I began the summer with a simple question and prayer, "Lord, what breaks your heart? and "God, what would you have me do?" In answer, 1 Peter 4:10 was laid on my heart. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." That scripture helped me focus on who I could help. For the past ten weeks, I have had the tremendous pleasure of leading a Journey Group at Gateway Community Church. In this group, members united to make garments for residents of the House of Hope at Starfish Kenya. Starfish Kenya provides hope to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
Leading a group of this nature was a completely new experience for me. I am passionate about sewing, and I recruited my friends to the craft; however, I was skeptical about potential participants for this new group. I was pleased to discover that the group filled up on the first day of signups...with a wait-list! Yes!
The group was open to novice, experienced, men, women and children from the community. Having a sewing machine was helpful, but it was not necessary. All of the fabrics and notions used in this group were donated by Journey Group members. Some were happy to do some stash-busting and others were happy to make purchases for what we needed.
We decided that making pillowcase dresses and elastic waist pants would be useful to the residents of the House of Hope. This type of project would also be easy for newbies to learn and eventually sew independently. We spent the first couple of 1.5 hour sessions "learning to sew". The experienced sewers dove right in to help lead the beginners. There was always fun banter as the participants got to know each other. As the weeks went along, the newbies grew more confident and it was exciting to see them proudly showing off their completed projects.
Despite being told to expect a "loss of participants" in any Journey Group over time. I must admit that I was discouraged when, one day about midway through the sessions I noticed there were a few non-returners. I saw my goal of "x" number of garments being completed diminishing. I also wondered, "What was I doing wrong?" I took a deep breath, looked around, and I saw a room full of people who were enthusiastic, excited, and happy to be doing what they felt called to do. I was reminded of why I was there. I was not there to reach a quota, rather I was there to reach those in the room as well as those overseas.
I have been so blessed in leading this group. I am so glad I did it! There were days when I was tired or unwell, and I felt like not showing up. I pushed through, and I was rewarded with smiling faces, enthusiastically completed homework, fabric/trim that a group member "just had to buy," or kind words from someone thanking me for starting the group.
I have enjoyed getting to know the women in this group, and I am so proud of all the work we did! Here are our completed garments!
We will begin another Journey Group semester the week of September 30th. Sign ups begin September 8th.
If you are local and would like to join us, we would like to have you.
If you would like to donate child-friendly fabrics, ribbon, patterns or elastic, please let me know.