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. 

Now Accepting Applications for Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic

And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’  Mark 16:15

The Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania will conduct a third mission trip to the Dominican Republic to work with our partner congregation, Cristo Salvador, from July 21-29, 2017.

Cristo Salvador Episcopal Church in Santiago offers hope amidst the drug use and poverty of their neighborhood, ever trying to reach out to IMG_9607those around them. With this in mind, rather than simply sending money and never meeting one another, folks from our diocese will work with the folks there, getting to know one another, learning from each other, and experiencing different ways of life. We will also assist with the church’s Vacation Bible School, which will help Cristo Salvador proclaim the good news to the youth and adults of their neighborhood. We are going to support them, hoping that what we do furthers their ministry in that community. You can read more about our diocese’s relationship with Cristo Salvador and the mission trips in 2015 and 2016 here.

image1We are currently accepting applications for volunteers for this year’s mission trip through February 15th. More information about the trip can be found at http://dionwpa.org/our-diocese/mission-trip-2017, as well as an online application. Please note that at this time you must be 15 years of age or older to participate in the DR Mission Trip.

If you have further questions about the trip or how to apply, please contact the Rev. Melinda Hall. We look forward to sharing the experiences of this year’s group of volunteers this coming July!

One Church Presentation at ECW Annual Meeting

“One Church” was the message presented by the Reverend Melinda Hall at the ECW Annual Meeting in Youngsville, May 7.  Members of the diocesan Dominican Republic team each spoke of their mission to the church in Santiago De Los Caballeros and the children as they assisted in the Vacation Bible School.  This coming year will be the second time the team travels there.  Recently,  Melinda requested support from our diocesan churches by way of crafts and financial support for “treats” for the children.  On hand at the ECW Meeting,  Gloria McIsaac, President of the ladies guild of Emmanuel Church, Emporium was able to present two crafts to the team.  Supplies for bead bracelets and flower pens.  Melinda pointed out that the ten member team was a collaborative effort from our diocese as no two people were from the same church.  Missy Greene also shared her role working with The Vine, a youth ministry in the Erie area.  The Episcopal Church Women offer their prayers and support for these two outstanding efforts.

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Pictured from left to right: Missy Greene (Erie), Sue Frontino (Brookville), Valerie Marshall and Gloria McIsaac (Emporium), Tina Mills (Hermitage) and Rev. Melina Hall (Dubois)

“Mission Possible” ECW Annual Meeting

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of Northwestern Pennsylvania will hold their annual meeting Saturday, May 7th, 2016 from 9:30 am – 3:25 pm at St. Francis of Assisi in Youngsville, Pennsylvania.  Presenters include the Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar at Church of Our Saviour in Dubois, PA and Missy Greene, Christian Formation Associate at St. Stephen’s Church in Fairview, PA.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.45.48 PMAfter earning her M.Div. from Princeton Seminary, The Rev. Melinda Hall completed a year of Anglican Studies in New York. In her presentation, “Plastic Beads, Presidente, and Preschool: Why Trips to the Dominican Republic Make a Difference,” she asks, “Is our partnership with the Dominican Republic important? What does a Vacation Bible School have to do with early education?” and invites us to “Come with our questions as we explore why building relationships in the Dominican Republic is part of our calling in Christ.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.46.43 PMMissy Greene coordinates programs for all ages at St. Stephens. One of those ministries is The Vine, a collaborative youth community among three of the Episcopal Churches in the Erie area. Missy will share the development of The Vine as a model for collaborative ministry among small churches. Missy also participated in the 2015 mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

All are welcome to the ECW annual meeting.  Learn more about the program and get the registration and materials at the ECW page on the diocesan website.

‘The End of The Beginning’ Another Reflection From the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

Today was the beginning of the end.. or the end of the beginning…
As we started our day at the breakfast table, we talked about the expectations we had when we arrived just a few days ago. We had so many questions about this country, the culture and the people. Now we had not only learned about the country and the people, but more about ourselves. We as a group were no longer strangers but now friends. The people we came to help, have given us a new understanding of God’s love. How had it gone so quickly?
As we headed to Cristo Salvador we knew it was our last chance to interact with the 85 or so children who came for lessons, games, crafts and snacks. Our last chance listen to Fr. Hipolito welcome the children and set the stage for a day of learning. Before we knew it we were pulling up to the church where many children were already waiting at the door. We were greeted with smiles, excitement and hugs!

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The day went very quickly and before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes to the children with more hugs and smiles. We had lunch with all of the teachers and other wonderful people at Cristo Salvador and as always the food was fantastic (just in case no one has mentioned the food yet). Once again it was time to say more goodbyes. It was our last day of VBS, but it was only the beginning of our partnership with this incredible parish in the DR.
As we head back to Santo Domingo and prepare to come home I realize how much I miss my family. I am ready to come home and rest. I look forward to sharing my pictures and my stories. I can not wait to see what God has for us to do next. Or how this partnership will grow.Julie Westman
Church or Our Saviour DuBois, PA

‘Thank You For Your Support’ The Final Post From the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

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What a delight and privilege is has been to spend the past week in the Dominican Republic! This week we began what we hope will be a lasting partnership with the people of Cristo Salvador. We are so grateful for your prayers as well as your financial support, which made the week possible. Without the help of many congregations and individuals, we would not have been able to purchase the construction and craft materials, nor could we have afforded to make the trip.

Not only was it an incredible experience to play games with over 85 kids and make new friends with the teachers, it was an incredible experience to be part of this team. Every dinner we learned new things about one another, laughing and joking, and every night during evening prayer we shared how the day impacted our hearts and minds. I have been changed by the week and so have many members- if not all- of the team. One cannot be the same after experiencing such love and hospitality, unity and partnership in the name of Christ.

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Drawn from all over the diocese, from Erie to Smethport, the team is an expression of our diocese. You are part of this too! The team looks forward to sharing with you, in-person, their experiences and stories from the week. We would be delighted to come to your congregation and share about this partnership and how you can get more involved. Please email Melinda Hall at vicarmelinda@gmail.com to talk about members of the team visiting your parish.

Thank you again for all your support!

The Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville and Church of Our Savior, DuBoise

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‘How I will Miss Thee’ Day 5 Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

11825027_10109149113664764_8042793343160672372_nAh! Republica Dominicana, how I will miss thee!!! And your food…oh, the wonderful awesome delectable yummy nourishment……. If one does nothing else in life, they should visit another culture and particularly the Dominican (says the girl who has ONLY traveled to the Dominican!).

What a life altering trip this has been for me. There are entirely too many facets of it for me to write in this post that have been beneficial and changing. If only it were possible, I would pack up Fr. Hipolito up and bring him back with me. Meeting that man alone is something that touches you to the core and gives you peace and strength. Each and every community in the WORLD could do with a moving father figure at its heart. (And his wife’s homemade mango juice in their bellies!)

I’ve gained a new appreciation and outlook this week for so many things in my life. I’ve been discerning on some life changesIMG_8263 very recently. Being here and seeing the love of God & lifestyles has helped me to remember just where and why God has placed me in positions and given me a better idea of who I want to be when I return home. It excites me to have more clarity!

It has been a blessing for me to experience the children and to see how they are all the same whether I am here or at home. I had a different vision of what the interactions with them would be like. I have been moved especially by my two ‘teachers’ whom I gained on the first day of VBS. Nicole & Mercedita took me under THEIR wing and have been teaching me so much of the language. It warms my heart that these children are so open and patient with and our ignorance of things! They really just go wonderfully with the flow.

And the tostones! The fried plantain goodness! Sorry, I digress…

I truly hope that as this partnership continues more and more members of the Diocese take part in trips such as this, not only for the awesome benefit to the Dominican community in the church, Cristo Salvador, but for the benefit it will have on the person who visits and in turn the world around that person when they return home.

And did I mention the food???? Yours drooling, I mean, truly,

Brooke Wolosewicz, member of St. Luke’s, Smethport, PA

‘Pass the Fried Eggplant’ Day 4 of the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

DSCN0415You know it will be a good day when the rooster crows at 5:30 a.m. The rooster crows every morning, so every day must be a good day. Today VBS began in the morning. Arriving two minutes before the children got there, we had to cut and braid yarn for the very detailed craft brought to you by Holy Trinity in Brookville. The night before, we cut pieces of tissue paper into shapes for the mosaics. We never would have finished the project in time if it wasn’t for our crafty drill sergeant, Sue. The craft was successful and all of the kids projects turned out great!
During games, we tried relay races, but they were not so successful with our first two groups. Instead, we played “Don’t Let the Ball Touch the Ground.” The simplest of games kept the kids entertained. For the smallest, we started blowing up more balloons. All of the kids flocked towards me. It reminded me of the seagulls in Finding Nemo who repeated, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” We let them hit the balloons around for the remainder of the activity time. A few of the kids kept wanting to hit the balloon back and forth with me. It was chaos, but it was fun!
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During snack, we tried to talk to the oldest kids. Their adult leader had left, but she didn’t speak much English. Marisol did a great job interpreting Missy’s broken Spanish instructions during games. She even gave us the idea to do the spoon and ping pong relay holding the spoon in their mouth. Talking with the kids, I can ask them their names, but that is about it. They would keep trying to talk to me, even though I did not understand. I’d just nod and say, “Si!”
At the end of the day, after snack, the oldest boys, were asking to race us. We raced back and forth in the sanctuary. A few of the girls ran too. You would think we Americans wouldn’t be able to run in this heat, but I beat them a couple of times. It was a memorable moment for the day, having them ask us to join them in an activity.
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After a great lunch, provided by the church ladies, we crossed the street and toured the Pre-School. I thought it was a very nice building. They had one classroom in the basement and three on the second level. One the first level is a kitchen and a cafeteria. Father Hipolito praised many of the teachers at the school. The school is working to send the teachers to university to study. It is a great ministry of the church to be able to educate the teachers in order to best prepare the kids.

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We had a successful and great day painting, even though some of us got the speckled-paint disease, painting ceilings and walls. We pretty much finished all four classrooms and got two coats of blue paint onto the walls in the larger room.  Tomorrow we move to the second coats on the ceilings.
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Coming back to the hotel, we had a much needed adventure. We walked a few blocks to the nearest Bon, which is an ice cream shop. The ice cream was muy deliciouso! Then it was back to the hotel for dinner, which meant lots of fried eggplant. We also got to try a new fruit called limoncello, which we had seen people selling on the streets. Sue asked Lazarus, the hotel manager, if he could get us some to try. And he did! There was very little fruit inside the peel, but it had a good flavor.
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So far this has been a rewarding experience. I can’t wait to share more when I get back. But until then, pass the fried eggplant.
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Amy Greene, member St Mary’s in Lawrence Park

Reflections From Day 3 of the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

unnamedThe trip to the Dominican Republic for me so far has been a wonderful experience, but yet also very shocking. People of my generation in the United States are so used to our luxuries such as Starbucks, IPhones, air conditioning etc. Our biggest worry can sometimes just be “Is there wifi? How strong is the wifi here?” Coming to this country has been a huge culture shock. The people here have much bigger worries. Some of these children do not even have clean water or know for sure when their next meal will be. Being with these children at Vacation Bible School and seeing their environment makes me realize how fortunate we are in the United States.

-Leah Elberfeld, member of the Cathedral of St. Paul and a student at McDowell High School

Being apart of such a wonderful experience has completely changed my perspective on the things we take for granted as human beings. It has only been the first day at VBS and I already feel like I am changing as a person. It is so inspirational to listen to the numerous stories of Father Paulito, and to look at all the wonderful women who are willing to help and cook for unnamed-2some of the families and children in need, even if they too are struggling financially. It’s just so interesting to see how we are in one city (Santiago) and if you travel one direction you are in luxury and wealth, but 5 minutes later you are surrounded with poverty and devastation. It breaks my heart to see such a beautiful city split in half the way this one is, and I am so glad I can be apart of some change in the community. Making just one of those children smile means the world to me. I have definitely come here to do the right thing.

-Stephanie Onyeiwu, member of Christ Church, Meadville

‘Ah Padre’: Day 2 from the Diocesan Mission Trip to Cristo Salvador

DSC_6407‘Ah Padre,’ I jump to my feet from my plastic chair at the breakfast table to greet the aging priest entering the café. Short and balding with his pale yellow button-down and trousers, Fr. Hipolito bustles over to the table, bursting with smiles. He rattles off something in Spanish, shakes a few hands and then grasps me into a hearty embrace, my face meeting his armpit. He’s talking rapidly and gesturing wildly at me, and our translator and missionary leader Emily starts laughing as she translates. I can feel the sweat begin to spill out of my every pore as I wonder what exactly is about to come my way.

‘My baby priest!’ Hipolito exclaims with joy. I smile sheepishly, but with pleasure. Fr. Hipolito is a great guy and depending on which day it is and what he decides that day, he’s anywhere between ages 86 and 89. He has been with Cristo Salvador from the beginning, first as a small group Bible study and then as a house church. His family harbored Haitians during the Trujillo years and despite running slightly afoul of Trujillo, he managed to survive those brutal years, saving lives and spreading the gospel. I am certainly a baby priest compared with his years, his courage, and his spunk.

Released from his armpit, I smile and shake my head, following everyone out to the van. Arriving last means the front seat and in this case, the front seat means breathing some really deathly air-freshener called ‘black ice’ hanging from the rearview mirror. Dodging traffic- a few pedestrians here and there, a motorbike or two, the coconut guy with the giant knife- is really pretty fun by my book, but by the time we arrive, I nearly jump out of the van, fleeing the ‘black ice’ and the terrible synthesized music of American soft rock hits.

Fr. Hipolito leads us to the front of the building, showing us the new iron steps our diocese (meaning the donations made by DSC_6374congregations) helped pay for that lead to the roof; inside, he shows us the new doors our diocese helped purchase. We take our seats in the first few pews, behind a row of young kids. Foolishly, I think that worship is about to begin, but Father begins to tell us all about the church and other various facts. Worship only begins 15 minutes late, which is wicked early by DR standards.

By some trick of grace, the reading for their lectionary today was Ephesians 4, which is our reading next week. So naturally, the preacher spoke on unity, a unity founded on our common baptism in Christ, our common life in the Spirit. Our team has learned a lot about our various gifts, which complement each other well, and we are excited to see how our gifts are complemented and completed by the teachers we will work this week from the congregation of Cristo Salvador.

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Tomorrow we begin the VBS and our painting projects. But for now, it’s time for me to pry my legs from this sweaty vinyl cushion and find a shower and some AC.

Signing off from the DR, where the avocadoes are creamy, the plantains are dreamy, and the humidity is steamy,

The Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville and Church of Our Savior, DuBoise