Introducing one of Salem Arts Exchanges wonderful volunteers, Patricia*
*Due to the sensitivity of her future ministry, she’d ask if we could use a pseudonym and not use her picture.
– How did you hear about SAE and what made you want to get involved?
I heard about SAE through my friend and old roommate, Jeanette, who had recently joined at the time. She was really excited about this fun sewing group with ladies from the refugee community. I really wanted to get involved in a ministry that offered the opportunity to build friendships with women from the refugee community, and SAE sounded like a great fit! I knew very little about sewing, but it still sounded like a welcoming group to be a part of despite my lack of expertise.
– How long have you been with SAE and what was your role?
The pillowcase is fun to work on with students because they usually finish the project within the class period.
I have been with SAE since August 2018, about two years. I have been a Tabitha sewing trainer, a storying team leader, and a co-Tabitha team lead.
– What was your favorite project to work on at SAE?
My favorite project to work on in SAE would probably be the pillowcase or the coiled basket. The pillowcase is fun to work on with students because they usually finish the project within the class period. The coil baskets are challenging but so beautiful when finished.
– What was the best thing you ate from our weekly snack buffet?
The SAE snacks were always so tasty!! M’s sambusas are probably my favorite, but I did really like F’s tea. Additionally, I have a major sweet tooth so all of the cookies.
– How has SAE been a blessing to you?
SAE has been a blessing from God in many ways. Among our team of trainers, I have formed sweet friendships with these women, and it is encouraging that we are of one heart to serve, teach, and showcase the reality of grace to our students. In regard to our students, I am grateful to see our students grow in their sewing skills, and even more–I loved building friendships with these ladies.
…working alongside these ladies to create beautiful products which points to our beautiful Creator. Wherever I go, I want to do those two things: share Christ and create beauty.
– What is your favorite thing about SAE?
That is tough to choose. I really like the SAE community we created. It varies with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and women who have lived all around the world in varying circumstances and religions. Our SAE team and students are all made in God’s image; therefore, it is a gift to hear and know their stories. I also enjoy seeing the growth in skill when students make projects. Sharing stories about God also brings joy–one of my favorite times being the Ruth series. Even though we are on pause right now, I think I feel hopeful for our weekly prayer times (thanks, Julia) that God would be pleased to lead SAE for the future.
– Have there been ways you have seen God use SAE to help equip you for missions?
I think God grew my heart for wanting to share Christ in the form of a story. There is much opportunity here, and perhaps God would use stories to draw those who don’t know him or haven’t heard yet about his work for their behalf. Everyone loves a good story, and stories are a big part of many different cultures. I love the process of seeking to connect our stories and circumstances to God who engages and pursues us in every aspect of life. Additionally, working alongside these ladies to create beautiful products which points to our beautiful Creator. Wherever I go, I want to do those two things: share Christ and create beauty.
– What is one treasured thing you have learned from our refugee friends?
One treasured thing that I have learned from these ladies would be their humility and generosity. Many of these ladies lead very busy lives as they have accomplished much in their home countries, they have been mothers, they are working or in school, learning English as a second language, and they are supporting family members. Yet, they still chose to show up regularly to sew at SAE and learn from our team. It takes a lot of humility to learn from someone else, especially when one has many other pressing responsibilities. Moving across cross-cultural barriers, these women chose to build relationships with us. They welcomed friendship, and I hope to do that in my next context. These ladies generously brought food (which took time, energy and resources) to our weekly potlucks as well. I want to be generous because that is an expression of God’s welcoming heart.
Favorite memories include… the constant laughter when sewing with Y, the patience and easygoing nature of D had with me when I explained a stitch incorrectly, the warm hugs and jokes that M and I shared
– What is one sweet memory you will take with you as we say farewell?
I will never forget the constant laughter when sewing with Y, the patience and easygoing nature of D had with me when I explained a stitch incorrectly, the warm hugs and jokes that M and I shared, and lastly the bell celebrating the finished products of students. I am grateful and have learned much from the camaraderie of our storying team dreaming, praying, and planning ways to share the love of Christ with this dear community. What a privilege it was to even give hints of who God is in the form of stories.