When Faye Flowers was in her mid 70s, she'd been doing good things for others as long as she could remember. But she needed a sign from God to figure out what to do next.
The Oklahoma native, who turns 90 in October, had already spent hundreds of hours of her life making pretty dresses, out of things like drapes and sheets, for little girls in impoverished countries. She's made hundreds of finger puppets for kids at Children's Hospital to help ease the pain of having their fingers pricked to draw blood.
When a friend told her about a nursing home resident who had a habit of picking at the threads in her clothes, Flowers stepped up.
“Well, I started making aprons and oh, my lands. I made them come clear down to the floor so they could tuck them in and keep themselves warm,” Flowers said. “I put on them pockets with big buttons, strings of beads, rabbits with fur, just stuff they could do with their hands.”
And for years, Flowers has been collecting things she buys at thrift stores and garage sales — little stuffed animals, baby dolls, toys. She knows the right days to shop thrift stores to get all the best deals.
Since the '80s, Flowers and her daughter Diane have donated these items to Feed The Children. The items are then shipped to needy people around the world during medical missions. Flowers also uses donations and her own money to sew 50 little girls' dresses and 50 tote bags for women for every mission trip Feed The Children embarks on. The tote bags have become so popular, they're known as “Faye Bags.”
But Flowers wanted to go along on a mission trip. At the age of 75, she inherited a small sum of money and thought about using some of it to join the medical team from Feed The Children on a mission.
Looking for a sign
“Do you believe in divine healing? I've never seen too much of it but I do believe in it,” Flowers said. “I sat there and I said, ‘God, if I'm supposed to go on this trip, if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, would you heal me a little bit?'”
Not long after, she noticed that a painful skin condition she had on her scalp had cleared up. More impressive, however, was the fact that an aching hernia seemed to all but disappear over night.
That was the sign she was looking for.
She signed up for a trip to Guatemala and was amazed that God seemed to be with her even on the long plane ride — her normally stiff and painful joints seemed to spring back to youth and she was able to keep up with everyone on that trip.
“I jumped up out of that seat and I kept up with them long-legged men,” Flowers recalls. Since then, Flowers has been on nine such trips, bringing dolls, clothes, little purses filled with simple grooming items, toys and other items to impoverished children and adults.
“These kids, in their whole lives, they've never had a toy,” she said. “Well their mamas and grandmas haven't either.”
The looks of gratitude on the faces of those she helps are all the thanks Flowers needs. She's seen tears in old women's eyes when they are given a doll or a teddy bear. She's seen the amazement on a woman's face when she was given a set of teaspoons.
When asked what motivates her to keep working so hard for others, Flowers shrugs. She's never done things any other way.
“I really don't know why I do it,” she said. “It just makes me happy to make other people happy, especially when you see people so destitute they've never been given a thing in their whole lives.”