Wednesday, October 8

An Opportunity to Change Lives

I have spent far too long away from The Beaten Hamster. I just get so busy, ya know? But I have something really exciting to share with you, so I'm back!

On Saturday, October 18, I will be part of a 13 member team headed to do mission work in Louisiana. Baldwin, Louisiana is the home of the Sager Brown United Methodist relief supply depot where thousands and thousands of relief supplies flow from congregations to the world.

Imagine that you've been hit with a natural disaster, like a hurricane (easy to picture here in Virginia). Maybe you've been displaced from your home. All you have are the clothes on your back. You are feeling alone (even if you are surrounded by a bunch of other people going through the same catastrophe). Now imagine a person walking up with a package that includes a wash cloth, hand towel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers...and a few other items. You get the opportunity to clean up and feel a little more human. It can change your perspective. Perhaps give you the desire to keep going.

Imagine you are a living in a poor village in Africa. You want to go to school more than anything. You know that education is the key to improving life in your village, improving life for your family. But you lack school supplies. Or what the school considers proper attire. Enter the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) school kit or sewing kit (or both!) and you have the tools you need to start that life-changing path to education.

Or perhaps you are in a third world country and pregnant. You know that your baby has less chance of surviving because of infections incurred during the birthing process. You may not even have a blanket and clothes for your newborn. Birthing kits provide necessary tools, like a sanitary razor blade to cut the cord and clean string to tie it off. Layette kits provide some basic clothing that can help a new baby survive in a challenging environment.

And I get to be a part of making that happen!! I will be working in the warehouse helping to check the kits (they have to be exactly as the customs forms indicate or the whole shipment could be seized) and pack them for shipment. The relief depot works hard to be certain there are kits ready to ship at a moment's notice. When disaster strikes, we'll be ready.

Most of the week I'll be wielding a tape gun and box cutter...but the trip is about more than just the work. I get the chance to grow closer to the team I'm traveling with - and to get to know teams from across the US. There is something amazing about being part of a group all pulling in the same direction. Which brings me to my last point...

I want you to be a part of this too! In addition to prayers and following our team's progress via my blog and the Centenary UMC Facebook...I need something tangible. I need a few more bucks to pay my way to Louisiana and back. If you can kick in $20 (or more...or less) you can send it me by mail (Chris Howell, 207 Maple Drive, Madison Heights, VA 24572), you can email me money if you have PayPal ( or you can send the money straight to Centenary United Methodist Church, 1501 Rivermont Ave., Lynchburg, VA 24503. Heck - even the church has PayPal! You can click here to go to CUMC's donation page. After you've entered your info...on the second page, please click on the "special instructions for recipient" and note that it is for the Sager Brown Mission trip - Chris Howell.

Thank you - and stay tuned to see how the trip goes! (click here if you want to see pictures from a previous trip!)

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