Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Card Making in Uganda

I recently returned from a mission trip to Mbarara, Uganda. There were ten people on our team and our assignments were teaching pastors, university students, working women, visiting HIV/AIDS patients in the villages, prayerwalking, videomaking, and kitchen construction. My assignment was to help a group of HIV positive people get started in a cottage industry (or income generating scheme as they call it in Uganda)of making greeting cards. I gathered materials here in the U.S. and carried my 70lb. suitcase of cardmaking stuff to Uganda. I really didn't know what to expect. I met with a group of about 25 people for five days. Almost none of them spoke English. They spoke Runyankore. Through sign language and learning by doing, I showed them how to use the templates to make envelopes, use the paper cutter, trace the patterns, how to use a glue stick and permanent markers. And they taught me how to drink Chai, to love their spontaneous singing, to appreciate their industry, to marvel at the color and vibrancy of their fabrics, and to fall in love with each one of them. Here are some of the 200 cards they produced and a short video of them at work. Click here to see the video. Their group is called "Go and Make Disciples." They are a group of people living with HIV/AIDS in Mbarara, Uganda. They are finding hope in Jesus Christ and are committed to sharing that hope with others in their villages through peer education and support.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Am Banners

The "I Am" banners were first envisioned as an act of worship during Lent to illustrate a sermon series on the "I Am" sayings of Jesus from the book of John. There are actually seven sayings, but the shape of the chapel where they were to be displayed and the amount of time that we had to work on them led us to make only six. The last one, "I am the Bread" and "I am the Vine," seemed to fit together and make a communion banner. After the basic designs were sketched in, we began cutting. In all we had about a dozen people-- men, women, and children-- that worked on them. We worked several hours every day from Ash Wednesday until Maundy Thursday. It became a communal and contemplative project.

"Light of the World"
John 8:12
cut paper

The fragility and the strength of the creation are reflected in this banner. The heaviness of the cross dominates, but yields to the airiness of the stained glass and the starry universe. The challenge of paper cutting is maintaining its connectedness. Colossians 1:17 says "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." The border is composed of enlightenment crosses.

John 10:7
cut paper 3’x9’

My friend, Anna Lide, designed this one. She wanted the shepherd's crook to provide a window to show the security in the sheepfold. The border was made up of nail crosses to reflect the wound in the hand.

"Good Shepherd"
John 10:11

cut paper

This banner holds in tension the tenderness and the agony of the shepherd as he bends over to pick up the lost sheep. His hair and the sheep's wool all curl together. The three celtic crosses interrupt and become his crown of glory. The border is celtic crosses.

John 11:25
cut paper 3’x9’

The celebration of freedom and release fill this banner. Lazarus, graveclothes loosed, hands uplifted, celebrates the dawn and the empty grave. A tower of lillies and a swirl of butterflies arise from the grave through the sunrise. Butterfly crosses form the border.

“Way, Truth, Life"
John 14:6
cut paper 3’x9’

The diffence between a labyrinth and a maze is that in the labyrinth you can't make a wrong choice. The next step always leads to the center, even though it may actually be further away at the time. If you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will eventually get to the center. The border is a Jerusalem cross, which represents the spread of the gospel to the four corners of the world.

“Vine/ Bread of Life"
John 15:1: John 6:51
cut paper 3’x9’

The vine grows from the central lattice cross, which is marked by thorns and brokenness. As the vine grows it bears fruit. The harvest continues in the sheaves of wheat. The fecundity of the vine and the wheat is completed in the communion cup and wafer around the border.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Uganda banners

When we visited Mbarara, Uganda last summer we had a chance to make papercut banners for University Baptist Church. I designed the banners and the medical students at the University, members of the church, and members of an AIDS support group called Go and Make Disciples worked together on cutting out the images. There were two banners.
One was based of the verse from Revelation 22:2 “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” I had heard about an art exhibit at the British Museum, a sculpture of a tree made from donated weapons from Mozambique. I decided to design a banner of a tree based on the verse from Revelation and let the artists cut words that they thought would bring healing to their nation into the leaves. Some of the words are in Runyankore, some in English, some in Swahili.
The other banner is based on a verse from 1 Corinthians 1:23 “We preach Christ crucified… the power and wisdom of God.” The basic image was a stained glass cross. The stained glass was made by just cutting out squares or triangles. Everyone’s was unique. There were alternating concentric circles of stained glass and crosses. I had prepared some templates for the crosses and some people made up their own designs. Each cross was different. My favorite cross was made from four AIDS ribbons. The ribbons formed flowers in the center—new life!
The banners were cut on Tyvek paper donated to me by Dupont. The paper could not be torn and could be wiped clean. It was perfect for the harsh conditions in Africa.

Friday, July 22, 2005

This is the banner we made in South Africa this summer. It was a gift for the family we stayed with, the Prices. The center of the circle was a cross with two connecting circles in it. These two circles represented Gary and Cheryl Price who are serving as Campus Crusade for Christ missionaries in Durban, South Africa. The center cross is surrounded by five circles representing their five sons. The foci of the circles are the four points of the cross and the center of the cross. The circles are a little off center, but then all our lives are a little off center! The radii of the circles are roughly the ages of the boys. I asked the boys to tell me their favorite Bible verses and they came up with.
Phillip—“In the beginning God”
Stephen—“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”
Tim—“If God is for us who can ever be against us”
Jason—“This light is the light for everyone”
Brian—“He must become greater and I must become less”
Phillip’s circle is illustrated with creation pictures. The circle begins with waves of the ocean, the sun, moon, and stars, bird, fish, elephant, cheetah, giraffe, lion, and ends with the footprint of a man. The foot print is actually a map of Africa with toes. It reminds us that we are all part of God’s creation. Stephen’s circle contains a winding path etched with the word “JESUS.” It is punctuated with African drums, guitars, and musical notation. It reminds us that Jesus is the way to life and that his gift of music can help to lead us along that path. Tim’s circle contains Zulu shields and spears and giraffe and zebra stripes. It reminds us that God is our protection and our shield. Brian’s circle (I got a little out of order here.) is filled with all kinds of crosses. These crosses were cut by many of the boys’ friends while we were at youth camp. It reminds us that Jesus’ example of sacrifice should guide our life and also that all the crosses we are called to bear are different and unique. Jason’s circle is a web of stars. It reminds us that Jesus is the light of our life, that we are connected, and that Jesus is the one that holds this world together.