Since I feel like I’ve left a fair number of loose (blog) ends lately, I’m still moving in that backward direction! Let’s see if I can wrap-up our time at AIM (African Inland Mission Retirement Center) back in March. I think the last time I detailed just what kind of work we were doing there I had moved from cleaning houses and washing windows to figuring out how to redeem some well needed, but in pretty rough shape, chairs.
Of course the best solution would’ve been to totally re-cover them, but both the cost and the time involved in that endeavor was prohibitive. So we moved to plan B. Or maybe it was plan D. Make some chair covers out of Drop cloths. As the designated Sewing SOWERS, Diane and I set out to develop and implement a pattern that would be serviceable and (hopefully) a bit attractive.
It took us several hours to fine tune the pattern, but by the end of the project we had cranked out 23 chair covers!
And from the back –
I’m not going to tell you they were the swankiest of covers, but they fit the bill for the need at hand! We got the drop cloths at Harbor Freight (4′ x 12′) for $8.50/ea and were able to get 6 covers out of each cloth (less one that we needed for facings). Add in some sturdy twill for the ties (at about $.50/chair), and pretty much each chair cover cost about $2.00. AND, they are washable!
While I missed the fellowship of working with all of the other ladies, I’ll confess that I didn’t really miss all the opportunities for cleaning! We would all meet together for break, and we even had a lovely “Salad Luncheon” one day, so we were still able to connect nicely. There were 7 of us SOWER ladies, plus another 5+ volunteers that also worked and fellowshipped along side us.
Here’s our official March 2021 Group Picture –
When I look over these pictures it still surprises me that this was just two weeks ago. When we arrived at the project we only knew one other couple. By the time we left, we had enlarged our ‘family’ by many more than are even in that picture! I love how God knits us together over the course of just three short weeks and we treasure each of these new co-workers for Christ!
We’ve just wrapped up our last Florida weekend of 2021 (or so it appears now), and it was a very fine weekend indeed! In some very special ways it was filled with family – lots of different kinds of family!
It started out on Friday with a casual gathering of about 25 SOWER couples who have either been working in the central Florida area or live in the area. It was pretty low key – bring your own chair and lunch, social distance as you were able, and enjoy each other’s company before folks begin the great northern migration!
As you can see, we were blessed with a picture perfect day!
(and just for fun – here’s a shot a SOWER friend took of somebody being bossy – again!)
Although we started out in that nice round circle, we soon gathered in clusters of conversations – catching up with old friends, meeting some new friends, and generally enjoying the time of connecting with our SOWER family. Such a lovely day!
Saturday morning was filled with our more ‘traditional’ family. We started with being able to live-stream a singing and dancing competition of one of our Ohio granddaughters.
(Full disclosure – this is not a photo from Saturday’s performance, but it is a photo of the dance troupe. Toby circled Maddie for me because between the masks and how fast everyone was moving, I’d had a hard time figuring out last time which sweet thing was our Maddie! I know, bad Gramma – but really! At least this time I was smart enough to watch it on my computer instead of my phone!).
I never thought to take a screen shot because I was just enjoying the performance so much! They were amazing! We both were so glad to be able to be part of the ‘audience’ even from so very far away! Great job, Maddie!
Later that same morning I spent about an hour on Zoom with young builder Alex. Every month she gets a box with some type of building project from Kiwi Crates, and we work together to assemble it. This month it was a treasure chest!
It can be a little challenging since I don’t have the instruction book and am trying to explain it to her after just watching a video or two of how the project is supposed to go. Thankfully, Mom and Dad are usually close by to help! We somehow muddle through it with lots of giggles and grins – and it’s really something I look forward to doing with her each month!
To make the morning all the more special, I ended it up with some reading time with the Waco Boys.
I confess that this little reading project is a work-in-progress, as we make our way through “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”. We haven’t settled in to a very regular schedule, and our last reading time was several weeks ago. Life happens. The little one in the middle rarely lasts very long, the 6 year old enjoys our time together but I’m not sure he’s really ‘getting’ the story. He politely raised his hand just after I started.
“Yes, T? Do you have a question?”
“What kind of cheese do you have?”
No cheese in the story, but it seemed to be pressing to him! =) Cheddar, by the way.
W, at 10, follows along – but I not sure he’s really ‘into’ the story. I’m not giving up on this “Reading Time with Grams” concept, and I’m determined to finish the book (at least I want to know what happens to all those penguins!), but maybe we’ll have to a bit more research before we start our next book. Suggestions, anyone?
We finished off the day with our ‘family’ here at AIM! Residents and volunteers alike were invited to a Corn Hole Tournament, and we couldn’t resist the challenge.
Somehow we made it to the final round of the consolation players.
And with great concentration on my part…..
We actually WON! So we were officially the champions of the losers. Or something fitting like that!! All in all, a very fun way to spend a chilly Saturday afternoon.
With all those good family vibes going on, we joined our good SOWER friend Bill for worship and one last meal together on Sunday.
Oh – I forgot! We had a lovely campfire on Friday night with our SOWER family too!
It was a weekend chock full of all kinds of family deliciousness!
And for that I am so very grateful!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you weekend was filled with some family time too. Virtual or otherwise!
In a good way!
Because we have friends that were missionaries in Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for many years (decades?), we’ve been checking with folks that we meet (here at the African Inland Mission Center) if perchance they have met these dear friends of ours. Mind you, they served under a different mission organization and Africa is pretty darn huge, but still – you never know what paths might have crossed. So far we’ve only met one (who had been a teacher at Rift Valley Academy) that had a good recollection of our friends (or of their kiddos!). So imagine our delight and surprise when we discovered an entirely unexpected connection while enjoying dinner at one of the residents’ home.
“So where are you folks from?” asked our sweet hostess.
“Well, we’ve been on the road for the last 17 years, but we raised our family outside of Philadelphia.”
“Oh, we have family in the Philadelphia area. Where about were you?”
“We were in Bucks County, near Doylestown.”
“My – I think that’s where Les’s sister lives. What town is she in, dear?”
“I think Ginger lives in Jamison now.”
“Wait – Jamison? That’s where we lived! And are you talking about Ginger Smith*?
“Yes, that’s Les’s sister!”
“Her son married my best friend’s daughter!”
“Yes! Leslie and Pete. We were at their wedding!”
“Well, so were we!! Oh my, this is crazy – and so very sweet! I had no idea that Ginger was raised in Africa!”
The conversation flowed easily for the rest of the evening as stories upon stories were shared. Needless to say, the most dramatic story was of Les telling of his encounter with a 16 ft. python in a sugar cane field. It wasn’t a “Oh look, there’s a python up in that tree. Let me kill it” story. It was an “I’m going to die if I can’t kill this beast that is rapidly wrapping himself around me” story.
Now THAT’S a story!!
We’ve loved meeting so many retired missionaries, and hearing how God is continuing to work in Africa and around the world! And we especially love when our different worlds so happily collide.
What a blessing to be here!
*Names have been changed..just because we thought it was a good idea! You just never know these days, right?
We’ve worked at a lot of different SOWER projects over the years – camps and conference centers, rescue missions, group homes, children’s homes, schools and colleges, and even some US headquarters of international ministries (like Mercy Ships and MAF). But we’ve never before worked at a retirement center. But this is not just a retirement center. It’s home to missionaries who have served our LORD faithfully on the African Continent in years past (and some even to this day!). This retirement center offers reasonably priced housing for folks coming off the field, and also provides wonderful community for these precious saints. We SOWERS on the project join with other volunteers for inspiring devotions (often from those retired missionaries), and then get to work doing whatever needs to be done. Although there are no current building projects, many of the lovely duplex homes here have been constructed by SOWERS. This time around the guys are working on everything from cutting down trees to moving hot water heaters to general maintenance.
(Not real sure what Gary is doing here, but it had something to do with moving a hot water heater from the laundry room to the garage. Mission was accomplished by mid-week!)
We ladies started out the week cleaning a house that had recently been vacated so the new folks coming in would find everything spic and span! After that was accomplished, we moved to windows! Lots and lots of windows!
The SOWER grapevine had prepared me for window washing here at AIM, but as it’s said – “Many hands make light the work”. Nothing like some SOWER team work to get the job done! (Now if I could just sign them up for my place!)
Another service offered to these retirees is some general sewing and mending as needed. Since my hand always goes up when they ask if anyone wants to sew, I joined fellow SOWER Diane in the sewing room for a couple of hours towards the end of the week. A bit of pajama hemming, a little hand sewing, and some easy ‘rag hemming’. Our next sewing project though will be a bit more of a challenge. The facility has many upholstered chairs where the fabric on the chair back is failing. And failing in a big way. They’ve totally reupholstered about a half dozen and have found the results lovely, but too labor intensive to be practical. So we were asked if we could figure out an easier way to make covers for the backs that would end up being both economical and attractive.
We’re thinking pillowcase-ish and dropcloth fabric. Monday will be our prototype day – so I’ll keep you posted!
We finished off our first week with a yummy hotdog roast and some great fellowship around the campfire.
Ah….a lovely week all around!
Mar 5 – Mar 25
We’ve moved about 100 miles north from our Feb spot (Lake Placid Camp) and are getting settled in our March ministry location – AIM (African Inland Missionary) Retirement community in Minneola, FL.
Although we’ve been in Florida this winter, each location has been home to some very different ministries. December we were in the panhandle, serving at the Teen Challenge school in Bonifay. January we were in Lake Wales at the Care Center – not working directly with their clients, but rather in their thrift store which supports their ministry. February we were at a more traditional conference center, and this month we’re at another new-to-us ministry – a retirement center for AIM missionaries.
I’m not sure what exactly we’ll be doing, but I’ve heard that the interaction with these lovely folks who have dedicated their lives to sharing (and living) the Gospel in Africa is inspiring. We’ll be working with seven SOWER couples (all new to us except one couple), so it will be a grand time of expanding our SOWER family!
Yes – Here’s to a Great March!