ON A MISSION: Harvest United Methodist Church group embarking on trip to Angola

MANATEE — A seven-member team from Harvest United Methodist Church is preparing to embark on 13-day mission trip to Angola, an African nation still recovering from a 25-year civil war that ended in 2002.

“After the war, 50 percent of the population was under the age of 15. There is a whole missing generation,” said Rev. Catherine Fluck Price, who co-pastors the church with her husband, Steven.

During Harvest’s visit to Malange, Angola, Feb. 8-21, team members plan to work to improve the lives of girls in an orphanage, which is without electricity, adequate bedding, or screens on windows to keep out malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

There are holes in the roof, through which the sky can be seen.

“The conditions are deplorable,” Price said.

Members of the United Methodist Church in Florida have been sending teams of missionaries to Angola for several years.

One of the things that attracted Harvest members to volunteer for this work is the continuing and long-term nature of the mission.

Rather than being a one-shot affair, the mission work is ongoing, said Barrie Wilkie, one of the church members who will be making the journey.

“I really like this project. I like the church’s commitment to support the church in Angola,” Wilkie said.

“We will be working hand-in-hand with the people in Angola. We will be blessed as much, if not more so, than the girls in the orphanage,” Wilkie said.

Another mission member, Diane McCoy of University Place, said this will be her trip outside the United States.

“I think it will be a wonderful experience to develop relationships with these girls,” McCoy said. “Part of the joy of going on a mission trip is you never know how you will be touched.”

Both women said they were inspired to volunteer for the mission by Rev. Steven Price’s accounts of what he saw and experienced in Angola.

“I wanted to be part of that, to spread the word of God and share the love of God with these children,” McCoy said.

Other members of the mission team include the Prices’ 16-year-old daughter, Shelby; Mike Kennedy; Tony Gowgiel and Brian Lacina.

They hope to build and expand relationships with members of the Angolan church and to share their faith, in addition to working to improve the orphanage building.

Each of the girls, ages 6 to 17, will receive netting to place over their new beds. Windows, which are boarded up, leaving interior dark day and night, will receive screens.

Mission members have received a variety of vaccinations against everything from yellow fever to typhoid and will be taking pills to guard against malaria.

They have been warned not to drink the water, or even come in contact with it, and to stay on the “beaten path” to avoid mines left over from the war.

Price believes she and her husband were led to Angola through Brazil.

Both countries are former Portuguese colonies.

In 1996, the Prices at- tended a Methodist con- ference in Brazil where they met a young girl without family named Iris Feliciano.

“When we left there, we felt we were supposed to do something,” Price said.

Eventually, Iris came to stay with the Prices and was eventually adopted by another family in the United States.

She is now married and living in New York.

“What God is doing is wrapping all of this together,” Price said.

Barrie Wilkie, a charter member at Harvest, said there is nothing better than knowing that you are loved, and the mission wants to convey one message: “God loves you.”

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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