In January of 2014 when purchasing this tote bag from a missionary at a local church, I could have never imagined the story God was inviting me into.
When I saw this tote, I not only saw a really cool product, but I wanted to know more about the hands who made it, what their lives were like, and how I might be able to contribute to their story by helping them sell more of their bags. In turn, I would position myself into a practical relationship with people who likely didn’t know Jesus.
Since the missionary did not know the bag maker personally, I was on a mission from half way around the world to find these bag makers and learn their story.
Sounds crazy, and often times I thought I was crazy, but God’s prompting would not let go of my heart. God hand selected people to come alongside me, buy into the LifeTotes vision, and adopt it as their own. This was a humbling process, to realize that my obedience and the callings placed on the lives of others by God had direct correlation. He was asking me to move, and calling them to the movement He asked me to initiate.
As Dr. King once insinuated, we are indeed inextricably tied together. We were finally able to locate Sothea, the young woman who engineered the tote and we discovered that she employed other women to work out of their homes helping to manufacture them. Not a factory, like the common textile model in Cambodia, but a cottage, a home, where the women live, are wives, mothers and bag makers. They make these bags where life happens.
We found that Sothea employees the poor; among the poorest of the world’s poor in fact. These women live in shanty shacks and work in a lean to with no air conditioning or walls, just open air. I needed to meet her. What drove her heart to start this venture? Where did it begin? What is HER vision?
So here I am, on a plane headed to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I will meet with our consultant Trevor who will take me to Sothea.