“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
“We’re closing down Suti Sana,” we announced to the women. A barrage of outraged cries and looks of disbelief confronted us as we sat around the table, trying to lay out our new plan to these women who had put their complete trust in us and our offer of transformation. “We need to revamp.”
Beyond a doubt, my favorite word in Spanish is esperar. It can mean to hope, to expect, or to wait. Yes, fellow linguists, this is one of those words that make us logophiles shiver with glee. This word stirs up a rich cauldron’s worth of meaning, and it’s been casting its spell on me these last few months.
Since we started Suti Sana two years ago, I have clung to the esperar as “hope.” It’s my deepest desire and hope that Suti Sana is a place where full and lasting transformation takes place. I also hoped that in spite of no one in our team being experience in business, we would be able to create a self-sustaining profitable business in two years.
Well, in that respect, my hopes were unrealized. After two years, Suti Sana was only covering about 30% of its costs.
But when the going gets tough, esperar starts to mean “expect.” I expect God to complete the work He’s started in us. I expect that He will show up, because He has promised to. And He has, in the form of some fabulous “business as mission”-aries who God shoved into our path just when the numbers started looking pretty dismal. These superheroes have been helping us create a better business plan, open up the local market, crank out our new logo and website, and think about marketing strategies.
But to get things really running again, we had to shut down Suti Sana for a while we did some construction, hired some new staff, and tried not to pull our hair out in hours and hours of planning meetings. Which brings us back to angry women demanding answers around the table.
In a long, hard conversation, we shared with the women that we were pausing Suti Sana only to make it better, more sustainable. In fact, we were giving them three months of salary to cover the time we would spend restructuring.
Sadly, one woman walked away furious and subsequently tried to turn the rest of them against us. But the others stood staunchly by us, and affirmed again and again that they trusted us and would be with us as long as we offered hope.
Esperar—they’ve had to wait these last few months while God brought us two stellar new staff and helped us develop local products (scrumptious granola bars, is what we’re starting with). In a few weeks, we should start Suti Sana again, with a far better chance of success than it has had since the beginning. We will welcome the women back and continue together in the journey towards transformation.
Cara Strauss Contreras (along with Ariana and Mache)