Monday, January 4, 2016

{Guest Blogger} Ken & Christy Lowe, Grace UMC

On July 14, 2015, the mission team from Grace UMC landed on the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas. First stop was the Mission House in the small, quaint town of Tarpum Bay. After dropping off our over-stuffed bags we drove 30 miles south to the isolated settlement of Deep Creek.

We couldn’t wait to meet with John Pinder, who oversees the church building project, and to see the progress they have made during the year since we were last here. This is the third year we have helped with the construction of the Deep Creek Methodist Church. Our first year here we helped fill in the foundation and pour the concrete floor. Last year we worked on the roof and this year our goal was to purchase and install 21 windows and lay about 400 block on the gable ends of the church.

We consider our mission 50% construction and 50% bonding with and drawing the community to the church. Two other ministries we have, besides construction, are the tennis shoe ministry and the church carnival, held on Saturday.

We distributed the 100 pairs of tennis shoes that Grace Church members graciously donated. Driving through the community with our guide, Rema, it was fun to see some of the same children and adults we met last year. Twin boys who received their first pair of shoes last year, got a new pair this year. They are now active toddlers, full of smiles and laughter. Many people were still wearing the shoes they received last year and were so happy to replace their worn ones for a fresh, new pair. It is hard to describe the appreciation expressed by moms and children for the gift of new shoes.

This was the second year we held a church carnival. Word spread quickly that fun, games, prizes, food, and music were part of the event at the church site. Our games were simple: pin the steeple on the church, fishing, bean bag toss, face painting, and the most challenging – drum stick toss. The most popular activity was the cross painting. Team member Jerry Hancock made at least 100 hand held wooden crosses to be painted and decorated. About 150 people of all ages attended and all had a great time.

We invited the Island School to join us. They offer a high school program for students from around the world to study marine ecology for a semester along with research scientists. The school is self-sufficient and also offers summer camps for local kids. They also provide jobs for many in the nearby settlements. One of their goals is to encourage harvesting of lion fish, which are an invasive species in the Bahamas and US waters, so the students and their instructors provided delicious lion fish fritters for everyone at the carnival! Everyone who came was invited to church the next day.

On Monday we were back to work, shoveling, and sifting sand to make mortar, and carrying block to lay them. By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted and ready for a swim.
After two days of peanut butter and honey sandwiches (our lunch staple for the past sixteen years on mission trips), our Bahamian friends asked the local women to provide lunch and what a treat for all of us! They are all great cooks and each meal was delicious!

Over the last three years of Americans and Bahamians working together in the community, the trust, respect and love of Christ has become so strong. As Scripture says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name I will be there also (Matthew 18:20). Truly, the great love of Christ is the motivational force that keeps us coming back in mission.

Wednesday morning came too quickly. Walking to our thirteen passenger plane brought tears to everyone’s eyes. It was hard to believe that we were going home so soon. But we all hope to return next year and continue the work we had begun. With the grace of God and through the generosity of our church family, Grace United Methodist Church, we will see the Deep Creek Methodist Church open its doors to that community in praise of God.

We love to hear your UMVIM stories! If you are interested in writing a Guest Blog for UMVIM, SEJ, please contact Malinda (