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An amazing opportunity

Posted by Gary

So, it's been forever since I've written a note, right? Not one since about when I picked up carving. Let me fill you guys in on what's been going on.

I've learned how to comfortably carve wooden spoons that are not just functional but beautiful to look at. I deeply enjoy being able to craft something with my own hands. At some point, I'll make videos and/or a note as a how-to guide. But that's not what I'm going to talk about now.

I've been out of a job for ten months now. With three years' college experience, no degree, and no car, it's been very difficult to find work. Just a few days ago, Home Depot called in response to my application from several weeks ago. I apparently did well on the surprise phone interview, but they said they'd call in a week or two if they were interested in hiring me. So, I passed the first obstacle on my attempt to become a cashier.

Yeah, that's pretty cool. But even more interesting was what happened today. You see, I've been wanting to get involved in mission work/ministry for a while but due to certain factors it's not been an option. However, I know of an excellent ministry in the Philippines called Give a Goat. Their goal is to break the cycle of poverty in the Philippines by giving people goats. The goats provide milk, and they breed to make more goats after a year or two. In return, the people give one or two of the kids from the first litter to repay for the goats they were given in the first place. Then Give a Goat gives these repaid baby goats to other people who could use goats. It's a great ministry, so check it out.

The founder of Give a Goat is Salvador Cariaga. I know his son, Peter, from OC. Now, I've been talking with Salvador through facebook for a while about helping out, particularly because Salvador is in Fort Worth often. I got to have lunch with him today and I told him about my work with spoons. His face brightened because he came up with a few ideas as to how that could be helpful in the Philippines. You see, not just do they give goats, but Give a Goat and related ministries also do micro-lending to help poor people get on their feet and become self-sufficient. I have been using carving as sort of a way of micro-lending to myself, haha.

One problem Sal has encountered, though, is that many of his fellow Filipinos cut down trees. This is a waste. (I don't remember his exact reason, but deforestation is a problem in and of itself!) But with spoon carving, you can make a great spoon just by finding the right branch. You don't have to use the trunk. And if trees, as renewable sources of branches, become too valuable to cut down, then the deforestation will stop.

And then they could make spoons or forks or something which could be sold in other countries for a pretty decent price. Well... maybe. We first have to determine if there would be a market interested in buying wooden spoons. Considering all the positive comments I've gotten for my work so far, I'd say there is. The second issue would be figuring out what kinds of wood in the Philippines could be used for carving. You can't use really hard wood like cherry wood all the time because it would take very long to make even one spoon. But you also shouldn't use scented woods like pine, cedar, or redwood. Scented woods add an odd flavor to food, so that's a no-go. SO, whether this can work depends on the availability of carvable wood. Honestly, I'd suspect that there are at least a few types of trees there that would work fine.

Those are the drawbacks. The bonuses, however, make this very appealing. For one thing, this is a very simple craft. I picked this up and started doing well in about a month. I only had online help and about five minutes of guidance from a carpenter in person. Also, there are no power tools involved. You only need a few hand tools ($100 for the high-quality stuff sold in American stores). And what's more, the base materials (a tree branch) cost practically nothing. There will be plenty of wood shavings from the branches, so there is still wood to use for mulch, and there will also be some sawdust to use in gardening.

Now, I find this opportunity to go to the Philippines very appealing. Not just is there the opportunity to help people, teach, and encourage, but I'd get to learn about another culture and learn another language. And there's more to it than that. I could teach English -- good English. It's very helpful on a student's resume to be able to say you know fluent English. And I could also help teach Bible. Plus, Sal has connections to a Bible college or two down there where my OC credits could transfer and the tuition is very little. And yes, they can give a legitimate B.A.

Although I can't immediately commit to this, I am very excited about this opportunity. If this works out, I will end up being very enriched in learning a new culture/language, very educated from finally getting my degree, and very tan from being out in the sun a lot. Sounds great. In the process, I'll be able to help teach carpentry, English, and the Bible, plus help make disciples and serve as Jesus did. The cost of this opportunity would be separation from friends and family and at least $500 a month. But the gain from this would be beyond measure in my life and the lives of others.

Everyone, I ask you to pray about this with me, OK? May God open doors and grant discernment so that I would be shaped into an effective servant.


  1. Jim Swindle

    This sounds like a fine opportunity. May the Lord open and close doors as needed.