Thursday, May 28, 2009

The week that was . . .

I've had trouble getting back into the swing of missions. The events of this past weekend threw everything upside down. Finally today when I was hugging Annie, a young missionary friend, I began to cry. I needed that . . . and more. Please pray for healing for our whole community.

Meanwhile out on the mission field . . .

Kelly and I enjoyed a visit with one of our favorite families last week. This house is always filled with children.We love the kids. Can you see why?At the community center, my advanced sewing class is learning how to pin and cut patterns. Some of these women are just figuring out how to use straight pins, measuring tapes, and scissors. It was a laborious process, but they did very well. I'm really proud of them. We are making sunhats for little girls. They'll be so cute! And thank the Lord for Brittany. She's our wonderful volunteer on Thursdays. She helps both the sewing and the yarn classes -- as well as setting up and managing sales events. The yarn class, under Shirley, was busy picking colors and getting to work.To make dishcloths the correct size, we gave the women measurements in inches. Nope, they told us. THIS is the way we measure in Bhutan and Nepal.One of our students has a unique flair with her crochet! She brought in this glass goblet and the teapot and teacup she had embellished. What do you think?Very creative!
Sunday evening, Tim and I went to a Hindu wedding. Indira had met her fiance only once before the wedding!We were offered the opportunity to put sticky red rice on the wedding couple as a sign of blessing. Tim also bestowed a verbal blessing on the marriage.Several friends of mine from Jefferson City had given me beautiful tea sets to pass on to refugees as part of my ministry. We gave a beautiful set of four cups and saucers, teapot, creamer and sugar bowl for the wedding. Thanks, Libby, for sharing your bounty!I loved meeting up with friends I hadn't seen for a while. Remember Beena? She was our first sewing student. She got a job and could no longer come to class. But she has promised to call me "every Saturday." And I know she will!The food was yummy. Curried vegetables, rice pilau, pickle, and sweet rice with raisins. If you like Indian food, you would love this!One of the amusing things about my life among refugees is realizing that I am indeed the Jolly Green Giantess! All my friends and students are tiny little creatures. I tower over them! Like a mother hen, I can tuck quite a few pretty little chickadees under my wings. Sometimes I find myself walking down the hall with a whole line of chirpy chicks following along behind. And don't dare mess with my women -- or you will face the wrath of the Big Mama!
Tim and I drove over to the apartment complex where our young missionary friend was attacked. She has gone home to Kentucky now to continue her recovery. We were very touched to see this sign posted outside the window of the empty apartment where the mission team lived until this week.
I guess that's the essence of our faith in Jesus Christ, isn't it? As He said on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," we try to echo that grace and mercy with our lives among the refugees. Pray for all of us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trials . . .

When we ask for prayer, we mean it.

I haven't written lately. This has been a hard time.

Just before Mother's Day, someone vandalized Andrei's apartment. They smashed two windows and slashed a screen. Nothing was taken. We are moving Andrei to another unit, but we feel uneasy.

Last Saturday night, a man entered the apartment where seven young missionaries live in Clarkston. One of the girls was alone downstairs. The man stabbed her in the neck with a knife and fled. The police think it was a gang initiation. She had surgery and lost a lot of blood, but ultimately, God protected her arteries, esophagus, and spine. Doctors say she will have a scar, but otherwise she will make a complete physical recovery.

Please pray for the other missionaries in her group as they try to come to terms with what happened. Also pray for the refugee community. They are very fearful now.

All of us are stunned and shocked by the violence in our community. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will protect His laborers in the field.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Graduation and other blessings

God is good! We were so happy to travel to Missouri this past weekend to celebrate our son's graduation from college. We loved visiting our family and sharing many precious moments with them.Missouri State University is the home of the Bears.It's a huge university. They held three separate graduations ceremonies just to accommodate the crowds.What a fun day! We enjoyed it all from start to finish. Geoffrey earned a degree in digital film with a minor in screenwriting. Way to go, big guy!
After the ceremony, we went to Steak 'n' Shake. Geoffrey wore his robe and cap right into the restaurant.We were thrilled to spend time with friends and family members. The night before graduation, we had dinner with Geoffrey's two housemates, Cameron and Marshall. His girlfriend Kristy was home with strep. We missed seeing her!My dear friend of many years, Lucia, drove down from Jefferson City to have lunch with us. She always fires my creativity and gets me thinking in new directions. I'm praying she'll come to visit us in Atlanta very soon!We had a total blast with the McClure family at their Lake of the Ozarks condo. Not only did they put on a grand dinner and breakfast for us, but Sharon got us all laughing right away. When she sat down in the "spare" chair -- a camp stool -- and sank nearly to her chin, we all collapsed in gales of guffaws! Oh, how I love my friend Sharon!
On Sunday morning, we had the joy of worshiping at our home church, First Baptist Church, Camdenton. Our pastor invited us to share an update on our ministry. We heard a great sermon that relit our fires! And we rejoiced to spend time with many precious friends. Virgil and Norma -- encouragers, friends, supporters, family in Christ -- took us to lunch. What fun!The best part of our trip was visiting family. We got to stay at the home of my father, Harold Cummins, and his sweet wife, Phyllis. They are happy together, and I loved seeing my dad looking so healthy and young. We all miss my mother a lot, but we're very glad God put Phyllis into our family. I was so excited to carve out a few hours with my beautiful sister, Libby. She flew in from a conference on Sunday evening and met us for breakfast on Monday morning. I gave her a necklace made by one of the women in our program. When we're apart, I really miss my sister. We are very different, but we share a past that no one can ever understand -- except the two of us.And speaking of family, Duce the cat has been living with Geoffrey since we moved to Georgia. We're glad he has a good home. He was feeling very fat and sassy. It was fun to snuggle him again.
I took some photos of old pictures I found at my father's house. This one is my parents on their wedding day. Here's my mother not long after we arrived in Kenya. How about those cat's-eyes glasses? Maridadi sana! Very beautiful!Who is this little girl in her pretty sari? Oh, it's me! When I look at this photo, I understand why God gave me such an unusual life. From age 3 when I lived in Bangladesh, through many years in Kenya, the Lord was preparing me for ministry in Clarkston, Georgia.

Tim and I are so grateful for our son and his accomplishments . . . for our beloved family . . . for our loving friends . . . and most of all, for our God.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, what a beautiful morning . . . Oh, what a beautiful day!

I picked up my precious Somali friend, Hinde (above), this morning at 8:30 for our market event at Intown Community Church. She and our volunteer, Brittany, helped set up the tables and arrange our wares. We are excited about our $10 market bags . . .
and our scarves, aprons, jewelry, and dishcloths.
The women of OASIS Bible Study welcomed us to their end-of-season brunch. I enjoyed worshiping with them and hearing their testimonies. They supported us by donating fabric and yarn and by purchasing well over $200 worth of Refugee Sewing Society products. Thanks, OASIS!
I rushed back to the community center where women were already assembling for "Advanced Sewing" class and "Yarn Group." My heart soars when I see these women helping each other measure, pin, and cut.
Today, Dhaka taught a lesson in making market bags. She is the Queen of Market Bags! Today she sold $40 worth of bags. Yay, Dhaka! She hopes to purchase a sewing machine of her own, and I'm so proud of her.

Indira demonstrated typical Bhutanese style work stance: "the squat." How these ladies fold themselves down and then get back up again so gracefully I will never know!After the women measured and cut the fabric, they set to work sewing. Please pray that we will find a way to pay for repairs to our sewing machines. One is already broken, and others are acting cranky. We try to keep them oiled, but they get a LOT of use!
Over in the yarn room, another of our wonderful volunteers, Shirley Thomas, was working with 13 students. That's a bunch -- especially when they speak at least 6 different languages. But they listen well when Shirley speaks! Our two Iraqi students helped each other with knitting basics.Hanaa (below) can knit and crochet very well!
Other women put their skills to work making baby blankets and dishcloths.I really LOVE those 100% cotton dishcloths. You can wash them, bleach them, put them in the dryer, or launder them on the top level of your dishwasher. No more icky, nasty, bacteria-laden sponges! We sold a bunch of dishcloths at our morning market.

Saraswati was in our bead class during our last session. She has chosen to join the yarn group for this 8-weeks. I love to see the women migrate from one group to another!As the day wound to an end, three lovely young women from Temple University popped in for a visit. To our delight, they went shopping!Each woman purchased a necklace -- and it so happened that the makers of the necklaces were in the sewing room! Radhika (on the right) helped arrange hair and necklaces for her customers.But she wasn't too happy to find her necklace UNDER the woman's collar. Immediately she decided to set things straight. That necklace had to go on the OUTSIDE where it would show!That's better! A satisfied necklace-wearer and a happy beadmaker!
Jasoda is one of our most delightful students. She always has a smile, and she was thrilled to sell her necklace to one of our visitors! The Refugee Sewing Society always has satisfied shoppers. Thank you, ladies, for your kindness and generosity.I have to end with this photo. I always tease Nar because every time I get out my camera, she is ironing. And her hair is always draped over her face. Finally today I got a shot of this beautiful young woman. Hi, Nar!
Many thanks to everyone who purchased items from The Refugee Sewing Society today. We are honored to support these women who have suffered so much in their lives. And thanks also to our blog readers. We take a lot of encouragement from your comments and emails. Bless you!