Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let me look at your face . . .

A dear friend and I were chatting one day. Her teenage son strolled by and offered a "teenager-ish" comment. "When my mom wakes me up every morning," he informed me, "she puts her hands on my cheeks and says 'Let me look at your face.' I hate that! I'll be glad when I move out and she can't do it anymore."

I know exactly why Ryan's mother wanted to look at his face. She loves him.

God surprised us this Monday morning when The Refugee Sewing Society grew from a membership of 12 to 32! Here are some of their faces. Each woman has her own story of heartbreak, suffering, survival, and hope. Please look at them . . . and love them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Miracles!

I've learned something -- finally.

When I worry, fret, and try to micromanage my life, I make it hard for the Holy Spirit to work. When I let go, admit my weakness, and surrender, God does amazing things. I figured out early that I had no control over The Refugee Sewing Society. God was going to do what He wanted, and I was going to sit back and be amazed.This week, our missions supervisor, Tim Cummins (above), bought us TWO new sewing machines. Kelly and I were thrilled! Tim had already given us two machines when we first got started. Take a look at these brand new beauties! If you haven't met Tim, director of Whirlwind Missions, you're missing out. He and I grew up in Kenya together. Our parents were friends and they worked together often. It's hard to believe that Tim and I now minister together in much the same way our parents did. Check out his website at

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better . . . another miracle! We needed yarn for our crochet group. I tried to take care of it myself -- of course. I went to Michael's and bought several skeins of expensive yarn. It was obvious I couldn't keep up with the demand. Then our Realtor called. He was clearing out a building and found THREE huge sacks of yarn. Did I want it? You betcha! The bags filled the back of my trunk, just as the free fabric had a couple of weeks before. When I opened up the bags in the sewing room, I was amazed at God's bounty.Next I cleared a shelf and organized the yarn. It filled up an entire shelf -- with barely enough room to squeeze in the last few skeins. Is that a beautiful sight or what? Thank you, Lord!I had yet another surprise on Friday. Kelly called to say the sewing room was full of Bhutanese women. What were they doing? Sewing, of course! I dropped by to see what was happening.There were NINE women in our little room, SIX of whom I'd never met. One of my students was acting as "teacher," racing from machine to machine in an effort to keep up with all the questions and needs. Please pray that we can find time -- and room! -- to welcome these new women into The Refugee Sewing Society.

But something else this week touched my heart the most. I'll begin at the beginning. One of our Bhutanese students has had a hard time learning to sew. Things always go wrong. Her thread gets knotted and tangled, she uses embroidery settings to sew seams, her bag handles are twisted and backwards. Things like that. I sensed her discouragement despite her smiles. Then last Monday, she picked up a crochet hook for the first time.This sweet woman is on fire! I can't get her to stop crocheting and return to the sewing machine. I'll admit I thought her first effort was pretty ratty looking, and I was afraid she would have trouble with this, too. But when I dropped by on Friday, she was standing, head bent, eyes focused, and crochet hook flying!
She is making a cap for a baby. I'm so proud of her that it's all I can do to keep from giving her a big hug -- which would probably scare her away for sure!

We're having our first "market day" on Saturday, February 7, starting at 11:30. All the women will be offering their handiwork for sale at Clarkston Community Center. A church in South Carolina is sending 45 people our way. We hope the whole "village" will turn out. And you're invited, too!

Please pray for us as we work hard to get our products ready for this first big event. Thank the Lord for His bounteous blessings. Ask Him to help me let go! And praise him for 2 new sewing machines, 3 sacks of yarn, 6 new students, and 1 precious lady who is crocheting up a storm!

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day . . . and we have a dream, too!

Instead of taking a holiday on Martin Luther King, Jr. day -- The Refugee Sewing Society decided to follow that great leader's advice and pursue our dreams! Eight women crowded around five sewing machines and two irons (on one ironing board!) to spend the whole day sewing, sewing, and more sewing. Oh yes, and crocheting, too! It could have been tense with so many people in such a small room, but the smiles on these ladies' faces shows we were all happy and having a blast!

Leela worked on hemming napkins . . .
Medina started sewing her first "market bag" . . .
Dhaka crocheted in the hall while waiting for a machine to become available . . .
Man Bista, who taught sewing in her refugee camp in Nepal, helped teach the other ladies while also making market bags of her own . . .
Tika made a market bag and took her first crochet lesson. She really loved crocheting. That may turn out to be her forte . . .
Arbay was a brand new student, and she quickly got the hang of threading and stitching on her sewing machine . . .
Yes, it got a little crowded! I was trying to build a shelving system while troubleshooting tangled sewing machines and teaching the fine art of bobbin winding . . .I was deeply touched when Tim appeared at the door with an "I love you" bouquet. The ladies all wanted to know why he had brought the flowers. They were a little mystified because it was not our anniversary or my birthday. "I love you, too, Tim!" I'm really proud of Leela. She has been working hours and hours hemming napkins and tablecloths for a wedding planner. She does beautiful work, and this is a skill she can take into our future "market days" at Intown Community Church and the Clarkston Community Center.
Busy fingers worked hard from 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon -- without a break for lunch. These women are dedicated!This beautiful cap was made in Nepal.
So was this amazing table cover. My favorite part of the day was watching the women help each other. We had Muslims from Somalia, Hindus from Bhutan, and me, a Christian from America all in the same room laughing and sewing and sharing our hearts. I taught the women how to say, "Try again," in Swahili -- "Jaribu tena." Then the Somali ladies taught us how to say it in Somali. And then the Bhutanese ladies taught us how to say it in Nepali. If you had heard the Somalis trying to speak Nepali and the Bhutanese trying to speak Somali, you would have gotten the giggles along with us.

Hey, why don't you drop in one of these days and join us? Karibu! (Welcome!)