Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cookie Project

Today I helped out with the annual Gospel Echoes Cookie Project. Every year volunteers make thousands of hand-colored Christmas cards and then people from this area go to various Oregon prisons and hand out the cards, a small address booklet, and a packet of cookies.

About twelve of us went to the two women's prisons today. At each place we were shown which room to be in and then situated ourselves--who would greet everyone as they came in, who would hand out what, who would man the supplies, and who would sing in the background.

I shook hundreds of hands and wore out my voice wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

And a few times I wanted to quit smiling and just burst into tears right there because of the young women who came through the line who were obviously the ages of my daughters. Women my age I seemed to connect with, the grandmas were friendly and I could cheerfully shake their hands, but those young women tore me right up. If their eyes met mine it was bad enough, but when they were so curtained off from any connection that they couldn't even look a person in the eye, that's when I wanted to lose it. And then there was the young lady about Amy's age who was pregnant. Oh my, don't get me started.

On the way home, with all of us in the Gospel Echoes bus, we talked about wanting to Do Something. But how can sheltered Mennonite women living two hours away Do Something long-term for these women in prison?

I plan to start by sending my books to the chapel library, my grain of mustard seed, 'what is that in thine hand?' bit of doing what I can.

Quote of the Day:
"Oh Mother, when would you ever have the time?"
--Amy, injecting realistic logic into my dreamy rant about wanting to Do Something


  1. This makes me put some serious thought to the hundreds of cookies we/my church bakes and packages every year. We don't see the actual souls that receive them. How heartbreaking!
    (BTW- Marv and Mary Beachy go to my church, when they're home!:) Marv is a second cousin of mine. A bit of Menn. trivia!)

  2. Last night I sat beside the psych councillor at the womans prison. She told me about a young girl that found out the state was permanetly removing her 3 children from her ever seeing them again and how that just sent her into insanity... We talked about how God doesn't seem to be part of that situation... you can pray for those who try to help those girls... sil g.

  3. My daughter, who's almost 18, and I have been talking about wanting to "Do Something". We live in Portland, but don't know anyone who visits the women's prison. We may bring it up at our little church, and see if we get some ideas. We know that God has been preparing us to love people who are in bondage, and unclean, and pray and work for their salvation and freedom.

  4. In Abbeville,Sc we are blessed to have a womens state prison 30 minutes away, in Greenwood,Sc. A number of our ladies go every week for Bible studies or mentoring. It has really blessed us to be a part of their lives. This year we fed one building or about 125 women a Christmas supper.
    I think we enjoyed it as much as they did. A mentor

  5. Unfortunately, it is likely that "really" doing something would put one in a realm quite outside that circle of "sheltered Mennonite women."
    Walking with people who turn their lives around is the best part--keeping them out of prison. However, it seems that the group of lovely Mennonite women, truly beautiful and kind hearted, aren't as trusting once the wounds of these poor women bleed all over you. I'm grateful for the ministry moments given by the women who sing and serve, as they provide a catalyst for change. But often we are forced to pick our circle or it gets chosen for us. One either sings with the kind hearted innocents or gets into the gutter with the wounded women. There really isn't a way to straddle both worlds.

  6. I've fostered baby's for women in prison twice. It's something I would really like to do again, and I've put the word out with an attorney who does family law.
    James 1:27 says pure religion is taking care of the widows and orphans and keeping oneself unspotted by the world.