REEDSVILLE- When local little girl Mina Phillips, 5, of Reedsville, started making a prayer shawl with her church group, she never imagined that her craft would not only end up in Haiti, but also make her a new friend.
Now, a year after the project started, not only has Mina provided another young girl with a beautiful gift, but she also has a new companion, who will be moving to the United States later this summer.
Mina, who is a member of Explorer Girls at St. John's Lutheran Church, Lewistown, began her prayer shawl last April, when two woman from the church came to the group meetings and began teaching the girls how to knit for their craft award.
Sentinel photo by JILL DOVERSPIKE
Mina Phillips, 5, of Reedsville, proudly displays a frame containing a picture of the recipient of her prayer shawl, Francesca, age 4, from Haiti.
Explorer Girls, a group for girls in preschool through 12th grade, is a program that was brought to St. John's in an effort to bring young girls from the community together for a time of fun and fellowship. At the weekly meetings, the girls get a chance to interact with each other through various activities, and they are given the opportunity to learn and grow in the Bible.
The shawls the girls learned to make are part of a ministry that began more than 10 years ago.
The creator of the ministry, Janet Bristow, said the shawls are "... universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles ..."
Mina has been attending the club since she entered preschool, and said she enjoys it very much.
Though Mina was only 4 years old when the girls began learning how to knit, she wanted very much to be able to do what the older girls were doing, so her grandmother, Susan Phillips, stayed to help her.
Mina picked a gold ball of yarn to use, and she and her grandmother slowly began working on rows together. Phillips would then knit some rows herself while Mina held the ball.
When asked what her favorite part of knitting was, Mina said without hesitation, "holding the ball!"
The pair kept their ball of yarn and the project in progress at home, working on it when there was time, and they also took it to the club meetings for about three weeks. The shawl was 7 inches wide and 14 inches long upon its completion.
When Susan Shawver, another member of St. John's, went on a missions trip to Haiti, she took Mina's prayer shawl along. It was given to a little girl, age 4, named Franchesca, who was living in an orphanage in Haiti. It seems as the miracles the Prayer Shawls are told to bring have indeed done so for the little girl. Mina and her family recently found out that Franchesca is being adopted by a family in Ohio. Though the process for adoption from Haiti is a lengthy one, the family is hopeful that Franchesca will arrive in Ohio sometime this summer.
Mina said she hopes that after Franchesca's big move to the United States that they can be pen pals. She also said she would like to meet Franchesca someday.
For more information on the Explorer Girls group, which meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays during the school year, visit the club website at eglewistown.org/ or visit the facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/174003029370557/