Women Sew Big Love into Little Dresses

02/28/13

Bellevue, Washington, and Bellevue, Haiti, share a connection that goes beyond their common name. Last fall, a group of women from Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, Washington, sent handmade dresses to girls in the new Children of the Nations (COTN) Village Partnership Program in Bellevue, Haiti. But these dresses had a creative twist—many were made out of pillowcases.

 
Lucille Langeman and her Crossroads Bible Church friends are part of a worldwide movement called “Dress a Girl Around the World.” Sent with prayers, these dresses are designed to be tangible expressions of God’s love and bring a sense of dignity to girls who have very little and in many cases are abused or neglected. “Once I made that first dress, I was so gung-ho I couldn’t believe it,” says Lucille.
 
                            The girls from COTN's child sponsorship program love their new dresses
                   The girls from COTN's child sponsorship program love their beautiful new dresses.
 
“We see eternal benefits,” adds Barbara Mar, the woman responsible for introducing Lucille to this sewing movement. “The missionaries are the active ones out there; we help provide the means for sharing the gospel. We pray for each dress that we make.”
 
For many of the girls, this is their one and only dress. Each dress is made with sturdy fabric and ribbons capable of withstanding numerous washes. But fashion is not sacrificed. “We don’t want to make a dress that looks like a pillowcase,” says Lucille. “We want it to be something that, if our granddaughter wore it, we would be pleased.” 
 
This group of about ten women is co-led by Lucille and her friend Shirley Rothnie. Many of the women are retired and love meeting every Wednesday to sew and chat. Several of the women continue their sewing projects at home throughout the week. Lucille makes about 20 dresses a month. “The first time I got a picture of a little girl wearing a dress I made, you can’t believe the feeling that went through me,” she says. 
 
                        For most of the girls, this is their one and only dress
                                      For most of the girls, this is their one and only dress.
 
In 2011, the women completed more than 500 dresses. Last year they doubled that, and they show no signs of slowing down. Their work has gained attention in the church and much of the fabric they use for the dresses is donated by church members. The women choose the organizations to send their dresses to based on their church connections, so the children in COTN’s care are just a handful of the many girls blessed by the women’s efforts. “God already has in mind a little girl as we make the dress,” says Lucille.
 
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