In January Kathy, Mission of Love Founder/Director mentioned to
me that she was going to Tennessee to hand out comfort quilts to families who had
lost their homes in the wildﬁres of November 2016. She had collected 75 beautiful
handmade quilts from some very generous friends of Luana Rubin from
equilter.com. When I saw them it was obvious that each quilter had put much
time and love into their quilt. I decided to add one of my own to the lot, hoping
that I could ﬁnish it before the trip in February. Since it only needed binding, it
was deﬁnitely an attainable goal. When Kathy invited me to go, I couldn’t pass up
the chance to serve our neighbors in Tennessee.
Also going on the trip was our friend Eric Broviak who I had the
pleasure of serving with the previous September on the rehab mission to Tecpan,
Guatemala. Eric is indispensable for not only his driving skills but pharmacy,
video and photography as well. The van was packed to the hilt with bins of
quilts, warm clothing, crayons, coloring books and candy for children. As we
set out on Thursday we really didn't have a deﬁnite game plan in place for how,
where or when the event would take place, but, as usual, God had already ﬁgured out
those details! All we had to do was show up. We met up with author Andrea
Thome and her husband Jim Thome of Cleveland Indians fame. Andrea’s mom had
grown up in the Gatlinburg area and Andrea holds a special place in her heart for
the people there. Andrea had been in touch with the East Tennessee Foundation who
is in the process of helping allocate funds for housing for the ﬁre victims.
Meanwhile, my friend, Tori Skolosh, who attends Johnson
University in Knoxville, knew of some Honduran and Guatemalan families who are in
desperate need of housing. Andrea was able to contact the pastor of the
Hispanic church in Sevierville, Susana Lopez, who offered to contact 40 families
most in need and also allowed us the use of the church in which to hold the event.
On Friday we quickly jumped into action, along with Susana and her daughter,
setting up the tables to display the quilts and clothing and kids items. Jim and
Andrea went shopping for piñatas and party supplies. They also generously ordered
catering from Chipotle for 140 people! We were now ready for our Comfort Quilt
At 7:00pm the people started trickling in. They seemed a little
hesitant at ﬁrst not knowing us or what would take place. By the time we began to
serve dinner, however, everyone was laughing and talking, many in Spanish, and
enjoying themselves. They realized that we were simply there to show them that they
were loved and cared for and not forgotten. After dinner the kids went
outside and had great fun taking turns hitting the piñatas. There was plenty of
candy for all since we had stuffed them really full!
We began distributing the quilts by calling each family up one
by one and encouraging them to choose their favorite quilt. Kathy and Andrea
wrapped the quilts around the ladies’ shoulders and took lots of photos. There were
lots of smiles but also lots of happy tears during the process. The women were
obviously deeply moved by such a beautiful gift. I know that my own heart was full
of joy. We all made some new friends that night.
Miracles happened during those couple days and events unfolded
that none of us could have planned or arranged on our own. We didn’t have the
contacts and we didn’t know who was most in need but God knew. He led us in the
right direction placing the right people in our path who could assist in
accomplishing the task.
Many thanks to Kathy Price, Jim and Andrea Thome, and Pastor
Susana Lopez and her family. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to meet and
serve with such awesome people. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I’d like to think that that is what we were able to do that Friday evening in
Mission of Love volunteer