WOV Orange County's Fabulous Fall Brunch
by Anna Wong, WOV Orange County
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito.” That African saying stuck in my mind. It all began on a warm Saturday morning, October 4, 2014. I was at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church fellowship room. There must have been about 180 guests. Women aplenty were greeting and chatting with one another. The men who had come along with spouses or friends gallantly supported the cause.
A long buffet table was festively laid out with fall decor, of round tables bedecked with orange tablecloths, fresh yellow mums, and matching programs. I assisted Pat McClure at a sales table. I was the first customer, buying a cute short sleeve black WOV top with white cursive lettering saying Strong Women, Strong World emblazoned on the front.
It was my first time helping as a WOV leader. I immediately donned the new top since all the leaders were asked to wear them. Several shoppers came by as guests lined up at the bountiful buffet. I had a few bites of delicious Marie Calendar’s quiche and fruit whenever I had the chance. Later, I joined guests at a round table when the program began.
Co-Chairperson Jan Day set the mood in reading a thought-provoking Franciscan prayer of gratitude and service. Next, I was inspired hearing founding members Ann McKusick and Penny Wood. Twenty-five years ago they prayed with a burden to help impoverished and oppressed women and children. God led them to form a group of like-minded ladies, Women of Vision. Now there are active WOV chapters throughout the nation!
Next, guest speaker and author Dale Hanson Bourke shared how God broadened her outlook through two situations. The first was when she reluctantly went on a vision trip to Guatemala. She was taken to a putrid smelling dump which had mountains of trash as far as the eye could see. In horror she saw adults and children climbing up the muck, scavenging for food or anything salvageable. It broke her heart (and my heart also sank) when I heard that those children lived that way every single day. Fortunately, World Vision later built a tiny school next to the dump. Thank God children eventually ventured over to a better way of life by attending school.
The second encounter Dale shared was meeting a Ugandan mother named Rabina. Rabina had one child of her own and courageously took in eight more. They were her nieces and nephews, who became orphans after their parents died from AIDS. Dale (and even I too) felt appalled learning of Rabina and her children’s plight. Dale felt helpless but wistfully told Rabina, “I wish I could do something to help.”
Unexpectedly Rabina declared, “Of course there’s something you can do, just ask God what you should do.” It was a simple yet profound truth.
So Dale asked God and He impressed on her to write a book about the AIDS crisis. Although her publisher predicted that such a book would be a loser, she plowed ahead researching Aids and quickly wrote the book in a record time of one year. The publisher was astounded that Responding to HIV/AIDS became a top seller. Consequently Dale was very happy to donate the proceeds towards AIDS relief.
Dale concluded with an African saying, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito.” I realized that if ordinary women like Dale, Ann McKusick, and Penny Wood were significantly used by God, I too could make a vital difference, simply by praying and following God’s lead one step at a time. I’m sure the entire audience came to the same realization.
After Dale spoke, there was much more to ponder. WOV is celebrating 25 years of service and a short video summarized a multitude of local and far reaching projects that were initiated and ongoing. WOV’s results confirmed the challenge to pray, take action, and see what God can do with a “fly”!
Next, Melissa Johnson, Co-chairperson, challenged guests to join in making a difference in practical ways such as sponsoring a child or donating to projects. She also encouraged women to visit the table displays to learn about various projects to join, and to also see the WOV sales table to purchase t-shirts, baseball caps, candles, dolls and books.
To top things off, it was a delight to hear Kathy Gaulton’s story of founding Heavenly Treasures. She had been a buyer for major department stores and reluctantly went with a friend to Tanzania. She encountered many widows desperate to eke out a living to support their children. One grandmother had 50 grandchildren she looked after.
Kathy gave three women about a yard of fabric and told them she’d pay them to sew some drawstring bags. The next day two ladies returned with 150 and 200 small drawstring bags! Kathy was astounded by their hard work and initiative. Just before she had to leave town, the last lady finally returned. Amazingly, she had sewn 270 tiny bags! This encounter led Kathy to form a microenterprise network with a mission.
Kathy’s inspiration came from Matthew 19:21 “…sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” Today, Heavenly Treasures gives 80 artisans in over six countries the opportunity to make handcrafted items and support their families.
Later on as I browsed through the nicely displayed Heavenly Treasures shopping area, I realized how special it was to have such diversely ethnic and unique items all in one global shop. The lovely handcrafted jewelry, colorful fabric purses, wood carved nativity sets, silk scarves, and cute trinkets were a joy to behold. There was even Fair Trade (manufactured without slave labor) chocolate bars for sale. What a wonderful project God led Kathy to take on!
After that I returned to finish up last minute sales at the WOV table. The event ended and everyone pitched in packing up decorations and dishes. The leftovers were packed up and ready to go to Isaiah House, a woman’s shelter in Santa Ana. I drove home tired and hungry, but had renewed hope that God could use ordinary me to be a wonderful part of helping those in need.