“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians, 13:13
Besieged with seemingly a million shades of red and pink, obnoxious ads screaming at all your senses, "Buy it if you love them," and the lingering queasiness at even the sight of a chocolate candy may have you fed up with talk of "Love." But the love we experienced at My Cup of Tea in 2020 needs to be shared both as an encouragement that the work is truly changing lives and as an acknowledgment of how God continues to demonstrate His love for us.
When COVID's first major blow struck the Memphis community in March, we, like so many others, grappled with whether or not to close and how to keep customers and employees safe. But we knew our associates needed to work and wanted to work, so we implemented the guidelines, secured the PPE, and kept our doors open. Almost a year later, our sales exceeded 2019, despite the pandemic and a sharp decline in retail traffic at our location and the venues that sell our products. And most importantly, not a single member of our team has contracted COVID to date.
Two of our early employees purchased homes in 2020. Cheryl bought her first home and chose to purchase in Orange Mound to do her part to help stabilize and revitalize the community. Deborah purchased her new home just outside the unofficial border of Orange Mound. Both Cheryl and Deborah started with us 5 years ago and have diligently worked to achieve the stability that comes with owning a home. This is a critical part of our mission.
God has shown us His love through the blessing of you, not just as customers who buy our tea, though that is central to our ability to serve Orange Mound. In 2020, many of you have volunteered time and expertise. You told others about us across the state and throughout the nation, and we watched support for My Cup of Tea extend to 42 states and the District of Columbia. You shared our social media and associated your good name with our products. And your words of encouragement lifted our spirits.
We experienced heartache and disappointment in 2020 too. Two of our employees lost their mothers six weeks apart. Another was involved in a car wreck and was injured. These calamities were on top of the daily variety that many of the women at My Cup of Tea experience as a routine part of life. But what we witnessed was a deepening of the bond among our team members and a commitment to praying for one another more fervently than ever before.
My Cup of Tea's cup runs over with faith, hope, and love even when our struggles seem more than we can bear. We don't yet know if 2021 will be better or worse by the standards many of us use to measure. But we know we are loved by you, each other, and our God. Just as the apostle tells us when everything else fails and disappoints there is faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love.