Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Feb. 12, 2001

Winsted mother, son going on Jamaican mission trip

By Patrice Salmon

Plans are underway for Pam Fiecke of rural Winsted, and her son Brandon, a ninth grader at Holy Trinity School, to assist in a Christian medical mission trip to Carron Hall, Jamaica.

The Fieckes will be travelling with a group of about 42 from the Evangelical United Church of Christ in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

The pastor of the church, the Rev. Loren Boettcher is an uncle to the Fieckes. Boettcher's daughter and son-in-law, Hope, a registered nurse, and Steve Botwinski a pharmacist with an extensive knowledge of computers, are also members of the Christian Medical Team board.

Members of the Missouri church, and those assisting in the mission trip will travel to a rural farming village located in a mountainous area 25 miles inland from the coast.

The group will provide health assessments, dental care, minor surgical procedures, first aid, medication, basic eye exams, and fitting for eyeglasses.

Team members include lay people, ministers, respiratory therapists, dental assistants, pharmacists, nurses, and doctors.

There are 15 churches from three states combining their efforts to make the trip possible.

Because of the tropical location and the medical scope of the trip, preparations have been extensive.

Collecting items to bring with them has been a large task in itself. After agreeing to become part of the team, members are asked what they would like to collect.

Pam and Brandon were given about two months to collect hygiene products, clothes, and school supplies. They decided to leave the acquisition of medicine and medical supplies to those more qualified, and with more knowledge of what items were needed.

The response to their collection efforts was excellent, said Pam.

"The large corporations treat you like gold," she said. She received donations from Wal-Mart, Cash Wise, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Applebee's, Shopko, Super Valu, Target, and more.

Some places give a check for a certain amount with instructions to buy what is needed, she continued.

The Target store management has requested a story for its store newsletter.

Pam also anticipates doing a presentation after her trip, as a way of informing the community of how things went, and as a thank-you for the support she's received.

Brandon hopes to do a similar presentation as part of a class project. While away from school, Pam will serve as his teacher.

While they were in the collecting stage, Holy Trinity Church and the Winsted Public Library served as drop-off points. Boxes of items were also dropped off at her workplace, and left on her porch.

Once collected, the items were counted, labeled as to what the item was, and what state it came from, and boxed for shipment.

A list of items was also supplied to the National Guard, and all boxes would be rechecked before being shipped to Jamaica.

According to Pam, her kitchen was her place of operation. Boxes surrounded the kitchen table for two months while items were sorted and boxes were labeled.

Boxes were gathered at Pam's workplace, Sterner lighting, and brought home every day to be filled.

Pam's other family members were involved too.

"My boys would haul the filled boxes outside to one of the big sheds. The boxes were put on skids, and then covered with plastic," Pam said.

A U-haul truck was sent by the team in Missouri to transport the boxed items back to the home church in Missouri.

"The team from Missouri was astounded by the large number of items collected in Minnesota," commented Pam.

Along with collected items to take with them, Pam and Brandon also held fundraisers to collect money for other expenditures, such as medicine and items not collected.

Brandon raised money for the trip by working at Stearns Country Boy Scout Camp last summer. He hopes to earn Boy Scout Credit and learn from his experience.

Minutes from the monthly meetings were sent to Pam, to keep her abreast of the teams' progress, fundraising ideas, and others planning ideas.

"The minutes helped calm my expectations, as their fundraisers were just like those I'd held here," said Pam.

"It was neat to see what types of things they did to raise money," she continued.

Once the commitment to go on the trip was made, and preparations for the donations where completed, Pam and Brandon had to prepare things for themselves.

Each person traveling to Jamaica needed a passport, duplicate copies of birth certificates, driver licenses, social security cards, marriage licenses, complete shot records, and all medical insurance cards.

Those medical professionals who would be be providing medical care also needed certification records of their professional status.

The group will be gone from April 16 to 24, and will fly on its own Northwest Airlines plane.

Pam and Brandon plan on working 10 hours a day, and will probably help more than 1,000 people. In 1999, a similar group helped 1,200 people in only four days.

"We will be working with the whole person - body, mind, and soul," she said.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but she would like to go on another mission trip if Holy Trinity would have something to offer, explained Pam.

The group from the main church in Missouri will be in charge of preparing the church in Jamaica to serve as a medical area. Computers will be installed, and a satellite hookup will be made for the volunteers to call home.

"I feel that all 42 of us are holding hands, envisioning the same goal and going forward with desire, courage, commitment, challenge, and hope that our time, talents,and efforts make a beneficial impact on the people in Jamaica," said Pam.

The Jamaican people are aware of our upcoming trip. "Word has been received, that the people are overwhelmed with tears of joy, as they wait for our arrival," said Pam.

Pam is the Sunday School coordinator for Holy Trinity Church in Winsted. While collecting items for the mission trip, the Sunday School students also helped with the project.

A special contribution came from Florence Kuhlmann, who, at the age of 80, wanted to make one more commitment of her sewing talents to help someone in need.

Florence made and contributed three full-sized quilts, donating them to the mission cause.

"I was honored with this blessing," said Fiecke.

"She did a wonderful job and we were very happy this was her choice," Pam continued. "Florence is an angel from up above," said Pam.

Contributions to the mission cause are still welcome. "The hands that touch the heart feed the soul of others in need," concluded Fiecke.

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