Sunday, June 28, 2009

Redemption Quilts

Days have been incredibly full. That's why I'm writing this blog at 12:30 a.m.

We've been having a great time traveling around Minnesota and Iowa. We've traveled 2000+ miles so far. Let's see...we will have had 15 different overnight stays during the month of June. Churches either have us stay with a host family or put us up in a hotel for the night. We really enjoy aspects of both types of hospitality. We love all of our host families and really enjoy our visits with them. But the hotel stays are good too because that allows us to have some family time together.

I've been selling Women of Hope products at the various churches. The funny thing is that as soon as I gain some extra room in the van after selling products, it gets filled up with wedding dresses, clothes for the kids and books. I've already met Mom and Dad twice along our route (Fort Dodge & Rochester) to offload items. If we hadn't done that, the kids wouldn't even have breathing room!

Thanks to the women in Oelwein who helped me out tonight!

I met a woman in Greene, IA, who is very interested in the ministry. She bought a lot of products and then later emailed me that she's very interested in some more Redemption Quilts. Well, she drove about an hour tonight to come hear us again and to buy a couple more Redemption Quilts. I haven't put them out for the last couple of nights since I knew that she wanted them. It was fun to meet her friend Maribeth--I don't run across too many of us! (When I was in junior high, that's the way I wanted to spell my name!)

The Redemption Quilts are one of our trademarks. I told Kara that I just have to tell her the story behind the quilts, so here it is:

Every week the quilting ladies make little tiny “quilts” (3” x 3”), and we buy them. These quilts are known as their transport project because the money they receive enables them to pay their transportation fares to Bezer Home. If we did not provide for their transport in some way, the sewing program would crumble as most could not afford to come on their own. Many of the little quilts get made into greeting cards. However, not all of the little quilts are perfect enough to be made into cards. When we had a huge bucket full of slightly imperfect quilts, I got to wondering what we could possibly do with them. An idea came: we started sewing them together with plain black squares in between. The result was stunning as the brilliant colors and patterns were set off against a black background. The small flaws were no longer noticeable in the breath-taking array of color. These quilts have become known as our Redemption Quilts because what was once lost has now been redeemed. What a beautiful reflection of what Christ can do in each of our lives.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to share this poem I wrote about my dad in 1996.

My Father's Arms

Strong arms
encircle me,
enfold me...surround me.
The strength of my father
protecting my heart
from all worry,
all strife...all harm.

In my youth
I was not even aware
of my father's strength and protection--
it was simply there.

Now his arms can no longer
encircle me
of miles

Today it's his heart
which reaches across the ocean,
which lifts up prayers
to the one Father
who can enfold me
in His arms.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Drinking Water

My observant children have been noticing that water here in the U.S. tastes different from our water back home. I really don't think about it; I just drink it.

This is causing a bit of a problem because I really don't want to buy bottled water this summer unless I just don't have any other options. Paying $1 for a bottle of water just doesn't make sense to me. I know I can buy a big pack with a unit price being less than that, but I'm trying to avoid contributing more plastic waste to the environment.

Every morning before we get on the road, I fill a big cup with water from the home or hotel where we've been staying. The kids will eventually ask for a drink. When I hand them the cup, David says, "Is this tap water? If it is, I'm not drinking it."

Last night Tobi complained that the tap water in our hotel tastes thick. I said, "How can water be thick?" I went and took a drink, and it actually did taste thick.

I'm not sure that our water in Nigeria is actually better, but I guess that's the taste they're used to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Traveling around Iowa

How is it possible that life is even busier here than in Nigeria?? I can't quite figure that one out.

The boys and I are on the road now and internet time is very limited. We are basically with a different family or in a hotel every night. Once in awhile, we're in the same place for two days. The boys are pretty good about just going with the flow.

The congregation we visited last night put us up in a hotel for the night. We are fully enjoying the amenities: waffles for breakfast, indoor pool, and internet. We'll check out about 11:55.

While we were shopping yesterday, I suddenly decided to check my wallet for my credit card. It was not there. I searched every possible place it could have been in the car. Then I realized I must have somehow left it in the New Hampton library after I paid a bill on-line on Monday. We were visiting some good friends later in the day, and I knew I could count on them to help me out. I wrote them a check and they gave me enough cash to get by.

I tracked down the phone number for the library and found that yes, my credit card was there. I decided that if I have to lose my credit card, that's a pretty good place to lose it. Before I even called them, they had called the church I had been at and told them that they had my credit card. This is small-town America at its best! When I went to the library, I did not identify myself in any way. I didn't tell them I was a missionary or anything. I simply asked to use their wireless internet.

Well, time to wrap this up if we're going to check out on time!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lily's Bedroom

Before I traveled, I really wanted to fix up Lily's bedroom in a special way. She now has matching sheets, comforter, and pillow shams. And let me tell you, she does feel special! On the other end of the spectrum, Tobi is pretty jealous!

The Women of Hope made the comforter for me on their long-arm quilting machine. It gives it such a professional touch. One of the Women of Hope came to my house on a holiday last week and we worked on finishing this project together. Vivian didn't say much, but I could tell she thought I was over-doing it for a child. She seemed to find it more acceptable when I told her that Lily's room also serves as our guest room.

The Women of Hope also made the bean bag chair for her. We sell quite a few of these. I had some extra fabric so I made a little matching pillow.

Finishing Lily's room was just one of those special things I wanted to do for her as a way of making her feel loved.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Items Wanted

This summer as I'm traveling around, I'll be collecting the following items. If you have some of these things sitting around your home, I'll gladly take them off of your hands.

Embroidery Floss--Do you have some embroidery floss that you're no longer using? If so, the Women of Hope would be glad to use it. We prefer to use floss when hand-embroidering words on our quilts. This floss is not available here.
Wedding Dresses, also bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, wedding accessories, etc. I've already mentioned this in a previous post (May 20) and people have responded very enthusiastically. Please help us get the word out to your friends and church.

Pregnancy Books--Most women in Nigeria do not have access to even one book about pregnancy. They are thrilled when I give them a copy of this book. Other types of pregnancy books are fine. Paperbacks please as they don't weigh as much for shipping. (See May 5, 2008 post)
Diaper Bags--There are some diaper bags available here, but they are generally quite expensive. I've discovered that many people in the U.S. have more than one diaper bag because they often receive a free one in the hospital. Once again, women here are absolutely delighted to receive these diaper bags.
I haven't kept track, but I'm sure I've given out at least 70 pregnancy books and 70 diaper bags over the past years.
Isn't it great when you can get more mileage out of an item that you're finished using?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gift Quilts

The Women of Hope often get requests for custom-designed quilts. Obviously they take more time than our usual patterns. I enjoy seeing what we can come up with that will suit the customer or the recipient of the gift.

This maple leaf pattern is not original with us; it's been around for years. We used it in this quilt because the gift recipient loves gardening and making things grow. We hand-embroidered Psalm 1:3 throughout the quilt.

The quilt below was custom designed for a teacher who is leaving Hillcrest after teaching first grade for two years. The names of the 24 children she taught are embroidered beside their hands. If you have really good eyes--and if you know where Nigeria is--you can see a white outline of Nigeria on the Africa map.

We enjoy having our minds stretched beyond the usual things that we do.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

In honor of my mom's birthday today, I'd like to share this little poem I wrote in 1991.

A Mother's Love

My mom arose at 5:00 a.m. to make my Valentine's Day cookies.
My mom made me do my Saturday jobs--
Because she loved me.

My mom ate the half-baked anniversary cake I tried to make.
My mom made me take piano lessons--
Because she loved me.

My mom stayed up till midnight to help me sew.
My mom made me pay for half of my new coat--
Because she loved me.

My mom told me to wake her whenever I came home after she was asleep.
My mom wouldn't let me go to the freshman party--
Because she loved me.

My mom tells me, "I delight in you."
My mom says, "You have to make your own decisions,"
Because she loves me.