Savannah's God Sighting

My God Sighting this week is about my gratitude for you all, for UUMC. I came to UUMC with the blessing of my previous church to seek healing from the spiritual desert I was in. Between the Be You, Be Loved, Belong class, Rev. Diane's sermons, the spiritual gifts interview, the classes on The Mystical Way of Evangelism and Mercy and Justice, and LOGOS, I have been challenged to regularly engage in spiritual practices, like centering prayer, and to reflect on my own capacity for light and darkness. I have shadow sides I never knew about, but I also have an abundant pool of grade and love to draw from.

I've been finding myself talking to and about Jesus even more than I did before-- which poor Jessie can attest to! I feel so grateful to each of you, through the potlucks, the Dinners for 8, the Young Adult lunches and events, the NAMI walk, and our regular welcome snacks, for the love and care you have modeled.

I hope I have reflected back to you at least a portion of the light you have shown me. On behalf of Jessie, I also want to thank you for welcoming her, a pagan Jew, to this congregation! We will miss you and are not apposed to prayers and positive energy for the move. 

U-City Microcredit Club August Update

Since we had $1,225 to loan, the U-City Microcredit Club met twice. We met virtually on August 2 and as a group on August 4 at UUMC. On August 2, we made 8 loans totaling $725, as follows:

Asiah's Group is two ladies who live in Bombo, Uganda. Asiah is borrowing 2,500,000 Ugandan shillings ($700) to purchase more green bananas, cassava, potatoes, and matooke to sell at her stall in the market. We loaned $100.

Basima lives in Sidon, Lebanon, and she decorates chocolates. She is borrowing $825 to buy more decorative motifs for her business. We loaned $100.

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The Firme de Alvo group is 4 young people who live in Diadema, Brazil. On the left is Fabiana, who lives with her father and sells cosmetics. Next is Mauricio, who sells beauty products, followed by Roselli, who is a hair dresser. Jose (in the Yankees cap) is a dry waller and will use his portion of the loan to purchase plastering materials, molds, and kits to help him improve his product. We loaned $100. With this loan, the U-City Microcredit Club has loaned $50,000.

Eusebia lives in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador. She and her husband are farmers, and she also makes mats. She is borrowing $450 to buy tule reeds, with which she makes mats, and also to buy some seeds for her farm. We loaned $100.

Nandita lives in Nadia, India, and is borrowing 20,000 INR ($300) to support her husband's business of providing rental supplies for events. They will be using the loan to buy chairs, tables, ropes, etc. to rent out. We loaned $50.

Victoria lives in Buchanan, Liberia, and sells fish in the market. She is borrowing $225 to buy more fish in order to expand her business. We loaned $100.

Naseem lives in Muzaffargarh, Pakistan. She sells formal clothing to her friends and neighbors and is borrowing $200 to buy more clothing to sell. We loaned $100.

The Avenir group is 4 ladies who live in Saaba Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They are borrowing $1,000. Sahapoura sells a variety of products and will use her portion of the loan to buy pagnes (traditional wraparound clothing) and plastic dishes. We loaned $75,

At the August 4 meeting, we made 7 more loans, totaling $550, as follows:

Afut is a group of 3 men who live in Gros Morne, Gonaives, Haiti. The group is borrowing $1,350. Raphael purchases grains and sells them to members of his community. He will use his portion of the loan to buy more storage tanks to hold the grain until he sells it. We loaned $25.

Hellen lives with her husband and four children near Honiara, Solomon Islands. For the last two years, she has been running a business selling drums of petrol and oil in the area where she lives. She is borrowing $900 to purchase more drums of petrol, pumps, and oil. We loaned  $25.

Victor is a farmer who lives near Cimislia, Moldovia. He raises cereal grain on 14 hectares and also has pigs, poultry, dairy cows, cattle, and a horse. He sells a portion of the milk and cheese as well as some of the crops. Recently his milking machine broke, and he has had to hire someone to milk his cows. He is borrowing $1,225 to purchase a new milking machine.

Hasan lives in Salt, Jordan and is a coffee brewer. He is borrowing 1,000 JOD ($1,425) to buy better brewing machines to upgrade his business. We loaned $100.

Wayan lives in Bali, Indonesia and is a wood sculptor. He is borrowing $5,000 from Novica for a bulk purchase of wood. Novica then sells the finished product and keeps a portion of the proceeds to pay off the loan. You can see samples of Wayan's work online. Kiva receives loan payments as products are sold. We loaned $100.

Jose Carlos is 18 years old and lives in Sincelejo, Colombia. He has started a barber shop and wants to move forward with it. He is borrowing $175 to buy a door for his shop to protect it since he currently has no door. We loaned $25.

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Itai is 18 years old, lives in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe, and is a volunteer Camfed Learner Guide. In that role, she leads life skills sessions with students at her high school concerning citizenship and personal confidence. She is borrowing $200 from Camfed to start her own business selling fish and freezits. Camfed borrowers are young women who have graduated from high school and who live and work in remote areas. Camfed  will provide money management and business training. The interest on Itai's loan will be paid back through her two and one half hours weekly volunteering. We loaned $50. 

Phalla has been operating a store in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, for 7 years. She sells groceries and beverages. She is borrowing $500 to buy more groceries and beverages to sell and a new motor to deliver her goods. We loaned $75.

Evelyn Haydee lives in Granada, Nicaragua, and operates a store. She is borrowing $400 to purchase basic grains, eggs. oil, and perishable items like cheese. We loaned $400.

As always, thank you for your support.

Voting Help Desk

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It's voting season again! Primaries take place on August 7th, and the November election is on 11/06. We at UUMC believe that it's important for those who have traditionally been disenfranchised to have a voice in our democratic process. 

To this end, UUMC members who are also part of the League of Women Voters have set up a Voting Help Desk in the Fellowship Hall. This table has forms to register voters and/or update their information; guidelines on complying with the Show it to Vote regulations; and information on issues that affect our community, such as SNAP and Proposition A.

The goal of the help desk is to create an ongoing community resource, especially for our Open Door Food Pantry guests. A church volunteer will be at the desk during food pantry hours (Wednesdays 2-4pm) to assist in voter registration, updating contact information, answering questions, etc. However, the forms and information are available at any time.

Meanwhile, please take note of these important dates:

  • 7/27:  League of Women Voters Metro St. Louis Voters' Guide published
  • 8/2: Last day to request an absentee ballot for the primary
  • 8/7: Primary polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • 9/25: Absentee voting begins for the November 6th election
  • 10/10: Last day to register for the November 6th election
  • 10/31: Last day to request an absentee ballot
  • 11/6: Election day polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Voting Help Desk, please contact Irma Ruebling.

June Microcredit Club Report: We've made $50,000 in loans!

The U-City Microcredit Club met virtually on June 27 and made 9 loans totaling $800, as follows:

Janeth Viviana lives in Tulcan, Ecuador and runs a general store. She is borrowing $800 to buy sugar, rice, cooking oil, spaghetti, tea, and sweets to stock her store. We loaned $100.

Rabiata and Hasmaou compromise the Wendenda Group. They both live in OuagadougooKilwin, Bukina Faso. Together they are borrowing $2650. Rabiata will use her portion of the loan to purchase dried hibiscus flowers, sugar, and ginger root to make a juice that she sells. This is their third loan. We loaned $75.

Kassan and Kasselma comprise the Dofinise 2 Group. They live in BoboDioulasso, Bukina Faso.  They are borrowing $1,175. Kassen will use her portion of the loan to purchase firewood to sell.  We loaned $75.

Sushma is 34 years old and lives in Chappagoun, Nepal. She is a mushroom farmer and is borrowing H375 to buy seeds and fertilizer. We loaned $75. This is our first loan in Nepal and our 80th country.

Ruzanna and her husband live in Kosh village, Armenia, and are farmers. She is borrowing $2,000 to buy some pigs and some high-quality fodder to improve the productivity of their livestock. We loaned $75.

Ret and Ra both live in the Battambang province of Cambodia and comprise Ret's Group. Ret and her husband are farmers and raise cabbages and chiles. She also works as a construction worker. The group is borrowing $1,000, and Ret will use her portion to buy seeds and fertilizer for her cabbage crop. We loaned $100.

Consuelo Del Carmen lives in Usulutan, El Salvador, with her ten-year old grandson. She goes out every day from 8AM - 6PM selling tamales on the street. She is borrowing $300 to buy oil, salt, corn, and banana leaves. We loaned $100.

Khalil lives in Marka, Jordan and is a machinist. He makes metal doors, ladders, and stands. He began as a boy in his father's shop, learning everything, helping out, and observing. He now has moved to his own shop, but he is in need of some additional tools in order to do certain jobs. He has been adding tools whenever he can afford it. He is now borrowing $1,025 to buy additional machines and tools. We loaned $100.

Rehana is 32 years old, married, with three children.  They live in Lahore, Pakistan. Her husband has been driving a rickshaw for many years, and his rickshaw is in bad shape. Because of this, it is unable to attract customers. Rehana is borrowing $425 to buy a new rickshaw body. We loaned $100.

We are rapidly approaching $50,000 in loans and will reach that level at our next meeting. Stay tuned.

Thanks, as always, for your prayers and for your support.

Charlotte Ellis' God Sighting at Annual Conference

I had the pleasure of serving as your representative to the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This year the theme was "Freed to Lead." We learned that we all can lead; we just don't all lead in the same way.

Friday morning opened with a rousing sermon by Rev. Dr. Antonio Settles from Kansas City. That was followed by Bishop Farr's welcome address and then various business reports. Because of a language change, there was a revote on the constitutional amendment about the treatment of women and girls which had passed in our conference last year but failed when all conferences were tallied.

Next was an address by Bishop Farr about what he called "the elephant in the room," i.e. the LGBT issue. He had just been to a Council of Bishops meeting where they discussed various outcomes of the Way Forward event to be held in St. Louis next February. Information from the Bishops' meeting explaining 3 possible outcomes will come out in July.  Of course he didn't say what his preferred outcome would be, but he said he had changed his mind on some things, which made it sound like he might be supportive of LGBT issues.

One of the things emphasized during the conference was "New Places for New People," with a goal to attract people we don't normally attract. Another goal is "Pathway out of Poverty," and they would like every church to partner with a school for a literacy program.

This was the 20th anniversary of the Mozambique Project, and so Friday evening we were treated to a Mozambique-style dinner. They have churches in Mozambique looking for partner churches and young people looking for scholarship support.

Saturday started with various reports: United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Central Methodist University, etc.

We then met Pastor Alex Garena from an island off of Puerto Rico. His church was badly damaged by the hurricane. Because of the location, it will probably take 5 years for full recovery, especially electricity. There was an offering taken for Puerto Rico, and we are urged to help if we can. Groups are going down there to work, including one from our district this summer.

Saturday afternoon we had workshops, and I was pleased to serve on the panel of the one called "LGBTQ+ - How to Lead your Church Through the Difficult Decision." We had at least 150 attendees, and everyone seemed positive and asked good questions. I talked a little about how we had conversations over several years before we voted to become reconciling. We had no detractors, so I feel it was well-received.

That day also included memorial services, a retirement ceremony, and ordinations.

Sunday morning there was a worship service, more business, appointments of pastors to new assignments, and it was concluded with communion.

All in all it was a very meaningful experience and a God sighting to be among so many United Methodists.

Legislative update:  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

By Irma Ruebling

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the program on which most of our Open Door Pantry neighbors depend.  The program is included in the Nutrition section within the Congressional Farm Bill. Congress is currently considering overhauling the requirements for the SNAP program used by 42 million Americans.  The proposed revision of SNAP has 2 main elements:

  1. Most adults between 18 and 59 will be required to work part-time or enroll in 20 hours per week of workforce training beginning in 2021to receive assistance. Pregnant women, people with disabilities, parents with children younger than 6 are exempt.    

  2. Mandates and massively expands the state training programs available to unemployed participants who cannot find jobs.

Proponents' position states the bill is a practical plan to protect the needy while also helping them become self-sufficient. Michael Conaway R Tex, House agriculture Chairman, stated, “breaking the poverty cycle is the only way forward.” 

Opponents' position states the bill would cut SNAP participation by as many as 1 million people over next 10 years, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates and does not consider the legitimate obstacles SNAP recipients face to enroll in these programs, such as unreliable transportation, low housing security, and shifting child care and medical schedules.

The House farm bill (H. R. 2) failed in the House of Representatives on Friday (May 18) after Freedom Caucus members withheld their votes in the hope of getting immigration legislation to the floor.

The Senate bill (S.3042) protects SNAP benefit levels and eligibility.  It builds on SNAP’s many strengths and avoids the negative changes in H.R. 2. Senate vote on the bill is expected before the July 4th recess.

June U-City Microcredit Club Meeting

The U-City Microcredit Club met on June 4 at the library of University United Methodist Church. We made 11 loans totaling $775, as follows:

Asifa Parveen lives in Gujranwala, Pakistan and is a tailor. She is borrowing $275 to buy threads, buttons, laces, and pearls. We loaned $50.

The Rhukomberane  Group consists of 22 woman in Bukavu, Congo (DRC) who are borrowing $5,275. Ms. Florence is the president of the group and sells Primus Beer and soft drinks. With her portion of the loan, she will buy 25 cases of Primus and pay for its delivery to her.  We loaned $75.

Somar lives in Sidon, Lebanon. She works as a hairdresser and provides beauty services from her home. She is borrowing $825 to purchase new products for her salon: hairdryers, brushes, etc. We loaned $100.

Jaimar Nomar lives in Chinandeja, Nicaragua and makes his living selling home goods door-to-door. He is borrowing $600 to buy plastic chairs, home appliances, and bedding to sell. We loaned $100.

Danifod is 30 years old, lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and has been selling car batteries for 6 years. He is borrowing $275 to purchase more batteries to sell. This is second loan. The first was used to rent a place where he can store his battery inventory. We loaned $50.

Duke lives in Kampala, Uganda with his wife and three children. For the past nine years, he has been making charcoal burning stoves out of clay. Duke is borrowing 3,000,000 UGX ($825) to contract with a clay mine. Having regular access to a clay mine will increase his production and his income. We loaned $100.

Sophol drives a tuk-tuk (a motorized rickshaw) and lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He is borrowing $400 so his wife who runs a grocery store can buy more coffee and other beverages to sell. We loaned $100.

Elba del Rosario lives in Matalgalpa, Nicaragua. She owns her own 8.6 acre farm. In the past  three years, she taken three loans to increase her farm production to 75.7 quintales (1 quintales = 57.5 kg) of parchment coffee. She is borrowing $650 to implement a nutritional improvement plan for coffee trees on 6.2 acres, for which she will need to buy supplies such as calcium, boron, and zinc and to pay her workers. We loaned $25.

Lusia lives in Vaini, Tonga and runs a plantation, growing crops such as taro, tapioca, yam, and kumara. This is her fifth loan. We loaned $50. This is our first loan in Tonga and the 79th country in which we have made loans.

The members of the Say Htoe-2-C Village live in Myingyon, Myanmar (Burma). They are borrowing $975. San will use her portion of the loan to buy high quality groundnut seeds. We loaned $100.

Gustavo is a farmer who lives in Tequixquiac, Mexico. He is worried about the negative impact that the daily manure produced by his twenty cows represents to the environment. It is a big problem for Gustavo's farm because it attracts flies and other insects and smells bad. He is borrowing $925 (60% of the cost of a Sistema Bioboko digester). With the digester, he will convert agricultural waste into energy and organic fertilizer and improve his crop production. We loaned $25.

We thank you for your support and interest.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide

For the Sake of All recently released a collaborative 115-page report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide.

It presents an overview of more than a century of federal, state, and municipal policies, real estate practices, and development strategies that have kept far too many of the St. Louis region’s residents segregated in neighborhoods with less opportunity to advance economically and fewer resources to support health and well-being.

The report concludes with 11 policy recommendations intended to drive community action towards equitable and inclusive housing in the region.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide is designed to foster quality neighborhoods – one of six priorities that originated from the May 2014 report, For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis and Why It Matters for Everyone.

The above information is adapted from Segregation in St. Louis and For the Sake of All. Click the link to read more. 

April U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club met on April 20th and again on April 24 to make 19 loans for $1500 (total).

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Here are the highlights:


Oran Ely is our featured borrower. He lives in Choloma, Cortes, Honduras.  He is 29 years old and suffers from a paralysis that blocks the use of his legs. He has been making beautiful portraits, landscapes and artistic pictures for seven years (Some of which you can see in the picture.)
e sells them to galleries and also does custom work by request. He is borrowing $750 (15,000 lemperes) to buy watercolors, acrylic paints and canvas. He will also invest part of the loan in a anew business he is starting (opening a gallery). We loaned $100. 

Arita Yasmeen is a tailor and lives in Guyanwaly, Pakistan. She is borrowing $350 to buy materials for her business. We loaned $25.

The Progresso V Group is 5 men who live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are borrowing $4,325. Vlademir will use his portion of the loan to buy parts for his motorcycle repair business. We loaned $100.

Moshira lives in Kulob, Tajikistan, and is borrowing $1,250 to start a business making and selling cotton candy. We loaned $50.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks is an NGO which provides raw materials and a market for 1.2 million persons in Thailand who make hammocks. The NGO is borrowing $50,000 to expand their online presence and their digital marketing strategy. We loaned $25.

Nada lives in Bagaa, Jordan, and makes pickles. She is borrowing $1,450 to buy equipment that will make the process easier and cleaner. We loaned $75.

Abees also lives in Jordan and creates handcrafts using beads. She is borrowing $725 to buy more supplies. We loaned $75.

Famata lives in Logan Town, Liberia, and she sells bags of charcoal and bags of water. She is borrowing $550 to buy additional bags of charcoal to sell. We loaned $75.

Dewa is from Bali, Indonesia, and is a craftsman in sterling silver and gemstone jewelry. You can see (and purchase) his work, sold through NOVICA. He is borrowing $2,200 to invest in bulk in silver and gemstones. We loaned $100.

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Rosa Maria lives with her partner and her daughter in Cotoca, Bolivia, a rural community known for its traditional pottery. For 10 years she has been operating a restaurant on the patio of her home. She cooks in the family kitchen. She is located in a very busy area, and her restaurant is always very crowded. She is open in the evening six days a week. Her problem is that she purchases her cooking supplies (rice, oil, meat, etc) daily, which causes transportation problems and wastes time. She is borrowing $875 to purchase supplies wholesale and in bigger quantities. We loaned $100.

The Faraja Group Buguruni is 3 people who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The group is borrowing $775. Debora is a mobile money provider. She will use her portion of the loan to add more capital to her business. This is her second loan. We loaned $50.

The Baobo grouo is 18 people who live in Goma, Congo (DRC). The group is borrowing $10,000. Madam Madeline is the leader of the group and is full of innovation and initiative. She sells fish in the central market in Virunga. Her portion of the loan will buy 15 bags of salted fish. We loaned $100.

Salomi lives in Vunivau, Fiji, and she sells kava powder. Kava is a popular drink made form the powder of kava pepper roots. She is borrowing $500 to purchase kava powder and supplies (plastic, brown bags, zip locks, etc). We loaned $50.

Etevise lives in Vailete, Samoa, and sells taro and banana chips. She is borrowing $500 to buy a sack of taro, bananas, vegetable oil, a fry pan, a wooden spoon and a gas stove. We loaned $100.

Maria lives in Manatuto, Timor-Leste, and has run a chicken barbecue stand (Chicken Sate) for many years. She has a good location and many regular customers. She is borrowing $500 to buy woods, chickens, and other ingredients. We loaned $100.

Ali lives in Adidogone, Togo and sells backpacks from a stall in front of her house. She is borrowing $400 to buy more backpacks. This is her third loan. We loaned $75.

The Gatarama A Cb Group is 14 persons who live in Rwanda. They arert borrowing $7,700.  Irene is the leader of the group. She sells banana juice in the local market. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase more sorghum to make more banana juice. We loaned $100.

Evelyn Xiomara runs a general store in El Salvador. She is borrowing $750 to purchase eggs, bread, beverages, sugar, snacks, etc. to strengthen her inventory. We loaned $100.

Samina and her husband live in Lahore, Pakistan. He works as a laborer for small wages but has been learning to be an electrician. He is now qualified and is borrowing $275 to purchase an initial stock of sockets, bulbs, tube lights, switches, etc. We loaned $100.
 

We are approaching $50,000 in loans made and will likely make that loan in July or August. Stay tuned!

March for Our Lives on March 24

Students seeking to force action on school shootings have organized a St. Louis "March for Our Lives" through downtown, set for March 24. An anti-gun march will traverse downtown from Union Station to the Arch.

We are taught as Christians human life is sacred. Over the past month, I have been deeply moved by the passion and energy of teens that have propelled this conversation to the forefront of our national consciousness.

The students are asking anyone who's interested in joining them to meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, at Union Station (Market Street). From there, they'll march to the Arch. 

We may not all agree about gun control laws/regulations and how to act on it as a country.  But if you agree something needs to be done and it is time for our representatives in Washington to do something, then come join me in the St Louis March for Our Lives on March 24th.  Those interested please contact me for further details. 

I personally said “Enough is Enough” after the young woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia during the Klan March.  

I wondered what God must be thinking. I heard the gospel being preached by Rev Diane around that time about “Whom shall I send?", which asked, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, What am I called to do? I just couldn’t do anything, so I started praying that God show me ways I can stand for justice. I just can’t let the gun shots that kill, the words of hate be the loudest or the last thing God hears from God's people. 

If you have your reason for wanting to march on this issue and you want to be a part of UUMC group call, text or email me.  Once I see how many that wants to participate I will plan accordingly and let you know. The March is approaching fast so please respond asap.

Whether you plan on marching or not, please pray for those of us who do. 

God’s Blessing to all,

Patty Pieper                                                           

Holy Week Q & A

Q I can choose between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services because they’re pretty much the same thing... right?

A No! Think of your favorite movie trilogy. What happens to the story if you watch either parts 1 and 2 but not both? Would you watch A New Hope and Return of the Jedi but skip The Empire Strikes Back? Of course not! You need to come to all three services to experience the whole story.

Q Are you really asking people to wash each other’s feet? In church? Is this sanitary?

A Yes, part of a traditional Maundy Thursday service is foot washing. It’s a beautiful symbolic act. Participating in this tradition is optional, however, and yes, we have clean carpet plus a supply of hand sanitizer.

Q What about my kids? Can they come on Thursday and Friday?

A Children are welcome at all services. Thursday is especially good for kids because it is multi-sensory with communion, foot washing, and removing all of the decorations from the sanctuary. Nursery care is available for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday if you RSVP to Amy by Friday, 3/23.

Q Will the Good Friday service be gory? 

A Sorry, Walking Dead fans, we’re not going to spend a lot of time on the extreme violence of crucifixion. The point of Good Friday is not to inflict ourselves with guilt over Jesus’ physical suffering but to remember that Jesus willingly experienced death so that we could all enjoy new life through him.

Q I’ve heard that we should fast before worship on Good Friday. Why?

A Fasting is an ancient Christian ritual that helps us focus on Jesus’ sacrifice, solidarity with the poor, and our spiritual life.

Q Easter mornings are hectic, and I don’t want to fight the lines at brunch before church. Do you have food?

A We’re Methodists, of course we have food! Come at 9 for a potluck breakfast before the service. 

Q Speaking of food, isn’t there an egg hunt ?

A Yes, the youth will hide eggs for the children, and the egg hunt begins at 9:30. Bring a basket or bag!

Q Is there Sunday School or LOGOS on Easter Sunday?

A All classes are replaced with food and fellowship.

Q What if I don’t have fancy clothes for Easter morning?

A We invite you to Be You, Be Loved, and Belong. We don’t care what you’re wearing. Easter Sunday is about celebrating as a community, not fashion.

Q I have family members and/or friends whom I’d like to invite, but they aren’t necessarily churchgoers. Will they feel welcome?

A Of course. We’re happy to have them and won’t pressure them to join or convert. 

Q What’s Easter Monday? I thought Easter was one day?

A Actually, Easter Sunday kicks off the liturgical season of Easter, which lasts 50 days, until Pentecost. Enjoy those Easter chocolates for a few more weeks!

Q Any tips for worshipping with my children/ grandchildren?

A Glad you asked!

U-City Microcredit Club March Meeting

The U-City microcredit club met virtually on March 10 and made 9 loans for a total of $600, as follows:

Salanieta is married with two children and lives in Vusu, Fiji. She currently has two businesses that she runs together-  sewing and ice blocks. Because of the popularity of kava, a relaxing drink made from the root of the kava pepper, she is borrowing $800 to buy the equipment and supplies to produce kava powder for sale. We loaned $25. This is our first loan in Fiji and the 78th country in which we have loaned.

Sharofat is married with 3 children and lives in Istaravshan, Tajikistan. She has been farming and breeding cattle for 10 years and is borrowing $350 to pay for plowing the fields, seeds and fertilizer. We loaned $100.

The Indashyikirwa Group is 17 persons who live in Rwanda. The group is borrowing $7,775.  Claudine is the leader of the group. She is 32 years old, married with 4 children. For the last 6 years, she has run a business selling wedding clothes and decorations. She will use her portion of the loan to buy more wedding clothes to sell. We loaned $75.

Sartura is 46 years old and lives with her partner and three children in New Kru, Liberia. For the last 16 years, she has run a business selling bitter ball, pepper, red oil, and other food items in her store which she runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. She is borrowing $275 to purchase more goods to sell. We loaned $50.

The Savet Group is 6 women who live in a village in Svay Reang Province, Cambodia. They are borrowing $2,975. Savet and her husband have been working as construction workers for the last eight years, but they also grow rice. Savet will use her portion of the loan to pay for fertilizer for the rice fields. We loaned $100.

The Luis Espanol Group has ten members who live in La Paz, Bolivia. They are borrowing $7,950. The group elects a  board of directors, and Yaneth is President of the board. She operates a grocery store. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase wholesale canned goods. We loaned $100.

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Pennapa, pictured above, is Siamese and was born in northeastern Thailand. She met her husband (a Hmong) in Bangkok and moved with him to his home village in Rongkwang, Thailand. Her husband is a farmer, growing feed corn for sale and rice and cabbage for the family. She had her first child earlier this year. Pennape works along with her five sisters-in-law weaving high-margin luxury hammocks. They purchase their raw materials, patterns, etc. from  Yellow Leaf Hammocks. This organization provides training and production support as well as creating an internet market place, enabling Pennape to sell their hammocks to an international base. This is Pennape's second loan cycle, and she is borrowing $2,000. We loaned $25.

Juan is a 61 year old who lives in San Lorenzo, Paraguay. For the last 17 years he has been selling electrical supplies (light bulbs, cable, ballast, fluorescent tubes, etc.) He is borrowing $750 to purchase more inventory. We loaned $50.

Enea is a member of the vulnerable Egyptian community living in Korce, Albania. He lives with his parents and 5 siblings.  Since his father developed health complications 10 years ago, Enea has become the sole source of income for the family. He opened a butcher shop 3 years ago and has been doing well. Last month he used all his savings to pay for medical treatments for his father and now needs to borrow $950 to purchase supplies and inventory for his shop. We loaned $75.

As always, we thank you for your interest, your prayers and your support and invite your participation.

Open Door Pantry Annual Report 2017

Prepared by Karen Greening and Irma Ruebling

DESCRIPTION
The Open Door Pantry has evolved over two decades at UUMC offering various levels of assistance for those in need of emergency help for food.

In 2017 the Open Door Pantry volunteers determined essential needs beyond food for our neighbors. The operation of the Open Door Pantry is directed by the Goal and Guiding Principles based on the mission of UUMC and the identified theme for 2018 of “A Healthier St. Louis.”

GOAL
To support the UUMC mission through respectful and willing service with our community neighbors in achieving a healthy and safe living environment by providing food items and products not covered under social service programs.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES
To the extent possible clients are given a choice in selection of the products offered with certain restrictions allow for distribution of popular or expensive items, so that a greater share of clients may receive those items.

Volunteers encourage the empowerment of clients to make healthy decisions.

OPERATION PROCEDURES
Every Wednesday from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Registration requires a current photo identification card. No Income guidelines are required. Each neighbor is provided a number upon arrival so that each can be served in the order of arrival. Items offered include bus passes, paper products, hygiene items as well as cans and packages of food. Warm socks, gloves, scarves and hats are available during winter months.

LEARNING ABOUT OUR NEIGHBORS
Visits to the Open Door Pantry increased in 2017.  The numbers below shows the growth in the total number of neighbor visits per month. 

January: 9
February: 10
March: 9
April: 10
May: 16
June: 20
July: 22
August: 29
September: 29
October: 30
November: 29
December: 33

Those neighbors who attended 9-12 times and 6-8 times came almost every month after their first visit.  

No. of people                No. of visits
6                                    9-12
8                                    6-8
16                                   3-5
41                                   1-2

We implemented a conversation guide to assist us in learning more about those coming to the Open Door Pantry. The purpose was to learn more about the circumstances of our neighbors in need, to understand how the pantry is helping them, and to identify other needs they may have.  A copy of the guide is included as Appendix 1.

ABOUT OUR VOLUNTEERS

Twelve regular volunteers provided over 500 hours of service this year to the Open Door Pantry. The volunteer names and a listing of their responsibilities are included in Appendix 2 and 3.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
In October we gave each individual who came to our Open Door Pantry an invitation to attend church service and our Harvest Home dinner on November 5th.  We followed up with phone calls to those who expressed interest in coming.  Eight of the pantry neighbors came to our worship service and twenty came to the dinner. These individuals stated they enjoyed the event and some offered reciprocal invitations to dinners and musical gatherings.

WHAT’S NEXT?
We want to explore ways to follow up with additional opportunities to get together with our neighbors:

  • Our application with Operation Food Search is pending.
  • CSFP is now coordinated through Trinity Presbyterian Church.    

FINANCES
Sources on funding and supplies include the following:

  • Food, paper products, hygiene items and cleaning supplies brought to the church by members of the congregation.
  • Cash donations from the congregation. The volunteers then purchase needed items with this money for the Open Door Pantry.
  • Soliciting free donations or reduced cost items through community and commercial organizations.
  • Various fundraising activities within the church.
  • Church budget allocation.

Total Donations    $5,854.00
Total Expenses      $5,747.00

In addition, the UUMC Preschool held a Food Drive in October of 2017 and a special Christmas offering was designated for the Open Door Pantry in December of 2017 in the amount of $1,067.00.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE  - COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

  • As a follow-up to the Harvest Home Dinner, invite pantry neighbors to monthly potlucks at UUMC.
  • Offer snacks and drinks once a month on Wednesdays during the Open Door Pantry.
  • As appropriate, share stories of our neighbors and their needs with the congregation.
  • Plan a UUMC Food Drive in May, 2018.
  • Apply for a MUMF Mission Grant with UUMC budget allocation included.

Appendix 1:

UNIVERSITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OPEN DOOR PANTRY

Learning About Our Neighbors
We are trying to learn more about those who come to our pantry to better understand the types of services most needed and ways in which we can meet particular needs.

  • Name:                          Age:                                               
  • Address:  
  • City                 State            Zip                
  • Living Situation:
  • Persons who are part of your household
  • Transportation:
  • Do you have access to a car?
  • Food
  • What are the most helpful items for you and your family?
  • What food do you like the most?
  • How did you learn about UUMC Open Door Pantry?  
  • Do you receive assistance from other Food Pantries?
  • How has your situation changed since receiving help from UUMC?

Appendix 2:  Volunteer Roster

CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM LIST OF VOLUNTEERS FOR FOOD PANTRY  (available from the church office but not published publicly.)  

Appendix 3:  Responsibilities of Volunteers

FOOD PANTRY VOLUNTEER INSTRUCTIONS
PREPARING TO OPEN

  • Arrive at 15 minutes before the opening of the Food Pantry and get the notebook entitled CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM in the office. It contains information on our “neighbors in need” and passes for the bus. Take the notebook with you to Fellowship Hall.
  • Move the piano. Set up a table near the Food Pantry and place the community resource folders on the table, along with the notebook.
  • Move the drop off and pick up bins with the red bags into the Library.
  • Place bags on table for people to use to use when they shop.

WELCOMING OUR NEIGHBORS

  • Greet our neighbors at the door and escort them to Fellowship Hall.
  • Give them a number and offer them something to drink.
  • Check their identification in the CHURCH OPEN DOOR notebook. Refer to the log and verify the neighbor’s last visit Check their address and phone number and update as needed.
  • If this is the first visit for the neighbor, copy a current photo ID and include it in alphabetical order in the CHURCH DOOR OPEN PROGRAM Notebook.
  • Please pay special attention to completing the form “Knowing Our Neighbors”. This will help in our ongoing evaluation of evidence-based outcomes for our Food Pantry.
  • Provide a resource folder for each family. Ask about their current needs and follow-up with referrals as appropriate.

DISTRIBUTING FOOD AND SUPPLIES

  • Once a month neighbors may receive two bags of a combination of food, paper products and hygiene supplies as well as two bus passes.
  • Ask our neighbors if there are any special foods or paper products they prefer. Add these to the shopping list for the following week.
  • Give the person a UUMC appointment card with their return date for the following month. Include two bus passes if they do not have access to a car.
  • Escort them to the door and make meaningful contact with them before they leave. Offer to carry bags if they need help.
  • Record your encounter in the CHURCH OPEN DOOR PROGRAM notebook.

WHILE YOU ARE WAITING

  • Place the items that have been donated that are located in the bin on the appropriate shelves.  
  • Check the labels for expiration dates on all foods and dispose of the ones that have expired
  • Assist with any work that needs completed in the office.
  • Replenish Food Pantry donation envelopes on the back of the pews in the sanctuary.
  • Assemble the resource packets, as needed.
  • Sort bulletins and other paper items in the recycle basket that is on the front pew in the Sanctuary.

PREPARING TO CLOSE

  • Prepare a list of needed food items, paper product and bus passes. Email this list to Cindy Zirwes and to Elizabeth in the office, so she can include it in Headlines and the Sunday bulletin.
  • Take down the table and move the piano back. Return the plastic bins to their original location. Place the resource folders on the shelf. Return the CHURCH OPEN DOOR notebook to the office.
  • Put the bus passes in the safe.

Jim Pace: Walking for NAMI

I am walking in Chesterfield, Missouri on May 5, 2018 to raise awareness and funding for NAMI-Saint Louis for five kilometers with approximately thirteen other mental health activists.

I renamed my one man walk team to "Flecha Verde" from last year's "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."  The Yellow Brick Road team raised seventeen thousand dollars last year at the annual NAMIWalks in Saint Louis County.  NAMI-Saint Louis raised a total of one hundred fifty thousand dollars in 2017.

I pray the Walk goes well this May of 2018.

I continue to voluntarily attend Independence Center for work, a meal, and interaction with fellow members and professional staff/administration social workers.  I am going out on a limb to promote recovery from mental illness.

The United Methodist Church provides the foot soldiers to rally, to fight, and to recover from mental illness.  I am aware of the strength of the church guiding the fight to tackle difficult mental health problems. 

I give my support network all the credit for my recovery and the struggle with the misperceptions of mental illness which are flawed in my experience. 

I feel like I have grown this year as I am reasonably able stand up for myself in adversarial encounters like an intention to attack me in the east end of the Delmar Loop on a Sunday afternoon by a young man asking for bus fare with the intention of robbing and beating me. 

I continue to teach police officers through the Crisis Intervention Team training, a NAMI program with great possibilities and results.

Remembering the Paines, by Brad Hershey

Last week University Church received a gift of $67,000 from the estate of Bob and Jane Paine.  Our church is so grateful for endowment gifts like this one and it will be added to our current endowment funds which are approaching a total of one million dollars. Our church uses earnings from this endowment to help with our expenses, to expand our mission outreach, and to maintain and improve our church home.

But this financial gift is only a small part of the legacy left behind by this wonderful couple who dearly loved being part of this congregation. Bob and Jane were married 64 years and they, their three children and later three of their grandchildren, sat right over there nearly every Sunday.

Bob was a doctor. The kind of doctor that goes to Harvard when he was 16 years old, graduates with a Bachelor degree in 1942 and receives his MD 2 years later. Bob served in World War II and then returned to St.Louis with a fellowship in Cardiology at Washington University. He joined the staff of St. Lukes Hospital in 1951 and eventually became head of Cardiology at St. Lukes. He was our church doctor. He was always interested in how you were doing. He could help you with the most complex of heart problems. Or, he could carefully remove a splinter from our little girl's finger and then call her the next day to check up on his patient. He was a lifelong educator, a researcher, a scientist, and a doctor who truly cared for his patients. But, most importantly to me, Bob was an absolutely wonderful human being. When you talked to Bob, he looked directly at you and listened to every word you said as if it was the most important thing he was likely to hear. 

Bob’s concern for others led him to establish the Health Protection and Education Services organization that was initially run out of our church. We still support this organization with volunteer financing and person power. Bob, along with Martin Braeske, ran a class called Crosstalk for over a decade which probed many of the perplexing issues of our time. 

And then there was Jane. Jane was passionate about Social Justice, supporting families and advocating for children. Her early work in childhood programs led to the model for Head Start.  She helped build the Parents as Teachers Program. She was the executive director of the Conference on Education and served as an education consultant to the Danforth Foundation.  She started the preschool right here in our own church. Jane weaved people and their talents together and made good things happen. Jane made a difference in countless children’s lives.  But Jane must have been proudest of her “Bob” and her own children. She gave them all a passion for loving, learning and doing. 

If you want to set some really tough goals for your life, hopefully you can find a Bob and Jane to set an example for you. If you want to make a real difference in this world, become a Bob and Jane and carry their passion for Social Justice into our world so that someday we can truly call it the Kingdom of God.

UCity Microcredit club meeting - December 30, 2017

The U-City Microcredit Club met virtually on December 30, 2017.  At that time, we made 14 loans in the amount of $1,125, as follows:

The Mafanikio Kivinge Group is five men who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The group is borrowing $1900 to be paid back in 9 months starting in February. Selemani is a member of the group. He sells fish. His portion of the loan will be used to buy more fish to sell, a big table to put them on, and ingredients such as salt. We loaned $75.

Arise is group of 8 ladies who live in Chorkor, Ghana. They are borrowing  $5,525 to be paid back in a 8 months, starting in February. Victoria owns a grocery store where she sells bags of rice, flour, canned fish and beef, cooking oil, etc. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase more goods to sell. We loaned $100.

Kyar Poet-2E-Village Group is 4 women who live in Myingyan, Myanmar (Burma). The group is borrowing $850 to be repaid in one payment in December 2018. Zar grows rice and onions on her three acres of land. She will use her portion of the loan to buy more rice and onion seedlings. We loaned $25.

Erlinda is 40 years old and lives in Gattaran, Cagayan, Phillippines with her husband and two daughters. She sells liquid petroleum and also sells soft drinks. She is borrowing 70,000PHP ($1400) to expand her business. She will repay in 11 months, beginning in February.  We loaned $100.

Ofiuco Group is 8 women who live in La Paz, Bolivia. They are borrowing $6,950 to be repaid in 7 months, beginning in March. The eight ladies have formed a commercial bank which has a board of directors. Anghela is the board president. She has a business selling handbags. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase wholesale bags and resell them from her stall. We loaned $100.

Alba Emily lives in El Salvador with her 15 year old son. She earns a living making and selling pupusas  (a traditional Salvadorean dish of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with fried rice, cheese, flour, and corn and served with curtide and tomato sauce).  She will use the loan to purchase more materials. We loaned $100.

Emily's Group is eight farmers who live in the Marele District of Kenya. Emily is 42 years old, married with 3 children, and is the leader of the group. The group is borrowing $450 which will be repaid in one payment in January, 2019. Emily has been farming for many years, raising corn on 3.75 acres. She will use her share of the loan to purchase hybrid seeds, fertilizer and a solar lantern. We loaned $100.

Polin is 27 years old and lives with his parents in Croix-de-Bouquets, Haiti. He sells dry bags in bulk to laundry businesses. He has been in business for 10 years and is borrowing $650 to purchase more bags in order to serve more customers. He will repay the loan in 6 payments, beginning in March. We loaned $50.

Carnen Cecilia is a tailor who lives in  Barranquilla, Columbia. Her specialty is sports clothing, school and business uniforms. She is borrowing $1,025 to buy basic materials (fabrics, cuffs, threads, buttons, fasteners, etc) in order to serve her customers. She will repay the loan in 12 months, beginning in March. We loaned $50.

Ephinenie's Group is 8 women who formed a "village bank." They all live in Senegal and are borrowing $6,000, which will be repaid in one payment in July 2018. Paulette plans to use her portion of the loan to buy two pigs to fatten, 200 chicks for her poultry farm, and a large amount of ready-to-wear clothing that she will resell. We loaned $100.

Saikal is 52 years old and lives in Kyzylkiya, Kyrgyzstan. She sells dried fruit at a market. She earns about $1500 a month and is borrowing $2900 to buy more dried fruit. She will pay the loan back in 12 months starting in March. We loaned $100.

Ahmed is a 26 year old married Palestinian who lives in Tripoli, Lebanon. He has been a cattle man for several years and has an excellent reputation. Now he is going to start a new business as a butcher. He is borrowing $2,050 to open a butcher shop and will repay the loan over 15 months, beginning in April. We loaned $100.

Kondwani lives in Mzimba, Malawi and is a Zoona agent. Zoona is a mobile money operation that invests in entrepreneurs like Kondwani who provide financial services to underserved communities. Kondwani builds his business through mobile payment transactions, for which he charges a fee. He currently has 8 outlets in the Mzimba area where he employs 9 female tellers to assist in his outlets. He is borrowing $1400 to increase his transaction float (the difference between cash in and cash out) in order to handle his daily transactions. He will repay it in one payment in September 2018. We loaned $25. He is pictured  here in front of one of his outlets.

Microcredit image.jpg

Tepora is a 35 year old married woman with 5 children who lives in Fogapoa, Savaii, Samoa.  She makes and sells pancakes. She is borrowing $400 to buy bags of flour, sugar, a large frying pan, a new oven, cooking oil, a strainer and yeast. She will repay the loan in 12 payments, beginning in February.

These will be the last loans in which we invest in 2017. It has been a tremendous year for us with the reaching of many milestones. While we concentrate our loans in areas where there are no financial services,  our losses are low. Watch for our Annual Report to be published in the next month or two for more details about the people we loan to. We remain convinced that this is one of the best investments anyone can make - starting persons in business or helping them grow their existing business enables them to get out of poverty and be successful. We thank each of you for your support - both financially and spiritually. Please join us in one of our meetings in 2018.

Getting Started on your “Walk to Jerusalem”

Join UUMC as we walk to Jerusalem! Together, we'll traverse the 6,440 miles between St. Louis and Jerusalem by keeping track of our walking/ activities, starting January 1st. 

Walk to Jerusalem is a multi-generational program which will motivate us to keep moving and increase our daily activity.  Walking is healthy, fun, relaxing, and can increase your creativity! 

  1. Each week there will be a Walking with God devotion in Headlines and the bulletin.  Meditate upon or memorize the verse to contemplate as you walk for a Healthier UUMC.
  2. Log your miles or steps on your Activity Log.
  3. Log your total weekly miles every Sunday on the green welcome sheet to record attendance at worship.  If you do not make it to church, keep track of your steps/miles and record them when you are. Tracking steps can be done using a device like Fitbit, or an app your smartphone, or with a pedometer.  Or you can use one of the activity tracking charts below to convert walking time, exercise, and/or household activities to steps and miles: 

Watch us progress to Jerusalem as a group for Easter!

Sam's God Sighting

Over the past two years, I’ve had the joy of being a part of the UUMC Community. I moved to St. Louis in August of 2015 to continue my studies at Wash U and after a couple months of school, I started looking for a new church home. I grew up Methodist and spent a lot of weekends singing in the youth choir and going to youth group events. My home church has thousands of members, and while that allowed lots of programs to thrive, I didn’t really feel like part of a larger community. There were simply too many people to feel like I knew everybody. I took a couple years off from church at my first college back in Memphis which was good for me, but when I moved here, I knew that I needed to find somewhere smaller where I could really feel at home. That place was University United Methodist.

From the first time I met Reverend Diane, I knew I had found the community for me. Here is a leader who is both unwavering in her faith and willing to speak up for what she believes in. At my home church, certain topics are considered off limits. I guess that comes with the territory of having so many people in the congregation. To me though, that also leads to having a weaker church. Here at UUMC, I look out and see a strong congregation, a people who recognize inequality in their society and want to do something about it. Whether it be feeding the poor, doctoring the sick, housing the elderly, or simply having difficult conversations with each other and those around us, UUMC is actively trying to make St. Louis a better place. With all that’s happened in the city over the past 3 years in particular, people like y’all are needed more than ever. People who don’t hide from the calling of their faith and who don’t shy away from action. This church is dedicated to the fight, every single member is committed to leaving this world better than they found it, and that inspires me every day.

As I prepare to move back to Houston for my next stage in life, I will always keep this community in my heart, both as a reminder and example of what Methodism and Christianity is really about. Y’all have pushed me to be better in many facets of life, and have allowed me to grow alongside you during my time here. When I get home, I’ll probably go to my old church for a while, but I’ll certainly be on the lookout for other communities just like this one. While having lots of butts in pews for Sunday morning service is good and should be celebrated, it’s become apparent to me that having boots on the ground helping others in any way possible is what we are all called to do. My God Sighting today is all of you, for the work you put in daily to seeing God’s Kingdom on Earth. Thank you for all you do, and thank you for allowing me to join y’all for the last couple of years.

November 20 U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club held a virtual meeting On November 20, at which time we made 8 loans, totaling $600, as follows:

The Abaziranenge Tcb Sub Grb A Group is 16 residents of Rwanda who are borrowing  $6,350. One of the group members is  Domithille, a 45 years old mother of  9 children between the ages of 5 and 23.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy more Irish potatoes and beans to sell.  She sells foodstuffs in the market and has been doing so for 20 years.  We loaned $50.

Nuevo Palin Group is 3 persons who live in Managua, Nicaragua. They are borrowing $2,275.  Andrea has had a convenience store for almost 9 years and this is her 6th loan. She will use her portion of the loan to buy soda pop and a microwave oven.  This will enable her to offer more products and make more profit.  We loaned $100.

Faith is 33 years old and lives with her two children, ages 2 and 16 in Caldwell, Liberia. She is borrowing $300 to buy gari to use in making shortbread. She has been in business for 6 years and sells 10 hours a day.  We loaned $75.

Acao Permanente Group is five women who live in Santo Andre, Brazil.  They are borrowing $2,500.  Marinete is the leader of the group.  She has a stand for selling sweets and has been there for many years.  She is divorced and has two children.  She will use her portion of the loan to purchase tapioca, sweets and acai.  We loaned $100.

The 3 Ward 5 Group is 4 ladies who live in Pyapan, Myanmar.  They are borrowing $1,100.  Than is one of the group members.  She has been selling spices, particularly black pepper, in her neighborhood for many years.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy black pepper in bulk.  We loaned $75.

The Amancaya Group is 8 women who live in LaPaz, Bolivia.  They are borrowing a total of $6,225.  Celia is the president of the group and has a business selling quinoa.  She will use her portion of the loan to purchase large quantities of quinoa seed in bulk.  We loaned $100.

Jean Claude lives in Delmas, Haiti.  He is 52 years old and received training in metalwork.  Today he owns a shop that sells construction materials.  He is requesting a loan of $275 to buy diverse dimensions of iron to sell.  This is his third loan. We loaned $25.

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Ashurgul lives in Bohtar, Tajikistan and is a seamstress.  However, she also breeds cattle and raises the bulls to sell.  In addition, she has a small plot of land, which you can see in the picture, on which she raises strawberries.  The region where she lives has sunny weather until the end of November, so she is able to harvest strawberries three times a year. She is borrowing $925 to purchase mineral fertilizer for her crop.  Shge will pay the loan back in 12 monthly payments, beginning in January.  This is her third loan.  We loaned $75.

We thank you, as always, for your support.