Journal Entry 2 years ago today: The day my life changed.

Ann Lewis in MaliToday is the anniversary of a pivotal moment in my life.  Two years ago today I learned about Days for Girls.  My life hasn’t been the same since.  Here’s a fun look at my journal entry, as that day unfolded.  Within a month, my book club friends and I had started holding Days for Girls events.  Within 6 months, my neighborhood was involved.  Within 9 months, we formed the Utah Valley Chapter, and now, 2 years later, more than 15,000 women and girls have helped to make more than 13,000 kits that have gone to more than 25 different countries.  It’s been a phenomenal two years!  I’ve loved every moment.  I have helped with more than 250 DfG events since that night 2 years ago (which includes loading and unloading my car 250 times!).  I’ve made thousands of friends, and my house and garage have become fabric warehouses!  What a life-changing evening I had March 6th, 2013!  I really had no idea that night what was in store for me and my friends.  Thank you to all who have been a part of this magnificent ride!

Wednesday 6 March 2013 

10:40 p.m. I’m finally home and can rest a moment. What a full day. Yesterday in class Helen asked if I could do the food for the quilters today–Seiko would still be gone and it was her turn. So I said sure, and figured I had a night to sleep on it and figure out what to feed them. After going to bed, I decided to repeat the missionary meal–I had enough stuff left to do it all again. Then at 7:16 this morning the phone rang. Vicki Heal telling me she had just dropped food off at Helen’s–it was her turn, so I was off the hook. I rolled over and went back to sleep, instead of getting up to cook and bake some persimmon bread.

Got up at 9:30. Did my D&C homework and stitched binding on binder covers for retreat gifts while listening to a podcast by Steve Harper for class tonight on the Law of Consecration. To Helen’s at 11:00. Kept stitching bindings, then lunch.

Raced to class after by 2:00. Enos, Jarom, Omni, then stopped by Fabric Mill on my way home for some more big dots. They had pink this time. Visited there with the ladies, then went straight to my 4:00 class at AQ–Prairie Women. Stayed until 4:30, then raced back to BYU for class from 5:00 to 7:00.

Great class tonight. Sorry I had to race out—I got a phone call at 7:00 asking where I was. I was supposed to be speaking about Humanitarian work in a RS Event –after a 6:30 dinner. Yikes. Calendaring malfunction.  I got there with 5 min to spare, and showed slides and talked about life in Africa for the next hour. The women had been sewing for months on feminine hygiene kits for school girls in Africa.  Girls typically miss 1 week of class each month during their periods. These kits give them all they need to care for themselves for at least 3 years. Really an amazing project.  They say that having these kits will give the girls 8 months more education than they would have had otherwise during that 3 year period.

ANYway, it was a perfect follow-up after your lesson which I’m glad I didn’t miss.

We got word this week that all the hygiene and school kits assembled by the Missionaries in the MTC on Thanksgiving (8,700 of them) arrived safely in Mali. We partnered with the Church (they paid for the contents) and Islamic Relief, who took care of the container transport and delivery to our staff in Mali. Our staff in Mali is in charge of distributing the kits to the schools and villages.  It was an exciting project—I think the Church was particularly interested because we’ve never partnered with Islamic Relief before. John & I met with them last year when we were in Bamako and started that process.

Your lesson tonight teaches such profound truths on so many levels. I learn something new every time I get to listen. Thank you for sharing your insights and for always giving way more than you ever take.

You are a good example of the principles you teach.

So, that’s the story. I COMPLETELY FORGOT I was speaking tonight in Darlene Glazier’s ward (in our stake) for their RS Birthday Event. I knew it was one of these days, but I didn’t focus on it being tonight. I flew home, threw on a skirt and my Timbuktu beads, downloaded my Mali presentation from a previous event to my external drive, grabbed my laptop and the stack of mounted Mali photos, and was out the door again. Heart racing. I got there at 7:20 and had 10 minutes before it was my turn. Wow. They wanted me to take an hour, which wasn’t hard. I showed slides and talked about life in an African village and helped them to feel good about the project they’ve been working on for months for an organization called “Days for Girls.” They did about 60 hygiene kits. Here’s what each kit contains:

The design of DfG kits are the result of thousands of women’s feedback from all over the world. Listening results in solutions that work. That’s important, because every washable Feminine Hygiene Kit gives back up to 8 months of living in just 3 year’s use.

1 drawstring bag so she can carry her bag to school.
Comfort, style and durability matter because this will be an accessory of hers for up to 3 years.
1 pair of panties (Girls size 14 – 16, Women’s size 6)
1 visual instruction sheet (Download file to print here)
8 absorbent tri-fold liners –
Soft flannel liners are super absorbent when folded in three and can be layered for extra coverage. Square so they dry fast and wash with very little water. AND girls can dry them without risking taboos.
2 moisture barrier shields These hold liners comfortably in place while stopping leaks.
2 One-gallon size Ziploc baggies – Effective for transporting soiled items and soaking and laundering items with very little water. Why Ziploc Freezer bags? They are most durable.
1 washcloth Useful & great hygiene dialogue starter too!
Soap – Kit distributors purchase soap bars in-country. We seldom include soap in kits now, to keep luggage weight down.
Leak proof because of a moisture proof lining. We “pre-load” the shields:
1 liner in 1 shield, 2 in the other– a reminder that she can layer for extra absorbency

These kits are made with love by thousands of volunteers around the world or by local women filling the need for their own community. Quality matters because she depends on it as long as possible and kits have to endure frequent washing in harsh conditions.

I was so impressed with the organization. I’ve sent the link out to all my friends asking them to consider it for future humanitarian projects. What a perfect evening following a wonderful lesson on the Law of Consecration. I loved it all. Love Darlene Glazier too.

Home at 9:00. Karen Acerson came at 9:20 to pick up things for my speaking event tomorrow night. She’s the Stake RS Pres in Lindon and has organized a FH Fair for the whole stake, based on things she’s been learning in my class. She has a cultural hall filled with FH project ideas and vendor-ish people coming. I am the grand finale speaker. She wants me to take at least an hour opening their eyes to FH work (basically my Introduction lesson). She took some document binders, the kids calendar books and photo chronologies to display.

Tonight the boys packed their things for CA [Indian Wells Tennis Tournament]. They fly out tomorrow, returning home Tuesday morning after I’ve left for the Retreat. They’ll have a fun trip. Alan and Karen are already there (they are kind to share their excellent tickets with John).

I’ll have a few days to get my projects lined up for the retreat. Can’t wait.
Now to bed.

Life was pretty crazy busy then, but nothing to compare with life now.  And add to that Great Joy and Happiness.  I’ve been thinking this week about a scripture passage in D&C 58 about how we are counseled to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” and how that not only blesses the lives of others, but also our own.  I have felt those blessings these last two years.  I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the friends around me that make my life so rich and rewarding.  And I’m grateful to those who have shared their vision with me of how I can help a bit more.  The power is in each of us to do good.  Let’s carry on!

Anxiously Engaged D&C 58

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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