Friday, May 13, 2011

Rolling Bandages for Jesus

Like something from an old black and white TV show, their faces look young and vibrant.  Their large print dresses must have been a kaleidoscope of color.  But the black and white echoes that most have gone home to the Lord.  It seems so odd to think that women would gather on a Monday night once a month to pack a missionary barrel to go to India.  One of their own was helping lepers in India.  Karin and I would take torn sheets and roll bandages.  I often wondered about the person whose wounds would be bound by the fruit of our labors. 

These women made quilts to cover the lepers while I was rolling bandages.  Before the night was over, several quilts would be finished.   A page from LIFE magazine served as a pattern.  Colors and texture were blended and pinned together on those pages.  A zip through the sewing machine and a quilt was finished in hours.  Once the bandages were rolled, the quilts lovingly folded, the barrel filled, and prayed over, it was time for dessert and coffee.  My mouth waters to think of that spread of Norwegian waffles with butter and jam, or boller, or a cake.  The coffee was strong.  If the confections were not enough to sweeten your mouth, lump sugar was available, as was thick real cream.
Lillian Olsen is sitting on the right.  My mother (standing) and Judith went to her
stateroom to bit her bon voyage as she returned to India.
These memories made me wonder.  It seems easier and practical to send money to the missionaries.  I suppose they don’t need homemade quilts or rolled bandages anymore.  Barrels aren’t packed to sail the seas for weeks.  In so many ways, that’s progress.  But it’s not personal.  Maybe we’d remember to pray for missionaries more if we gathered once a month to assemble a quilt and pray over it.  Maybe children would dream of being a missionary someday if they still rolled bandages.

When I think of missionaries, I also think of my cousin Ruth.  She answered a call to Swaziland.  We had cloth table scarf in our living room that said Swaziland.  It had pictures of men in a loin cloth and a spear.  Once a week when I’d move it to do my weekly chore of dusting, it reminded me that my dad’s niece was telling children about Jesus.  My father would collect old Sunday School material (including mine), old Christian magazines, and anything that told the gospel.  They would be lovingly and prayerfully rolled, covered with brown paper, tied with string, and taken to the post office for a long journey to Africa. 

I wonder about those children who read my old Sunday School lesson.  I wonder about those with leprosy whose limbs were covered with those bandages.  So much has changes since those days so very long ago.  One thing hasn’t changed.  Missionaries still travel to the remote places of the world ministering love and compassion in the name of Jesus.  Pray for a missionary today.   


  1. Great blog. You're so right... giving to missions means a whole lot when you're giving your blood, sweat, tears, time & talents too.

    My Mom is the young lady on the 1st picture - blonde woman on the left with a look of concern. Not sure what she was thinking about at the time... all I know is her 4 kids were young adults and probably giving her cause for lots of concern!

    But my Mom faithfully attended the "Sewing Circle" at Salem and I remember going with her when I was very young... helping to cut the extra threads, cleaning up... pretty much anything I was asked to do.

  2. I have rolled bandages and sent them to another organization in Illinois, however they recently decided it was too expensive to ship them overseas and stopped soliciting donations.

    I am in the process of cleaning house (decluttering) and have several boxes of old sheets I had collected to make into bandages for this organization. So, I googled to see if there was some other group that took rolled bandages (and that's how I stumbled upon your post).

    I also found the link below... I have contacted them to see if they still do the rolled bandage project (it appears they do). Perhaps you'd like to contribute to it to! (Or let your readers know the opportunity for service in this way still exists!) Blessings!

    Denise in Canada


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