Exciting News!

It is so great to be able to write you today with some very exciting news! I hope you will be as thrilled as I am for the women of True Vineyard Ministries and for the progress that is being made in Rwanda!

For over a year, I have been working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility division of Kate Spade & Company in New York. Our management team has worked very meticulously to improve the quality of our yarn and bring it to the standard of excellence for which Kate Spade & Company is known.

Several months ago Kate Spade & Company started their own cooperative in Rwanda, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. At the beginning of May, their organization launched their On Purpose brand, promoting products made by the artisans of Masoro. The goal of this new initiative is to develop a viable resource for their organization while promoting artisans in Rwanda. Women employed through this program will be knitting hats and scarves out of our high-quality Merino yarn beginning later this month. The first of these products will hit the shelves of Jack Spade, their men's line and brand store, for Holiday 2014!

This is especially exciting for both organizations, as this partnership will allow Kate Spade & Company to produce their first products completely sourced in Rwanda! They have done similar projects in Bosnia and Afghanistan, but all raw materials were imported from China, as are all the other materials for products currently being assembled in Rwanda for On Purpose. It is a huge step for Kate Spade & Company and a very exciting time for us. We are confident that this will be an ongoing and growing relationship as we begin to create yarn for their other brands. Additionally, this project is already driving other organizations to seek True Vineyard as a raw materials source in Rwanda! We have seen and felt the hand of God's guidance all the way through this process.

It is very exciting to announce that this order created a need for us to employ 7 more widows - a new total of 44 women and their children being served by True Vineyard Ministries. As you can imagine, employing a total of 44 women in the space where we originally employed 10 is challenging. We cannot wait to move into our new workspace, Gihunga Center, in Susa Village!

In a few weeks, a team of 19 people (our largest team ever) will be traveling to Rwanda where, God willing, we will see the completion of construction for Gihunga Center. We are looking forward to a day in the near future when we can finally move operations to our very own property. The team will be working with local workers on the construction of a large gazebo and beatification of the grounds at the new center. The women love to work outside, and we want their new center to be a beautiful and aesthetically peaceful place to come to work. I know the team would covet your prayers as they are preparing for their journey.

I am also seeking prayers over a growing issue we are seeing with some of our women.

When we first began our work in Rwanda, we built 10 houses for 10 widows. As God opened up the opportunity to hire more women, we made the decision that it was more important to employ as many as we could rather than employ a few and build them houses. While we have no regrets about this decision, we are seeing a developing issue-unsafe living conditions for many of our ladies.

Our focus has always been about empowering the women we employ to take care of themselves and their families. However, due to some challenges and government building restrictions for new homes in Rwanda, this has become an extremely difficult task. Would you pray with us as we seek wisdom over this issue?

Lastly, I would like to tell you about a very exciting guest we have visiting us this fall. Immaculée Ilibagiza, New York Times best-selling author of Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide will be in Austin and San Antonio, respectively on September 6 and 7 for two very special speaking engagements for True Vineyard Ministries. Immaculée hid and survived for 91 days inside a tiny bathroom with 7 other women during the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I encourage you to read her book and join us in September. Tickets will go on saleJuly 1 through our website at truevineyard.org.
 
Thank you very much for your continued prayers. We are grateful.

Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Exciting News!

It is so great to be able to write you today with some very exciting news! I hope you will be as thrilled as I am for the women of True Vineyard Ministries and for the progress that is being made in Rwanda!

For over a year, I have been working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility division of Kate Spade & Company in New York. Our management team has worked very meticulously to improve the quality of our yarn and bring it to the standard of excellence for which Kate Spade & Company is known.

Several months ago Kate Spade & Company started their own cooperative in Rwanda, employing 150 artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. At the beginning of May, their organization launched their On Purpose brand, promoting products made by the artisans of Masoro. The goal of this new initiative is to develop a viable resource for their organization while promoting artisans in Rwanda. Women employed through this program will be knitting hats and scarves out of our high-quality Merino yarn beginning later this month. The first of these products will hit the shelves of Jack Spade, their men's line and brand store, for Holiday 2014!

This is especially exciting for both organizations, as this partnership will allow Kate Spade & Company to produce their first products completely sourced in Rwanda! They have done similar projects in Bosnia and Afghanistan, but all raw materials were imported from China, as are all the other materials for products currently being assembled in Rwanda for On Purpose. It is a huge step for Kate Spade & Company and a very exciting time for us. We are confident that this will be an ongoing and growing relationship as we begin to create yarn for their other brands. Additionally, this project is already driving other organizations to seek True Vineyard as a raw materials source in Rwanda! We have seen and felt the hand of God's guidance all the way through this process.

It is very exciting to announce that this order created a need for us to employ 7 more widows - a new total of 44 women and their children being served by True Vineyard Ministries. As you can imagine, employing a total of 44 women in the space where we originally employed 10 is challenging. We cannot wait to move into our new workspace, Gihunga Center, in Susa Village!

In a few weeks, a team of 19 people (our largest team ever) will be traveling to Rwanda where, God willing, we will see the completion of construction for Gihunga Center. We are looking forward to a day in the near future when we can finally move operations to our very own property. The team will be working with local workers on the construction of a large gazebo and beatification of the grounds at the new center. The women love to work outside, and we want their new center to be a beautiful and aesthetically peaceful place to come to work. I know the team would covet your prayers as they are preparing for their journey.

I am also seeking prayers over a growing issue we are seeing with some of our women.

When we first began our work in Rwanda, we built 10 houses for 10 widows. As God opened up the opportunity to hire more women, we made the decision that it was more important to employ as many as we could rather than employ a few and build them houses. While we have no regrets about this decision, we are seeing a developing issue-unsafe living conditions for many of our ladies.

Our focus has always been about empowering the women we employ to take care of themselves and their families. However, due to some challenges and government building restrictions for new homes in Rwanda, this has become an extremely difficult task. Would you pray with us as we seek wisdom over this issue?

Lastly, I would like to tell you about a very exciting guest we have visiting us this fall. Immaculée Ilibagiza, New York Times best-selling author of Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide will be in Austin and San Antonio, respectively on September 6 and 7 for two very special speaking engagements for True Vineyard Ministries. Immaculée hid and survived for 91 days inside a tiny bathroom with 7 other women during the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I encourage you to read her book and join us in September. Tickets will go on saleJuly 1 through our website at truevineyard.org.
 
Thank you very much for your continued prayers. We are grateful.

Diana Wiley
Executive Director

Reflections of April

I’ve served in Africa for more than 10 years now…7 of those have been in Rwanda. Each and every April I am reminded of the pain and trauma so many endured during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  For most in the western culture, it is easy to dismiss as a time they would rather not think about. However, for a very significant Rwandese population…they will never  forget.

I can hear the individual stories yet I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for them. I pray that True Vineyard Ministries continues to be a safe place that provides a steady income, healthcare and individual counseling for these women.  Most of all, my prayer is that we provide a conduit for their healing along with spiritual council that will lead each of them to a deeper relationship with Christ

When we hire a new woman, she is given an opportunity to share prayer requests and her story with us.  Sometimes we are not prepared for what we hear.  Such was the case last week with Edith who was 17 years old in 1994.

Edith was one of 8 children. Her parents and 6 of her siblings were murdered during the genocide.  Edith spent 3 days lying unconscious in a heap of dead bodies where killers had thrown her body. They believed she was also dead after hacking her body multiple times with a machete.  By the grace of God Edith survived.  Her physical wounds did not heal until six years later in 2000.

We have been enormously blessed with a remarkable staff in Rwanda who cares deeply for our women and are committed to counseling those who have suffered so much. I never imagined that God would use this ministry to bring about healing for so many who have experienced unimaginable things.

All of us are grateful for the opportunity to know and love these women.  Mostly, we are honored to serve God in such a unique and special way. 

Please join us this month as we pray for our management staff and the 44 women we employ. God is doing great things through this ministry

Blessings,

Diana


Pray for Rwanda

Please join us as we pray for Rwanda as we remember the horrific genocide that ravaged the country for 100 days in 1994.  Almost one million people lost their lives in the extreme violence and bloodshed, which began 20 years ago.

We are proud to be working in Rwanda as an organization answering the bible's call to care for the widow. We are thrilled when we find other organizations in Rwanda that are women-centric and are promoting continued reconciliation through creating beautiful works of art. Thursday evening we will feature one of these groups, More than Sparrows, along with other organizations and artisans working in 11 African nations at our 6th Annual Springtime Trunk Show.

Please join us for this wonderful evening and opportunity to Shop For Good.  The show will be from 5:30 until 8:30 pm at our storefront, The Vineyard Marketplace in San Marcos.

For Erwin, With Love


True Vineyard Ministries along with the San Marcos, Texas community suffered a great loss last October when our beloved and faithful friend and volunteer, Erwin Janek, passed suddenly.  Erwin practically ran our Annual Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sale. He was our volunteer cheerleader who kept us motivated, dipping and selling year after year.  He knew exactly what we needed and was always ready to help us in any way he could. He happily dipped, packaged, delivered and stood on street corners dancing with signs every February – year after year.  If a volunteer didn’t show up for their shift, Erwin was always willing and ready to serve in any capacity and under any weather conditions.  This year, for our 12TH Annual Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sale, we would like to honor the legacy of serving that Erwin left for us.  That is, to serve willingly and selflessly wherever it is that God calls us.  Thank you Erwin for 11 great years of Valentines Days.  We miss and love you very much.

Prayers for 2014

I am in awe of what God has done through True Vineyard Ministries, Inc. During the past seven years, He has continued to amaze me by the rapid growth and reach of this widow-centered ministry, which offers life-sustaining opportunities in Africa. Our 50 Rwandan employees, their families and the surrounding communities have realized the results of our presence in a place where genocide, civil war and HIV/AIDS have left many feeling hopeless. It is far beyond what I could have ever dreamed or imagined for the organization. Please allow me to share a few highlights from 2013.

Katie Scrafford joined our team in Rwanda one year ago. She independently raised all of her own financial support to work for us as a full-time volunteer. Her background is in family therapy, but she also previously worked as shepherdess on a sheep farm in New Hampshire. Yes, you read that correctly. God brought a counselor and former shepherdess to our organization in Rwanda where we counsel widows and have a flock of sheep needed for our Handspun Hope yarn production.

Trauma counseling is greatly needed in Rwanda. With this challenge in mind, Katie and our country director Simon Dufitumukiza developed a lay counselor-training program. In July, the first class of 14 lay counselors graduated. Free trauma counseling is now offered to individuals in schools, persons with disabilities, and several churches in northern Rwanda. A counseling network is currently being formed in the area and many who are in desperate need of this kind of healing are being impacted by the presence of TVM.

In the spring and summer, we worked to raise funds through a matching grant for the first phase of construction for our new workplace, Gihunga Center, to be built on land we already own.  As the first phase of construction is finalized, our women will begin working at the new center. Having our own building is a huge step toward sustainable income for the 35 currently employed widows, support staff and their families with a total of 234 lives being directly impacted.

As TVM grows, opportunities are opening for the women to move to a place of greater financial independence. Through our Handspun Hope program, yarn making will continue to be a tool, providing for spiritual counsel and immediate expenses of food, shelter and healthcare. However, we feel that God wants more for the ladies and for other widows in the surrounding community. Through a savings group initiated by the women in 2010, we have seen the opportunity for them to save capital through microfinance initiatives. Using the property where the new center is being built, the women have started raising rabbits, which are sold to hotels and communities. This process moved us to begin praying about how God could potentially use TVM as a springboard for them to develop their own income-generating projects instead of remaining financially dependent on the organization. Gihunga Center—gihunga means “to cultivate” in Kinyarwanda—will serve this purpose. If the women can use their own creativity to build capital through similar microfinance initiatives, they can use the resources they've built through TVM to develop financial independence. This plan will allow us to bring more women into the TVM family!

Last summer, as a result of the success of the ministry and our store The Vineyard Marketplace, I was asked to go to South Sudan to consult with a newly formed women’s group on potential product development. It was an amazing process to watch how God used divine connections to bring me there. What is even more amazing is how He continues to use the ministry’s storefront to bring about lasting change to individual artisans and organizations in 11 African nations. We are the largest customer for many of the organizations from which we purchase fairly-traded products. This impact is far greater than we could ever hope to calculate.

In 2013, God used True Vineyard Ministries to bring more lives into realized change through employment, trauma counseling and the purchasing of products at a fair price. My prayer is that He continues to make provision for all the ways we feel Him calling us. It is a very exciting time for True Vineyard, and I hope that you will partner with us as we continue to grow. Please find enclosed a brochure on the opportunity for monthly widow sponsorship, outlining the different levels of engagement with TVM, as well as a “wish list” of our 2014 dreams for the organization. I ask that you consider supporting us through prayer and a year-end financial gift that will enable us to continue walking through the doors where God is calling the ministry. Should you choose, you may use the enclosed return envelope or give online at truevineyard.org.

   Thank you for your continued support. On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers at True Vineyard Ministries, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Diana Wiley
Founder and Executive Director

New Colors, Team, Katie, Counseling...and Jack F. Kennedy?????


It’s September and definitely time for an update on True Vineyard Ministries! It’s been a crazy wonderful summer with lots to report!
Our summer team traveled to Rwanda in early July and it is an understatement to say we were busy! We hit the ground running and worked along side the women to develop new products out of their beautiful new colors of Rwandan, Merino yarn. We were really excited to be arriving behind a visit from Nancy Zeller, of Long Ridge Farm, who spent several days with the ladies, teaching them how to dye with lots of new natural dye extracts. Be sure and check out our Facebook page to see some of the beautiful new shades…that are quickly turning into wonderful knit hats for fall!
True Vineyard has been so blessed by our full-time volunteer, Katie Scrafford, who has lived and worked with our women in Rwanda for almost one year! It has been a fast year…but “WOW” has she helped grow TVM to something great in Rwanda!  Meeting Katie was a truly a divine connection. She actually lived and worked on Long Ridge Farm in New Hampshire as a SHEPHEDRESS several years ago. Katie received her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University in 2011.  For the past several months, Katie has worked closely with our Country Director, Simon, in developing a lay-counselor training program. This program trains and equips other leaders to administer counseling to those who have experienced trauma. While our team was in Rwanda in July, we celebrated the first graduates of the new program and participated in their certificate ceremony. How wonderful to know that there are now hundreds of people being counseled through their traumatic pasts because of Katie’s heart for those who are in such great need. There are no words to express the organization’s gratitude to Katie and Simon for the work they have poured into this new program. How awesome it was to witness the fruits of their labor.
Now for the update on Gihunga Center... Although we believed we would have been well into the construction of Phase I of the new center, we are currently (and anxiously) waiting on final approvals from the Rwandan government.  Just as everything was ready to begin, the Rwandan Development Board issued a new mandate, requiring all NGO’s (Non-governmental Organizations) operating in Rwanda (like True Vineyard), to “re-register”.  We are currently in that process and are also proceeding with application for a “special building permit” from the local government sector. Unfortunately, the best thing for us to do is wait until we have gone through one or both of these processes. We want to be absolutely certain that our center is legally built, with all approvals in place. We promise to keep you informed as we make progress!
By now you are probably wondering what could the 50th Anniversary of the assignation of JFK possibly have to do with True Vineyard Ministries' work in Rwanda…  We are thrilled to announce a GRAND-SCALE fundraising event coming to San Marcos, Texas this fall, Remembering Camelot Through the Lens of Jacques Lowe, the private collection of Frank Harvey. Mark your calendars for November 16th  and 17th and in the words of Frank Harvey “get ready to witness history”. Please watch our promotional video and then visit our event site at www.rememberingcamelot.com to learn more!
Many blessings-
Diana Wiley
Executive Director