Handmade quilts, blankets for young patients at Texas Children’s Hospital, knitted caps for preemies, lap blankets for local long-term care facilities and retirement homes, and for the past two years, “pillowcase dresses” for needy Cambodian children and orphans — that’s what hearts and hands in the Houston’s First Piecemakers Ministry are stitching together. Just about every Wednesday morning during the school year, women ages 30 to 90 can be found handcrafting expressions of love for people spanning from the metro area to a riverside town on the other side of the world.
“Last year, Piecemakers made dresses for little girls in Kratié, Cambodia, on the banks of the Mekong River,” said Carol Pierce, Piecemakers’ leader and devotional facilitator for the past nine years. “We’re always looking for ideas for ministry projects.”
Ann Zallar, a Piecemakers member and quilter, knew her longtime friend and Houston’s First member Terri Toy had delivered 75 dresses for little girls living in Kratié, where her 20-year old daughter Allison, a nursing student, and Terri’s husband, a doctor, led a Houston’s First medical mission trip in 2014.
Allison, her dad, and seven others traveled to Kratié, and in four locations offered basic medical check ups, vitamins, and drugs for high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses treated with medications readily available for patients in the United States, but difficult to obtain in rural Cambodia. In addition, the team worked in conjunction with a local Filipino missionary, his church, and in concert with a hospital to teach everything from basic first aid to neonatal resuscitation. The team was able to see 100 patients each day and, through an interpreter, shared the Gospel during each encounter.
The following year, the size of the missions team from Houston’s First nearly doubled. They traveled back to Kratié and the Piecemakers volunteered to make the little girls’ dresses. Ann, Carol and the rest of the group thought making 75 pillowcase dresses to be a worthy goal, but instead, enthusiasm for the project and a heightened sense of purpose led the women to deliver 90 instead.
“These ladies embraced this project,” said Terri. “They made more dresses than they ever imagined!”
The women are readying their needles again this year to sew dresses that the Houston’s First team can deliver when they leave for Kratié in May. They will join Allison and another girl from Houston’s First who were called by God to return to Kratié a few months ago on extended mission trips, six months and one year, respectively. The local missionary told Terri that he sees the girls at the market from time to time and they are usually wearing the dresses the Piecemakers made for them.
“Some can’t go, but they can sew,” said Terri. “Sewing for children around the world — it’s a practical way to show the love of Christ.”
The kids in Kratié sent Houston's First greetings as we celebrated our 175th anniversary on Apr 10, 2016!