Sunday, August 30, 2009


Teej is a Bhutanese Hindu celebration for women. Though I grew up among Hindus, I had never heard of it until the women in my sewing classes invited me to come to the community center on a Saturday afternoon.I wore a sari Tim had bought for me, and my friends were impressed that I had put it on by myself. Of course, they immediately hustled me to the ladies' room to pin, tie, fold, and tuck my sari so that it would actually stay on !

Teej is a day when women wear the color of their marriage saris -- red! Lachhi on the front right and Saraswati behind her to the right are members of The Refugee Sewing Society. Don't they look pretty? When women dress for this celebration, they put flowers in their hair . . .beautiful beaded wedding necklaces around their necks . . . and, of course, their prettiest saris. Jasoda had arms full of bracelets, a lovely sari, and a little niece on her lap.Saris came in every shade of red -- and some just beyond it. Like orange . . . and purple!Teej involves a LOT of dancing. Women grouped by their apartment complexes came to the stage to dance. The older women performed a dance that explained how once they had been oppressed and forced to labor hard. But now they are free to do as they please! I won't deny that the food was a highlight for me! This plate holds a samosa, curry, pickle, chapati, rice, and many more things that were all delicious. Hari shared her mealtime with me.The women sat like bright birds around the foyer as they ate their late lunch. It was definitely yummy for one and all! I loved seeing my students with their children and mothers all enjoying this day together. The mother in this photo wore an intricately detailed gold nose ring. I had never seen anything like this before. She was so elegant. Though it was a day of festivities for women, I began to realize that the men were in the building, too. When I asked why, one of my friends said, "They come to serve us!" This festival has roots that go deeply into the foundation of Hinduism, including a day of fasting and another day of worshipping a stone or clay phallic symbol. Though my own faith teaches another path to God, I really treasured spending this very special time with my friends.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friends at my door!

I was surprised to look up from my work in our sewing room to find 9 women gathered outside the door! The Refugee Sewing Society fall session wasn't to start until August 11. The women were a full week early.They weren't sure of the registration date, they told me, and they didn't want to miss out on a single day of class. The women wrote down the correct information along with my phone number. I'm expecting a call soon. My refugee friends love to call me up and say, "Hello teacher, I want to greet you!"Friends come in many forms. Our beloved Border Collie, Tessie, has made her first feline buddy. The two cats we had in Missouri were a little stand-offish. But this lovely cat -- dressed in black and white like Tessie -- enjoys the company .The two friends like to nuzzle each other. What more could you ask of a friend?Andrei was sad to learn that his friends from the restaurant where he has worked all summer would be leaving for school. He decided to bake them one of his spectacular cakes. This one is a Peterbilt semi.Awesome work, Andrei! I understand the cake was a big hit with the whole restaurant staff.
Sometimes a dad can be your best friend. This past weekend, Andrei and Tim went to a water park. Looks like dad was having more fun under the water-dump bucket than Andrei! The best part of my week was a visit from my dearest friend, Janice. We grew up in Kenya together, and we love each other deeply. Not only did we talk till all hours each night, but we found time to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant and the DeKalb farmer's market, watch a couple of movies, and totally clean and organize the sewing room.

I'm so grateful for friends of every kind. What would life be without them?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gearing up!

The Refugee Sewing Society is getting ready for an exciting new session! We're going to be sewing 300 tote bags and making cloth diapers -- among many other projects. An important step was learning to use our new sergers. Sandy, from A-1 Sewing in Atlanta, taught us the ropes . . . er, threads?
I was thanking the Lord for Sharon, who attended the lesson with me. She caught on fast -- a good thing because her diaper group will be using the sergers a lot.This little machine looks small and cute. Don't let that fool you. With four spools of thread, four needles, and a fabric cutter, the thing is a monster! Once we tame it, we'll be able to really enjoy what it can accomplish for our women.
I have been refining our diaper prototype. We hope to sell these diapers to refugee women as an alternative to disposables. Our diapers will cost a bit more up front, but they will save the moms SO much money in the long run. Putting elastic in the leg openings is a bit of a challenge, I discovered. Our advanced sewing group will also need to remember to cut corners. In sewing, that's a good thing!Please pray for all the volunteers and the women who will attend classes of The Refugee Sewing Society this fall. Thank you so much for supporting us!

Wedding Belles

What a gorgeous wedding I attended on Saturday afternoon. The evening reception was just as lush and beautiful. Our dear friends, Sharon and Rich, were giving their sweet daughter into the arms of a truly wonderful young man.
I was sad Tim couldn't be with me as every aspect of the celebration honored Jesus Christ and the solid foundation He can provide for a new marriage. After 32 years, Tim and I can certainly affirm that.

Our friends held the reception under three large white tents. So lovely!
One of my favorite people -- also a favorite of the ladies in The Refugee Sewing Society -- Lucia was at the wedding! She always keeps me laughing . . . and inspired.
Flowers in shades of purple, yellow, and orange graced every table.
The cake was yummy -- of course!
I loved spending time with old friends and meeting new ones. As the reception party ended, everyone celebrated with the band's rousing performance of "Brown-eyed Girl."
Jay spent a year teaching school in Africa. Lindsay also taught in Africa one summer. Graduates of Wheaton College, they are not only beautiful young people, but they have a heart for sharing the grace of Jesus with the world. I can hardly wait to watch what God is going to do through this new husband and wife team. May He bless you richly, Jay and Lindsay!
An extra gift for me was spending time with Sharon's college roommates, The Belles. These seven women have been close-knit friends for many years, and they always celebrate joys and mourn losses together. Kay was my roomie for Saturday night. She's a beautiful woman with a warm and loving heart. I'm so grateful to know her.
With only one Belle unable to attend wedding, the remaining six spent a rousing time telling stories and laughing about their shared memories.
My heart was full to overflowing as I returned home to my own best friend . . . my husband Tim.

Family time

My father and stepmother surprised us with a visit last week. Earlier, they had canceled a trip here due to family illness. But they were able to come after all, and we were so happy to see them. Dad is healthy and strong -- and as inquisitive as ever. He wanted to see Atlanta's sights, so we visited the Dekalb Farmer's Market, the Atlanta Zoo, and the history museum. At the museum, dad photographed and filmed everything that interested him. The old car and fire engine were amazing to study.I enjoyed a display about the work of architect Leila Ross Wilburn. We used to live on a street in Missouri lined with homes like the ones she designed.I used to say the houses looked like they'd been built by the seven dwarfs. Interesting to discover that a woman was a successful architect in the early years of the twentieth century!I was also interested in this booklet about the Baptist Home Mission Board -- now known as the North American Mission Board. My husband and I serve under this agency, which has a long and fruitful history.Though my dad and Phyllis extended their stay for a few extra days, there is never enough time to do all the talking and sharing I long for. We had a late Father's Day celebration for my father. The whole family went to Vikhyat for delicious Indian food. Then we returned to our house to celebrate with one of Andrei's cakes. I gave my dad a book about the early days of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where our family lived for three years when I was very young. I'm so grateful God has allowed my father to live such a long and productive life. I pray he will enjoy many more years of good health and happiness. He's my greatest earthly role model, and I love him so dearly.