thousands of miles apart with little communication!!). It wasn't until I was married with our first child that I decided I needed to start that dream that God had laid on my heart so many years prior, and International Blessings was born.
5. How do you form partnerships with your artisans?
A few of my partnerships came from contacts that I made while doing international mission work or through the mission networks that I am a part of. I have also done a lot of research through google and social media looking for small artisan groups, specifically Christian ministries that work to break the cycle of poverty. The connections that I have made have also led to new partnerships. I went to Peru in January to visit a group called Sanyork Fair Trade, and this trip led to meeting 2 more artisan groups. And I will be going to Haiti to visit 2-3 artisans groups as well! I am so excited to see what God has in store for International Blessings and the impact that we can have on empowering impoverished people around the world.
6. What is your goal for International Blessings?
My ultimate goal for International Blessings is to build relationships in the poorest of the poor places, to teach life & business skills, and to provide impoverished people around the world the resources necessary to start their own businesses that will transform their lives.
International Blessings is my passion and my purpose. My heart was broken over and over at the sight of poverty, of hopelessness, and of desperation in the eyes of the smallest kids. I want to change that! I want to give those families hope, dignity, and possibility that has a lasting affect. This business is creating sustainable livelihoods and breaking that cycle of poverty. As Mother Teresa said, "Not all of us can do great things. But we CAN do small things with great love." And if we each commit to doing those small things, then those small things become great things that we accomplish together.
Thank you so much Sarah for the interview! And hey my friends, be sure to like her Facebook page where you can see a few videos from her recent trip to Haiti where she has been visiting with artisans and purchasing products to sell here in the United States.