by: Rev. Joanna Dietz
Rev. Joanna Dietz is an ordained deacon serving as the Minister of Music at St. George’s United Methodist. Here she shares about and reflects on a recent mission trip she took with church members to UMCOR’s Sager Brown.
We exited the plane, excited to be in mission. Our rental cars took us to a remote area of Louisiana, swallowed by swamps and bayous. The silence of this remote location after the cacophony sounds of our suburban life washed tranquility over our spirits – especially as we stepped out onto the gazebo over the Bayou Teche. We had safely made it to UMCOR’s (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Sager Brown Depot. This is a magical place. Here is where thousands of kits come to be checked and packed and sent out to foreign countries and places right down the street, giving hope to those whose hope has been buried in the rubble of war, poverty, natural disasters, and chaos.
On the first full day, Kathy Krazia, the Executive Director of UMCOR’s Sager Brown shared with us that a flood bucket with a few cleaning supplies was not going to make a huge dent in the clean up after devastating floods rushed through homes. But it would be a bucket full of hope and promise that this person was not alone facing destruction.
But UMCOR Sager Brown is not just about sending kits around the world. One of the things I value most about coming to this tiny town in the middle of rural Louisiana is seeing how this community impacts the lives around their town.
Not only does Sager Brown send kits to countries I can’t pronounce and flood buckets throughout the United States, Sager Brown is in relationship with the community in which it finds itself. I’ve done some home improvement projects, fed the hungry, visited a battered women’s and children’s shelter, and cleaned homes for the elderly in this community. Everywhere you go, people have a story to share.
Sager Brown has roots as an orphanage, but the school was so good that children from around St. Mary’s Parish would send their children there for a better education. Sager Brown prepared these children in a rural, poor area of our country with a strong education for their futures. I have been in the community driving the Sager Brown truck around. People honk, wave, or stop and share their stories when you are out in that truck, knowing that you are there to help replace windows, fix dilapidated floors, or paint dry wooden house exteriors.
Sager Brown makes a difference in their community. Mission is not just about what can be done far away from home. Mission is living in relationship with your neighbors next door. Mission is knowing the hurts and horrors of the world around you and responding to those cries for help.
This is a lesson to bring back to our homes. Going away for mission opportunities is not bad. Coming home from missions and doing nothing is. Sager Brown teaches that mission opportunities are everywhere. And we are encouraged to find ways to be in relationship with our neighbors. Some of those neighbors are ones we will never meet, being served with a flood bucket or a school kit of learning. But others are right next door, longing for relationships that connect them to something larger than themselves. The question is, how are you sharing your bucket of hope?
You can learn more about UMCOR Sager Brown at: www.umcor.org