TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
July 11, 2008
A walk down Memory Lane can do a soul some good sometimes. My walk began today. We have had a scant amount electricity in the last few weeks and so some of our plans are restricted when the tasks require electricity.
The girls’ orphanage choir has an upcoming concert. The girls are preparing for it with daily vocal practices and wardrobe planning. A couple of years ago, the girls had matching dresses made. As happens in third world countries, when a dress gets too small, a new one does not automatically take its place, but rather, the side seams, the waistline and the hem are let out to allow for another year’s worth of wear. That fact alone reminded me of my childhood when money was tight and my mom would let out the hem of my skirts to keep up with my growth spurts! I remember being embarrassed by having that alteration. The longer hemline always had a very distinct crease where the old hemline used to be. There was also a distinct color difference in the previously upfolded fabric that now was exposed to everyday light and washing machine wear! I remember thinking that I was probably the only girl in my class that had to endure such embarrassment. Here in Haiti, it is the norm. One does not question if there is any other choice! Money for a new outfit is simply not there! The current garment is certainly good for two or three years of adjustments! Thus, when it became obvious to the girls that these alternations were needed for their choir outfits, they turned to Mommy Nora asking if I could perform the garment transformations. It has been quite some time since I have done even the simplest of alterations, but I promised the girls that I would give it a try. The first challenge was to have electricity long enough to get the job done. Well, the power eventually came on, but I spent over one hour trying to get the old sewing machine on my balcony to work. I finally gave up, when the muscles in my neck had had enough straining. Alas! Maybe another machine we had around here would work better. When the power returns, I would need to go in search of another machine.
As it turns out, Leonie Izidor had decided to haul several donated used sewing machines out of storage and has plans to start a sewing class for the ladies of the church. Amongst those machines was a very old non-electric Singer treadle sewing machine, much like the one that my mother taught me on when I was a little girl. Talk about memories! The smell of the lubricating oil filled my nostrils. The oil stains on the girls’ dresses that I was working on, from an over eager repairman squirting in too much oil, also quickly reminded of those sewing days of my childhood. But what a fine straight stitch that old treadle machine can make! The ease of the pumping the treadle is so freeing – no need to worry if we have power or not!
One of the ladies of the church stopped by to watch me work. She asked about how I learned how to sew. I explained to her that my mother had taught me when I was a little girl on an old Singer machine, almost exactly like this one, that had belonged to my grandmother. Those are good memories! My mother loved to sew! I joked with the lady from church saying that since my mother is now in Heaven, she is probably sewing clothes for Jesus and the angels.
When it came time to ripping out the old seams, I employed the help of some of the girls from the orphanage. I remember those days too … tearing out my incorrect stitching! It was fun to watch the process come full circle. Now, instead of my mother giving me that assignment, I am giving the assignments to “my little girls.” Their eagerness to help made short work of getting those seams apart! And to my surprise, I’m not too bad at alterations!
I cannot help relate this alteration story to what Jesus does for us! He takes us – people who are in need of repair – and makes us into something new! When I am feeling that I am no longer useful, He gives me some new work to do! When I am feeling sorry for myself, He shows me someone else who has it much worse than I! And when I find myself missing having a mother here on earth, He sends me down Memory Lane! Thank you God!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….