Mission team finds it receives as much as it gives

PERU In life theres give and take. In the case of one group of philanthropists, theyve found giving takes little, but goes a long way. Several members of the Peru Community Church mission team recently reported to their congregation about their mission trip to the island of Jamaica Jan. 20-27. Polly Lake, who had just returned from her first mission trip, said the Jamaican people worked side-by-side with the mission team. It was a life-altering experience as a friend of mine told me it would be, she said. I know we brought back at least as much as we gave them. Many people in the North Country know the town of Peru becomes populated with hundreds of Jamaican apple-pickers during the harvest season. The Community Church Jamaican Mission started in 1999 as an effort to assist Roy Jones of Porus, Jamaica, who was severely injured when he fell while picking apples in Peru. Over the years, the missionaries have modified and improved Jones house to make it as comfortable as possible. George Burrell, along with is wife, Harriet, has coordinated the mission trips for the last nine years. Mr. Burrell reported that team members painted a room in Jones home this year and repaired an outside retaining wall damaged by recent flooding. The mission trips over the past years have been to help the growing needs of the Jamaican people and projects have expanded beyond Porus to the nearby community of Mandeville. The Ridgemount United Church in Mandeville has helpful in recommending and coordinating projects to the mission team. This year, team members constructed a new home for Sonie Robinson and her 12-year-old son and repaired a storm-damaged roof on another home. Team member Robert Gallinger said while most Jamaican homes are of masonry construction, the four homes the missionaries have constructed over the years have been wood frame structures. The homes are a modest 12-foot by 12-foot dimension and this year, the home included a porch and privy. Ellen Hogan, who made her first missionary trip said, It was rewarding and exciting to see the Jamaican people. They are so thankful for the littlest things that you do for them. The dresses were so very much appreciated. The clothes they wear are hand-me-downs so just to have a new dress was just wonderful. Mrs. Hogan was speaking about the 61new dresses made by volunteers and distributed by the team. Dr. Alan Michaud and his wife, Bruni, conducted their annual dental clinic, performing dental procedures on 100 people. Dr. Donald Haight and the Rev. Dr. Robert Swenson, pastor of Peru Community Church, conducted a training seminar for school and community counselors. Dr. Haight, a retired SUNY Plattsburgh counseling professor, reported the pastor of Ridgemount United Church asked if it would be possible for the group to return to teach a course in basic counseling skills. The Peru Community Church Board has responded positively to this request and Dr. Haight said the Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church is seeking national funding to assist with the project. Dr. Haight hopes to conduct the training with other volunteers this June. Harriet Burrell talked about what she thought were the best lessons learned this year. The Jamaican people are people of great faith and they wear their faith on their chests proudly, Mrs. Burrell said. We tend to stick it away in a quiet little pocket. Therein lies a lesson for us. We can expand on our faith a lot more than we do. Mrs. Burrell also said she has learned a lesson from apple-picker Roy Jones over the years. Grace is staying positive in the face of adversity, she said. Hes been in a wheelchair for over 11 years. He does the best that he can for his family never complaining and always thankful. He says everything happens for a reason. Whether you believe in Providence or fate or the will of God, he realizes that everything we have done started because of his terrible fall. Mrs. Burrell thanked all the church members for their support especially for gathering toothbrushes, donations and for their prayers. Members of the Peru Community Church mission team included: the Rev. Robert Svenson, George and Harriet Burrell, Robert Gallinger, Ellen Hogan, Christopher Duley, Victoria Johnson, Sandra Misiewicz, Dr. Alan and Bruni Michaud, Brenda Roberts, Peter and Polly Lake, Dr. Donald Haight, Hank Horn, Diana Doolittle, Cory LeFebvre and Aja Munsell. Facts about Jamaica
Discovered by Columbus in 1494, it was a Spanish settlement until captured by the British in 1655. The original Arawak Indians had been wiped out so the British accelerated the importation of black slaves to man the sugar industry. After full emancipation in 1838, the sugar industry declined. Poverty, unemployment and overpopulation led to serious unrest in the 19th and 20th centuries. Full independence within the British Commonwealth was granted in 1962. Only 16% of the land is suitable for cultivation and about 80% of the land surface is mountainous. Approximately 10% of the workforce is unemployed and many more are underemployed. The government provides no social services. Housing, education and health care are great needs of the people of Jamaica.

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