This coming weekend is the Dominican Sisters' Annual Mission Bazaar in Great Bend KS. The line starts at 6:30 am the doors open at 7:00 am; the homemade soup and pies come out around noon; winners of the raffle and silent auction are announced around 2:00 pm, and everything is cleaned up and put away before the end of the day!
But none of that does justice to the year of preparation that happens before the event, or the festive atmosphere and homecoming that happens during the event as friends, customers, volunteers and Sisters come together to share hugs, stories, laughter and good times.
If I recall correctly, the event started as way for the Sisters to raise money to pay for the convent in earlier days when money was very tight. These days, the Sisters raise more than $65,000 a year---the total keeps going up each year!---and all of this from homemade jams and jellies, breads, kolaches, cinnamon rolls, noodles, jewelry, soap, lotion, cards, blankets, quilts, dishcloths, scrubbies, stocking caps, scarves, grab bags, art work, wood work, yard work, and everything else you could (and couldn't!) possibly imagine!
Many of the Sisters work all year long in preparation for this event. One of them is fellow soapmaker, Sr Imelda Schmidt.
Sr Imelda is who I had the good fortune to watch and learn from in my own soapmaking journey. I was working for the Sisters at the time, producing their quarterly publication, Grains of Wheat. One of the first stories I wrote was about Sr Imelda's soap, which she has created to support the Sisters' Mission in Nigeria---a mission where she herself worked for many years.
Each year, Sr Imelda has a table of soap and other wholesome, nurturing skin products at the Sisters' Annual Mission Bazaar. I hope you'll take a minute to read the story about Sr Imelda, and then come out and enjoy the Sisters' Bazaar this weekend. Do some Christmas shopping, pick up some delicious homemade goodies, and then grab some soap to wash away the crumbs.
Better come early, though, because all this good stuff disappears fast!