by Anita Hooley Yoder
The past few weeks have been full ones for me. I am grateful for connections made at convention in Kansas City and anticipate making more at World Conference this week. In between these two events, I made a quick trip to Mississippi on other business. I decided to make use of my time there to connect with a few Mennonite women in the area.
I went from the airport in Jackson to the home of Jody Miller. Jody provided some context on the area and helped me understand the diverse and connected nature of Gulf States conference. (This conference is currently in flux due to things happening in the larger denomination.) I learned about several unique projects of Gulf States women, including working together on an annual conference quilt, planning a highly anticipated annual family camp weekend, and hosting a Sister Care seminar several years ago.
The next morning I drove to Philadelphia, Mississippi, to the home of Edith Michalovic. Her son and daughter-in-law were there visiting, and they and Edith’s husband Steve contributed tidbits to the conversation. I learned about what it was like to be a Mennonite in a very different part of the country from my Ohio home, and about collaborative quilting projects Edith had organized in the conference or her congregation. About an hour into our visit, Serena Tubby, a local Choctaw woman, stopped by. We talked about her beautiful beadwork and her involvement in Gulf States Women quilting projects. (Soon after Serena came, some Mormons knocked on the door and were invited in for a respite from the heat, so we had a full living room!) I left Edith’s home with a new appreciation for the challenges and blessings of working with women in Mississippi—and with a beaded butterfly necklace Edith gave me (made by Geraldine Isaac, another Choctaw woman from the area).
My final visit was with Elaine and Duane Maust, co-pastors of Jubilee Mennonite Church in Meridian, Mississippi. Rachel Seibel, past president of Gulf States Mennonite women, also joined us for lunch at a delicious soul food lunch counter. Elaine shared about an experience that showed her the significance of prayer shawls. She passed on the idea to Mennonite Women USA, and women from all over the country knitted shawls that were an incredible blessing to women in Gulf States who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.
I continue to be grateful to the women from across the country who are willing to share their time, their food, and most importantly, their stories.