Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Mena Star - March 11, 2004

Seventh Day Adventists build church in Belize

Members of the Mena Seventh Day Adventist Church have recently spread goodwill afar by traveling to Belize, Central America, to build a church for the residents of the San Pedro area.

Spokesman Richard Lawry said he and a group of friends from the church had gone on a vacation in the spring of 2003.

"It was a great vacation but we came away realizing how much we have here and how little they have there. We wanted to do something to help but we didn't know exactly what," Lawry said. "Shortly after our vacation, Don and Minnie Johnson moved to this area and started attending our church. They had spent a year living in Belize on an island off the coast called Caye Caulker. They suggested going to Belize and helping there. That's how it all began."

Lawry said the members of the church jumped on the idea and after much planning, money-raising and preparation, it culminated in the journey to Belize and the building of a church in San Pedro.

"There were 17 of us who made the trip down," Lawry explained. "We bought the building materials there, and assisted the locals in the construction of the church. It was hard work but very rewarding. We owe a special thanks to Don and Minnie for going down in advance and arranging permission with the government, and supervising the pouring of a concrete slab prior to our arrival."

In addition, Troy Morrison, a nurse anesthetist at Mena Medical Center, was able to arrange the donation and transportation of an anesthesia machine from Mena Medical Center to La Loma Luz Hospital in Santa Elena, Belize.

"Troy knew of an anesthesia machine that wasn't being used by the hospital and he spoke with MMC Administrator Vince DeFranco about donating it," Lawry explained. "Mr. DeFranco agreed to the donation and it was shipped down prior to our trip. Troy had the distinct pleasure of seeing his machine being put to use at La Loma Luz Hospital."

Lawry added that all of the money to build the church in San Pedro was raised exclusively through the generosity of the Mena Seventh Day Adventist Church. He added it was a most rewarding experience for all.

"This was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done, and I would do it again in a heartbeat," Lawry added. "I came back a different person and I know the others were affected the same way. We had a chance to get to know these people: they became our friends, and we knew the conditions we left them in, which makes it all the more poignant."

Lawry said there are plans on the horizon to return: the Belize government has promised his church a plot of land on Caye Caulker for a second church. He says, God willing, they'll return to do it again.

this article originally appeared in the March 11, 2004 Mena Star

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