Cooking, quilting and faith — that's what brought together six women from different cultural backgrounds in Goessel.
Ilona Abrahams, who has taught fifth grade at Goessel Elementary for 20 years, compiled the stories, pictures, reflections and recipes of the group into the book "Five Mennonites and a Greek."
"This is my first book," Abrahams said. "In the past few years, I have gotten more interested in doing more writing. This is one I decided would be fun to do."
Abrahams is one of the "Five Mennonites" and grew up near Goessel.
"Our group is composed of six people," Abrahams said. "We all now live within a 10-mile radius and attend the same church. Through a common interest of being creative... we decided to get together."
Over six years, the group — Ilona Abrahams, Dora Goerzen, Darlene Schroeder, Sharon Unruh, Lois Voth and Lynne Voth — met monthly to talk, quilt, cook or travel to nearby attractions or shops.
"Sometimes, we'll just take a whole day and go to places of interest — quilt shops, antique stores or Mojo's for coffee," Abrahams said.
The women have embraced sharing their life experiences and cultural heritage. Members of the group also appreciate the art of quilting and share some of the quilts they have made.
"It's just been kind of interesting how we all landed here and have been able to connect and appreciate each other's backgrounds," Abrahams said. "The other five women love to do the sewing and the quilting – I'm a little bit more of a bookworm. I enjoy history and genealogy.”
Abrahams said the idea for the book's title came from a joke she made to the group a few years ago. To her surprise, they all liked it — and the idea that they could share their thoughts with other women who needed encouragement.
"The underlying theme of the book is our hands and what our hands do. That's kind of what the chapters focus on," Abrahams said. "We looked at how we can share our faith with other people. We wanted to share how our group has been appreciative of each other and then extend that hospitality to others through the recipes and reflections."
The recipes in "Five Mennonites and a Greek" reflect the cultures of the women in the group.
"We were finding ourselves trying different recipes," Abrahams said. "One thing we learned about the Greek food is how labor-intensive it is to make... don't think you can come home from work and throw this together for supper. It doesn't work that way."
Abrahams' favorite recipe in the book is the spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie.
"It's a very in-depth recipe, but it's very good," Abrahams said.
The group of friends finds strength from their time together.
"I think what I get out of meeting with them is that whole idea of support, of being able to share with a group of ladies," Abrahams said. "Sometimes you just have to draw faith from God and just go for it. Move forward no matter what the situation is."
The women now want to share what they have learned from being together with others.
"Somebody might need hope," Abrahams said. "Somebody might think they get some healing from something they're struggling with by reading this."
Four of the authors will be signing “Five Mennonites and a Greek” from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 4 at the Bookshelf at 206 N. Main St. in McPherson. The authors will bring samples of some of the recipes featured in their book.
“Five Mennonites and a Greek” will also be available for purchase at Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton, Kauffman Museum in Newton and the Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum in Goessel.