Shards of Hope (希望のかけら): A Tale of a Japanese Quilting Bee

Fifteen women gathered last Tuesday in Ishinomaki…we learned together a lot about weaving kimono fabric, cutting and smoothing pieces of broken dishes and ceramics gathered from the tsunami, and soldering silver.

None of us knew much what we were doing — we watched YouTube together, experimented, laughed at our mistakes, and tried again….

and we cheered for each piece of broken pottery that,  having been found in a place of pain, was transformed into a lovely piece of jewelry.

Then we met two days later – last chance to make a few more pieces for us to bring as samples to the US.  And what was so amazing – and even more beautiful than the jewelry– was what happened as we worked both of these days.  We laughed at our pieces of jewelry that didn’t work and how silly we felt accidentally melting the sponges and learning how to use machinery that we had never touched before.  And while we worked, we shared from our lives.  It seemed to feel safe to be busy working, looking down, and opening up.  We talked about challenges of being moms.  The majority of the women are single moms, and began sharing some of their insecurities and fears of raising children alone.  One of my friends cried that day for the first time.  Two of us who have lost our moms talked about how we don’t remember our moms getting mad at us…wondered why we can’t be as good as our moms had been…  and we found ourselves needing to stop soldering for a bit as we cried together for each other’s losses.  Someone joked that the name for our group should be the Tissue Team….

As I reflected on those two days together, they felt like… an old fashioned American quitting bee.  Women working together to turn scraps of something into beauty.  And while doing so, they became freer to share their  own lives.  It felt like this same magic occurred in the midst of our jewelry endeavors.

During lunch, we talked about several of the different name options for the jewelry.  The name was decided when one of the women, Y., blurted out, “I really want the name to have the word ‘hope’ in it.  Before I met you, I had no hope.  You told me that there is hope.  Now I believe it.”  And so, we chose the name:  Shards of Hope  (English name)  and   希望のかけら is the Japanese name.   Here’s to hope!  I love it that it was decided by these women – they are the ones this is about.

While we are in the US, the women are continuing to meet once a week to work on projects, experiment, and increase prowess in the various stages needed to make soldered silver ceramic jewelry.  We are hoping to get things started in September when I return; able to begin sales as early as October (bring on the Christmas sales!).  I am praying for a building that we can use solely for this purpose starting in September.  We hope to bring one or more artists/jewelry makers  to help train us.  I am meeting with different people while we are back here to cast the vision, gather ideas, hopefully some funding, and put together a team who can help us carry this through successfully.

If you are interested in being part of this team, we are looking for:  graphic designers to help with the logo, branding, advertising;  website designers to help us create a website that can serve both Japanese and North Americans;  those in the retail/wholesale business in the US/Japan who may know of some available markets for the jewelry;  a few willing to come and teach us in September;  help in ordering jewelry supplies in the US, one or more people on Japan side who know about setting up a business in terms of taxes, etc.  Please email me if you are interested in any of these things!  And pray for us.  It is about much more than creating a business for these women.  There is something special happening through the creating that parallels what God is doing in our own lives.  Our friend Peter T. just shared a quote he heard at the recent Asian House church conference that says it well:  “True dreams are not what we see in our sleep, but those which, for the sheer joy of their realization, rob us of sleep each night.”  This is one of those dreams that is keeping me awake at night.  But I don’t want me to get in the way of God wants to do.  Another friend I was sharing with recently at dinner said, “Don’t do anything without letting the Holy Spirit lead you.”  That is my prayer — to listen and follow God’s leading.   Please pray for the Be One staff continuing in Ishinomaki while we are gone to stay strong and not grow weary;  to find great joy in their relationships with others.  Pray for the funding that we need to get things started.   Pray for new creative ideas to spring forth from this artwork.  Pray that God continues to take this project  forward, step by step.  For His glory;  For the Hope that we desire to shine into the lives of each of these amazing, talented, beautiful women we are working with.

8 thoughts on “Shards of Hope (希望のかけら): A Tale of a Japanese Quilting Bee

  1. i am crying and smiling so big – all at the same time. i can’t remember the last time i was so excited and moved by this kind of venture. so so excited for all of you. i think none of you will ever be the same. please make sure you take a lot of pictures. i have a feeling this is going to be something you look back on and pics along the journey will amaze you.

  2. Hi there! You don’t know me, my name is Tee and I chanced upon this blog on a night with a really bad cold. In truth I was searching Google for Japanese missionary blogs and I am SO, SO thankful I found yours. You see, I’m from Singapore and I served for a really short 2-week stint in Ishinomaki 3 weeks after the tsunami. Looking through your photos and reading your stories has filled my heart with the same joy and hope I experienced firsthand last year. And incidentally, I had the great honour of meeting Beth too at Morigo camp! Please continue sharing these stories of hope, I am praying for all of you and hoping one day to return!

  3. Shards of Hope is a wonderful idea. The results are beautiful in more ways that one! Have you considered using a rock tumbler ( It would smooth out the rough shard edges and make mounting simpler.

  4. I am so thankful to see Shards of Hope moving ahead! Looking forward to hearing the incredible stories and updates on the women & families of Ishinomaki. May the Lord continue to Bless you all.

  5. Learned of this project through a brochure from an area church and then found your blog post online. I am SO taken by this project and these women’s work and spirit. How can I help? I have journalism, marketing experience, some arts marketing knowledge and network, living temporarily in Torrance CA which has population with strong Japanese ties.,

  6. How would I order some pieces for Christmas gifts? Is that possible? I think they would be so meaningful to the recipients to have a share in bringing hope to Ishinomaki after having prayed for the people there for so long. Since they are so beautiful, they would be a joy to wear, and also give a chance to tell others about the work there.

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