November 24, 2013

The Spirit of Giving

Last Saturday I went to the market in the morning and bought some flip flops.  When I arrived home, I used capulana scraps that I had to cover the straps of the flip flops, and put a flower made of capulana in the middle.  My host sister in Namaacha taught me how to make them, and I decided to try to make them for a few people for Christmas.

After sewing the flip flops, I decided to make them for someone else as a gift, so I returned to the market to buy another pair in the afternoon.  The same man was selling flip flops because I returned to the same stall. As I chatted with him, he asked why I was back so soon, what did I do with the other pair of flip flops.  I had a picture of what I’d made on my phone that I’d send to my mom, so I quickly showed him my handiwork.  He gasped and called out, “São tão bonitas, pa!” (They are so beautiful!)

Just as he exclaimed how beautiful the flip flops were my friend from church, Bernadette, walked up.  She wanted to know what we were talking about and I quickly filled her in and showed her the picture.  Bernadette agreed that the flip flops were tão bonitas and she said that she wanted a pair.

It was then that I got a business proposition. 

“You have to make me more of these so I can sell them!  People will want to buy them!  They are so beautiful!”
“But I can’t make money off of these, sir. “
“That’s fine, you can just give them to me!”
“No, I also don’t have time to sit around and just make you flip-flops all day.”

…then an idea popped into my head.  I recalled that awhile ago, Bernadette had asked me if I had any work at home because she was looking for a job.  She was still standing there, so I looked over at her.

“Bernadette, can I teach you how to make these capulana flip flops?”
“Yes, mana Ana I would love learn how to make them, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to!”
“Trust me, if I can make them, anyone can make them.”
**Everyone laughs at the white girl that can’t sew**
“Okay, this is what we’re going to do:  we’re going to take two pairs of flip flops, and I will teach Bernadette how to make them.  Then she can bring them back and you can pay her for the work she’s done and you can give her more flip flops to sell.”

And that’s how I took two pairs of flip flops to my house (for free!) and set up a lesson to teach Bernadette how to make them.  Last Wednesday, she came over and we each made a flower and each covered one flip flop.   She loved how easy they were to make.  I gave her supplies, instructions, and the flip flops and she took it all home to finish the other pair.

On Friday, I got a call from Bernadette. 
“Mana Ana, I noticed when I was in your house that you and Mana Sara don't have a fridge.”
“Nope, we don't.”
“Well I have an extra one at home that I was thinking that you could borrow.  We aren't using it now and my husband says it’s okay if you take it to your house to use it.”
**stunned silence**
“Would you be interested in using it?”
“Yes, Bernadette, we would love to use it!  That is so nice of you!  Thank you!”
“You can come see it on Sunday afternoon.”
“Okay, we will call before we come.  Thank you again!”

So this afternoon, Sarah and I went over to Bernadette’s house and checked out our soon-to-be fridge.  It is huge and glorious and I am so grateful to her for offering to lend it to us.  Now we have to arrange transportation for the fridge to get to our house, and someone to come put coolant in it so that we can use it…hopefully all before Thursday when we will be hosting Thanksgiving in Messica.

I am so happy with this series of events.  Bernadette will hopefully be able to make about 25 meticais (just under one dollar) from each pair of flip flops that she makes.  She told me today that it took her about 10 minutes to make one flip flop, so that means she could make about 3 dollars an hour.  Not bad for someone who has been looking for work for months.  Hopefully she will teach others how to make them as well and be able to share the business with others struggling to make ends meet.

It is such a blessing to know people that give passionately without thinking twice.  They are such an example to us all.  Bernadette didn't need to call us and offer her fridge, but she did it without thinking twice.

My favorite thing that Mozambicans say that I've heard more times than I can count is:  if I give what little I have, God will only rain down more blessings upon me.  If people in the United States were as hospitable as Mozambicans and had this same philosophy, there would be no homeless, hungry, or lonely.  Everyone would feel the love that comes from being welcomed into a home.  I’m so grateful that I get to see this love firsthand, and I know that I will never forget it.


  1. This is wonderful!
    I just spent some time and read through most of your blog posts. You are doing so many selfless things on this mission. Thank you for letting us be apart of it!!!

  2. This is wonderful!
    I just spent some time and read through most of your blog posts. You are doing so many selfless things on this mission. Thank you for letting us be apart of it!!!

  3. Anna, I am have an amazing gift for writing! I am Paigee's Aunt from Columbus. I read in one of your blogs that you plan on coming to the States mid-
    December. If you will be returning, is it
    possible to order 2-3 pairs of those flip flops?? I'm thinking Christmas gifts.I would
    be more than happy
    to pay Bernadette whatever the going price
    would be for them (costs plus her workmanship)plus a consignment bonus.I
    don't even know if it's
    possible but if it is I need one US size 11, one size 12 and one size 7. Not fussy as to colors, that's what makes it fun! Let me know and also how to get $ to you. Thanks.

    1. Hi! I will ask Bernadette what she thinks, but if I can find flip-flops big enough I think it will definitely be possible. The problem in Mozambique is finding shoes for big-footed people. I think the size 11 and 7 will be possible, but maybe not the size 12. They are all women's sizes, correct?

    2. Sorry, the 11 and 12 are sizes that they just don't have here in Mozambique. If you still want the 7's let me know and I can talk to Bernadette. Thanks!