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Each One Teach One

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Sharing your talents can be one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself. Two years ago in Sunday school a missionary asked if there were any of us who could help at the mission. I told her that I might be able to teach sewing........oops, what did I just say?

She took me up on it. I must admit that I was frightened because I had never taught before, especially a small group of girls. My first question was to the Lord - if He really wanted me to do it, I would need five free sewing machines and a good deal on fabric and other equipment.

I received seven sewing machines! A fabric store offered to supply fabric at a excellent discount and some ladies donated sewing supplies! Later, one of the guild ladies donated her mother's sewing machine to the mission. Financial support came from one of the ladies' groups at my church after I did a program for them. I used the money for a cutting board, iron, threads and fabric to be used for baby quilts for the Woman's Pregnancy Center.

I was sure the answer I received was a very clear YES and so with His help and my knowledge, I started to plan out my strategy for teaching these young girls. My focus for teaching sewing was to teach the word of God and help make a difference in these girls' lives. I have found that sewing was an excellent vehicle to teach these things.

The classes had themes, for example, "As you sow so shall you reap, as you sew so shall you rip."

The girls made scrunchies for their hair and this got them started with a measure of success.

I taught them to "keep their eye on the mark" and then their seams would be straight.

In their second class, "All we like sheep have gone astray," they were to learn what a skirt would look like if the skirt were not made properly - because of the student taking her eye off the mark, not being focused, not following instructions and so on.

In the third class, they saw the skirt that I had made wrong .... wavy seams, one pocket hanging out, elastic dangling, and an uneven hem. What a sight! I had made another skirt that was correct and asked them (not to answer out loud) "Which skirt represents your life? Which one do you want to represent your life?" Then I told them, "If this (the messed up one) represents your life, God is the God of new beginnings."

The children at the mission need our help in many ways. I was most blessed when one of the girls at the beginning of the fourth class of my second series said, "Mrs. Schmidt, you're teaching us more than sewing. You're teaching us how to live. Nobody has taught us how to live."

Money can not pay for that experience. What a blessing! During the four sessions of three and a half hours each, the girls made a tote bag and a skirt along with a scrunchy to match. I made a skirt at home to match theirs and took them out to lunch.

I am now doing one more thing with the girls at the mission. They are learning to give of themselves. On the second session they put a very simple quilt together for one baby that was given the choice of life. They didn't like the idea at first because they wanted something for themselves. I am convinced that they need to experience the gift of giving, as I have.

Last year I began to mentor three young women, ages sixteen, twenty-three, and thirty-three, through a church mentoring program. It entailed meeting once a month and talking once a week for a year. It has expanded to meeting once a week to do Bible study for two of the girls and numerous phone calls. I am teaching all of them paper piecing as they sew at my house. Each one is making a quilted wallhanging. One is going to make some Christmas gifts for her family. What a joy to share your hobby, sewing!

Ellie, one of our pastor's daughters, and her sisters are home-schooled by their mother. I am now teaching Ellie sewing as an extra-curricular activity. She and I met four times a month and she has learned to make scrunchies, a no-pattern skirt, a jumper, how to read patterns, altering, and some serging. She made a table cloth and napkins for her hope chest, a quilt for the Women's Pregnancy Center and two quilts as birth gifts for two babies.

Nothing could replace for me the enjoyment of getting to know and share with this young girl. I hope to see her enjoy sewing as much as I do.

In His Love, Marilyn Schmidt

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