My daughter Mallory and I had the honor to join Janice Grimes, Executive Director and founder of Quilts of Compassion, during her mission for the Tupelo and Louisville, Mississippi areas portion of the "Quilts for the South" deployment. I blogged last month about the way God combined my Eight Days of Hope timeline with my quilting passion and connected me with Janice's ministry. After volunteering to longarm a stack of quilts, and adding a bunch donated by my friends all over the country, I brought 25 quilts to add to QOC's 650+ quilts and assisted in distributing them to people affected by the April 28 tornadoes.
The Quiltmobile dragged a trailer from Toledo, OH, full of quilts for the area. We unloaded the trailer at Anchor Church in Tupelo to reload the Quiltmobile for driving through the affected neighborhoods.
Quilts of Compassion began the disaster response portion of their mission after the Joplin tornado in 2011.
Anchor Church loaned us their youth room for staging.
The quilts arrived bagged with numbers of quilts in each bag.
We sorted them by infant, kids, adult and lap quilts. The lap-sized prayer quilts are provided abundantly by the sewing groups dedicated to Quilts of Compassion's ministry. I think any individual out there who wants to donate to the ministry should consider adult masculine and feminine quilts a priority based on what I saw. Twin to queen sized quilts are really necessary for families who have lost everything.
On the other hand, these "pocket prayer quilts" are an amazing tool to share the ministry with extended family, caregivers, first-responders, and community members who can carry the tiny quilt in a pocket or purse. Mallory and I left the week with lots of plans to make many more of these to share with others, and to send to Janice. Stay tuned for some great patterns here in the future!
Our first morning, WCBI, a local television news station, interviewed Janice and provided great coverage of our mission. http://www.wcbi.com/wordpress/video-group-ministers-to-tornado-victims-through-quilts
And Janice did a great job of outfitting us in polos and caps...very official! After a few homeowners related the stories of scammers and insurance woes, I quickly saw why it was important for us to be professional in our appearance. The LAST thing these people needed was to feel mistreated or fear manipulation or exploitation.
Since I had already established a relationship with several families during my week in Tupelo, we started with those names that either I knew, or someone from Anchor Church knew, had been affected by the storms.
Charles received a brand-new home from the ground up from Eight Days of Hope, and three new quilts from Quilts of Compassion.
Roy and Delilah received many man-hours of construction...and these beautiful quilts.
We just went door to door, following the Lord's leading, and distributed quilts as we could to families still dealing with disaster rebuilding and clean up.
I loved seeing just how precious the quilts were to their recipients, and how the people who received them were encouraged by the prayers that we said with them, and continue to pray for them. To know "I am not forgotten" months after the storm...to hear God is faithful, and God loves them.
I was blessed to bestow Tupelo Strong, the special quilt I pieced and quilted and prayed over for Tupelo, to a sweet pharmacist who works at crosstown, right in the heart of our city.
The third day we went to Louisville, two hours south of Tupelo. We'd heard they were hit even harder than Tupelo...but I still wasn't prepared for the emotional day we had. Their hospital was destroyed.
Homes were just gone.
But there was still hope. We met some lovely people, who have strength and determination to rebuild. Our quilts are with them to remind them we are praying, we love them, and God loves them.
We even commissioned some people to pass quilts on to others we could not reach in our one day in town.
Nikki took on as many quilts as she could carry. She lost her home and family members in the storm, so it's even more precious to see her love for her community and friends, and willingness to be His hands and feet to show compassion to the hurting.
On our last day in Tupelo, we distributed as many more quilts as we could into the hardest hit areas.
Janice took time that morning to share her testimony in my parents' Sunday School class, and gave everyone there a lap quilt to distribute to someone that needs comforting. The act of giving away comfort means just as much to the giver as the receiver. Trust me. My heart is full to overflowing of all the stories I simply cannot type in a simple blog post.
My hubby Dennis, dad Roy, and Janice just before she drove away to continue on to Alabama and Tennessee...Dad coveted one of the quilts we gifted so much that I know what his Christmas gift needs to be.
It was amazing to witness all the love of God through and to His people, truly blanketing them with the Peace that passes understanding, and the Hope, Grace and Compassion through Christ Jesus...all from the comfort of a quilt.