Monday, June 22, 2009

Our cup overflows . . .

We were blessed this week to welcome two short-term volunteers. Sarah and Karen provided such wonderful service to our classes . . . which were full and only got fuller as the week went on!
Our sewing machines get a real workout. We have broken nearly all our needles. The next time I hear a ker-crunk, I'll know it's time for a new needle. Hope I have some by then! I must say I think our students are exceptionally beautiful women . . .
. . . both inside and out!
Karen, seamstress extraordinaire, serviced our old machines and got our newly donated metal ones into shape. She sharpened all our scissors, too.
Sarah, an MK from Tunesia, enjoyed speaking Arabic to some of our women. It was really cool to see that interaction.
It seems like every session we get to enjoy watching one or more of our expectant mothers blossom. We're having a girl in September! Can't wait!
Kelly's bead class made our very popular "Bhutanese Wedding Necklaces."
This is a tried and true art form for our Bhutanese women. I love their work.
By the end of Tuesday's class time, I began to think our little room might explode! We were crammed with women, volunteers, and visitors. I get so much joy from times like these when the room is full and everyone is working and chatting.
Have you ever seen such beautiful ladies? Somehow Somali women are able to wear the most amazing color and pattern combinations -- and they always look perfectly gorgeous.
Wednesday's visiting time was spent in various homes. I don't always take photos on those days, because it can interfere with ministry. But I couldn't resist snapping this shot of two brothers from Burundi. Aren't they precious?
Back to the sewing room for Thursday's advanced class. I am always surprised when I realize that many of our students are on the floor!
Yes, the best place in our small room for measuring and cutting is that beautiful hardwood floor. But how do these ladies manage to crouch so comfortably? Wow! I wish I was that flexible.

I got a big surprise the other day. It turns out our quiet and lovely Brittany is a business whiz! She keeps the books for a missions organization. So she was glad to create spreadsheets for us. She'll be entering data, and the women will keep their own records, too.Father's Day on Sunday brought much joy. I got to have a long phone conversation with my beloved father, Harold Cummins. I don't think a girl could have a better father, and I mean that! I love you, Dad!

Andrei created yet another cake masterpiece. In honor of Tim, he made a tennis court cake, complete with a chocolate-on-graham-cracker net.
Now if you'll notice, its kind of hard to get a really genuine smile out of Andrei. Sometimes, even when he's happy, his "photo face" looks positively glum.
When he started telling a story at teatime, I whipped out the camera and got some pix of the REAL Andrei. What a wonderful young man God gave us.
That evening, we went over to our Somali friends' home. They were celebrating the upcoming marriage of a family member. The walls were hung with fabrics, including a big piece with writing from the Koran on it. Sofas circle the living room, and the women gathered around in their finery. Then they began to bring out the food! They set it on the mat in front of us, and we enjoyed every morsel. Andrei said, "I feel like I've gone to heaven!" This picture only reveals about half of the total spread. Amazing!
Tim enjoyed chatting with the newest member of the family. He's gotten so much bigger -- and what bright brown eyes he has. His face reveals a lot of alertness and intelligence already.
Thank you, my beautiful friend, for welcoming my family into yours! I love you so much!

Long time no see . . .

Yes, I'm still here . . . and I hope you are, too!

These past two weeks have been crazy -- and loads of fun. So much fun that I haven't had time to update the blog. When you read this entry, you'll see why.

LUCIA CAME! She's one of the four founding members of the FABs, a group of friends with whom I've shared many years of joys and sorrows. Lucia, as you will soon see, is amazing, talented, and just slightly nuts!

My Tuesday got off to a great start with a busy"Beginner Sewing" class. In a nearby room, Kelly was teaching her bead class how to create necklaces with pendants. Very beautiful!
Things were going along pretty normally, when who should walk through the door? Lucia! Amid her usual bajillion phone calls, she unloaded a huge bag full of gifts for our classes. Wow -- wonderful beads and "findings," rotary cutters, extra blades, and all manner of great stuff. Lucia modeled a summer cap made by one of our women. It has a built-in ponytail hole, but Lucia felt it was worthy of a different look! On Wednesday, Lucia went visiting with us. She's an excellent potter and tile-maker. I was really excited to take her to meet a Burundian friend who loves to create pots, too.A few months ago, this woman was badly burned when some oil in her kitchen caught fire. Her right hand was the most severely damaged, and she has endured several surgeries to repair it and receive skin grafts. Lucia and I were thrilled to see how flexible her hand has become. Look at that pretty pot! She was proud to show off her work, and Lucia gave her some skin cream and clay to encourage her to continue her recovery.

Thursday arrived in fine style! Lucia made our Advanced Sewing class so much fun. She and Jasoda teamed up to tackle the neverending hat project.I made a big mistake choosing that pattern for our first effort! I thought -- small item, only three pieces, no problem. Wow, was I wrong! By the end of the 3 hours, Lucia and Jasoda finally put the top on the hat. Hallelujah!
Next door, meanwhile, Shirley's yarn group was hard at work. They are making some awesome things! I sure hope we can sell them for our women.Take a look at this summer cap. What gorgeous, lacy handiwork!One of our women brought her daughter to help translate. Due to space restrictions, we can't allow kids in our program, but it was fun to watch these two work together. On Friday, we all took the MARTA downtown to see the Monet waterlilies at the High Museum. Cokes, nachos, and a jazz band pumped us up for the show. It was amazing to see what Monet accomplished at the end of his life when he could barely see. Great inspiration for us! Beautiful Lucia not only helped our classes and loved on our women, she also totally redecorated our home! We had a blast shopping the flea market for basics, but when Lucia was finished, you would have thought everything came from a boutique! Thanks for everything, Lucia. I miss you so much. Sunday was one of those happy-sad days. Happy because our church met at the swimming pool for a baptism, the Lord's Supper, and a wonderful time of praise and worship. Andrei provided one of his fantastic car cakes. I had a hard time holding back tears as our Burundian friends told the congregation that they are moving to South Carolina. These two families form the heart of our Swahili/Kirundi service, but the husbands have found good jobs and more affordable housing for their large families. We'll miss them so much. Mungu akubariki -- May God bless you. Tutaonana -- We shall meet again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Girls get the giggles!

What happens when you put a bunch of girls together? Silliness, of course!Today in Advanced Sewing, Jasoda was working hard putting together a cute hat for little girls. We couldn't resist trying it on at various stages. Here, Jasoda adorned the hat with a pink rose crocheted by Hanaa, from the yarn class.
Brittany is ready for the cover of Glamor magazine, don't you think? Saraswati, the "sister friend" of Jasoda, admires the couture cap. When it gets its "lid" and goes on the the head of a 5-year-old, the hat will have found its purpose. Meanwhile, it gave great fun to a gaggle of girls.
Wednesday's visiting brought good stuff, too. Baruwani has a job! This father of 8 from Burundi has been unemployed since arriving in America last fall. I was thrilled to see him packing his dinner for the night shift he now works at an area chicken factory.
Oscar was chilling on the couch after returning home from summer school.
Kelly enjoyed all the kids in this family we have come to love so deeply. Joles helped her little sister, Imani, put on her pants the right way around. Even Imani is off to summer school these days.
Among my greatest joys this week was seeing my "Aunt Peggy" at the door of my classroom. Aunt Peggy and Uncle Al served the Lord alongside my parents for many years in Kenya. My mother and Aunt Peggy were best friends. My mom went dancing up to heaven several years ago, and I know she's so happy there. But I miss her. Aunt Peggy comes closer than anyone to filling the hole in my heart left by my mother.
It was fun to listen to Aunt Peggy speak Swahili to Bahati (from Somalia) and Gorette (from Burundi). They christened her "Mama mdogo" -- "Little mother." When each of my students hurried to give her a warm hug, my heart overflowed.

This was a good week filled to the brim with laughter, learning, and love.