Building on our long tradition of reaching out to help our neighbors, Trinity members have since the 1980s unselfishly responded to great human need both in our community and around the world by serving on mission teams.
Our teams have rebuilt and repaired homes and buildings in multiple trips to Kentucky and other Appalachian communities, built a Sunday School building in Mexico, classrooms in Bolivia, a Training Center in Honduras, and performed other mission work in Brazil and Costa Rico. Altogether, eight trips were made to Russia in the 1990s to work in orphanages repairing buildings, conduct Bible classes and provide needed medical supplies.
Teams have responded to devastating floods close to home in Franklin, Virginia and Greenville, North Carolina as well as in Nashville and to hurricane damage in Homestead, Florida and Mississippi.
More recently, Trinity teams have made several trips to Haiti rebuilding from the massive earthquake suffered in 2010. We have responded to flooding and storm damage in New York and New Jersey from Tropical Storm Sandy and responded to many local needs.
Simns Jacquette has been the inspiration and energy behind so many of our mission trips. He personally made eight trips to Russia as well as numerous trips to other countries and within the United States.
People asked why we went to other countries when there is so much need at home. I have always thought we can’t live just in our own world, we need to go the other places too. Ginny and I have so many memories of our mission trips and we believe they have made a difference in many lives including our own. Mission trips teach you a great deal about life. You learn people are different with different ways and customs. People in other parts of the world don’t live the way we do and are not necessarily going to be how we would like them to be. We don’t try to change them. Let them see how we do and how we react. We hope we have made a difference, one person at a time.
Over the past 30 years, there have been many mission needs and Trinity members have responded to those in need at home and around the world in Haiti, Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras, Brazil, Costa Rica, Russia, Jamaica, St. Johns, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Kentucky, Florida and Louisiana. The following recollections are representative of Trinity’s mission trips.
These missions have brought great benefits to the locations served , but they have also had great and long lasting impact on the lives of those who served. For more information on how you can get involved with a mission team, please contact our mission coordinator Rick Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Gwaltney made one of the first foreign mission trips to Bolivia in 1988. He wrote at the time:
La Paz is like no place I’ve ever been to or seen in my life. Driving down from “Alto La Paz”, the high plateau where the airport and some fields are, the shacks cascade down the rim like water running into a bowl, collecting in the center in a tight, low mass of mud brick which is downtown La Paz. I wish I could take pictures of every single thing I see, and somehow convey the sense of wonder that the small, wrinkled ladies with bowler hats and short, smiling, capped men give me.
On January 14th, Kylie DeBoer embarked on a two week Operation Smile medical mission to Tamale, Ghana where families traveled for days just to have a chance at surgery. 155 patients were screened and 83 surgeries were ultimately completed. As one of two students on this mission, Kylie’s role was to educate patients and assist with pre/post op care. This is her story.
Family Across the Atlantic
On screening day, I was surrounded by a swarm of anxious mothers, fathers, cousins, and friends clinging onto the edge of every word. My mission partner and I were simply recalling the basic nutrition, safety, and hygiene information we had learned in elementary school. The people listened to me as if I was one of the Operation Smile surgeons who might operate on their child. I did not realize the impact of these lessons until an elderly grandmother at the end of a presentation told me that she had not known the information and was extremely grateful that students from the United States took the time to educate her. Then the woman assured me that when she returned to her home she would share this knowledge with her entire village. I was awestruck, that even during this intense time of uncertainty, the adults kindly expressed their appreciation for the student team.
My eyes stung from dust and tears only two days later as I led a group of patients across the arid, continuous landscape clutching a white slip of paper branded with the letter “H”. For them this represents a disheartening trip to the hospital. For them this represents a wearisome journey home. My heart tightened with overwhelming sadness for those who could not receive surgery because of malnutrition or infection. Simultaneously, I whispered a sigh of relief and joy for all of the sweet, optimistic children waiting back at the patient shelter for the upcoming week of operations.
Surgery week overflowed with action, each moment life-changing. Miracles happened everywhere I looked. As I brought each set of four patients from the pre/post-op ward to child life throughout the day, the nervous tension of surgery day radiated from the patients. Donated crafts and games eased their worries, and collected toys calmed wailing babies. I carried one little boy named Bernard from the pre/post-op ward to child life and again to the OR. I was there right before he went into surgery and after he was released from surgery. I delivered him to his mother and saw the happiness on her face the first time she saw her child after the growth over his eye had been removed. I walked them both back to the pre/post-op ward, and Bernard gripped my hand until he fell asleep. I witnessed the surgery of a cleft lip, a momentous experience I never dreamt would occur. My mission partner and I visited four schools in Tamale, handing out toothbrushes and changing lives as we encouraged them to do the same. In the course of one week, we reached over 100 local students inspiring them to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of the people in Tamale.
By the end of the surgery week, the patient shelter was my home and all the people staying there my family. Everyone was elated to see me as I walked up the dust path to the shelter for the last time. As they all grinned at me calling “my sister, my sister”, I smiled back, having adopted their friendly culture in just a few fleeting days, and greeted them as customary in Twi-“Nah.” Seconds after, I was encircled by children eager to play, tugging at my backpack. As I unveiled a beach ball, I paused to absorb the scene. There stood in front of me a gathering of Ghanaian children, no different from American children or Chinese children or Italian children, that no longer had cleft lips, cleft palates, or other birth deformities. Now they could eat and drink naturally and interact with other children without exclusion or judgment. A wave of emotion poured over me, almost enveloping me in a swell of tears, over the amazing work the doctors had performed and the gut-wrenching reality of our departure the next day. Instead, I pulled everyone into a tight hug and picked up Bernard. Reluctant to let go, I squeezed him against my chest, knowing I would remember him and the rest of the children forever and only hoping the same were true for them.
I never could have imagined that I would fly to Ghana and spend nine days at the Tamale Teaching Hospital watching the lives of patients and their families transform right along with mine. After attending leadership conferences, mission training, fundraising and collecting donations for three previous missions that were ultimately false alarms, the two year wait and roller coaster of emotions paled in comparison to the unforgettable experience of an Operation Smile medical mission. My heart is still in Tamale, distributed among the 78 patients and their loved ones. The Ghanaian people have given me my voice, and just as they thanked me for my service, I owe a deep gratitude to the people of Tamale for showing me kindness and allowing me to share their stories as my own. In spite of the fact that a mission is focused on the metamorphosis of the patients, it was impossible for me to leave Tamale unchanged. I gave hope to those who believed they were forgotten, and in turn, they taught me that I am unforgettable.
“One highlight of our trips to Russia was when Ginny, Lloyd King and I went on a Virginia Conference team to St. Petersburg to perform repair work on an orphanage for children with spina bifida. We took medical supplies, toys and bibles. We also had several people with disabilities from Virginia on our mission team. When we first entered the orphanage, which had only primitive facilities, most of the children were in cribs or on the floor, unable to walk. One of our young people with a disability instinctively knew what to do. He walked over to a crying child, sat on the floor beside her and stoked her cheek, providing comfort and connection.” – Simns Jacquette
“On one of our trips to Russia, we took 50 Russian language Bibles which we were able to get with assistance from the Gideons. At that time, Bibles were banned in Russia. But we were able to pack one or two in each of our suitcases and get them in. We found people there had never heard even the basic bible stories and were starved for this. On the Russian orphanage trips , our teams became so fond of the children we were helping and the children, who had so little, warmed to us. The children called Simns “Mr. Seems” and one little girl in particular was quite fond of Mr. Seems. When we left to come home, this child gave Simns her doll, her treasured possession.” – Ginny Jacquette
“During the 1990s, Russia was one of the mission focus areas of the United Methodist Church and Trinity participated in the Russia Initiative Children’s Program for a number of years. The purpose of this program was to give the children the opportunity to spend time in a clean, healthy environment to give a boost to their immune systems. The area of Russia that they came from was very industrial and polluted at that time. We hosted groups of about a dozen children and an adult interpreter for two weeks each July. The children’s parents paid for their travel expenses and we provided for their needs during the time that they were with us. The children stayed with host families and lots of fun group activities were included such as boat trips on the Pagan River, camping trips to the Outer Banks, and Fourth of July festivities. Interestingly, the parents of the children specifically wanted them to experience an American Fourth of July. A shopping day was always on the agenda and we collected suitcases so that they could take the extra items and gifts home with them. The children always brought gifts for their host families and the church. Some of these items are on display in the case by the church office.” – Glenn and Webbie Sauls
“One thing that stands out was the kindness of the local people.”
In the minutes, hours and days that followed more than 200,000 people perished. Thousands of children became orphans; many roaming the filthy streets without any idea of what was happening or where to turn. Many, many more were injured and in need of medical care in a country where modern medical care barely exists. Haiti was already the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Now it was the saddest country in the world. In October of that year I was able to get s pot on a Georgia based mission team heading to Port-au-Prince. We worked on rebuilding church and a school which and today the work our team began is a completed church and school campus very important to its “inner-city” neighborhood. The following year, my wife, JoAnn, Rene Cassady and I joined a North Carolina-based team headed for the very rural village of Rhode to forward construction of a church. We lived and worked among and with the people, playing with children, teaching Bible School. That church has since been completed and is now the center of the Rhode community.
Following his trip to Haiti, Mark Hall committed to leading a team comprised of Trinity volunteers to continue the work in Haiti.
In September of 2012 ten intrepid missioneers, including Pastor Jeff Cannon as co-leader, departed TUMC very early in the morning. We worked for a week rebuilding a clinic in the coastal town of Petit Goave. The job and the conditions were tough. We finished clearing rubble and what was left of the old clinic. Then the really hard work of digging and building a new foundation for the clinic began. The temperatures never dropped below 92 degrees, even at night, with no air conditioning anywhere. The project we started has now been completed and daily relieves the suffering of many in Haiti.
I am always very proud to be a Methodist in Haiti. The United Methodist Church responded to the disaster with a tsunami wave of prayers, money and care. Actually, the UMC has had a permanent presence in Haiti for many years and has continually brought love and peace of Christ, faith, positive work and improvement to the conditions of the island. The first protestant missions were Methodist in 1807. Trinity United Methodist Church continues in mission to Haiti, sending faithful missioneers since 2011 and we plan another trip in 2014. – Mark Hall
Sunny Day Saturday
In February, the Susannah Wesley Circle sponsored the Sunny Day Saturday Mission Day to make sun dresses for children in Haiti. All women of the church were invited to participate in this event. The idea was born when a donation of colorful fabric was made to Donna Crouser and JoAnn Hall prior to their last trip to Haiti. Unfortunately, there was not adequate time to do anything with it before they left, but there was time to make a plan! So, on one Saturday morning, with thirty-four women and thirteen sewing machines, we made one hundred sixteen beautiful sundresses! These will be delivered to Haiti by our mission team in September. We hope to make shorts for little boys next! – Ann Fisher
Trinity United Methodist Church continues in mission to Haiti, sending faithful missioneers since 2010.
Mission teams have included Simns and Ginny Jacquette, Tony Jacquette, Claude and Bettye Thomas, Arleen “Sam” White, Larry and Rhonda Evans, John Rynasko, Bernie and Carolyn Hyman, Steve Jordan, Nita Huff, Bob and Betty Hill, Johnny and Lynn Stallings, John and Gail Hamilton, and Mickey and Carolyn Stallings. On all of these trips, we did the work we were sent to do and we always did additional work! The Frakes community and the Henderson Settlement are making strides – there is a new elementary school, a community center housing a library with computers, classes and programs for women and children, and programs designed to bring jobs to the community.
We serve on these mission teams as a way we can help those in need and we do get a benefit from this ourselves.
Carolyn and Mickey Stallings
We develop an awareness and better understanding of others and their needs and we gain a measure of self satisfaction in knowing we may have made a difference in their lives.
On Friday June 21, 2013 the Trinity UMC Navajo Mission team (TNMT) departed for what would be a wonderful and enriching experience serving the Navajo people in New Mexico. Fifteen (15) of Trinity’s finest spent 7 days interacting with Navajo children and missionaries by providing an enjoyable Vacation Bible School (VBS) for about 25 Navajo children of all ages on the reservation near Teec Nos Pos in the Northeast corner of New Mexico. The team of seven adults (Pastor Jeff, Rob & Liz Johnson, Stan Smeltzer, Stephanie Sexton, Arleen “Sam” White and Rick Hope) and eight very eager younger volunteers ages from 20 to 10 (John Cannon, Katie Potter, Wesley Wallner, Kaitlyn Michaud, Joseph McNure, Stan Smeltzer, Nick & Molly Johnson) represented the members of Trinity with great enthusiasm and dedication. Liz Johnson and Stephanie Sexton lead the team of volunteers for the VBS bringing a program with crafts from Smithfield.
The trip started with a brief visit to the South rim of the Grand Canyon the day before aerialist Nik Wallenda completed his historic walk across the Little Colorado River Gorge on Sunday. The team attended church on Sunday at Teec Nos Pos and performed for the Navajo congregation that conducted the service in both English and Navajo. The team stayed at the Four Corners Home for Children (FCHC) in Farmington, NM. The President of Navajo Ministries, Jim Baker took the team on a tour of the facility that provides housing for as many as 28 at risk and abandoned Navajo children from the surrounding counties. On Monday the entire team starting one of two major projects on site, the removal of overgrown Junipers and Cacti in the front of the facility. After this we laid a three tiered block retaining wall to help preserve the entrance to the facility. The TNMT were told that we accomplished more in the first day than many previous teams attempted all week. On Tuesday the TNMT split in two with most going to the reservation about one hour away in Teec Nos Pos to conduct the VBS and 6 staying back to erect a much needed chain link fence on the compound. The project team overcame high temperatures (95-101 F), engineering and terrain irregularities and was able to complete about 130 feet of a sturdy chain link fence that will provide added security for the children of the FCHC. During our down time the TNMT took side trips to the 4 Corners National Monument and the Aztec Ruins nearby. Each night a different team member lead the group in devotionals with singing and thought provoking questions based on the Bible verse of that day.
On Thursday the members of the TNMT were invited to join the FCHC for a community wide cookout. This allowed the team to spend more time with the counselors, house parents and children that resided on the 14 acre compound. There were some tears of sadness shed on the final day of VBS with some children trying to bar the door and saying “please don’t go”. On Saturday the team flew out of Albuquerque and returned to Smithfield in the wee hours tired but satisfied from a life changing experience. I believe that I can speak for the team by saying it was a wonderful experience not soon forgotten and that we look forward to the opportunity to travel back to New Mexico in July 2014 to renew many of the friendships that were formed.
The team would like to thank ALL of the members of Trinity for their prayers and support during our various fundraisers. Without your love and support we may not have been able to take the message of Jesus and love to these very deserving Native Americans. – Rick Hope
Trinity participated in the Jeremiah Project in the summers of 2012 and 2013 and we plan to participate in 2014, taking middle school youth on a truly amazing journey. The mission focuses on helping those in need through small building projects, yard work, painting, etc. It is not only rewarding for the youth but fun! The program incorporates worship and work. Most of all, it offers a great opportunity to do God’s work and encourage the youth to grow in their faith journey. – Mary Mitchell
Like all our mission trips, the days were filled with hard physical labor which made us appreciate our beds even if they were an air mattress, but which left us with a deep sense of satisfaction that we, who did not have to suffer the devastations, were able to help others get closer to normalcy or improve their standard of living. We felt we were living examples of the Golden Rule. Another benefit we enjoyed is the wonderful fellowship of the mission team members which allowed us to grow closer together. We would strongly urge anyone who wishes to help others to do so, whether they have any constructions skills or physical limitations that they think might prevent them from doing the work. There is always something that someone can do and it is always important to the team effort and appreciated by those being helped. – Rhonda and Larry Evans