Houston Ecclesia, Texas, USA

Saturday, April 15, 2000

Our Sisters' Study Group was hosted this week by Sis. Tracy Boswell. All the sisters were excited to be at Sis. Tracy's cozy and homey apartment, which smelled like potpourri and pineapple upside down cake (which she had made for us). Everyone was especially chatty and happy upon arrival (more than usual!). Part of our enthusiasm was the culmination of completing a service project we had coordinated for some weeks. The project required everyone's bringing many items to this Sisters' meeting (which also took up extra time loading and unloading cars, etc.). We soon realized that with so many other "bring-alongs" on our minds that many of us had forgotten our cameras and/or our film, so our pictures are few for this journal.

We had a hard time settling down to begin class. As we took our seats and began opening up our bookbags and Bibles, I could not help but think of the words of Tracy's Great-grandfather, "Beloved, you must read [and study] more". He would be pleased if he knew his great-granddaughter Tracy can be found with Bible and ears open at every single scheduled (and unscheduled) Bible study. Furthermore, I know of private studies and personal memory work she faithfully does. This kind of effort is catching and cannot be over emphasized to all, especially the young. Ecclesial Bible studies are wonderful and essential, but not enough. There must be an on-going personal study in all of our private lives. There are an abundance of high-quality books in our community that are available to help in this study. In addition, Scripture memory work projects are invaluable treasures for your heart. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee." Studying and thinking on the Scriptures bring strength, courage, goodness, purity, truth, and priceless quiet assurance of faith to our hearts in these troubled and wicked times. Beloved sisters, we must read and study more.

We opened our study time with a prayer and a hymn. The sisters requested just one more hymn, and then just one more hymn, and one more. The singing was beautiful and so soothing. We began our study time by what was supposed to be a brief review of the unseemly traditions which the world has attached to the time around the Passover and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our review soon turned into a more thorough study of "Easter", turning up and discussing the many places in the Scriptures that it is spoken of with shame. Many of the Scriptural accounts were so poignant that it moved us to tears, especially reading Ezekiel 8:6-18.

With starting late, our desire to keep singing hymns, and our interest in the "Easter" Scriptures, we did not get to our planned continuing study of "Sister's Head Coverings". As it was Sis. Tracy had already called the lunch restaurant and changed our group reservation to a later time. Otherwise, I think we would have continued on in the study topics.

We lunched together in a private room at la Madeleine, a French Cafe and Bakery near Sis. Tracy's apartment. The French bakery pastries were all on display at the front of the restaurant where we waited briefly to be seated. Our eyes were naturally drawn to the luscious sweets, which looked as good as they smelled. All through lunch, there were lively conversations continuing about our study topics. So much so that we ran overtime at lunch too. We all agreed that we better get moving to get back to complete our afternoon project.

Sis. Tracy had reserved the large clubhouse at her apartment complex because our project needed lots of space to complete. We made short work of unloading all the cars (many hands make light work) and soon we had the tables all set up and were busy completing our project.

We hesitate to give all the details of our project as we do not want to forget the admonition found in Matt. 6:1-4 about serving in secret and not blowing any trumpets before us. So we will just briefly describe the project concept as many sisters have been blessed in doing it for some time. We just call it "comfort boxes". These are boxes filled with small items that might bring comfort to anyone going through trials, sickness or heartache. They are just tokens that others know and care about their struggles. Some of the items we like the best are homemade, like the "Brownie Jars". Another favorite is a small photo album covered with fabric and lace trim. On the inside are selections of comforting Bible verses, often with hand colored or drawn pictures of flowers, children, etc. Then there is the "funny" book which holds clippings of comics and funny stories. We all really enjoy collecting/making the items and then packing and mailing these comfort boxes, sending them off with love and a prayer.

In years past, I have been the recipient of several of these boxes myself and I can say they work wonders. One I especially liked was called a "Partners in Grime" box which was filled with a new dishcloth, sponge, and various cleaning items, etc. Since "keeping the house" is such a large part of our occupation as sisters, I loved the concept that we were all in this work together as "Partners in Grime".

Another idea that brightened my outlook on the days ahead was a comfort box that had "1 of 3" marked on it. "1 of 3"? - Two more are coming! How fun to have something to look forward to, especially when difficult times are bearing down hard on you.

The content ideas are endless and full of opportunities for creativity and variety. It is also fun to think of small items that can fit only in an envelope with a card or letter. I have a very loving friend who often sticks the cutest small items inside her cards and letters to me - an autumn leaf from her yard, a coupon for a food item she knows I like, a recipe, stickers, a tea bag, a sample of cream or shampoo, a feather, a nail file, a copy of a study sheet from one of her Ecclesial classes, a comic clipping, a box top of a recommended product, a magnet, a balloon, a picture, a touching sweet story with a tissue included, etc., etc.

One item that my daughter, Sis. Angela Drake, likes to make to give away is a "Brownie Jar" which is layered with the dry ingredients. It looks very pretty and can be easily dumped into a bowl and mixed up with a few wet items for quick and delicious brownies.

This was our last Sister's Study Group meeting before we took our summer break. We made the most of being together. Our next Sisters' Study Group meeting is scheduled, Lord willing, for August 19 at the home of Sis. Teresa Mielke.