Daily News: March 18, 2008

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(March 18, 2008) — The following reflection was written by Mary Lou Garrison for “Lighten UP, Brethren!” a list serv offering support for wellness and healthy living. Garrison directs the Wellness Ministry of the Church of the Brethren. She reflects on a workcamp held in the village of Los Ranchos, Honduras, where earlier this year two groups of 20 people worked for 10 days each, led by Bill Hare, manager of the Church of the Brethren’s Camp Emmaus in Mt. Morris, Ill. This was the fourth time a group from the US has worked in the village. The first workcamp there was led by former Brethren Witness director David Radcliff. The sponsoring agency Christian Solidarity Program, is based in Honduras. Building projects have included building a clinic, latrines for many families, and this year 14 cement-block houses.

“Having just returned from a work mission trip to Honduras, I have a renewed appreciation for the variations in the concept of community.

“We were quite a mixture: a core group from the Midwest, young people from northern Honduras, masons from nearby villages in southern Honduras, a gentleman originally from Thailand (and a former Chicago resident now living in northern Honduras), all blended with the local villagers to focus on one goal–building houses.

“We were told early in our time that everyone would likely find their ‘niche,’ that particular job that they did best. No one assigned tasks nor did we find that people said, ‘I can only carry rocks, nothing else.’ If people really thought they had a niche, I doubt that many of us could have identified what they were. Rather, if something needed to be done most anyone would jump in and do it.

“It might not have been the most efficient way to approach the project, but it did lead to an appreciation of each other as we tried out walking in another’s shoes. The variety of skill sets, personalities, varying abilities in speaking Spanish, and personal needs all faded into the background–for the most part! There was a strong sense that we were actively being the hands and feet of Christ in that setting, and that combined we were accomplishing something good.

“How easy it is to forget that we are stronger when mixed together and focused on a mission! We can be a hearty people in our communities, our churches, our places of employment, and in our families–with a little more ‘we’ and a little less ‘I need.’”

Garrison’s reflection closed with a recipe for “Hearty Mixed-Grain Pancakes,” which she presented as “a gathering of whole grains to make something greater than the sum of its parts. It is the perfect beginning to a day of shoveling snow or building community.” For more about the Wellness Ministry and “Lighten UP, Brethren!” go to www.brethren.org/abc/health.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Leslie Lake contributed to this report. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.