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Giving gifts of the heart

By Staff | Feb 21, 2010

Above, left to right, Greg Johnson, David Nagel, Jan Pettit (Minneapolis), Lois Abel, Maggie Johnson, Florence Hacklander, Vicki and A.B. Russ.

Seven Hope United Methodist Church members from Blue Earth recently spent two weeks doing ‘hands-on’ humanitarian relief work in Louisiana.

While there, they learned by giving of their time, they were also giving gifts from their heart.

Annually, more than 3,000 volunteers go to the United Methodist-related Sager Brown Depot in Louisiana to process disaster relief supplies. This year, Greg and Maggie Johnson, David Nagel, Lois Abel, Florence Hacklander and Vicki and A.B. Russ, comprised the team from Blue Earth who traveled by van and car to Baldwin, La.

This is the fourth year the local team has participated in the mission work at the Sager Brown Depot. However, the importance of mission work has been growing in the hearts of the Blue Earth congregation with the help of the Rev. Wane Souhrada’s leadership.

“The church (Hope United Methodist) now has a strong mission team headed by Gail Keck,” says Maggie Johnson. “We believe having a personal involvement in mission work keeps the missions alive; unlike when there is no effort put forth other than just writing a check.”

Maggie Johnson

She also believes a healthy church is one which does things for others and is not strictly focussed on itself.

Hence, the importance of mission work.

From Jan. 22-Feb. 6, the seven local residents from Hope United Methodist, worked in the large warehouse depot which stores supplies for various relief needs around the world. They were kept busy in local community outreach projects doing repair work in homes and by working in the warehouse itself, packaging health kits, birthing kits, layettes, school kits and in the case of Florence Hacklander, manning the telephone for all the incoming calls from people wishing to donate to disaster relief in Haiti.

The UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) Sager Brown Depot is the headquarters for their relief supply operations. Approximately $4 million in supplies are shipped each year from the campus. Volunteers, such as the local seven, make these shipments happen.

Born out of the ashes of the Civil War, and reborn in the the fury of Hurricane Andrew, the Louisiana campus is a well-spring of spiritual renewal and hope.

Through the years, Sager Brown has been a center of mission. In 1867, it was a school and orphanage for African American children. It later became a well-known and highly respected community school which specialized in printing.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.