I have 2 sisters who are 10 and 11 years older than me. Having such a large age gap, I often felt like an only child growing up. By the time I was 8 both my sisters had graduated high school and were busy becoming adults. We’ve grown closer over the years, learning as adults we have more in common than previously thought; if nothing else we share similar temperaments, attitudes, strong will to be independent. We don’t live geographically close to each other (I’m in Texas, they’re both in North Carolina) and have to work to keep in touch. Admittedly we’ve done better at this at certain times than others.
When my sister Kim told me she was thinking of going on a missions trip, my first thought was that this was something very outside her “comfort zone.” I know lots of people who have been on missions trips around the world and have never heard one of them say they wish they hadn’t gone. I think it’s a great thing to sacrifice the luxuries of food and home to help people in a country you’ve never been before. I’d be terrified, personally.
What many don’t understand is that each member of the missions team is responsible for their travel expenses including airfare, lodging and food. The team also has expenses for baggage fees to transport all supplies needed for the trip including bible school supplies. So when my stoic “never ask for anything” sister posted that she needed help with fundraising efforts to support her and her team’s trip, I wondered how I could help.
I had started playing with an idea for an afghan. Something with flowers, very home-ish, and ode to hydrangeas and my great-grandmother’s porch. As I continued making the squares and trying to decide what I would do with the finished blanket, my sister’s missions trip came to mind. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to help. I could make something completely unique, that would hopefully be desirable to others (somebody’s gotta buy it after all!), and donate the money to my sister’s team and help as many of them go and be stewards of faith as I could.
The following is how this project began.
Sisters United began with Regina’s desire to help me, her middle sister, fund my first missions trip. As Regina shared, requesting funding was not an easy thing for me. But God had a better way, as is always the case. I had decided that if I were to go on a trip I would pay my own way so that I would not have to do the uncomfortable and dreaded task of fundraising. But God spoke to me daily for several weeks. He did not want me to pay my way, he wanted me to step aside and allow him to provide. As I shared my story, God had already started working. He was laying on people’s hearts the desire to give. And people started giving, not just financially but with words of encouragement and offers of prayer. Then Regina sent me a text to say she wanted to help with my trip and she had an idea. Regina offered her skills, her God-given talent of crochet and I was honored to accept. I had seen portions of the afghan in progress and was blown away with its intricate design and colors. Understanding the time in such a unique handcrafted item, I knew the offer was generous, beyond measure.
But as I was driving and thinking of her offer, I realized this project could help more than just me. This project could help others on the team. After talking with my teammates and learning the theme of the women’s ministry was “Sisters United”, it all came together. God has such a sense of humor. He already knows when these light bulb moments will occur…he just sits back and waits for us to realize them.
As plans for the trip unfold, friendships are being built. Most of us just met each other as members of this Hope for Belize team. But one thing we all share, we are sisters united in Christ. Together we are sisterhood. And we will be extending this sisterhood to the Belizean women. Our women’s ministry will focus on serving each other and encouraging the women of Belize to build a community among them.
Which brings us to the afghan that Regina will be laboring for hours to create, crochet, and lovingly prepare. Regina’s vision for the afghan recalled childhood memories of our Great Grandmother’s hydrangea bushes. The afghan symbolizes a sisterhood with threads woven together. Each individual square, unique in its design, stitched together to create a beautiful masterpiece. The same way God created each and every woman on this Earth…our sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, or friends. handmade
The trip…Hope for Belize Missions Trip
A team of about 20 men and women will travel to Belize in August for one week to serve the Belizean people. The team will be hosted by Sand Hill Baptist Church. The trip will consist of a stop at a local orphanage to play games and have an ice cream social with the kids. We will worship on Sunday at Sand Hill Baptist Church and lead the worship services. Monday through Thursday we will host a Vacation Bible School for the kids expecting around 150 kids to participate! VBS will be traditional style with a Bible story,music, crafts, and snacks. In the afternoons after VBS, we will serve the men and women in various ways. The Men’s ministry will have a construction project to build needed bunk beds. The men will also share in a time of devotion followed by team sports. The Women’s ministry will consist of devotional time with breakout sessions allowing a time of sharing with each other. The women will also spend time crafting or participating in games. One evening, as a team, we will “Break Bread” with families in the community. We will bake lasagnas and go in to the homes of Belizean families and share dinner with them. This trip is definitely about community and sharing.
Stories from Team Members
Four women of the group came together to share in fundraising efforts. Brenda LaBounty, has become the leader of our women’s group. Brenda has been to Belize many times and has established lifelong relationships with many of the women. Her desire is to keep the women engaged in a community of serving each other long after the missions trips have concluded.
Another member of the group, Diane Kleckner, will be serving on her first missions trip. Diane feels God is stretching her to develop her faith. She is working on developing a greater heart of compassion for HIS people around the world. Serving in Belize will be an opportunity to begin that journey. FeDora Harris has participated in several national missions trips at Indian reservations. Hope for Belize will be FeDora’s first international missions trip. FeDora loves to talk about JESUS. She is so excited to be going on this trip and can’t wait to share her love for Jesus with others. And finally me, Kimberly Stewart (Regina’s sister), will be serving on my first missions trip. I have been feeling a tug to serve on a trip after seeing many of my friends changed after their mission experiences. The tug has also been to step out of my comfort zone. How easy it is to become comfortable in our daily routines. Instead of every day being about me, my desires, my schedule, I wanted to take time away from me and share it with others. I want to serve others.
As we plan for this trip, we are learning that God provides. We are all fundraising together and individually. Each person is tasked with raising their individual funds of $1800. In addition, the team will have expenses for materials, supplies, snacks, etc. Proceeds from the sale of the afghan will be donated to the Hope for Belize team to be shared among the group and support the team expenses.
Several members of the team are experienced missionaries and have been to Belize on other trips. They feel so led to share the Gospel and see lives changed. But the majority of the team are first timers and we all are experiencing the same feelings; excitement and trepidation. But God already knows the outcome of the trip, we trust his hand to guide each of us on this journey.
So, what am I making?? It’s still a work in progress, but here’s some of what I have. I’m still working on squares and deciding what layout I’ll go with. I hope to have it all done soon!
I will post updates over the next couple weeks of my progress on the afghan. This will culminate with an auction in which 100% of the proceeds will go to my sister’s missions team to fund their missions work in Belize in August.
I will also post some patterns of how I completed the squares. The main pattern being this one from MyPicot.com