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Issue 7-12

Yes We Can! (Sound Familiar?)

Yesterday I felt like putting my head down on my desk and banging my forehead on its surface!

Every project hits a point where the human catalyst for the project becomes discouraged, wonders what in the world he or she is doing spending so much time, energy, and personal finances on what is more and more seeming to be a Big Impossible Idea, and thinks, "You know, I just need to give it up!"

Yesterday was that moment. After traveling with grandkids for three weeks, we returned home with what I diagnosed as a "car virus" (everyone came down with a headache and general achiness—the body's rebellion after being crushed in a vehicle for hundreds of miles of travel—"No! You won't take me along with you any more! No, you won't! Stop! Stop!") Now, after travel and with a headache, facing the piles of things left undone looms dauntingly. Once task gets checked off the list and ten more appear. I call this "The More I Do, the More There Is to Do" syndrome.

Well, yesterday was one of those "what on Earth am I doing mornings." It felt as though I've worked for months—seven months to be precise—on the Global Bag Ladies Project, and there are still mountains to climb to get it launched. How has this landed on my assignment pile? I wondered. Never mind that at the beginning of this year I had prayed, "Oh Lord, let me, just once in my life, be at the right place at the right time with the right idea." David and I are generally miles ahead in our thinking—not always a comfortable situation after decades of quick-stepping. The Global Bag Ladies Project feels like right place (check); right time (check); right idea (check).

Remember this, oh you world-changers, you dauntless many who actually think that with God's help and a community of committed and creative compatriots, you can make a little difference in this disturbed and terrifying world: There is always a low point where you wail No, I can't! I just can't! Don't be surprised when the low blows hit you below the belt. The Enemy loves to crush Big (Seemingly Impossible) Ideas.

Fortunately, at that very moment, I was writing an e-mail report to one of my Kenyan colleagues, now home for a few months in Illinois. "What has been accomplished in Kenya?" I asked. Then I reported as to what's been accomplished Stateside:

  • we have procured the domain names
  • we have created two U.S.-supplied canvas bags to sell for fundraising
  • we have run the bag designs past about 14 focus groups
  • a Web site designer is standing by to put up the site when we have enough money
  • a donor has given us $250 to hire a graphic designer to create a corporate logo, who is now working on a corporate ID and a brochure
  • a draft foundation (known as "Ask") has been written, run by readers, and sent for evaluation to a former CEO of one of the larger microcredit institutions.
  • he, in turn, sent me a six-page critique
  • we've notified our building manager that we need the adjacent office by October for the Global Bag Ladies Project
  • a volunteer steering team is beginning to form
  • connections have been made with various people in microcredit fields to advise, even sit on the steering team
  • we're marketing and selling bags for the first phase of fundraising
  • the details for the microenterprise journey to Kenya are in place and
  • we can begin to advertise

CLICK! I sent off my e-mail, thinking, Hm-m-m-m-m. We've actually accomplished a great deal in seven months. Incoming e-mail from Linda Renner, who is getting a prototype for the African-made bags together. "I have 56 bags made in Kenya and someone I want you to talk with about the project. Can you come by this afternoon?"

One quick phone call to a friend who once had her own shop with a total of 13 years of retailing behind her. "Could you possibly plug into Global Bag Ladies Project meeting this afternoon and look at these sample bags?" "Whoa," my friend laughed. "The Lord must be holding you. I just had my afternoon appointment cancel."

Fortunately, that very afternoon the Writer's Wannabe Group was gathering at 1:30 with their writing projects in hand. Gretchen Erhardt, the woman who had assumed the task of writing copy for the Global Bag Ladies Project Web site came in with an amazing body of work, delightful ideas, as well as a musical parody on eco-shopping set to the tune of "Jingle Bells." She had deliberately followed an "obviously organized couple" who were eco-grocery shopping at Meijer and watched as they hooked their ten Meijer bags onto the plastic bag carousels at the checkout counter so the bagger could pack up their groceries. (I promise you will chuckle outright if you follow the link and sing the parody.)

My office at work and the back of my car are filled with sample bags. I have bags from ALDI, cloth shopping bags I've purchased for 35 cents at garage sales, sustainable IKEA bags (IKEA no longer provides plastic bags). Gretchen Erhardt, the Wannabe Writer, brought us the Meijer Store shopping bag as another sample. By far, this Meijer grocery-store bag, selling for $1.00, was the most sophisticated sustainable grocery store bag design we have examined as of yet. Real thought had gone into it.

I was beginning to get excited.

My retailing friend, Cathie, and I hurried from the Writer's Wannabe Meeting and met with Linda Renner. She "blames" me for getting this all started; I "blame" her! About 12 beautiful sample bags made from African fabric were spread on her couch. "These beads are made of paper (a bead cascade was clipped to the side of some). Aren't they amazing! Oh, by the way, I have about 150 orders for bags." We decided Linda would use those sales to underwrite some of the start-up funds in Kenya.

Well, needless to say, the rest of the afternoon went the same way. Linda Renner has women waiting (about a million, she said, not so facetiously) in Kenya to become bag-makers. We just need the microcredit organization to work through (and microloan donations). And—it just so happens that I had several long conversations two weeks ago with the head of a micro-lending institution (not about bags), but I do have his phone number. An existing African fabric organization has eagerly agreed to become our continental-side umbrella and is capable of rolling out as many as 2,000 bags in their sewing rooms to fulfill large orders. They have done all the laborious legal paperwork on import/export and if required, the Global Bag Ladies Project will simply slip under their aegis once we begin shipping in quantities.

Somewhere, AOL reported, on this recent European jaunt, as Barack Obama was entering a hotel, or a government building, a lone voice in the crowd shouted out, "Yes, we can!" Someone overseas got the Obama campaign message.

I think I "got" God's message yesterday. Ordinary individuals, empowered by the Holy Spirit, working in conjunction with a community of creative and committed compatriots, can change the world in sometimes small, but always powerful ways. Yes, we can.

What a difference a day makes!

As of today, we have sold 42 of the Global Bag Ladies Project Bags. That means we must sell 558 more bags to meet our goal of 600 bags sold to raise $12,000 to underwrite our start-up costs. This will be the last Soulish Food dedicated to this topic. The next issues will return to a series on the concept of spiritual hunger. So please read carefully.

This is what I need you to do. I need you to order a canvas bag imprinted with "I'M A GLOBAL BAG LADY... AND PROUD OF IT!" for yourself. But I also need you to take orders for 10 bags from your family, from your neighbors, from your Sunday School class, from your book group. Give a bag to a daughter, to a daughter- or sister-in-law today, to your wife, or to teachers for school gifts. Think birthday gifts, shower gifts, hostess gifts. Order your Christmas gifts early! If 60 people sell 10 bags each, that will reach our goal of 600 bags sold (or if 10 people sell 60 bags each—think groups). The bags cost us $10 apiece, $5 for shipping and handling. Anything above $15, beyond our raw costs, becomes seed money to underwrite the stateside GBLP marketing that must occur if we are to make the African-made bags available in quantities. Monies Linda raises on the sale of African-made bags will go directly to hiring women in Kenya.

Yesterday, I kept saying, "If we get this up and running . . ." And, Cathie Clark, my retailing friend, kept interrupting me with ". . .when—when we get this up and running."

Just think—what will it mean when one million bag-makers sell to millions of bag-buyers? Some women only need $125 a month to buy food for their families, pay rent, purchase clothing, and send their children to school. I would like to be part of something that makes a difference for good in the world. How about you?

Yes, we can. Start by buying ten bags at $100 (add $50 if we must ship to you), sell them for whatever people can pay above those costs, then turn the margins into the GBLP with a check made out to Hungry Souls/GBLP; Box 30; Wheaton, IL 60187. Yes, we can!

Karen Mains

GOAL: 600 Global Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold

600 bags @ an average of $20 margin each = an estimated $12,000
 -42 bags already sold = $420 toward our goal.                                           
Goal to Go: 558 bags = $11,580 (!)

Have you considered giving GBLP tote bags as gifts? One of these shopping bags was recently purchased "in honor of" a person being celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the purpose of the GBLP bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as favors for a women's retreat.

To receive your own Global Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a check made out to Hungry Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.

A Meeting of Women’s Minds:
A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya in March 2009

The details and day matrix for the Kenyan Microenterprise Journey are complete! I am terribly excited about this trip. We will be meeting and dialoguing with many Kenyan women who are working to solve their own problems. The purpose of this journey will be to discover ways we can collaborate in these solving-problem ventures. United Nations and WHO (World Health Organization) studies have shown that the most successful grassroots projects in Africa, ones that are sustainable and effective, are organized and run by women.

We will be leaving the States March 25 and returning April 6. Interested? Follow this link for more details and costs.

2008 Pilgrimage to France

There is room for 10 more people to participate in the upcoming pilgrimage to France. The deadline is August 31st and full payment will be due at that time. We truly hope you can come, as this will be a personal and unique opportunity to experience France in the company of other pilgrims lead by Karen Mains ( ) and Valerie Bell ( ).


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted bi-weekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the bi-weekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"I think I "got" God's message yesterday. Ordinary individuals, empowered by the Holy Spirit, working in conjunction with a community of creative and committed compatriots, can change the world in sometimes small, but always powerful ways. Yes, we can."
A Billion Bootstraps

A Billion Bootstraps: Microcredit, Barefoot Banking, and The Business Solution for Ending Poverty

A bold manifesto by two business leaders, A Billion Bootstraps shows why microcredit is the world's most powerful poverty-fighting movement and an unbeatable investment for your charitable donations.

A Billion Bootstraps unearths the roots of the microcredit revolution, revealing how the pioneering work of people such as Dr. Muhammad Yunus-winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize-is giving hope to billions. Philanthropist and self-made millionaire Phil Smith and microcredit expert and consultant Eric Thurman provide a riveting narrative that explores how these small loans, arranged by "barefoot bankers," enable impoverished people to start small businesses, support their families, and improve local economies. By paying back their loans instead of simply accepting handouts, men and women around the world are continually giving others the same opportunity to change their futures.

Smith and Thurman also examine why traditional charity programs, while providing short-term relief, often perpetuate the problems they are trying to alleviate, and how applying investment principles to philanthropy is the key to reversing poverty permanently.

A Billion Bootstraps explains how ordinary people can accelerate the microcredit movement by investing charitable donations in specific programs and then leveraging those contributions so the net cost to lift one person out of poverty is remarkably low. You'll discover how to get more for your money by donating with the mind-set of an investor and calculating measurable returns-returns that will change lives and societies forever.

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2008 Pilgrimage to France

God Through the Eyes of the Artist and the Artist In the Eye of God
October 24 - November 10, 2008

This is a journey for men and women. We have room for 10 more pilgrims. The land fee of $2,592 is due August 31, 2008. Airfare is not included. Depending upon the exchange rate (the dollar being low), we may have to add a bit more to the land price, but we hope not to do this.

If you have any questions,
contact Karen Mains ( ) or Valerie Bell ( ).
We can provide you with a flyer that has all the details and the general itinerary or you can go to the travel Web site at to print off the pages you need for full information.

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Copyright 2006-2008 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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