THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

We must find a better way to produce people in this great land of ours, and a better way to prevent and deal with bad behavior. Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting for a couple of hours with about 50 men in the maximum security prison at Jefferson City. I was there with 8 others who had gone on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. We shared the story of our trip to the men, and had a time to visit with them individually. Each time I take part in this kind of prison visitation  my heart is broken. (Bob Pearce, of World Vision, said, ” I pray that my heart may be broken by that which breaks the heart of God.”)

   These men were, of course, the “cream of the crop” of prisoners, for they had won the privilege to attend such a gathering by their good behavior. They were neatly dressed, polite, respectful, attentive, and profuse in their honor of us as veterans. They had made for each  of us a lap-robe quilt, and gave us a special card signed by many. One of the men there had helped to build PETs when he was in the facility at Moberly.

   Two young men with whom I visited said they each had “made a mistake at age 17” and were in prison for life without parole. We are paying about $30,000 a year per prisoner to keep them there, at a probable cost of $1,500,000 for their lifetime.

   The USA has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the people in jail worldwide. Other developed counties are doing a far better job of it than we.  Surely we can do better!

*** A memo from Von Driggs reports that the container of PETs we sent to El Salvador have all been distributed. A video has been made of their distribution.

*** Our container with 70 PETs and materials for wheelchairs is on the way to Guatemala. In January we will send a volunteer team to help assemble and distribute.

*** The Washington (MO) Overseas Mission is a partner with PET. They work in Honduras and have recently finished a “bodega” to house work teams and receive and distribute the materials from containers. This is similar to the one Hope Haven has in Guatemala.

*** We boxed 19 PETs today, for a total of 41 for the week.

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“All you have joy, win and must share it. Happiness was born a twin.” Lord Byron

Mel West

Never in all of human history has a 40′ hi-rise container been more fully packed than the one that left here yesterday for Hope Haven International Ministries in Guatemala.

HHIM (Rock Valley, IA) sent down a 28′ truck loaded with supplies for the making of wheelchairs in Guatemala. We unloaded it Tuesday and that FILLED our warehouse. Yesterday the 40′ container came in, and we called in our trusty team of loaders.  They put all the HHIM items and 70 boxed PETs aboard, and it was started on its journey to Guatemala. Twenty four sewing machines and a lot of fabric and over 100 boxes of bed linens were included. It was hard work, and done so cheerfully and capably by folks who knew a lot of our sisters and brothers in Guatemala would benefit. Several of them had been there.

*** Now we will plan with Mark Richards to send down a team to help assemble and distribute in January.

*** Paul Cook, Puxico, MO, came yesterday with painted wooden parts for 25 PETs. Some 50 Baptist youth had a good time painting the parts. Paul is an amazing organizer. He said he had never seen that many youth so serious as when they were painting the parts.  (See attached pictures.)

*** Thursday evening I went to Mexico, MO, to attend an annual meeting of the Altrusa Club in which they hand out checks to a number of charitable organizations. I am greatly impressed by the charitable work done by our service clubs–Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Altrusa, etc. We in the church spend a LOT of our dollars  building and maintaining buildings and paying staff. Very little is left over for work within our own communities.  These service clubs operate totally with volunteers and no buildings, and provide thousands upon thousands of dollars for community needs. PET was the only agency that received dollars to go beyond local.

*** The three United Methodist Churches at Bussey, Hamilton and Lovilia, IA, brought down a big pickup load of cut wooden parts for PETs. Those folks are continual partners with PET.

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“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” Cynthia Ozick

Mel West

 

 

I have just had a delightful afternoon here at PET, all alone, as no volunteers were scheduled.

I have been putting together a mission shipment for the folks from the Washington Overseas Mission. They will pick it up tomorrow. This mission is rather like “family” to us. A group of doctors in the Washington (MO) area have for some years been teamed up with a group of doctors in Honduras, to help meet crucial needs there. Dr. Tim and Jan Long are a part of that team. Tim was a medical student of our Dr. Roger Hofmeister, many moons ago.  Their son, Tom, while in school here, volunteered at PET.

   We have provided this mission with PETs and other items for several years, and they have held fund raising events for PET. The “package” I put together for them today included:

*** 5 child sized PETs

*** 5 adult PETs

*** 1 PULL PET

*** 1 really neat PUSH-PET, made, I think, by our Kansas Affiliate.

*** 60 boxes bed linens and blankets. (from the “container” project here)

***  28 sewing machines (4 new) with new scissors, tape, oil, needles, etc.

***  8 big boxes of really great fabric (furnished by our PET folks at Quincy, IL.

***  4 boxes of sewing notions (if you men do not know what sewing notions are, ask a woman)

   Doing this “makes my day” for I know the joy these items will bring to our sisters and brothers in Honduras.

   This is what life at its best is all about—sharing within the human family. Those of you who gave the above items (or money for them) have the joy of knowing that another child of God will live a better life because you cared. You have the joy of knowing that your existence on this Earth has made a difference to someone someplace. And we here at PET get to do what we are called to do–act as a channel for your love.

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“You cannot be holy except as you are engaged in making the world a better place.” John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church

Mel West

We here in the USA do not comprehend how very wealthy we are, and how great is our responsibility and opportunity to share that wealth with the rest of the world.

Consider these figures:

*** If you have an income of $29,000 you are among the 5% of the world’s most wealthy.

*** If you have an income of $56,000 you are among the 1% of the world’s most wealthy.

Look how we spend that wealth–

*** $705 billion for entertainment and recreation

*** $179 billion spent by teenagers

***  $ 65 billion spent for jewelry

***  $ 58 billion for state lottery tickets

*** $ 31  billion spent on pets.

***  $ 13 billion on cosmetic surgery

*** $   5 billion by all the 700 overseas Protestant missions agencies (that would include such as PET,

               Habitat, Heifer, ECHO, CWS, etc.

There are 340,000 churches in the USA. The average member gives 1/4 of a tithe. If all members just tithed that would bring in an additional $168,000,000,000. That could provide amazing assistance for those countries where our sisters and brothers struggle to exist on $1 a day, or $2 a day.

   The “gap” between the incomes in developing countries has steadily widened. Look at this:

*** 1820 – 4 to 1

*** 1913 – 11 to 1

*** 1950 – 35 to 1

*** 2008 – 80 to 1

   Take your annual income and divide it by 80 to see what you would be living on in a developing country such as those where we send PETs.

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Now look at the “other world” of poverty and despair.

*** 2,500,000,000 live on less than $2 a day, and half of them on less than $1 a day.

*** Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with persons with water related illnesses.

*** Malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS are the big three diseases. 5,000,000 a year die from these.

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We now have three things that we did not have just a few years ago:

*** AWARENESS: We KNOW the need. The media tells us about it ever day. NO EXCUSES.

*** ACCESS: With modern logistics we can deliver help anyplace needed almost overnight.

*** ABILITY: Our NGO’s such as Heifer, Habitat, ECHO, Rainbow Network, Lutheran World Relief,

                     etc. have been learning for many years how best to really help those in need. We have

                      the way.

THE BIG QUESTION IS- DO WE HAVE THE WILL?

*** WILL WE CHANGE OUR HABITS AND ATTITUDES SO AS TO SHARE MORE GENEROUSLY WITH OUR EXTENDED FAMILY IN THE THIRD WORLD?

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Readers, you have just heard my sermon preached yesterday three times in a local church here, The scripture base was the parable of the Good Samaritan. My suggestions was that we here , with our expensive and wasteful lifestyles, customs and attitudes, PASS BY daily the populations who are certainly God’s “least of these.”

    DRAMATIC CHANGE is called for and needed. The good Samaritan in the parable emptied his pocket book to help the man in need, and promised more.

    WILL WE? Will we sing “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give” and then hold church dinners so the community will help send a few dollars of help?

  I see some hope, but it is dim. We are addicted to being wealthy, and that is a powerful addiction.

We have 2 new videos posted on YouTube.  Check them out and enjoy.

  1. PET song w/slide show posted 10/09 and created by Susan and son, Brett, Williams.  Dr. Roger Hofmeister wrote the PET Song in 2006.  Dr. Jack Allison and team produced the song in 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXRBqdmNs3w
  2. New interview w/Mel by Katie Schmidt and other MU students posted 10/09.  If you’ve never met Rev. Mel West,  here’s your chance to see him.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA-Telrz4i4

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“Receive no more than you need. Give no less than you can.”

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Mel West

*** Much of the above data came from “The Hole in the Gospel,” a book I highly recommend.

When one sits in the chair in which I sit, it is always the best of news to hear that a shipment of PETs has reached its destination and all is well.

2/9/09 we shipped 145 PETs to the work of the American Leprosy Mission in Angola. 45 of the PETs were boxed and ready to assemble. The other 100 were in metal and parts, for them to cut, weld, and assemble. After a prior shipment they had established a woodworking and a metal shop. Last week we received this e-mail-which I shall brief:

   “The shipment finally arrived in Angola, in Lobito, and the custom process was terminated after many hours of discussions. We requested the goods be duty free and had the Luanda port authority approve the tax exemption.  However in Lobito the Customs were adamant that only medicines could be tax exempt.

   …the container was released on 18 August and was offloaded in Lobito…Immediate distribution was started and 6 PET tricycles went to the Rehabilitation centre and 8 will be sent to the rehab center in Lubango. The rest was transported to Luanda at FUNDA where the workshop is located.

   …PET got media attention and was praised  for being so practical. It was clearly emphasized that the PET is the result of retired workers sharing their skill and time. This has been applauded as a wonderful example of solidarity.

   … Pictures and reports will be made…I trust this will encourage you to continue praying for the Angola Leprosy work and the disabled people of Angola. With deep and heartfelt thanks..”

   –Dr. J. P. Brechet

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*** A group pf 42 senior women from the Broadway Christian Church (Columbia) will tour PET today.

*** Paul Drescher, of WI, sent us 3 heavy boxes of the heavy duty brake pads he makes. They will last forever. Thanks, Paul.

*** Venture International, a distributor for PET, has made an excellent video (Wheels of Life) showing PET distributions in the field. To view it go to >http://www.ventureint.org/multimedia.html<

***Last week Mel put this in the Update, “The PETs get a lot of show-and-tell experience. We just had a PULL-PET at the Festival of Sharing in Sedalia where 3,500 persons came from 28 faith groups.”  I’m now attaching some pictures from that event.  My husband, Andy, played photographer and booth worker/PET story teller.  By the way The Festival of Sharing is another mission project Mel started. 

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“Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with full effort. Full effort is full victory.” Gandhi

Mel West

Jim Hall and friends from Quincy, IL, brought a large batch of steering columns and brake handles and a half dozen boxes of fabric to send with PETs to Guatemala.

*** Ken and Dorothy Birrenbach brought a dozen sewing machines all ready to ship. Ken repairs them in his shop at Prairie du Chien, WI. They have been faithful supporters of PET and related projects for some years.

*** Eight pallets of wheels and tires came from Marathon.

*** Four VERY HEAVY boxes of front axles came from the Webberville United Methodist Men in MI. Fred Fischer uses the postal boxes that ship at a flat rate for all you can put in them.

*** Add Panama, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, and Kazakhstan to your list of countries for a total of 80.

*** The Guatemalan shipment has been delayed a few days. If you still have kitchenware that you can send for that shipment, please do. Mark Richard needs plastic tableware, knives, forks, spoons, bowls, pots and pans, for families who have been homeless and are setting up homes.

*** The PETs get a lot of show-and-tell experience. We just had a PULL-PET at the Festival of Sharing in Sedalia where 3,500 persons came from 28 faith groups. This weekend two PETs will be in a parade here in Columbia–Homecoming, I think it is.

*** It will be my privilege to go to Washington, D.C. next Tuesday on one of the honor flights to see the WWII Memorial- plus other sights. It is a 21 hour trip there and back in one day— very well organized and planned. Our PET board member Sarah Hill is one of the leaders in that.

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“”A thousand words can’t make the mark a single deed will leave.”  Henrik Ibsen

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Mel West

I want to share a part of an e-mail received from Chad, where we sent 205 PETs in March.

They arrived in June. Remember this is a war torn area with many refugee camps– a huge place of tragic need:

  “…I am very impressed with the quality of the PETs, and I believe that in itself also shows the care we hope to give. The people often remark on the quality of the parts and realize this is not simply a feel good gesture but a true desire to serve them and help them in the name of Jesus…

   “One thing we did find in one box was a picture of a SS class from Alaska along with some photos of Alaska. I thought this was great. In the presentation we told people about the various individuals involved and that it was our pleasure to be the hands that get to personally deliver the PETs..

   “I also appreciate the things (clothing, etc) included with the PETs. This past trip I gave them to the head lady of HIAS working in the camp because she has direct contact with the people in the camp and a data base as to needs. They were going to provide those resources to the appropriate need…This particular refugee camp has 25,000 people and I wanted to get the resources to help as many families as possible.”  Stephen McKenzie, partnering with WEC International

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Here is what that e-mail says to me:

(1) We are producing a quality product and getting it out to the places of crucial need. That is what we say we do, and that is what we do. It is not only we who say so, but also those in the field.

(2) It is important to PERSONALIZE our giving. Send along some photos of your church folks, or club folks. They especially like photos of children. Send pictures of your area–the colorful leaves or winter snow, etc. Send love notes to the recipients. Put in an envelope and send them to us. We will include.

(3) The clothing and other items we include are important to those who live on the fringes of death and in the grips of poverty. We must continue to find ways to include such.

(4) We have GOOD people out there risking their health and lives to distribute what we send. PET is an important resource and support for them.

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“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”  Author unknown.

Mel West