Thanksgiving List – my personal reflection of the blessings since 2010
(FB post on 1 December 2021)
1. Being part of the journey – The first-hand working experience with the Mongolian ladies provided more than a glimpse into their lives, and I have grown to love and respect them even more over the years, especially after witnessing their love for their families and their perseverance through trials. Several of them have become my very dear friends!
Some ladies joined us since the beginning, while some only for a few months, just to help them ride through their financial difficulties during that period. At one stage, we had up to 12 ladies (who have a total of 25 kids and 2 on the way) working in this business. Time spent with them has been memorable and it has been a privilege to be part of their life journeys, including forming deeper friendships with some of them and learning from some on how this business has significantly provided income to their situations. One young single mum with an 8 months old son once shared that with this extra source of income, she could purchase winter clothes for her son.
2. Witnessing the friendship developed within the team - Each lady has a story, and often it included personal/family struggles. Yes…our business had stressful moments, including trying to meet deadlines, ensuring quality of the products, worrying about sales, and resolving conflicts within the team. However there were so many beautiful moments too, especially with fellowship as an important part of this business since the beginning.
Most of the ladies are generally too busy with family situations (e.g. caring for their young children, working, doing house chores that require more effort than those who stayed in apartments, such as fetching water and making fire). The idea of having coffee/hanging out with friends may be close to non-existent.
Through this business, whether during the felting sessions (i.e. when ladies come together to make our fabric from wool) or meal times or parties (organized by foreign friends during summer months or Christmas time), these ladies have the opportunities to fellowship or just take a break or what some call “self-care”. This is mainly managed by my Mongolian co-founder of this business (she sees herself as a manager, but I see her as co-founder as she plays such an integral role in the production) and the more senior ladies within the team. For example one lady’s house caught fire during the cold season, and a few ladies immediately went to visit to assess the support she needed, and even brought some warm clothing for her and her family. Another time, money was given to one of the ladies to have a shower at the shower house first prior to joining the ladies at the felting session, as she was unable to afford showers.
3. Blessed by our volunteers and customers – Till today, our business is supported by many volunteers. Managing Christmas booths, helping with sales, delivering products, helping to design our logo and marketing materials, providing valuable advice on design or marketing, managing our finance and legal admin matters…I am so thankful for all these various support from dear friends and even friends’ friends!
Our customers have also blessed us tremendously! From being forgiving when we mixed-up the order details (sorry!), to providing financial or in-kind donations, to continuing to purchase our products over the years, and even sharing how our products have blessed them or their friends who received them.
In 2011, when we needed funds to purchase a carding machine and washboard, an American couple whom I didn’t know then, stepped in and provided the required funding. Over the years, the husband even continued to pray for the ladies and business till his passing.
A customer once shared that she sent our Christmas decorations (the doves) to her friends, and subsequently one of them shared that she was thinking of the empty branch on her Christmas tree, and this amazing dove just appeared! Another friend with deep love for Mongolia shared that our blue cushion was on his wife’s nightstand throughout the year and even next to her when she passed on.
4. Where our products went! – Never would I have imagined in the beginning that our products would be sold to both individuals and corporates around the world. We even participated in an International Gift Show in Tokyo in 2015. Two Mongolian ladies and I had such an unforgettable (and fun!) time in Japan… we definitely worked hard during the day and played hard during the night, including running to DisneySea after exhibition hours!
To-date, we have received queries from companies in Japan and Europe. Hence, there are times I have wondered if our production could be expanded, or to convert our current “business model” to a “full-pledged” business to provide full-time employment (currently we only aim to provide part-time employment). We are very thankful for the positive feedback for our products, however at this moment, we have decided to remain status quo and focus on quality products and relationships.
There are definitely more blessings to be thankful for, or even unaware at this moment.
Once again, thank you for being part of this journey!