A Miracle: The Mali Container is Leaving! Mosquito Abatement and Days for Girls Supplies

Last night John and I pulled these boxes and totes out of our garage.  They are full of Days for Girls supplies for the Enterprise in Ouelessebougou, Mali.  We have been waiting more than a year for the container to be sent.  This week we got word that it will finally go!

This is the container that is being sent with the mosquito abatement vehicles and supplies.  Of course, I was there to add Days for Girls supplies!  The Ouelessebougou Alliance is working with the top malaria experts in the USA and Bamako and Germany to start a mosquito abatement project in the Ouelessebougou region in Mali.  This area has one of the highest concentrations of mosquitoes in the world.

There was plenty of open space in the container for our Days for Girls supplies.  We added 38 boxes and totes which included 10,800 flannel liners made by my dear friends in Yakima, WA.  I also sent 200 lbs of material for shields and bags, about 20 bolts of flannel and about 30 yards of PUL.   This should keep our ladies there busy for the next year or two.

A bit of flannel:

The container is also filled with lots of mosquito stuff.

Here I am with Jason Hardman from the Mosquito Abatement District, John and Dick Loomis, the Ouelessebougou Board Member who is making this all possible.  Bravo to these heroes!

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My Weekly Quilt Group

Oh, how nice it is to be back with my dear quilting friends!  I took a couple of quilt projects with me to Bamako, but never really got them out while we were there.  It’s been a joy to reunite with my Wednesday quilt group.  Being with these good friends and stitching together feeds my soul.

Not only do we stitch, we talk about what’s going on in our world, ways we can help, things we can do, and what we can pray for.  This is a group of kind humanitarian-minded women who do good in the world.

Today was my turn to make lunch.  I brought our favorite Chicken Nacho Casserole, refried beans, chips and salsa, fruit and some Braetzle cookies.

Here’s the recipe for the Chicken Nacho Casserole:

Chicken (about 8 breasts, cooked, and cut up)
1-2 small cans of green chilies
2 cups of sour cream (you can also use cottage cheese, or both)
some chopped green onion or dehydrated onion
a sprinkle of cumin seeds
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package of corn or flour tortillas cut or torn into 1″ pieces
grated jack & cheddar cheese (lots) (mix some in and put some on top)

If you like it more gooey, add a little milk.

Mix it all together in a large bowl, put into a 9 x 13″ casserole dish, cover with cheese and chopped green onions.

Bake at 325 for 35-40 min, until it’s hot and bubbly
Serve with chips & salsa

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Margot Praying

Too precious not to preserve here.  I love Margot.

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Days for Girls and our Friends at US Synthetics

We had fun today meeting with our friends at US Synthetics.  They love our Days for Girls work and invited us to come have an event with their employees to prepare hygiene kits for a group who will be traveling soon to Tanzania.  The team at US Synthetics is very mindful of needs in the world and they have a humanitarian branch that works hard to prepare projects and aid to all the places they visit.  They are engineers and they also drill wells  I love people who are doing good in the world.  We are happy to support them.

Today we put drawstrings in the bags and folded the underwear, then packed kits.

What a great way to spend our day!

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Our Erudite Book Club Celebrates 35 Years!

Erudite Book Club 2019, Sundance. Back row left to right: Julie Treadwell, Lori Munk, Cathy Duffin, Virginia Bryson, Shelley DeVries, Shirleen Saunders, Debbie Herburg, Ann Lewis, Front row left to right: Kristy McDowell, Lori King, Shauna Gustafsson, Lori Weintz, Stephanie Hofeling. Missing Nicki Nebeker and Jan Kocherhans.

This week is our 35th Book Club Birthday!  The photo above was taken 2.5 years ago at Sundance.   Below is a photo of our group in 1992.

Having been away from my friends for some time, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much these friendships mean to me.  I didn’t know these girls well 35 years ago.  We were young and mostly single.  We had careers.  Some had boyfriends.  Some had husbands.  Many were school teachers.  I’d returned from living in Nigeria and I was working as a magazine editor in Salt Lake.  We were young and our futures were filled with wonderful dreams.

Somehow, we all landed together in this little group, which would endure all the ups and downs of life–births and deaths, marriages and divorces, sicknesses and calamities–and all sorts of other traumas and dramas.  We’ve read and discussed hundreds of books and solved even more problems, together.  It’s been a miraculous thing.

It’s interesting to me that although I didn’t specifically choose each of these friends, they have become my dearest friends.  How does that happen?  We have spent time together, we have listened to each other, we’ve cried together and we have loved each other.

It makes me wonder if the same would happen in any group of people with common interests.  If we spent time together and if we listened and if we loved, I have the feeling that we would become the dearest of friends.  Perhaps that’s what heaven will be like when time is no more and we can just be with others.  I have a feeling we will develop dear and eternal friendships there with just about everyone.  What a delightful thought!

Below is the first book club invitation that was sent out 35 years ago in 1987.

Here are a few photos from our first year’s scrapbook:

This particular evening was especially memorable, as we discussed “A Midwife’s Tale,” I went into labor and the next day Claire was born!

We look forward to meeting on the first Thursday evening of each month.  This week we celebrated our 35 years together.   We are older now and this month’s book was “Being Mortal,” which describes the aging process and how to best assist the elderly.  We are moving toward being the elderly.  That’s hard to believe.

Several weren’t able to make it this week, but the rest of us had a great celebration.  Friendship is always a celebration.  These are some of my dearest friends.

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The Breath of Life

Written by Sandra Thurman Caporale from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston.

Artist credit for graphic:  Scott Erickson

There was a moment when Moses had asked God what his name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.
Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels. But scholars and rabis have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing. YH (inhale): WH (exhale).

So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God. A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words. Even an atheist would speak His name unaware that their very breathe is giving constant acknowledgment to God. Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.

So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?  Being alive means I speak His name constantly. Is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?

In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs. In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst. In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down. When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.

When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!
This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive. All of us, always, everywhere. Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips. (Psalms 150:6)

Author: Unknown

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John’s Swiss Missionary Reunion

We got together with a group of John’s Swiss Missionary companions today for a delightful afternoon of visiting and eating Swiss foods.  John served in Switzerland 1973-1975.  Some of these friends hadn’t seen each other in years.  I enjoyed listening to their stories and memories of their time in Switzerland.  Missions cement things in our hearts and they bind friends to us like nothing else can.  The lasting friendships are one of the greatest blessings of serving a mission.

We enjoyed Kasekuchen and Raclette (melted cheese served with boiled potatoes, onions and pickles).  We also enjoyed meeting Br & Sis Mueller, who are from Switzerland and currently serving at Temple Square.

John made a platter of traditional Braetzle cookies.

Jeff Kirk, Steve Hemming, John Lewis, Rick Steadman, Mark Angelos, Jim Jensen, and Mark Weiss

Jim Jenson and his wife, Peggy are leaving soon to serve a mission back where they served before.  Their first assignment will be Interlaken!  Today was a send off for them.  They are so lucky!

Here’s the whole group.  It was fun to imagine these men as young missionaries in a foreign land.  It was really fun to hear their stories.

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A Quilt Trunk Show by Penny Stephenson

I first met Penny Stephenson about 30 years ago when I signed up for my first quilt classes at a shop in Orem called Fantastic Fabrics.  Adam was a baby and I wanted to start sewing again.  I loved sewing when I was in high school and made many of my school clothes and prom dresses.

In 1991 I joined the Utah Valley Quilt Guild, with lots of other women who loved learning to quilt.  In 1998 I was the President of the Guild.

For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been in a weekly quilt group with Penny and others.  We’ve shared our love for quilting and we’ve cheered each other on.  We’ve exchanged fabrics and worked on many of the same quilts.

Today another group of quilting friends invited Penny to show some of her quilts.  Penny invited me to join them and it was like a walk down memory lane.  Nine of the quilts Penny showed today are quilts I’ve also made, and there are several more we both made that she didn’t bring with her.

We had a delightful afternoon enjoying this visual feast.

Here are the quilts Penny shared with us.

After Penny finished, the ladies shared what they’ve been working on.  Here is Julia Smoot’s masterpiece, completely done by hand:

Here’s Melory’s:

Sharlene and Peggy have both made this beautiful album quilt:

Peggy’s wool sampler and a basket quilt top:

Sharlene’s wool sampler:

Diane made this for a grandchild:

We finished the afternoon with Penny demonstrating how she does hand quilting.

I love my quilt friends and I love seeing their incredible masterpieces.  I don’t know why fabrics, chopped and sewn together again move me like they do, but I’m glad for the happy feelings I have when I’m in a room full of quilts and quilting friends.

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Prayers for Snow

It was close to 100 degrees today in Bamako.  But we are here now, grateful for any moisture Heavenly Father sends our way.  We woke this morning to a winter wonderland.  Here’s what it looks like from our back steps.  I wish I could send a bucket full to my friends in Mali!

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It Must Be Love and the Cartography of Quilts

“It must be love.”  There is no other way to explain what would compel Aaron to invite me to join HIM and Abbey at Quilt Exhibit at the University of Utah this morning.  It’s been years since I dragged him along with me in and out of quilt shops.  He’d do just about anything under the sun for Abbey, even look at old quilts!

So we joined Abbey and her mom, Susan, and went to enjoyed this small but interesting display of quilts called “Handsttitched Worlds, The Cartography of Quilts.”  I especially liked these words that introduced the display:

“There is something alchemical about a quilt.  Ordinary materials are transformed into something wholly extraordinary that–piece by piece, block by block–embodies an accumulation of profound creativity and vision.  Like many objects rooted in the everyday, quilts have the capacity to communicate stories about the context in which they were made and used.  They represent maps of the quilters lives–living records of cultural traditions, rites of passage, relationships, political and spiritual beliefs, landmark events and future aspirations.  In the same way, a map is a pocket-sized abstraction of the world beyond what can be seen, in a quilt, a maker’s choice of fabric and design reveals insights into the topography of her world and place within it.”

My favorite quilt was one very similar to a quilt I’ve made–Civil War era patches.

Here’s the quilt I made 2-3 years ago that’s similar:

How fun to see Aaron enjoying the quilts, but mostly enjoying being with Abbey!

This evening John and I watched more of the Olympics.  Of course I worked on some quilt pieces while we watched.

These little half square triangles were trimmed from the quilt I put together this week.  I can’t bear to throw any scraps away, each piece will find a home in the next project.

Below is my 2nd heart quilt, pieced now and ready to be quilted.  It will be a gift for Claire’s 28th birthday next week.

I love quilts, the maps of my life.  They are one of the lasting evidences that I lived and that I loved.

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