A Special Gift…

Hello and Happy Easter to all our wonderful partners and friends! Mindi here.

We pray that you all had an introspective and fulfilling Lent and a joyful Easter! John and Ella and I had a great, if short, furlough back to the States and we were able to visit the wonderful people at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg where we got to meet, face-to-face, our new priest, the Reverend Carrie Duncan! We are really looking forward to a renewed and stronger relationship with our home church and the people in Hattiesburg.

We are writing this post today to share an incredible blessing that Teach Them To Fish has been given.  As you all know, the focus of TTTF is to support Hondurans (particularly single women and the people of Roatan) in their efforts to break the generational cycle of poverty and to become self-sufficient, understand the dignity of work and, most importantly, to come to understand their worth as a child of God and brother/sister of Jesus Christ. We have been able to help support, with varying levels of involvement, 12 different micro-industries to date. Roatan Glass Art and Tropical Wood Works have been the micros to which we have been able to give our most focused efforts and support, and they are both flourishing by God’s grace and a lot of hard work and generosity.

We are really excited to share that we now have the makings of a completely new micro-industry, thanks to the selfless posthumous generosity of one wonderful lady, Billie Davison. Before I reveal this amazingly-timed gift, please let us tell you a bit about Billie, as described by her husband, Gary Baskin.

Billie lived in Mandeville, Louisiana, near New Orleans.  In her professional life she was a veterinarian and was Board Certified in Laboratory Animal Medicine.  She spent most of her career in biomedical research and eventually had her own research program in the maternal-fetal transmission of malaria and HIV (AIDS). 

Since childhood, Billie was passionate about arts and crafts as well as everything to do with water.  She enjoyed drawing, painting, jewelry making, paper making, and numerous other crafts. Billie also loved all water.  Her husband Gary introduced her to diving and to Roatan in 2011 on a vacation trip.  She was hooked on both from the first day. Billie and Gary eventually built a house on Roatan and were spending about 4 months a year on the island.  Billie loved diving, snorkeling, underwater photography, and socializing with friends and family. Unfortunately, Billie also suffered from chronic spinal degeneration and fibromyalgia. As she was becoming progressively more debilitated, she was collecting craft materials so she could keep herself occupied in her craft room after she could no longer easily get around.  Sadly, she passed away before that time.

Here is where TTTF comes into the picture. Gary explained that years ago, they attended one of the Festivals for the Angels (a large music festival with accompanying craft booths).  While there, they met some island ladies who were selling jewelry they had made.  They explained to Billie and Gary that they were part of a program that taught island women craft skills so they could make things to sell for income.   Right then and there, Billie told Gary that when she died, she wanted her jewelry-making supplies to go to a similar program. After Billie’s passing, we were put in touch with Gary by a mutual acquaintance on the island who knew something of what our mission does. What Gary didn’t know at that time was this: The “island ladies” they met at the Festival for the Angels were, in fact, the ladies of Roatan Glass Art, the first micro-industry born of Teach Them to Fish on Roatan! So, not only did Billie get to donate her jewelry supplies to a “similar program” to one they saw on Roatan, but to the EXACT SAME program to which she was introduced at the Festival. God certainly has his hand in every situation of our lives, does He not?

Although we were touched and pleased to hear that Gary wanted TTTF to have Billie’s jewelry-making supplies, I don’t think anything prepared us for what we received once all four GIANT boxes were delivered to us. Thousands of dollars-worth of painstakingly inventoried and organized supplies arrived and we were speechless as we sorted through everything. This is literally a “micro-industry in a box” (well, boxes!). To make things even more providential, this generous donation came at a time when TTTF has a brand-new full-time missionary moving to the island. It likely won’t take you long to guess in what she has a significant background. If you guessed jewelry-making, you would be correct! Jerri Lee James will be joining the mission next week (look for a blog post about her soon!), and she is excited about delving into this amazing gift and finding some local ladies to whom she will teach the art of jewelry-making as well as business practices that will allow them to use their art and trade to become a self-sufficient micro-industry of their own.

Please be in prayer for Billie’s family which includes her husband, 2 sons, 4 grandsons, 2 brothers, and her sister. We here at TTTF are so humbled and grateful for the generosity of this whole family, and because of this, we are proud to name our newest micro-industry BILLIE’S GIFT, so that her legacy will live on in the changed lives of the people of Roatan, a place that was truly and well-loved by Billie Davison.

Wishing God’s greatest blessings on you all,

Mindi and John and all of the TTTF Family

Billie Davison of Billie’s Gift Jewelry Micro-industry

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