Paper with purpose

Moldova creative ministry project unites women of all ages.

Cut. Roll. Glue. Repeat.

The instructions in the Paper Roses Wreath Masterclass, held at The Salvation Army Rainbow of Hope Corps in Chisinau, Moldova, are simple. But the impact of the class transcends the crafting experience.

“This class is not simply ‘a class,’ but an opportunity to impact a broader spectrum of children, teens and adults with the gospel,” said Major Ronda Gilger, a USA Western Territory officer who serves as Moldova Divisional Leader and Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries. “We set a strategy in motion inviting women to engage, experience, be inspired and take what they have learned to ‘teach it forward.’”

Two women from each of the division’s 16 corps traveled to Chisinau by public transportation for the class. Some traveled hours to get there.

The class also presented a financial challenge.

“One must really think through the purchases for program supplies as there are almost no funds available,” Gilger said. “There’s a dance we do here called ‘How can we all come together to spin hay into gold?’”

Participants arrive ready for action with scissors, a few glue sticks, borrowed glue guns and power strips. The room fills with the scent of hay fresh from the fields—which is woven into the wreaths—and coffee, tea and cookies.

“What happens around the table over the four hours we are together—that’s the miracle,” Gilger said. “Women meet one another; they build relationships and stories are told of family and struggles. There are laughter and smiles. Prayer.”   

While legally women have equality in Moldova, social justice does not always prevail, according to Gilger. In this place, though, women can talk freely—and every voice is important. The women share ministry stories and different ideas for re-teaching the class: Paper Roses gift cards, wedding favors, centerpieces, bouquets and children’s activities. The idea could be used in community outreach, perhaps for a mother-daughter program.

“The ideas begin to take flight, and by the time the wreath is finished, each woman is filled with a great sense of accomplishment and pride,” Gilger said. “Yes, it’s paper, but it’s paper with purpose.”

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