Africa was not on my horizon for 2012. Although I’ve supported Nigerian women through Women for Women, I simply didn’t think much about Africa.
In late January, while talking with my friend Nina Lanctot, she mentioned her upcoming spring trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then, she mentioned that one of the women—a sewer—couldn’t go on the trip: would I be interested?
I tried to be cool, calm, and collected while asking for some details and told her that I need to talk with Kevin, pray about this, and figure out some work details. I asked for a few days. I called her back the next day and told her, “I’m in!!”
I leave for Kinshasa, Congo with Nina and Nancy Myers on April 30 and return May 16. We are going as part of the “Every Stitch a Prayer”—Congo Cloth Connection.
“Every Stitch a Prayer” began when Christine Nofsinger visited the DR of Congo in 2009 and fell in love with the cloth of Congo. As a quilter, Chris immediately imagined a world of projects with the Congolese fabric. When she returned to the U.S. she wondered how she could be part of God’s work in Congo. The complexity of beauty and suffering were hard to sort out and as she used Congo cloth for quilts, she began to pray.
When Chris returned from the Congo in 2009 she had three suitcases jammed full of cloth. Now when the MCC country representatives, Tim and Suzanne Lind, or others with Congo connections travel, they also return with yards of cloth. There is no other way to get cloth to North America as there is no postal or delivery service between the Congo and U.S. The fabric is sold and money sent back to the Congo. Quilts have been made and auctioned off with the funds going back to the Congo to support a sewing training center in Kinshasa. (More about the sewing center to come!).
Nina, Nancy, and I will be visiting with the Mennonite Church groups based in Kinshasa. Nina will be preaching the two Sundays we will be there and Nancy will be videotaping and conducting interviews with the Congolese people. I will be purchasing fabric to sell in the US and meeting with the women at the sewing center.
I am very excited about this adventure and am in awe how this opportunity has unfolded for me!