Sunday, December 27, 2009

Family Time

I love this nativity scene carved in Kenya. My mother gave it to me many years ago, and when I set it up, I always remember how precious she was to me. She used to place small brass camels as well as various African animals around the manger of my family's scene. This year, Tim took a look at our own creche and mentioned that he didn't think there were any elephants at the stable in Bethlehem. Oh, why quibble about a few details? After all -- it's Christmas! The Palmer family Christmas of 2009 was warm, joyous, and blessed. We began by taking an Iraqi family to shop for things they needed. Our home church, First Baptist of Camdenton, Missouri, had sent us a generous gift gathered by the children who attended vacation Bible school there this past summer. Their gift also helped a family from Burundi to enjoy a Christmas blessing.
Then came the moment we'd been eagerly awaiting -- Geoffrey arrived from Nebraska! He's the production manager at an advertising agency in Omaha. His employer sent him a few days earlier than planned so he could shoot some commercials for a company in Atlanta. He looked wonderful and far too grown up.
The Christmas tree in the corner of our living room was a reminder of so many cherished family memories.
But there was much work, fun and general silliness ahead! One afternoon, Geoffrey and I decided to bathe both dogs. Tessie, eleven, is never happy about bath time. Before I knew it, Geoffrey had climbed into the tub to keep her calm.
After the baths, Tessie was cold and shivering. We dressed her up in one of my warm sweaters. Suki curled up beside her friend, and they both relaxed and fell asleep.
Another memorable moment came when Andrei brought home a jacket, neck warmer, and ear protector band given to him by a very sweet woman where he works. When he put on the ear band, this was the result.
The day before Christmas eve, we all went to Stone Mountain Park. It was gorgeous -- lit up and shimmering as beautiful music filled the air. We rode the train around the mountain, singing Christmas carols and listening to the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.Andrei was beside himself with joy when he discovered a patch of real snow! He misses Missouri, and we are already planning another trip to Stone Mountain so he can ride a tube down the snow-covered hill. For the past 25 Christmas eves, Tim has gathered one or both boys and read "The Night Before Christmas." I also read the Biblical account of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.
Everyone wrote a letter to Santa Claus, and then we went to bed. Good thing, too. There were some very sleepy people in the Palmer house this year. Tim has the ability to sleep soundly in an upright position. Geoffrey slept 14 hours one night and dozed off whenever possible.
Even our wild little Suki got drowsy.
Christmas morning, Andrei assumed his favorite task -- passing out the presents.
He gave Geoffrey two bags of beef jerky -- which interested Suki immensely.
Perhaps she scored a little smackerel?
Andrei received glue sticks so he can continue building his amazing cars.
Tim was delighted with his new polo shirt.
I got an electric blanket. Yay! Even in Hotlanta I have the coldest feet known to mankind.
Andrei got one, too.
He was happy with the welcome mat for his new front door.
Tim always loves to get books to read.
Did you ever hear about the 5th Beatle? Yeah, that's him in the groovy glasses.
The Refugee Sewing Society's yarn group provided this black scarf. Gopi made it, and I bought it for Geoffrey!
"Starship Troopers" is a Geoffrey-Dad favorite.
Geoffrey gave us a GPS, so we can finally navigate Atlanta without getting lost every few minutes. Wheee!

My happiest hours were spent putting together this 1,000 piece puzzle of Bruges, Belgium. Tim and I took the boys there to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The puzzle brought back fun memories, and it made lots of new ones, too.
Geoffrey and I stayed up several nights into the wee hours -- setting pieces in place, talking about the past, present and future, and laughing a lot.

As I write this, Geoffrey is in Chicago preparing for another commercial shoot tomorrow. We all miss him so much. How very blessed we are! We all love each other, and we are surrounded and filled with the Holy Spirit, the greatest gift of all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Selling the goodies!

Perhaps our most exciting times involve market events. Generous churches, women's groups, and businesses invite The Refugee Sewing Society to sell our wares. Most recently, PureFUN in Lawrenceville welcomed us.

PureFUN is the daycare supply company owned by our partners and friends, Todd and Carol Harrison. Brenna, who works for them, originated the idea for a trunk show. Last Saturday, we loaded women into our cars and took them to the PureFUN headquarters. Carol (above in the white vest) helped explain how the business works. We took them on a tour of the building, and then shoppers began to arrive. Todd (below) and Carol manned the check-out table. The women were curious, as always, about American ways. Our new friends at Discovery Point daycare had already purchased 40 mat sheets from us. They came to the trunk show and bought a big stack of doll clothes and many other items. Thank you so much!
I love taking pictures of our customers with the women who have made the items they purchased. That's fun for everyone!
Amazin' Amy Cornett, our bead group teacher, has been zipping from one market event to another. I have loved watching her blossom into an eloquent public speaker. She spoke recently to the Windy Hill Women's Club. She does a beautiful job of setting up displays. Women attending Amy's events enjoy looking through the gorgeous jewelry, bags and other items before making their purchases. Amy also spoke in Augusta at the annual associational WMU meeting. The WMU (Women's Missionary Union) dates back to the 1800s and is a primary source of missions education and support in Southern Baptist churches.We love the WMU!

This group also let Amy set up shop.If you would like to help the ministry of The Refugee Sewing Society by inviting us to your home, church, business, or other venue, please contact us at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kickin' up our heels!

Today we had The Refugee Sewing Society Christmas party at our house -- complete with singing, dancing, eating, and getting paid lots of money!

Sharon (the cloth diaper lady) borrowed a 15-passenger van, and Sherrill (super volunteer for the beginner sewing class) drove her car filled with women. If you're going to kick up your heels, you should first kick off your shoes. After all the women had arrived, we ushered them through the buffet line.
No meat, no eggs -- the theme song of the day. The volunteers had all worked hard to make sure that none of the foods contained either ingredient that is taboo for our Muslims and vegetarian Hindus.All the women were beautifully dressed! Look at Netra in her turquoise sari.Kuresho wore a long beaded band from Somalia. Her hijab had sparkles on it.
Hinde brought Yusuf, who was an absolute angel the whole time.
Buddha wore this gorgeous salwa from Nepal.
Rabha looked as beautiful as ever.The women took their places at our very long table. We had placed nativity scenes of all types as centerpieces.After we ate, the singing and dancing began. What fun!Some of the older women did a dance I had seen at their Teej celebration.
All the volunteers decided to join in! Sharon was groovin' to the beat.
Or maybe not!
Sherrill did some fancy moves.Though the singers were Bhutanese, it was fun to see others dancing, too. Rabha from Sudan enjoyed dancing with Jasoda.
Even the ol' teacher burned up the dance floor!I also had the joy of telling the women about the birth of Jesus and His amazing love -- and sacrifice -- for all of us. After that, we gave each woman a small gift bag filled with soaps, toothbrushes, gloves, and other pretty things.

Thanks to Carol's careful calculations, we paid the women for several weeks' work at the end of the party. It's always fun to hear their squeals of joy and get such big thank-you hugs. We also had the huge joy of providing 7 women in the advanced class with brand new sewing machines. We were able to buy them for $50 right after Thanksgiving. We offered the women the opportunity to purchase them from us for $25.

Thank you for your many donations of fabric, yarn, beads, and so many other wonderful items. We also appreciate those of you who have given money. Because of you, we were able to put a sewing machine into each of these homes. Two of the advanced class women already owned machines, so now all nine are equipped.

Your prayers, volunteer hours, and other gifts of time, treasure, and talent mean so much to us. May God bless us every one!