March 30, 2021
Reflections by Ann Pasnick with Lois Wenger
Ann Pasnick (center) presents a finished quilt, cut by her late mother, to the Hebert family in Cameron, La.
It was a moment of mixed emotions as I stood there at the linen closet of the old Kansas farmhouse.
I had traveled there from my home in Illinois to do some cleaning after my mother had passed.
Now here I stood, looking at something my dear mother had begun but never finished—a quilting creation she had designed and cut but never sewn.
Other scraps lay about, no doubt intended for the finished comforter; and as I stared mistily at those pieces, a plan began to take shape in my mind’s eye. I could take home the carefully crafted design and make my own comforter, and it would be a genuine mother-daughter effort, although separated by time and space.
I snatched up the pieces and tucked them away in my luggage for the trip home. Little did I know or even dream the unbelievable saga of which those small pieces of fabric would eventually play a part.
In a matter of a few months I had completed the quilt to my satisfaction, working on it in between my other activities and projects.
Soon I found myself on another trip, but this time even further south—to to a portion of Louisiana that had fallen prey to the monster named Hurricane Katrina.
I had packed the special comforter into my luggage, intending to give it to one of the families for which Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) was building a new house.
The weeks flew by as I busied myself in the MDS kitchen, preparing meal after meal for hungry volunteer builders.
As the day for my return home neared, a home dedication ceremony was planned. I was able to attend and present the quilt to Mary, the homeowner.
The day dawned bright and clear, and many of us volunteers showed up at Mary’s house to rejoice with her as she received the keys to her new house.
The presentation of a quilt at an MDS home dedication is always an emotional experience, but I was unprepared for how emotional this one would be. As I stepped forward to give Mary the quilt my mother and I had made, she burst into tears—great, sobbing tears. It was a while before she could compose herself well enough to speak even a few words.
“This means so much to me,” she managed between sobs, lovingly and carefully caressing what appeared to me to be random pieces of fabric and tracing the patterns with her fingers.
I smiled at Mary and brushed away a few tears myself.
“This fabric,” she crooned. “I had this same fabric before the hurricane swept it away!”
That’s when I understood the reason for her emotion. But even then I didn’t fully understand the workings of an almighty God that would move a Kansas farmer to buy the same fabric that appealed to a Louisiana factory worker and then preserve it for her in her hour of need through me, the intermediary in Illinois.
It can only be explained because we serve an awesome God who is intensely interested in the details of our lives.
Ann Pasnick, from Elmhurst, Ill., and Lois Wenger, from Port Henry, N.Y., first met at an MDS training for cooks in November 2017. As Pasnick told the story above, Wenger wrote it down. “I still am amazed when I tell this story to others,” said Pasnick. “It’s sure not something I could have coordinated!”