Cookie went to Rwanda. The mission team carried the dresses in suitcases to their recipients. Did I mention how they carried them? In spacebags. Some readers already knew that. What nobody thought to consider until Cookie started worrying two days before their flight was customs. Customs like to open bags. Spacebags explode. Wedding dresses sucked into a tiny suitcase released. The entire scenario made me laugh tearfully and just put the whole endeavor into God's hands. After all, I just helped collect and bag the dresses. Cookie was one of the ones going to stand in the customs line.
God intervened. The whole mission team arrived. Suitcases arrived. Loaded down spacebags arrived. Many days later, the mission team came home. I haven't talked with anyone in detail except Cookie, but between arriving and departing, God and those missionaries worked their tails off. From my understanding, it is quite a bit to process the sight and the experience of a whole new culture. I am guessing the mission team is still pondering parts from the trip. I cannot wait to hear the stories that flow out from them.
What I do know is that the mission is not over; in some ways it has been going on since the beginning of time, and in new ways it is just getting started. The women in Rwanda loved the dresses. They were overjoyed with our response in collecting dresses, and they are making arrangements to get their business off the ground. Right now the dresses are housed in an extra room at the Anglican center in Kibungo. Mother's Union, the momma non-profit group overseeing this project, is looking for a storefront in town. They have purchased some equipment for sewing, but they need to purchase cleaning equipment. They are saving up for a large wash basin and steam press. Dry cleaning can burn or damage the delicate fabrics and beadwork on many of the dresses, so they will wash them each by hand. As this rental business gets established, it will be used to train more women for other areas within the Kibungo Diocese. A neighboring large town, Rwamagana, is where my church's sister parish is located, and women from that parish will be the next to receive training for a similar enterprise.
So, what next? Here we will continue to collect dresses - wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses. We will accept monetary donations for cleaning equipment. We would love any knowledge on other economic shipping methods. We adore prayer. If you want to talk further, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can either answer your questions or get you in touch with Cookie.
One last tidbit of exciting news. Author Catherine Claire Larson, As We Forgive, has written a one minute radio script about our project. It will air on The Point with Mark Earley sometime in July. I'll let you know more as I receive information.
**And, finally, as soon as I get copies of pictures, I'll post them. I know many people are excited to see where our dresses have ended up!**