Daughters of the King: Mission Trip to Honduras

God gave me an idea and a nudge at a meeting of the Daughters of the King Province III board last year.  I should invite those present to join me on a mission to Honduras.  Carol White from the Diocese of Southern Virginia accepted the invitation followed by Joyce Frenz from my own chapter at St. John’s, Franklin.  It wasn’t long before her husband Randall, a Lutheran pastor, signed on as well.  We had a team!

I now marvel at the path we took to get to Danli, Honduras.  We were four individuals answering a call but really not sure what God was calling us to do.  We sometimes wandered off the path and I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

A mission trip was not new to me – I had accompanied my husband numerous times on his veterinary mission trips, but this time I would be leading a team with a very different mission.  Lord, what would you have me do?  My husband’s veterinary team was working with SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving, who just happened to be a Daughter of the King.  We communicated with her and after much correspondence, prayer, and a shared daily devotional, God guided us to a plan: a quiet day, a Bible study, and a service project.  It was a very ambitious plan that would require money for materials, interpreters, and in-country transportation for us and the participants.  We applied for and received a generous grant from the National Daughters of the King Self-Denial Fund to cover those expenses.  God gave us the plan and provided the means.  Now we had to trust Him to show us the how.

Ten months later, February 10, 2017, we finally arrived in Honduras.   The first task was to organize our service project.  Our plan was to assemble and distribute mother/baby kits to the public health clinics.  In Honduras, any woman going to the hospital or clinic to deliver her baby is required to bring with her a shirt, cap, socks, receiving blanket and two diapers for the baby and two sanitary napkins and an adult diaper for her.  Many families earn an average of only $20 a month and it can be a real hardship to procure these items.  We had brought with us more than 200 each of baby onesies, hats and pairs of socks donated by individuals in the US.  With the help of local Daughters, we packed all the required items in a 2 ½ gallon zip lock bag.  We included a card written in Spanish stating this kit was from Honduran and US Daughters of the King who were praying for the mother and baby.  These same Daughters accompanied us to the clinics to deliver the kits.  At one clinic, the doctor in charge clapped his hands and exclaimed he was so thrilled it gave him goosebumps.  He ushered us into a room where two very young women had just delivered babies.  We prayed with the new mothers and handed each of them a kit.  Priceless.

Extra baby items and cash to purchase diapers, etc. were left with the local Daughters of the King so they could continue with this project.

Meanwhile Pastor Randall met with ten women for a Bible study.   They came from four different Episcopal churches and some had ridden about an hour on a non-air-conditioned bus  to get there.  They were attentive, inquisitive and faithful in attendance.  We left extra study books for these women to lead Bible studies in their home parishes.

The main event was our Quiet Day which was attended by more than 50 women and about a dozen children.  The morning program was a series of songs and scripture readings with intervals of silent meditation.  After lunch, we opened with a guided meditation followed by a service to admit nine new Daughters of the King to the Order.  A celebration of Holy Eucharist closed out a beautiful, spirit filled day.  It was a great day in the Kingdom!

I had a vision but I never envisioned the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.  We hope by reading this you will be inspired to step out in faith to do a mission at home or abroad.

Kathy Paulo is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, PA, and has been a member of the Daughters of the King since 2005. 

Local church to host ‘blessing box’ with donations

This article first appeared in the Bradford Era on May 19, 2017. 

By KATE DAY SAGER
The Bradford Era

Era photo by Kate Day Sager

On any given Sunday, needy people stop by the Episcopal Church of the Ascension on Chautauqua Place in Bradford with the hope there will be food to spare.

Consequently, when the Rev. Stacey Fussell, rector of Ascension, learned Amanda Kemick and Stacy Wallace needed a venue for their new Blessing Box, she volunteered outdoor space at the church for the project.

The Blessing Box, which was installed near the church parking lot on Mother’s Day, sits atop a pole several feet high. Inside the unlocked box are canned and boxed foods stocked by parishioners and community residents. All food items in the box are free for the taking.

Kemick, a stay-at-home mom, said she and Wallace, an attorney, came up with the Blessing Box idea last fall after viewing a post on Facebook.

“Many of our friends on Facebook expressed interest and support of the idea,” Kemick recalled. “We began with the construction of two boxes” after funding was provided by two private donors.

Kemick said they contacted Scott Oxley, carpentry teacher at Bradford Area High School, for help. When they asked Oxley if the students could construct two boxes similar to what was seen online, he agreed and asked only that materials be provided.

The first box was installed Sunday at the church by Kemick and Wallace’s husbands, Donny and Curt, respectively.

“Stacy and I both have children and it was a great experience for them to help install and put food in the first box,” Kemick said. “On the box we put, ‘Give what you can, take what you need.’ “It is our hope that anyone in need — a hungry child or a mother who doesn’t have time to get to the grocery store — can stop and take what is needed.”

She said the blessing box is not limited to food, as donations of personal hygiene items and baby products are also acceptable.

In explaining the notion behind the blessing box, Wallace said it is intended to bless all people with food and items, regardless of class.

“I know some people do not want to take something for nothing, so if you see something there you need, take it and put something else in — like a barter system,” Wallace explained.

She said the hope is the boxes will be replenished by the community. As a backup measure, one or two groups from the community will be assigned to stock the boxes, as needed.

Suggested store-bought items for the box include canned foods, dry cereal or other dry items  such as pasta and rice. Small clothing items that include new packages of underwear, socks or gloves, are also acceptable donations.

Fussell said initial food items stocked in the box, that included small canned hams, were taken. They were quickly replenished with other food, however. She said the supplies will likely be appreciated by people in the neighborhood which is close to housing projects.

“From our standpoint, it is not uncommon to have folks come by the church on a Sunday afternoon and say ‘I don’t have any food in my house,’” Fussell remarked. “Ascension doesn’t keep a stocked food pantry” and none of the other pantries are open on Sunday.

“This will help if you’re in a bind,” she continued. “It really is the hope that people will restock it.”

In making a final comment, Kemick said their greatest hope is that by next winter a local agency or private business will offer to house a blessing box inside its doors.

“Our outdoor blessing boxes will get less use in the winter due to foot traffic and the practicality of food storage, yet we could use blessings year round,” she said.

Kemick said there is another blessing box ready to be installed, but a location hasn’t been determined. She said a church or organization that can ensure the box will stay filled would be preferable. Kemick said they have plans to make additional boxes in the future.

For more information on the blessing boxes, contact Kemick or Wallace via Facebook or call Wallace at Hamlin Bank and Trust Company at 887-5555.

“You Realize You Do This Wrong And I’m Dead, Right?”

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2017 newsletter of the Episcopal Mission of Warren County. 

Summer day camp for me when I was 12 involved spending 3 weeks researching local estuary health along the coast of Connecticut where I grew up. Project Oceanology provided a fantastic program for local science-loving youth that got us out doing real research. It’s fun to brag to others that I’m a published scientist with four papers housed at the University of Connecticut library. No word yet on if anyone has ever cited any of my data, but still…

Like every good experience for young people growing up, though, there’s more being learned than just the stated curriculum. So it was that one sunny morning I was in a 12-foot skiff with Mr. Hage who was one of our project directors (local science teachers who lead the program), scuba-diver-569333_640and two other young scientists like me out collecting water samples. At one location, we needed a clean sample from 8 feet down in the water, and due to the conditions it mean that our project leader would need to use his SCUBA equipment. After he donned the heavy tanks, adjusted his fins and mask, and checked the sample bottles to make sure they would open and close, he turned to me and asked me to open the valve on his tanks. I still remember his words, “one full turn clockwise, then a quarter turn back”.

As a bunch of 11 and 12-year-olds are prone to do, we had spent the whole time headed out to the sample station laughing about typical juvenile topics. We must have still been laughing as I reached over and turned the valve the prescribed distances. And thus I can still to this day close my eyes and see Mr. Hage’s face as he turned, lifted his mask, looked me square in the eyes, and said, “you realize you do this wrong and I’m dead, right?”

Most of us probably do not think of our relationships in church as involving such high stakes. We enjoy meeting people, enjoying the company of others who think and feel like us and being politely challenged by those who might be a bit different. That’s part of the growth opportunity that comes with being in a community: it’s a healthy mix of nurturing and challenging relationships that help us live more deeply into God’s desires for us. We can engage as much or as little in these relationships as we feel like any given day.

diving-403250_640I think there is more to our contribution to one another as we live together as a community of God’s disciples, though. We support one another in living our spiritual lives, lives that are under threat from so many forces around us. From the pressures of our busy lives, the challenges of medical situations, and our greater social and political world, our souls are always being severely tested. We spend a few hours together each week, and then we each don our tanks of spiritual fresh air and head off into the waters that bring both blessings and challenges.

In those times when we are together, whether all together on Sunday or Wednesday, or just a few of us at an event, one thing we are doing is preparing each other for our next dive into the wider world. We hold each other’s spiritual lives in our hands.

When we take time to invest in one another, to care enough to bring our best selves to one another with an eye toward helping them be prepared for their lives, we’re doing the real work of Christian community. We do this by educating ourselves to deepening our relationships, paying attention to practicing forgiveness, sharing of our own gifts, and working to hear one another’s stories. We do this work as well by committing to praying for one another, knowing that God joins us in the midst of prayer to open up even greater potentials for all. We do these things to adjust the valves on each other’s spiritual air tanks and invite others to check our own. We are building up the body of Christ, remembering the gravity of this thing we call discipleship life.

Mr. Hage brought me more than just a water sample that day, he brought me a lesson in how much we truly matter to one another. So far, that sense of how much we matter to one another has only grown for me in the years since. God has blessed us to be in one another’s lives not just for polite company, but so we can have true companions who love us and to whom we can direct his love. In this way we reveal the love of God to the world, in how we love one another as he loved us.

The Rev. Matthew Scott is vicar of the Episcopal Mission of Warren County – St. Francis and Trinity Memorial churches.