41 days and counting!
It is 41 days before I leave on my third trip to Uganda. It is amazing to think back see what God has done for me regarding this trip already. It all started one year ago when I decided I wanted to learn how to sew. I did not really know why I wanted to sew. It had never entered my interests before, but I kept thinking I wanted to for a few months. So, I thought about who I know and if they might be available to teach me. That way I was comfortable and I could not figure out if there were classes near.
Karen, a former neighbor, came to mind because I remembered her daughter has clothes in the 4H section of the fair when we were younger. Looking back picking her was weird (no offense Karen). I know so many people who can sew and she is a very busy mom of young twins. Her train of thought, I believe, is why God had me go to her. She taught me how to sew a pillow case and then I bought a pattern and we met a couple times to make a shirt. One day I was talking to her about Uganda and how I wanted to go on the next trip in the spring. Uganda (just like El Salvador) has a big place in my heart. Part of that is because I sponsor two girls there and my grandparents sponsor a boy. I am sure Karen could see this when we talked. One day when I was at her house, Karen suggested something I would never have thought of. She said, “why don’t you sew some dresses and shorts for the kids in Uganda as a fundraiser.” I thought that was a great idea. It was s new way to raise funds to go, other than just asking for money. If I could get this approved by my team leader, Joanne, or her right hand helper, Denise, I would do it. Well, they were currently in Uganda, so I was not sure how long responses would take because of internet connections. I emailed both Joanne and Denise and waited semi patiently for a response. Then came a little disappointment. Denise said that already have some dresses in storage. Then I asked about making dolls and shorts. Karen and I found a free doll pattern online while we waited for a response that did not look to hard to make. Then came another nice no, but she said she had an idea and when she was back home she would send it to me. I was excited by this and it was hard to wait patiently. She said it would be kinda hard and a lot of work. My mind could not even figure out what it could be. Denise had been back home for a couple weeks and I had not received a package. When I contacted her, she apologized and said she would send it to me right away. She has been super busy. I checked to see if I got mail every day. Then it finally arrived! I was so excited to open it! I read the note before opening the package. It was a menstruation kit. I looked at it and immediately said yes! I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I know so many that can help if they are free. I did not even think about how I would get fabric or make them all.
A couple weeks after getting the kit from denise, I finally bought a sewing machine and started looking at the price of supplies. Who knew fabric was so expensive? How was I going to afford buying the supplies for the kits and get more than that donated so I could actually go? I knew it would work out, but I could not see how. I wrote letters to stores in Olympia that I know sell fabric to ask for donations. They could not donate because they have set charities they donate to. Of course I started stressing a little (it’s what I do). Then I got another message from Denise. She had just visited her mom, who lives in Arizona, and she donated a bunch of fabric for the project. Once again I was so excited! I easily convinced Cassie to go to Portland with me to meet Denise and get the fabric. Cassie and I could not believe our eyes. The bag of fabric was so big! We actually sat in the back seat of my car after Denise left and looked at all the patterns. Receiving this fabric took such a weight off my shoulders. Now just had to learn to sew each part of the kit. Well, I did not understand patterns, so I had Karen show me a few steps for the bag.
This is when I really realized how big of an undertaking this project was. I started thinking about people that might be able to help me sew and serge. I had no idea what a surger was before this, but know the flannel fabric had to be surged. Then I realized I needed flannel. Much more flannel than cotton. Karen actually hade me write up letters requesting donations and she would go with me to drop them off. I talked to this company in town that is known for not donating. The lady did not seem interested in donating, but Karen warned me before hand. I was a little disappointed, but knew if God could get me a big bag of cotton fabric he could get me flannel at some point too. When Karen and I left, I went to my grandparent to do scrapbooking. I was working on my 2015 Uganda trip. That is when it happened. I got a phone call from the fabric store! They found some flannel in the back that they wanted to donate. My grandparents don’t live far and the store was closing in half an hour. I did not care. I jumped in my car and headed over for the little bit of fabric they were going to donate. It was more than a little! They were small pieces, but it added up to a lot! I was so excited and made sure to take them a thank you letter the next day. That is when I knew that God really wanted me to do this project. Well, I probably knew before, but I really knew now!
The same day I had the flannel donated, one of my grandparent’s neighbors saw my grandpa trying to edge their grass. It had not been done in a long time. This neighbor came back with his big gas powered edger and did all the edging for grandpa. That day felt like such a blessing! I decided to post about it on Facebook. Actually, I kept debating posting as I was typing. Not long after I posted about my day, including mentioning getting fabric donated (without saying what for), I received a private message. It was from Maryellen. She is Britton’s mom. I went to school with him. My vague comment had her question me about what kind of fabric I needed. So, I told her about my project. She loved the project idea! She said she belongs to a group of quilters and she would talk to them about helping me with my project. Maryellen wanted to help me get to my goal of 100 kits. We made plans to meet up next time she came to Washington. There was definitely no doubt in my mind now that God wanted this project done.
A month later I was able to meet up with Maryellen at Starbucks. I brought along my kit and printed out copies of the patterns for her. It was good to see her again. She said that she had been wanting to work on a sewing project that would be for a good cause and then she saw my post. That comment just made me think about how I almost did not post that day about all the blessings around me. I was so busy with it being summer. I had work, dahlia shows, and was trying to get supplies and help for this big project, so I did not get many bags started by the end of summer. One day while I was housesitting, Cassie came over to help me. I needed to know the next part of the bags and tried to figure it out by myself. I could not and Karen was out of town. So, we decided to run to see a lady from church, Verdelle. She has been sewing for years and was able to show me the next couple steps. I am so grateful that she was able to see us last minute. I was still trying to find people to help sew the shields (aka pads) and liners. Liners have to be serged and not many people have sergers, so that was a struggle. The shields I could actually make, but was scared because they are so important.
I talked to a local sewing place about maybe getting donations or if they knew anyone that could help sew. They could not donate at the time and knew nobody. The one of the ladies remembered a customer that went in and said something about a yard sale with her grandma’s fabric. The lady left her phone number and they gave it to me. I called the lady and left her a message about my project. She said if I wanted to come to the yard sale she would sell me fabric at a dollar a yard! Cassie came with me and we found some cute fabric. The lady was so nice. Later I learned that a coworker, Joy, could sew and asked her if she would not mind helping. She agreed, but later decided she was not confident and said she was going to give the stuff to a friend who sews. Joy’s friend Kathy was busy at the moment and needed to get her sewing machine and surger serviced. I did not care if I had to wait. I was happy with another helper… especially one with a surger. About this time my brother said he would bring his sewing machine and we could learn to sew the pads together. It actually turned out to be a long process, but not as hard as I thought. Cassie had saved us a bunch of time by pre cutting the fabric. I don’t know how much she cut out, but she is amazing for doing so many! Ben’s first pad looked funny! He sent a picture to his wife, Alix, and she laughed at him. Mine were defiantly not perfect either, but they did not look that funny.
At one of my dahlia meetings I was given a bag of finished pads by Mrs Zimmerman. This reminded me that I still had to put snaps on all the pads and put kits together that I have. One of the other members started asking me questions and said she would love to help put everything together. This was great news for me and she even got to do it as a project for work! Now Kathy had her machines serviced and was starting to work on the kits. She is super fast! Joy asked me for more fabric in no time, so I gave her a big box. It had mostly flannel, but that is the part that we need the most of.
As of this moment, I am slowly working on my sewing and waiting for everything to come in. I know this is very long and I missed a bunch that happened, but I just love how God works! I do still need to fundraise just over $1000. Although, I am not worried. If he can make all of this come together, he can provide the finances. I would like to thank everyone that helped. Whether it was by sewing, donating product, or donating money. You all are so amazing and I am glad God put us in each other’s lives!
Thank you to everyone who helped!!!
Joy’s friend Kathy B
Maryellen and friends
Misty and friend
Donation of product:
Cassie C (help with life and cutting fabric!)
Steve Q and wife
Nichole and Lisa
Lance B and his wife
Heather B (mom’s work)
Parent’s Sunday school
Lady from the yard sale
Local store who donated flannel
I hope I did not forget anyone!