“I think everybody who is born has a desire to leave a mark, and this is an opportunity to make a real impact, a real difference — even if it extends beyond your local reach.”
— Daniel Roe, Mission Teams Council Chair
Wake up, eat, go to work, eat, sleep. Repeat. This is all part of a typical day in the life of an American adult. On an average day in 2014, Americans age 15 and over spent their time on sleep, sports and leisure, work, household chores, caring for others, and various activities such as eating and shopping. Unfortunately, research shows that this is not the norm in all countries.
In Kenya, 42 percent of the population of 44 million live below the poverty line (compared to 14.5 percent of more than 45 million people in the United States), making access to basic quality services such as health care, education, clean water, and sanitation a luxury for many people. An estimated 3.6 million Kenyan children under age 18 are orphans or vulnerable, impacting their well-being and development. And in Costa Rica, although it has one of the highest standards of living in the Americas, profound poverty still affects many people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, including children who are at risk of exposure to child prostitution, drug abuse, and gang violence.
That’s why the FUMCFW International Mission Teams travel to these countries each year to fulfill our mission — to love God, serve people, and transform lives — here, there, and everywhere we can. The Kenya Orphan Endeavor provides children with school uniforms and tuition, supporting educational opportunities that improve their chances for a brighter future. The Costa Rica Ministry is committed to growing the Methodist Church and serving those in need — so far through the construction of a church, medical clinic, parsonage, and children’s home. And this fall, our church will join forces with FUMC Hurst for a medical mission trip to Panama. Here’s a closer look at some members of our Mission Teams Council: the people behind this ministry that helps others throughout the world.
Daniel Roe, the Council Chair
FUMCFW Mission Teams Council Chair Daniel Roe went on our 2010 Kenya Mission Trip with eight others. They toured schools and visited churches, and on their last day they sat down as a team to select 250 orphans and vulnerable children to help. They started out by offering money to purchase school uniforms, and then one thing led to another. “What we didn’t realize was that we committed to supporting those same children through their education,” Daniel points out. “So part of our problem has been our success in that some of those children who would not have gone to school at all are going to high school.” As a result, the financial obligation has grown higher each year and the money raised through our church is vital in supporting it. Daniel adds that, on top of monetary support, our team is there to establish a presence with the children. Every year we lead a Vacation Bible School type of experience in which the younger kids learn and the older kids help.
Daniel remembers that as a kid he had always thought it would be rewarding to get a college degree and then have the resources to help others get through school. He says that he had forgotten this dream until he was back home and suddenly realized that’s what he was doing in Kenya. That was Daniel’s first mission trip, first time in Africa, first journey south of the equator, and first experience in a third-world country. Although he only spent a little over a week in Kenya, Daniel returned with a new outlook.
He says that he was sitting at his desk one day after returning from Kenya when a strong feeling came over him, causing him to question what he was doing here rather than there. “I don’t know where the feeling came from or what I thought I was supposed to be doing over there, but I felt like that’s where I was supposed to be,” he recalls. “The feeling passed but it was very powerful.” When Rev. Page Hines formed the Mission Teams Council in 2014 and asked Daniel to chair it, that was his answer to continue serving from afar.
Sharon West, the Spanish Teacher
New council member Sharon West has been on our Costa Rica Mission Trip for the last four years and plans to go again this year. In Costa Rica, the Methodist Church was originally founded in 1917, and it has been growing and expanding rapidly since the late 20th century. FUMCFW teams as well as teams from other U.S. Methodist churches have worked over the last 10 years to construct what Sharon calls a “beautiful new church building,” its adjoining medical clinic, and most recently an attached parsonage. They have also brought Vacation Bible School activities to residents of outlying congregations in that part of north central Costa Rica. In 2006, a Methodist Children’s Home was started just outside the capital city of San Jose. “Currently this is a loving home to 24 small children,” Sharon says. “Thanks to labor and materials donated by mission teams, it is now able to provide a nurturing, family-style environment for children who would otherwise have no home.”
Due to her involvement with the trips, along with her education and love for it, Sharon taught Spanish classes at FUMCFW in 2013. “The class was offered to benefit not only those participating with the Costa Rica Mission Team, but also those serving at our First Street Mission — or for any other reason!” she exclaims. “We had a good attendance and I loved doing it.”
While she has only served on the Mission Teams Council for less than a year and doesn’t have much experience yet, Sharon says that she has learned a lot so far. As she sees it, the best thing about participating is the opportunity to get the “bigger picture” when it comes to our church’s support and funding of all missions. “We are a large church with a lot of resources, which position affords a lot of opportunity for meaningful service in our world,” Sharon adds, “and I consider it an honor to be able to participate in exploring possibilities and making decisions to help direct our resources to their best and most meaningful use.”
Wesley Alderete, the Medical Professional
Although Dr. Wesley Alderete has not participated in the Kenya or Costa Rica mission trips, he was a youth counselor for about 10 years and has been on several youth mission trips. As a Mission Teams Council member, Dr. Alderete is well-informed of our many other missions. “Serving on the council helps to familiarize me with the multitude of ways, both near and far, to participate in mission opportunities,” he says. “I enjoy the collegial atmosphere and meeting with other like-minded church members.” Dr. Alderete went on a medical mission trip to Mexico with FUMC Hurst, and church members who are in the medical profession like him will be extremely helpful on our future trips.
The Council at Large
There are many reasons that mission trips aren’t in the cards for everyone. Factors such as cost and time off work limit our number of trip participants. However, you don’t have to go on a mission trip to make a difference through this ministry. In fact, the Mission Teams Council is looking for new members who have not been on past trips. This helps us blend passion from experience (like Daniel’s powerful Kenya awakening) with clear visions for the big picture (like new opportunities through Sharon’s Spanish or Dr. Alderete’s medical skills). “When we first formed the council it was good to have people on it who witnessed firsthand what is going on over there,” Daniel explains. “That experience generates passion about what we’re doing. On the other hand, it can be difficult to put aside passion for a particular mission and be an advocate for the overall purpose of the council.”
Sharon agrees that those who serve in the field tend to have strong feelings around their particular mission and adds that having non-participants involved will bring a more balanced perspective to the council’s deliberations and decisions — which she believes is a good thing in the end. “We need everyone’s input, everyone’s good will and energy, so that working together we can determine how to utilize our many resources to our best advantage,” she says. “Then we can go out and share blessings in many places — whether down the street or around the world.”
Originally one leader was managing the Costa Rica Mission Trip while another was in charge of the Kenya Mission Trip, and they both had different ideas. As Daniel puts it, “We needed to manage the two together to see that we had apples and apples. The purpose of the council is to try to turn this apple and this orange into a similar plan to ensure that all our mission trips are managed as a whole, and what works for one works for others.” Plus, there are other opportunities besides these two mission trips. For instance, the mission teams assist with local disaster relief and we have the future medical mission trips in the works. It’s up to the council to investigate these opportunities, vet them, and decide whether or not they comply with our philosophy before presenting them to the congregation.
According to Daniel, the best part about serving on the council is keeping our missions alive and ensuring that they continue. And regardless of whether that is accomplished by sitting on the council for a couple of hours each month or committing to the big trips, it is a powerful way to change lives. “I think everybody who is born has a desire to leave a mark, and this is an opportunity to make a real impact, a real difference — even if it extends beyond your local reach,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to make a mark here in our community, but to be able to reach halfway around the world and touch another life is pretty phenomenal.”
If you would like to join the Mission Teams Council, contact Rev. Page Hines (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 817/339-5063.