After a long hiatus (um, seven months IS a long time, even when you're not counting), I'm back with a few recipes, a neat story, and (of course) a personal challenge. Or several (maybe seven if you feel you must count).
I've been caught up for the last sixteen months with what may best be described as mission work here in our little corner of Appalachia. Mission in the many ways one might define "mission". In fact, Dictionary.com has 20 - TWENTY - definitions for the word "mission". Suffice it to say, I've covered most of them, except perhaps the one which involves furniture and style in the same sentence, because you know we still decorate in the "Early American Hand-Me-Down" style. You can read the definitions here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mission?s=t.
I particularly like #16-18. Calling. Vocation. Sent for duty or purpose.
DO something. My new mantra. My mission in life.
In March, our church family celebrated Missions Month. We spent time and some talents highlighting the missions (definition #13, "organized missionary work or activities in any country or region") which we support with donations of money.
And for some, missions supported with time. Time, the new currency.
We featured several Sunday School hours-worth of presentations on missions (definition #10, "missionary duty or work" and #16, "an assigned or self-imposed duty or task; calling; vocation"). One doctor's trip to Zimbabwe met closed gates, then redirected to the needs in front of him, resulting in opened doors for many to follow. The same family's trip to Guatemala to provide needed medical care with fledgling medical students. Our own work here at home to support recovery efforts in our community after last year's devastating tornados. Our minister's family trip to Haiti, a graduation present for a son, reaching out and supporting his friend's mission-career building hospitals.
My contributions were, of course, last-minute and frantic and completely spirit-inspired.
But that's not the point. It's not about me. At all. Even if this is my blog.
We shared our stories with words, pictures, and music. The best photo (after FJ's Medical Spouse's picture of the sewage ditch he tripped into, while his luggage was detained) was of a lovely Haitian girl in an orphanage, with birthday cake frosting all over her face, in an adorable dress. A dress that made several of us sit up straight and said "we can make those!"
We may not be able to travel to do "real" missions work in other countries, but we sure can stitch up a storm here and send lovely little dresses to lovely little ladies in the orphanages of Haiti.
This is how stItching for Change began. I've been ITCHING for a change in our lives for some time now... itching to turn our attention and our resources toward those who are far more needy than we can perceive here in our gluttonous United States. I've also wanted to have a group of friends who will get together to (pardon me) stitch and bitch. A group who'll share my need to create garments or quilts or afghans or dolls or shorts or anything to give away, while creating a community together which we can keep.
This summer, we've spent more than 24 hours over four days creating lovely little dresses with donated supplies. Even the most bland of fabrics from my stash have resulted in darling dresses. The yards and yards of fabric I've been able to part with will look far better on the little girls in the orphanages than they will stacked on my shelves. So far, we have over 65 dresses. Our goal is 100. 100 dresses. Just like that sweet little book. We might have to send copies of the book with the dresses. Anyone able to translate it to Kreol for us?
Along the way, we've learned to love and support and cheer a little bit for each other. Julie joins us from a land far away (Massachusettes. Yeah. I know. So foreign.). Mary Beth and FJ joined us on each's first outing after hip replacement surgery. Liz, who doesn't sew a stitch, found an important role in prepping lunch, tying bows, and entertaining us all with her amazingly dry humor. Erica, who also "doesn't sew", sat gamely at a complicated machine and stitched away, later founding her true calling in design - matching fabrics and ribbons for maximum beauty. SJ found solace in slicing and dicing the many patterns and salads to relieve anxiety and frustration with offspring. Dr. P reconnected with her sewing machine after a difficult year and is now scheming a comfort quilt for her dear friend recently diagnosed with cancer.
Men anpil, chay pa lou. Many hands make light a heavy load.
We've shared endings and beginnings, hopes and anguishes. MB came close to tears when seeing the adorable dresses made from fabric her mother left behind. Dr. P and Susette both left rewarding teaching positions for new challenges. One Saturday half our families were without power at home due to recent storms. Several of us have uttered, independently, "because my kids are idiots." Our little group has worked together to support and sustain each other, perhaps, as much as we will touch Haitian orphans.
I think this is what Life's all about... touch. Touching others with healing love. I'm SO moved by anything involving laying-on-of-hands. This week my children visited with a young minister and his family in a benign "hello, my mom says we know you, I'll hold the baby, he's so cute, he's drooled all over my shirt, please take him back" kind of way. Just a few years ago, my same children were the first invited to the altar to lay hands on this now-papa minister during his ordination. I'm not sure my eldest understood the symbolism and strength her few minutes holding baby Neely displayed, but I trust she'll hear Papa Neely's voice in her life, and these tenuous touching connections will be strengthened, yet to grow and blossom in ways we could never imagine.
I digress. Happily, but unproductively.
Here's the best, latest, most famous cake recipe I have. It's not so healthy, but oh-so-delicious. Somehow we came home with half of it after Sunday School today. It's from Taste of Home, a magazine my Aunt Dawn and Uncle Joe sent us a subscription to this year. It's fantastic. http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Praline-Ice-Cream-Cake
So... follow me (trust me) here, from a birthday-cake-smile in Haiti to a shared delight while stItching for Change.
We can do great things, even unexpected things, together. And when we do, we need to eat cake - we need to celebrate - together.