Mission to Haiti includes hand sewn dresses

Editor's Note: The Florida Conference continues to pray for the disaster victims in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew's impact.

Working from stacks of lightweight fabrics donated by the church, a group of women from First Inverness UMC recently sewed 76 multi-colored dresses and matching rag dolls to be delivered to children in Haiti. The kids, aged 4 to 12, needed the clothing to attend school.

The children of Mike Shirley, a retired pastor of the Florida Conference, are missionaries in Haiti with Happy Kids International. Rachael and Kris Coleman came to Inverness last December to visit their parents.

“Mike asked if they could give a presentation during a worship service. I asked them to do the whole service,” said Sarah Campbell, pastor at First Inverness. She wanted her congregation “to be exposed to the ministry and missions and to help God with His work around the world.

“My congregation became inspired,” she said.

The Colemans shared images and gave a sermon describing their unique experiences. The Inverness congregation soon formed its own mission trip to Haiti.

Unable to join a mission trip to Haiti, a group of volunteers sewed dresses and matching rag dolls for children. Displaying some of their work are left to right, Bev Raynor, Carole Fletcher and Vera Persechino of First Inverness UMC.

“It was amazing to see how the congregation lit up with God’s spirit and how they really identified with this particular project,” Rev. Campbell said.
The elderly at the church, unable to join the trip, formed the idea of sewing dresses and dolls as their contribution. The seamstresses also collected over $600 from the congregation to purchase rice and beans, according to Campbell.

“I feel that everyone in the church participated in the Haiti trip,” Campbell said.

Happy Kids International and church mission participants from First Inverness went door-to-door to distribute the food. The mission also included construction projects and a vacation Bible school.

“A goal of the church is to hopefully continue an ongoing relationship with Happy Kids International,” Rev. Campbell said.

“We do a lot of local missions and soup kitchens and work with the homeless in Citrus County, but we have never done anything on a global scale. This is the first,” she said.

Inverness First UMC has been an active church for 144 years.

--Brenda Eggert Brader is a freelance writer based in Winter Haven

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