Imagine sacrificing the comforts of the Western way of life, your home country, family and jobs as a doctor and a teacher to live and serve the Lord in Thailand... and not just anywhere in Thailand, but in one of the slums of Bangkok - Khlong Toey. That's exactly what Jon and Elise Fletcher with their sons, Elliot and Samuel, did 3.5 years ago. They are amazing examples of being the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16), and our women's Bible study had the privilege of their company yesterday morning, where they shared how the Lord is working through them to show His love to the "unlovable" and downcast.
Jon and Elise work with a Christian Missionary Order called UNOH (Urban Neighbours of Hope) serving those around them in the slum. Elise spends much of her time helping to manage the UNOH-supported fair trade jewelry project called RoyRak, which means "bead love". The Khlong Toey women and one man team create BEAUTIFUL jewelry that is sold world wide, which in turn, provides an income twice that of the minimum wage for Thailand, paid holiday, a comfortable work space and the flexibility to work around childcare.
You know I strive to save and to spend money wisely and this is definitely a time when I feel that "my" (it's God's, actually) money is going beyond just purchasing something to wear; the thought that by purchasing some of the bright, colourful, handmade jewelry, I am indirectly helping to support the lives of real people, showing them love and support from afar, delights my heart to no end! I have purchased a few necklaces for a few friends both here in Shropshire and in Ohio who would appreciate this jewelry and perhaps even spread the word of RoyRak when they wear it proudly.
Brenna modelling her new necklace
Oh, and by the way, each piece of jewelry is named after people who live in Khlong Toey - how neat is that?!
I sure hope you'll click on this link to the RoyRak website to check out the products yourself. Not that I want you to wait to support this amazing cause, but if you wish to make a purchase - perhaps for Christmas presents - in September or October, you can receive 20% off your order by entering "ONLINE20" in the discount box.
Every day I have the opportunity to exercise my money-saving mindset muscle and today, for the second Friday in a row, was no exception when I said "no, thanks" to ordering a dessert for lunch from The Little Dessert Shop with my colleagues. Yes, they do look very tempting, but for £5-£6 a dessert, it's just not worth it to me. Does this mean that I never enjoy dessert? Nope. Does this mean that I never spend money on food from restaurants? Nope, in fact, I had dinner with my family at TGI Fridays this week.
But, due to the fact that I know that these desserts are made for pennies, I can make them myself at home for pennies and there's very little left in our "Eating Out" fund for the month due to eating out earlier in the week, I just replied "no, thanks" when I was asked if I wanted to order something with my colleagues. Besides, it was lunchtime, and I know that I would be hungry about an hour later with all that sugar, so I ate the beetroot burger and salad I brought from home instead.
What I couldn't help overhear were the comments made by a couple of my colleagues. One commented with a long face, "I really can't afford this this week, but oh well..." followed by another colleague saying, "That's why I use cash, so my husband doesn't know what I buy." What?!?! I wanted to get on my soapbox and start shouting, "What are you doing buying dessert that you can't afford and that you have to hide from your husband?!?!", but I resisted.
It's not about the dessert. My colleagues think my reason for not participating in buying a lunch-time dessert was about my trying to resist temptation. That was only a small part of it. It's about asking myself whether what I'm about to buy is really worth it. Can I honestly afford what I'm about to buy? Does it fit in my budget? For me, I answered "no" to these questions. I have learned over the years to ask myself these questions automatically pretty much every single time I make a purchase. Am I depriving myself of something? Maybe for a short time, but as Dave Ramsey will say, "It's short-term sacrifice for long-term gain". By asking myself these questions, I'm using my money-saving mindset to save for what I really want.