Friendship Bracelets

Date posted: Thursday 27 August 2015

In early June, I left my usual summer residence at a Bible camp to travel over 2,000 miles to Guatemala. Amongst my church group's many bags was one filled entirely with crafting material. Our first night at the Lutheran Center in Guatemala City was spent sorting through the various donations we planned to bring to our partner church, Milagro de Dios in Las Rosas. Found in the bag full of crafting supplies was a welcome sight to me; hundreds of skeins of embroidery floss. As a camp counselor, friendship bracelets are a familiar currency to me. I was promptly elected by the group to be the one to teach our companion church how to use the donated strings to create wonderful bracelets. I opted for a pattern I know as the "monster claw" bracelet; a bracelet that uses five strings, two people, and one very repetitive motion to create a simple, yet elegant design.


Upon arriving in the village and breaking out the embroidery floss, I quickly realized my "simple" bracelet was much more complex to the group of people gathered around me. Having no supplies to spare, the people of Milagro de Dios were unaccustomed to the idea of crafting. It took me holding these peoples' hands in my own and guiding their fingers through the strings for several patient (and silent, due to my inadequate Spanish skills) minutes to help them learn this pattern. Once a few people firmly established the skill required to make the bracelets it quickly began to spread, and soon everyone was making these "monster claw" bracelets.


I have come to take friendship bracelets for granted. I give and receive them regularly at camp. They are just another activity that fall under the long list of "Rainy Day Projects". To the people of Milagro de Dios, these bracelets were a special treat. On a day without a rain cloud in sight, we gathered together as one community to make these bracelets. Looking back, this is a good reminder of what it means to have a partnership with these communities through ILAG. It was supposed to be me who taught these people something new - making a friendship bracelet. Instead there was equal teaching, learning, and sharing by both parties. My brothers and sisters of Milagro de Dios taught me the importance of patience and a little bit of friendly touch. In return, I taught them how to make a cool friendship bracelet. I think we both left feeling we had learned something awesome and new.


Beth McCabe
Bethesda Lutheran Church