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United Methodists keep on giving to quake survivors

Audiologist Gilbert C. Hanke tests a Haitian girl’s hearing during a mission trip.
A UMNS file photo courtesy of United Methodist Men.

A UMNS Report
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

Jan. 21, 2010

Like unconditional love, giving spurs giving.

As they hear the cries for help from the people of Haiti, United Methodists are offering prayers, sending condolences to the families of victims, giving generously to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, packing health kits and planning to participate in rebuilding efforts as soon as conditions permit.

Philip Bandy

Philip Bandy, interim director of Volunteers in Mission for the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference, said he shared in a Sunday service the stories of the Revs. Sam Dixon and Clinton Rabb, two mission leaders who died of injuries received in the quake.

“And five people came forward to commit to doing mission work,” Bandy said. The volunteers included a Peace Corps veteran experienced in trauma care.

Volunteers vow to return

Seasoned volunteers pledged to return to Haiti as soon as feasible.

Ten men from Pilgrim United Methodist Church, St. Johns, Mich., were in Haiti when the earthquake struck. They had just finished pouring a concrete floor for a church and were traveling to Port-au-Prince for the night when the earthquake occurred.

“All of a sudden, the pickup truck started doing strange things, jumping up and down, rocking back and forth,” Howard Williams recalled. “The chaos of people running up and down the street you can’t describe.”

The men returned safely home Jan. 17, but they plan to return soon.

Gilbert C. Hanke, newly elected general secretary of United Methodist Men, has made 20 mission trips to Haiti. The audiologist from Nacogdoches, Texas, has provided 1,000 hearing aids to Haitian children in several schools for the deaf.

“Watching children hear for the first time is the most wonderful reward anyone could receive,” Hanke said.

He has no word on the schools or the children, but he has informed the Texas Annual Conference that he would like to be included in the first rebuilding team from that conference.

Donations pour in

With more than $2 million in donations received by Jan. 20, UMCOR already has provided emergency grants to the Methodist Church of Haiti and GlobalMedic, a Canadian relief agency, to address immediate needs.

United Methodists across the connection are assembling critically needed health kits.

United Methodist volunteers are assembling health kits for Haiti.
A UMNS photo courtesy of UMCOR.

“We just finished loading a truck with 22,848 health kits,” said the Rev. Brian Diggs, director of the UMCOR West Office and Depot. “That pretty much cleaned out our supply. We’ve issued a plea for more health kits to the annual conferences of the Western Jurisdiction.”

The nine days since the earthquake have been anything but typical, he added. “Usually we have 10 to 20 volunteers come from a church for a week. This week we’ve been swamped—with 300 to 400 volunteers. They’ve done a phenomenal job. It’s been wonderful. We had so many volunteers that Monday we had to stop production because we were out of materials.”

Meanwhile, the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., has 68,000 health kits in their inventory. They expect 30,000 more by the end of next week. Their next big need will be for layette kits and school kits. They will send health kits as soon as they receive authorization from Haiti.

“Out of death,” Bandy said, “the buds are already beginning to bloom.”

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


Photos from team in Haiti

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