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Textile artist finds talking as important as building

Eight days in March and 11 days in May assisting with a Lutheran-Episcopal Hurricane Katrina cleanup program in Biloxi, Miss., reaffirmed for Suzi Hokonson of Spokane that “how we live and what we do matters more than what we believe or what name we call God.”

After her mother’s Lutheran church in Puyallup sent a group of 20 in March, her mother gave Suzi the funds to go.

Suzi stayed in a Biloxi Lutheran church that sent about 60 people out to do rebuilding and recovery tasks with Habitat for Humanity.

At one house, Suzi talked with the wife while she helped plant roses and do yard work.

“It’s important to do the nurturing work of talking with people, as well as the heavy work of building,” she said.

While she was there in May, two bus loads of African-American Habitat workers came from  the Washington, D.C., area.

“There was no religion or politics going on, just people coming who knew they could be the ones needing help,” Suzi said.

“Imagine if Christians were sharing like this everywhere instead of being drawn into Iraq where we are destroying homes,” said Suzi, a textile artist, quilt historian and social justice activist.

In May, she took some of her textile art and offered four programs for the non-hammering needs people had.  A woman in one program who had lost their son and daughter-in-law talked about what is important in life.

A physician’s wife, whose insured $500,000 house with exquisite woodwork was destroyed by eight feet of water, headed a summer day-camp to help children deal with the trauma.

One afternoon, Suzi helped at the house of George and Linda, who had put a $40,000 addition on the house before the hurricane.  Without insurance, they received $9,500.  College students were working on repairs.

Suzi spent two hours with Linda who “talked and talked.”  Suzi realized people thought if they did not lose a life, they did not deserve to talk about their struggles.

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Mary Stamp - The Fig Tree - © February 2007