We received an interesting letter from Aaron this week. Sounds like he’s having some great opportunities to help people there in need:
On Friday, we had the amazing opportunity to go help out the victims of this giant fire that was in this place called Valparaiso, with is 2 hours away from Santiago, and is in the Viña del Mar mission. So we got up EARLY Friday morning and headed out. Once we got there, we got some awesome Church vests, then went to this warehouse place RIGHT NEXT TO THE OCEAN!!!! it smelled soooooooo good. like Calli! and we could see the ocean and everything. Valparaiso is suuuuper pretty, like a little Rio de Janerio, so pretty. So at the warehouse, we just unpacked millions and millions of boxes of donations. Seriously, this Church is the best. There were so many Donations. After that, we got to go up the mountain!! so we walked up this giant Hill, where the fire was.. As we went up, you could see all of the houses and lives that had just been completely destroyed. I’ll never forget that walk. Just passing by people that lost everything. So humbling.
Once my group got to the top, we took out our shovels and started digging through the ash, just basically cleaning the ground from the ash and debris. We literally dug through like little toys and just little objects that used to belong to a normal family, but now they were rubble. We put all of the ashes in bags and transported them to another place, out of the way. Other missionaries took out the ruined foundations of houses too, and stuff like that, but I just dug and dug, and carried bag after bag up the mountain (I was super sore after hahha). I also got suuuuper dirty. We did that for hours, than came back home and slept like rocks. That was an experience that I am never going to forget. Truly humbling. Hopefully we`ll get another opportunity to go back and help again! that would be awesommeee.
This last week was crazy busy. Celeste Mergens, the founder of Days for Girls International was here and we kept her busy, every minute of every day. Pictured above are our fearless Utah Valley Chapter leaders: Ann Lewis, Melissa Phillippi, Celeste Mergens, Lorri Cummings, Melissa Clark and Diana Allred.
Our week was filled with a Fireside in Logan, appointments, interviews, visits, speaking engagements, DfG Events, and a 2-day Ambassador of Women’s Health Training. Below are a few photos from some of these events.
We attended a wonderful event in Springville, where these beautiful young women assembled kits they’ve been working on for the last 2 months. They were thrilled to hear Celeste tell the story of how Days for Girls came to be.
Even Miss Utah International, Lexy Schmid came! Her platform is Youth Service, a perfect match for the work we are doing. Above, Heather Maxwell from Bountiful delivers colorful kits that will go to Ghana next week and below Celeste thanks Suzanne and Cathy, our champion snappers.
Celeste spoke to the Rotary International Club in Provo/Orem, telling her fascinating story and inviting all to help.
The week ended with 2 days of training for those who will be distributing the kits in other countries and areas. We had 18 attend from all over Utah. Celeste is one Amazing Woman. She has started a ball rolling that will not be stopped. I’m really thrilled to be a part of this movement. It was a wonderful week of goodness. Our Utah Valley Chapter is one of the most active and involved in the country. It was great to have Celeste with us as we showed her what we’ve been up to during the last 6 months. It’s amazing to consider all the good that is pouring out of our Utah valleys. We started our chapter last November, just before I headed to Mali. We’ve now sent kits to Mali, Ghana, Haiti, Morocco, and the Sioux Indians in North Dakota. We’ve got more lined up for Peru, Guatemala and Cambodia. We are helping with events all over central Utah. We need help. We need donations. We need help sewing. The demand is huge.
Today I received an email from my friend, Bernice in Ghana, who has been distributing kits there. She told me she lives in an area where many people are living in shipping containers. This week she said she called 5 girls and taught them the lesson. She said, “I was so sad that they have not heard the word VIRTUE before my daughter explained it to them and they were happy.” She is going to try to help them and teach them what the young women in her area are learning. They were very happy to get the kits. Their lives are about to change, as my life has changed in these last 6 months. I am thrilled as I consider the good that is coming into the lives of young women all over the world because Celeste listened to a prompting that came to her in the middle of the night. Some day I need to tell you her story.
Here is an interesting excerpt from The Theodore Turley Family Book (pp. 474-478) about Charlotte Turley Bushman, my 2nd Great Grandmother who was born on this day:
In 1884 Jacob and Charlotte and their family were called on a mission to help colonize St. Johns, Arizona. He sold his property in Lehi and prepared for a permanent home in Arizona. They took their herd of 40 head of cattle and traveled by covered wagon. The trip was not an easy one. Amanda had contracted a liver condition and was seriously ill in one of the wagons the whole trip. Nights were not free from anxiety. Their beds were in the wilds with rattlesnakes so close that sleep was difficult. Many other wagons met the Bushmans in Richfield and together they started on the long journey. Food was baked over rocks.
One day as they reached Willow Springs, they stopped to fill the water kegs on the sides of their wagons. Indians met them and continually pestered them for food throughout the rest of the trip. They reached House Rock and ferried across the adjoining river. They traveled through the Petrified Forest with their six span of horses. The mud and mire was so deep that it reached the horses bellies. After a hard six week trip they reached their destination where they were immediately sent to Concho, eight miles from St. Johns. They settled there for two years. Jacob made a log house; and they were rather comfortable until the terrific rain-storms and floods came. The floods were so treacherous that they were forced to return to St. Johns. There they rented a farm and their children attended school with 500 Mexican children.
Even in St. Johns they couldn’t seem to escape the flash floods. Grain farming became almost an impossibility. After years of struggle with the elements in St. Johns, President Woodruff sent a letter of release and urged them to return to Utah as soon as possible. Six years of struggle had depleted Grandfather Bushman’s savings considerably. He had just enough to return to Fairview, Utah where his daughter Sarah and her husband Henry Fowles lived. He bought a small farm, with an old log house on it where the family was to live.
On the first of November, 1899, Charlotte died as a result of pneumonia. Her life had been one of service and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She had participated in the great drama of Nauvoo, crossing the plains, colonization, motherhood, and sustaining and supporting her husband as he performed his duties as a father and missionary.
One granddaughter recalls that Grandmother Charlotte’s picture hung in her parents’ home. She relates how her mother Ida used to pause and look at her mother’s picture saying, “Mother was a very beautiful woman. Her creamy white complexion, her black eyes and silky black hair made her one of the most beautiful women I ever knew!” Ida also enjoys relating how beautiful her mother, Charlotte, was and the utmost care she always exercised in her appearance, Also of her mother’s neat black dress, with a pocket in the skirt where frequently pieces of candy were usually available for her children and grandchildren. Mrs. Ora Anderson, a granddaughter, helped prepare this record, and mentioned her mother telling of the devotion to children, husband and the church, assuming any hardship that came with no complaint, as her mother, Charlotte, accepted each day as it came and gave thanks to God for her lovely family.
Yesterday I picked Celeste up at the SLC Airport. Our whirlwind week of fun has begun! After one day filled with appointments and meetings, I feel like we’ve been friends forever. Some friendships are meant to be. This is one.
Below is an invitation I’ve sent out to all of our DfG friends and helpers. Please come celebrate with us if you are able.
Big Days for Girls Open House on April 17th in Orem!
We are having such an amazing response to the need girls have world-wide here in Utah, Celeste wants to come meet us and thank you personally for your interest and efforts.
In February we took 1221 Feminine Hygiene kits to Mali, West Africa.
This month we’ve sent kits to Haiti, Ghana and Morocco.
We are busy hosting events all over Utah and Salt Lake Counties and beyond.
We have large groups going to Guatemala and Peru in May and June and several others hoping to take kits this summer.
For those of you who have worked on these kits, or if you have expressed an interest in helping, we hope you will mark next Thursday evening on your calendar. We’re having an Open House in Orem with Celeste so you can meet her and hear her story.
Thursday 17 April 2014
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
450 South 100 West
LDS Stake Center
Relief Society Room
Celeste will speak at 7:00 and at 8:00 and we’ll have some treats and lots of good visiting. We’ll also have a slide show of the kit distribution in Mali playing. We are eager for all of you to meet each other and share your experiences and see the happy faces of those who received the kits you made.
There will be a few very fun items available as a fund raiser for more fabric–we’ll have glass bead necklaces and bracelets from Timbuktu, Mali; Paper Bead necklaces from Uganda, and beautiful patchwork bags, table runners, aprons and all sorts of things from a sister quilter who is distributing kits in Ghana.
We are also busy cutting some kits if some of you would like to take projects home with you. They can be returned to any of us, or to the American Quilting shop on 800 North in Orem.
If you have hosted an event in your neighborhood, please help us spread the word to your women’s groups, book clubs, Relief Societies and quilt groups who have helped. We’d like everyone to know they are invited and welcome!
If you’d like more information about Days for Girls, or are interested in seeing what we’ve been up to, here are a few links to photos, stories, and events we’ve enjoyed.
Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone you know who might be interested.
Celeste Mergens is a mom who listened to a prompting that came to her in the middle of the night five years ago and acted. Since then, hundreds of thousands of lives have been impacted for good. Mine is one. She founded an organization called Days for Girls that you can learn about on the links I’m including. Several months ago some friends and I in Utah County organized a Chapter here. Since then, we’ve mobilized hundreds of women to help us learn about and make feminine hygiene kits for girls in Mali, West Africa. In Feb 2014 we took more than 1200 of these kits to school girls there. These kits help girls stay in school and receive the educations they need and deserve. We are making kits that will go to many developing areas in the world, blessing the lives of these school girls.
Here is a Ted Talk Celeste recently gave: http://tedxbellingham.com/celeste-mergens/
Here is the DFGI Website: http://www.daysforgirls.org/
Here is the DFGI Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DaysforGirls
Here is the DfG Utah Valley Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DaysforGirlsUtahValley
Here is Ann’s Words blog with many photos and posts about our DfG events: http://annlaemmlenlewis.wordpress.com/
(See DfG link on the right under Categories)
Your DfG Cheerleaders:
Ann Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org Orem
Lorri Cummings email@example.com Pleasant Grove
Melissa Clark firstname.lastname@example.org Springville
Diana Allred email@example.com Orem
Melissa Phillippi firstname.lastname@example.org Pleasant Grove
We are happy to help you become involved, host an event in your area, teach others, or come to your aid in any way. Please call on us!
We look forward to seeing you THIS Thursday!
1. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean.
2. You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
3. We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. The writer’s job is to turn the unspeakable into words – not just into any words, but if we can, into rhythm and blues.
4. For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
5. Don’t be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done.
6. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
7. I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.
8. You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.
9. Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.
10. Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?
Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer was born April 10, 1954.
I just went out and got the mail. A box from Nevada filled most of the mailbox. I pulled it out and smiled, remembering a lady I met several weeks ago at the fabric counter in Walmart. She was there buying a small remnant piece of fabric. She looked down on her luck and told me she was passing through town with her husband, who was waiting a few aisles over. He was wearing a tattered sweatshirt and had a thin ponytail.
I was there, checking the clearance sections for fabric for DfG kits, and I’d pulled several bolts out that would be nice for shields–dark stain-hiding prints. When I set the pile on the cutting table, she looked at me and wondered out loud what I might need all that fabric for. I smiled and pulled a shield and liner out of my purse and told her about Days for Girls and what we are making and how it will change the lives of girls all over the world.
She was genuinely interested and amazed at the thought of it. Then she thanked me for helping those girls. I was quite taken by her sincerity. Then she turned towards me and asked, “Would you like my button collection?” She went on to tell me that she had a button collection with many old buttons made from shells. She had collected them for more than 25 years. She said, “I’ve been thinking that I need to find homes for some of my things.” She said, “I’ve been hoping to find a very nice lady to give my buttons to.” She insisted on taking my name and address. She told me her name was Denise and she promised me she would send her buttons to me in a few weeks. She thanked me again for helping girls in Africa, then she was gone.
Along with the beautiful old buttons I received today were 2 bags of old colored thread. I wish I could tell Denise her thread will be used by other nice ladies who will sew kits that will go all over the world to bless the lives of girls who receive them. I think she would be very happy about that.
As for me, I’m grateful for Denise, a simple wayfarer, from Ely, Nevada, who shared her treasures with me, and paid postage, ten times what she paid for her little remnant piece that day in Walmart. I will remember her–her simpleness, her kindness, her interest, and her generosity. Her treasures will make many others happy now. I hope that happiness will somehow return, in part, to her.