For the past 2 1/2 years, Don and I have been attending the Spanish Branch of the Church. We have been welcomed with open arms and warm hearts, and we have really learned to love our Latino friends. Many of these members have lived in the United States for a long time and speak English proficiently. From time to time we realize that culturally we all hold on to “our” ways, but a blend of the two usually means success.
Last Sunday in Relief Society, the President, Guille Bugarin, announced the upcoming Enrichment activity on Thursday afternoon. She showed a couple of projects that would be offered, and fielded questions about what each entailed, what we needed to bring, etc. Because this discussion was in Spanish, I missed a lot, but I could clearly see that we could learn how to crochet edges on dishtowels or do something with a tote bag. I couldn’t follow the discussion well enough to know if we were going to make a bag or decorate one, but since I didn’t want to do that, it didn’t matter. I decided maybe I’d go for some instruction in crochet.
Thursday morning, 8 a.m. – telephone call for me:
Buenos días, mi amiga. How are you?
I’m muy bien, gracias.
Sister, today at our Enrichment meeting I want to show the sisters how to make a cover for the pills. I have most of the material that I need, but I wonder if you have some small pieces that I can use to finish. I am making one for the boys and one for the girls. Do you have any material in light blue or white?
I’m pretty sure I have some. But what are you making? a cover for the pills?
Yeah, you know – a thing to cover the pills.
Yeah, you know – a thing to cover the pills.
At this point I was racking my brain trying to figure out what she was talking about. I’m used to brief lapses in understanding during our conversations, but usually one or the other catches the drift and we continue! However, this time I could not begin to connect what I had seen regarding either the dishtowels or tote bags with “the pills.”
I don’t know what you mean. But in a few minutes I’ll come up to your house and see what you’re doing to make sure I have what you need.
Oh, thank you so much. You can come when you finish your breakfast.
When I got to her house she showed me some fabric that she wanted to make into pillowcases.
Oh, pillowcases! You’re going to teach how to make pillowcases!
Yes. I think the sisters need to learn how to sew and when they see a cute cover like this they will maybe want to make one. And I don’t think it’s too hard.
Oh, no. They aren’t hard to make. That is a good project to start with.
And can you please bring your [sewing] machine?
So we discussed what she needed and I told her I would bring some fabric that would work for the wide hems on the cases. We chatted for a while, she showed me a lot of family pictures, we talked about her kids, and about 45 minutes later I returned home. I went to my fabric stash and found a couple of pieces of fabric that would work to complete the pillowcases.
The meeting was supposed to start at 3 p.m., and Don had assured Guille that he would be at the church to unlock the door. I reminded Don that mis amigas have no concept of starting on time at a somewhat informal meeting as this one is, so I was not planning to go before 3:45.
When he called me from the church at about 3:35, Guille had just arrived and one other sister was there. He said he’d be home to pick me up in about 15 minutes. I had my sewing machine and fabric ready to go.
In that 15 minutes, my “American former Relief Society President” thinking kicked in, and I dashed downstairs to gather a few more things that I realized she might need for a sewing class. If she needed my machine, perhaps a few other tools would be helpful as well. Soon my pile at the door consisted of my cutting mat and rotary blade, several pairs of sewing scissors, iron, and a couple of pieces of coordinating fabric that I thought were big enough to make a pillowcase. In addition I took some banana cake from the freezer and arranged it on a cute plate as my contribution to snacks. When Don pulled in the driveway, we loaded the car and returned to the church.
The sisters had congregated in the multi-purpose room next to the kitchen and were chatting while setting out some food. One sister was setting up her sewing machine, and we discussed where to plug mine in, as I wasn’t sure how she was going to do her instruction. Then Guille turned to me:
So now you will teach us how to make pillowcases?
Wait, I thought you were teaching how to sew . . . I was going to learn to crochet . . . I’m not prepared to teach this class . . Fortunately – or due to divine intervention, because of my conversation with Guille earlier, I had done an internet search and emailed instructions for making a pillowcase to Maddie as a possible beginning sewing project. So without missing a beat I took charge, set up shop, pulled fabric out of my bag and taught the women how to make a pillowcase. None had ever used a rotary cutter, and they were fascinated with the ease and accuracy of that little tool. Marsha had never used a sewing machine, so she sat down at mine and cautiously sewed while her little boys stood at her elbows fascinated with her new skill.
“What would happen if I put my finger in there where that pointy thing (needle) is?”
“Mom, when you get really good will you make it go faster?”
“Tyler, you’re standing on the material so it won’t move!”
By the time the clock struck 6 and it was time to clean up, we had completed 3 pillowcases and had a great meal of tostadas, beans, chicken, salsa, watermelon and cake. It seems that at these functions, food just appears as if by magic – plentiful and delicious! And we’d all had a good time.
Later that evening I realized that I had just taught an Enrichment sewing class with no advance notice, no preparation, no handouts, no centerpieces, no sign up sheets and no stress.