Friday, November 26, 2010


My walks along our country roads this time of year are punctuated with the call of geese as they fly overhead. Our home just south of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge puts us in the flight pattern for the birds.

Most times, the geese form the familiar "V" pattern as they fly through the air. There have been lots of people who have cashed in on analyzing the birds' behavior. They think we humans can learn a lesson from the geese, who use teamwork and cooperation to get where they're going.

I think we humans are pretty good at teamwork, too. And that was again confirmed when our church recently had its annual bazaar. Since 1923, the women of the church have organized some kind of fundraiser to support church missions. The first fundraisers were banquets, since the church basement was one of the larger places in town. Nobody seems to know when the annual bazaar started, but it's been more than 30 years (since I've been around that long)!

It's pretty amazing when you think about it: For nearly 90 years, United Methodist Women (and some men these days) have worked together to accomplish a common goal.

When my mother-in-law was alive, she organized craft days. The women of the church got together and made Christmas angels or Thanksgiving turkeys or whatever Marie dreamed up.

Though those craft days are no longer, we still get together for food workdays. The UMW Apple Butter is on the agenda for one fall morning.

We have some people who grew up in Stafford who send their relatives to pick up pint jars of the stuff. It's a distinctive red color because of the red hots that give it the cinnamon-apple taste. We had 100 pint jars prepared.

By the end of the bazaar, all of them were snatched up. (For a great recipe using apple butter, click on this link for Apple Butter Coffee Cake. Even though I use UMW apple butter for it, commercial apple butter would be good, too.)

We also make apple pies in a variation of the old quilting bees. Instead of stitching together quilts, we spend a morning putting together apple pies. We freeze them and then offer them just in time for holiday baking. Those were a sell-out, too, disappointing a few people who didn't make it in time to get one.

When the apple pie making day rolls around, the organizers are good at recruitment.

"You don't have to know how to make a pie," they tell the newbies. "Everybody just does their own job."

And it's true. There are the apple peelers and corers.

There are people who slice them.

(Erica, who just graduated from K-State was our youngest helper. Our age range went from 22 years old to several octogenarians. Her Dad, Boyd, fell somewhere in the middle!)

Others add sugar and spices to the apples.

Still others roll out pie crust: One may do the bottom crust and another the top crust.

Somebody else dots the pie with bits of butter. Still another crimps the edges. The final person puts it in a plastic bag and sends it to the freezer.

Usually there aren't too many Lucille Ball assembly line moments!

It's the perfect illustration of teamwork - everyone doing a little part and accomplishing a bigger purpose. Those geese have nothing on us, do they?

The world has changed. Eighty years ago, women didn't work outside the home. Church activities were their "get-away," a time during the week to come and visit with their friends. Sure, they were also working on a project, but it was undoubtedly a social outlet as well.

Today, many women work 8 to 5 jobs (and beyond). Our UMW has tried to involve the younger generations by scheduling some of the work on weekends. For the second year, our bazaar was on a Saturday, instead of on Election Day as it had been for decades.

But we "younger" ones don't spend a lot of time hanging up clothes in the used clothing room or sorting and marking donated items in the "treasure" room (AKA junque room!). Those tasks are primarily accomplished by ladies in their 70s and 80s. (And, a sidenote, I'm always amused by being one of the younger ones when I'm past the half-century mark!)

Several of us contribute by providing goodies for a packaged food area. And, yes, I was alone in my own kitchen as I made 27 dozen cookies, 6 dozen cinnamon rolls, several dozen crescent rolls, 11 mini loaves of quick breads and buckets of snack mix to sell. But I still feel like I was part of that "V" formation, a contributing member of the team, working toward accomplishing a common goal.

I heard rumblings again this year that the UMW 2010 Bazaar might be the last. We'll see. I've heard the rumors before, so I'm not ready to sound the death knell. Like Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Maybe 2010 will be the end of the bazaar. Only time will tell. If it is, we went out on a high note. We raised more than $3,800 for missions and ministries efforts at our church.

Even if it's the end of the bazaar, I know it won't be the end of cooperation - in our church or in the community.

We humans do our best work when we fly in the "V" formation, too. If it's not the bazaar, we'll find new ways to come together.

I truly believe it.

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