I recently had the pleasure of leading an enthusiastic team of 18 people for a Short-Term Mission trip to Helene.
This great team represented churches from Juanita County, Pennsylvania, including St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church of Mifflintown, Heaven Bound Church of Mifflintown, and Delaware Mennonite Church in Thompsontown, as well as Messiah Lutheran Church located in Charlotte, NC and Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown, New Jersey.
My family (Karen, Sam and Anna) and I, who previously served on the MEI staff in 2012, along with Sam’s friend Jenna Sagan, arrived in Helene a week prior and spent the time in joyous service prior to the rest of the team arriving.
Our team included many members that had previously served on Short-Term trips to Helene. These included Don and Esther Bratton, Arlen Saner, Maci Kerlin, Angie and Josh Beward, Rachel and Alena Wesley and Chris Decker. These team members have a heart for Helene and were anxious to return to see the friends they made on previous trips and continue to serve the Helene community. In addition, we enjoyed sharing our experience with five team members who were on their first trip to Helene. These included Jenna Sagan, Casey and Holly Hostler, Melissa and Rachael Delancey.
Our cohesive and productive team participated in many various ministries while in Helene:
Building 36 desks for the Helene Christian English School with materials sponsored by St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church
Helping with construction of the Vocational Training Center
Leading Kids Clubs
Helping to teach in the school
Providing medical care from the MEI Medical clinic, as well as making island rounds
Painting mosaics above the windows of Sheila’s classroom
Building a cabinet for storage
Hosting a game night, a movie night, a Friday night music event and worship on the deck
Encountering God - Transforming Lives - Impacting Nations
All our team members shared many instances of Encountering God, whether it be while visiting the people of Helene, a smile from a child they helped in school, worshiping with many people on the deck at the worship service, worshiping in a church service, or helping a new mother with a complication after the birth of a baby boy.
Our hope is that we have Transformed Lives and Impacted Nations (the people of Helene) with our visit and many interactions. We know that our lives have been transformed by our trip to Helene, as evidenced by the fact that there have been so many team members that have expressed an interest in returning to Helene for future short-term trips. They long to spend time with beloved friends they have made.
By Dr. Todd Taylor - Team Leader and MEI Board Member
To learn more about your church or organization enjoying a transformational MEI Short-Term Mission trip, please visit our Short-Term Missions website page for more information.