I spend far too much of my time angry at the world.

I read your comments and emails about marriages that sound so difficult, largely because of extreme selfishness on one person’s part, manifesting itself in porn use, laziness, adultery, or avoiding intimacy. And I read these stories and I think, “why don’t people just choose love? Why don’t they try for something better?”

Or else I’m overcome by the evil that too often pops up on this blog, on the internet, in the world. Last weekend some of you may have read my epic tweet thread about the misogynistic attacks my daughter Katie has been facing (with comments calling her a [email protected]t and [email protected]) all because she spoke out against the “debt-free virgins without tattoos” article. How DARE middle aged, supposedly Christian men, talk to a young woman and her followers like that. (just click on the little blue bird to see everything!)

Anyway, suffice it to say that my mental health sometimes just needs a break. I’m surrounded by a lot of ugliness, and while I know that most of you do not have ugly marriages, I seem to hear mostly about the minority who do. And it can seriously burden me.

We’ve been talking about personalities this month, using the MBTI and how it relates to marriage, and my personality type is the kind that wants to change the world, and I’ll charge ahead and do that. It’s why I’m able to do what I do. But it can also be exhausting.

And I can get so focused on what needs changing that I forget how to just live in the moment.

Okay, all of that was just a preamble for what I really want to tell you about today.

Tomorrow, my husband, my mother, my oldest daughter Rebecca and her husband Connor, and 15 others will get on a plane and head to Nairobi, Kenya.

We’ll be traveling to the Mully Children’s Family, a home for orphaned and abandoned children. We’ll be working there for two weeks. Half of the team is doing medical work (my husband is heading up that part of it) and half of us will be doing humanitarian work (my mom is heading up that part!).

This will be our family’s fourth trip, and my mother’s ninth. The medical clinic will be serving the rural community around the home, while the humanitarian side will be focused on the beneficiaries.

We’ll be at two of MCF’s main campuses. One of them–Ndalani, where we’ll be staying–is where the children who have been adopted by the home live and go to school. A little ways away is Yatta, where teenage girls have been rescued, primarily from the sex trade, along with their babies, and given a 2-3 year vocational training so that they can earn a living.

One of the areas of training is in knitting. My mother and I actually started that arm of training about 10 years ago. Even though we think of Africa as hot, it can actually get quite cool (the average high while we’re there is likely to be about 22 degrees Celsius, infinitely cooler than we’ve been facing in southern Ontario this summer!). We bring over yarn, and the girls learn to knit by hand but also on the knitting machines, and then are able to get employed later on. (They’re also taught hairdressing and esthetics, sewing, entrepreneurialism, and more).

Learning how to knit on knitting machines

We’ve taken over so much yarn over the years, and the vast majority of it has gone to the vocational training side.

Twice, though, we did host a little knitting club with the younger children, teaching them how to make a basic garter stitch bag. They just loved knitting!

Girls in Kenya at MCF Learning to Knit

But there wasn’t enough yarn or needles to leave with them.

Girls Learning to Knit

On my mother’s last trip, she got out of chapel one Sunday and was talking to some girls, around 12 years old, when she noticed what they were doing with their hands. They had taken the inside of ball point pens out, and some string, and they were using the pens as “knitting needles”. They were knitting a few short rows with whatever string they had found, and then they would unravel it and start again.

They had loved knitting, but they had no yarn.

And so this trip, one of my goals is to bring yarn not just to the vocational training side of MCF, but also to the elementary schools. I’ve made up 6 basic patterns, starting from easiest to hardest, with a poncho, a garter stitch sweater, a garter stitch cardigan, a simple stocking stitch pullover, a fitted stocking stitch pullover, and a fitted cardigan. Here are a few of the sweaters I’ve created in the last week and a half to use as prototypes!

Teaching kids to knit in Kenya

A basic sweater with no shaping except increasing for the sleeves and a slight crewneckline.

Teaching kids to knit sweaters in Kenya

A more advanced sweater with shaped shoulders and armholes.

Teaching kids to knit cardigans

Same sweater as the red one, just made into a cardigan

And we’re bringing over a ton of yarn (or at least several hundred pounds) so that we can set up a knitting centre in the library where they can take out the yarn for a project and knit themselves a sweater (or one for a younger child).

Hobbies meant so much to me when I was a girl. I just feel like these children should have the chance to have hobbies, too. And if they could knit things that would actually be useful as well? So much the better.

We’ll also be teaching the soon-to-be-graduates about Diva cups (menstrual cups) which can save so much money; we’ll be teaching those in the vocational training arm to make cloth menstrual pads and sell them in really pretty kits; Rebecca and I will be doing some talks with the younger girls about puberty and about sex, and so much more. I may even get a chance to give some marriage enrichment classes to some of the staff at the home, but that’s still being worked out.

But I always come back from these trips full of hope for the world. I see love up close. I see joy. And it’s wonderful to be in a place where simple things–like even just knitting a small sweater–can put a smile on a child’s face.


I do have posts scheduled for the next two weeks, so the blog will be hopping along as usual–just without me in the comments! (And I’m sorry for being absent so much this week; just a lot of preparation to do). Joanna, who helps with my newsletters, and Tammy, who answers all my emails, will be moderating comments and chiming in as well.

But I’m looking forward to telling you all about it! And do check Instagram–both me and Rebecca. We’ll try to post periodically when we have wifi!

SheilaSidebarAboutMe - Sometimes It's Not that People Need Help. It's that You Need to Help Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 26 years and happily married for 21! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature "Girl Talk" about sex and marriage. And she's written 8 books. About sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
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