The Lutheran Women's Missionary League of St. Charles has been producing 250 religion books a month for the blind and shipping them to 124 countries around the world.
Seventeen groups of women and a few men from Lutheran churches in the area meet once a month at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wentzville to print and assemble the books in Braille. Instructions and material for the project are provided by Lutheran Braille Workers Inc. in Yucaipa, Calif.
The group took on the work as a missionary project in 1977, and Esther Fischer of Wentzville has led the effort since 1979. Fischer says seven to 10 workshop volunteers are needed in each group to produce the books in an assembly-line procedure.
The process is carried out in the following sequence:
Pages are numbered.
Pages are punched for the spiral binding.
The paper is placed between zinc plates by two stuffers.
The plate is put in a metal jacket.
The jacket is put through a press that resembles an old wringer washing machine.
The jacket is caught when it comes out of the roller press, and the paper is removed.
The book is bound and covered.
Once the books are printed and assembled, volunteers label, pack and ship them to their destinations. Mailing labels are supplied by the Lutheran Braille Workers headquarters in California.
"The hard work is done for us by the Braille translators," said Fischer. "None of us knows how to read Braille, but we've learned when we have good Braille because it stands up."
Fischer attributes the dedication and longevity of the St. Charles workers to responses from book recipients.
"They tell us they appreciate learning about the Lord in a way they could read," Fischer said. …