Home » Tanzania » At retreat, missioner kids make a quilt and learn about service

The Five Quilt Makers’ Gift. (From left) Louisa, Justin, Abigail, Claire and Susanna

Last month our Tanzania region of Maryknoll Lay Missioners had a Kid’s Retreat Day for our five “mini missioners,” Claire, Abigail and Justin Veryser and Susanna and Louisa Berry-Stablein. It was held at my house, and the theme was “Using Our Gifts and Talents in Service to Others.” I don’t know who had more fun, the kids or me!

The paper “sampler quilts”

The day included singing, reflecting on our God-given talents, drawing, sewing a baby quilt to give away (definitely the highlight), learning about quilt patterns and making a paper “sampler quilt,” a Bible story and two stories about a quilt maker. The children prepared a beautiful blessing for the mother and baby who will receive the quilt—an HIV-positive single mom from Uzima Centre and her baby.

The kids sewed the patches of the quilt together, and I did the finishing. The Bible story we read was Mark 10:17-27 about “Jesus and the Rich Young Man,” which is very similar to the story of the king and the quilt maker.

The books we read are The Quilt Maker’s Journey (Orchard) and The Quilt Maker’s Gift (Scholastic), both by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken. They make a great analogy for mission!

The kids really got into the idea of giving the quilt to a needy mother and baby, so the baby would be warm on Christmas (it’s been rainy and cold here in Tanzania for the past three months, which is very unusual).

I asked the children to write an “article” in their own words describing their retreat day. So here is their report:

Rosemary and baby Morris, who received the quilt. Rosemary is a single mom and HIV-positive. She lives with her parents and receives assistance from Uzima Centre.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 we (Susanna, Louisa, Claire, Abigail and Justin) went to Mrs. Joanne’s house for a Kids’ Retreat.

Mrs. Joanne read us a story about a quilt maker. After that we made a quilt for a sick mother who gave birth to a baby boy.

While making the quilt we were writing and drawing about our talents. When we finished, we had lunch. Then Mrs. Joanne read us another story about the same quilt maker.

A king wanted one of the quilt maker’s quilts. But she told him to give away all of his stuff so he could get a quilt. He gave away all his stuff, and while he was giving them away he got happier and happier.

Next we colored in quilt patterns and then stuck them onto colored paper. When you finished sticking the patterns, you could get another quilt pattern, then color it to make a Christmas card to give to someone.

Finally we sang a song about God. Then we went home with the memories of a good day.


To learn more about Maryknoll Lay Missioners families, view the video “MKLM Kids” here.




Quilters at work (from left): Claire, Susanna, Justin, Louisa and Abigail

Joanne Miya
Joanne Miya joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 1983. She is the director of the Uzima Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania, whose mission is to provide hope, healthcare and education to adults and children living with HIV.