If there is such a thing as catching the missions bug, two young ladies at First Baptist Church, Clinton have got it bad. Ashley Hartsoe and Ashley Faircloth have joined forces to be a part of the church’s missions team. They have traveled to Haiti, Pennsylvania and Kentucky and are making plans to go on more mission trips in the future.
Hartsoe is 24 and is a senior at Mount Olive College. Faircloth is 31 and works with Southern Bank and is engaged to Justin Lee.
They have traveled to Haiti twice, Kentucky once and Faircloth to Pennsylvania once and Hartsoe twice.
“I was uninvolved and a bit shy, but when Ashley came back from her first trip to Pennsylvania and talked about how great it was and how much fun she had ministering to those people I felt I had to find a way to get involved,” shared Faircloth. “Ashley called me when she was working to organize a second trip to Coatsville, Pa. and I decided it was time to go.”
While in Pennsylvania, the group worked on a house that was being built to house mission teams visiting the area near the Amish country. They also held Vacation Bible School for several small churches in the area and did landscaping and minor repairs to some of the churches.
“We visited a community with a family that was so poor. It is really an eye-opening experience to see what is happening here in the United States. We were able to minister to them and give them food and other items they badly needed,” expressed Hartsoe.
Their first trip to Haiti was in November 2010 just after the earthquake. The two ladies shared that it was very dangerous because so much violence and unrest was evident and everywhere.
“We had to stay in a guarded camp for protections, and there were three gates to go through to get to where we stayed. It was scary but we knew we had a mission to do,” stressed Hartsoe.
Due to the mass destruction caused by the earthquake, cholera was everywhere and the team made cholera beds for victims of the disease, many who were so weak they could not get out of bed.
The trip was part of the Eastern Baptist Association’s efforts to assist in Haiti.
“We built tarp houses that were wood and had a tin roof but they were very small, only about 10 by 10 feet. They would hold two bunk beds and as many as 16 people per very small house,” explained Hartsoe.
In October 2011, the team returned to Haiti and helped to build cinder block houses that were permanent. They also had a chance to witness to the people of Haiti who, they noted, were very caught up in voodoo.
“Thanks to donations from several businesses and individuals in Clinton we had over 130 evangelistic soccer balls to pass out. For Haitians, a soccer ball is a valuable item. “The balls were the colors of the Christian plan of salvation and it gave us an opportunity to share about Jesus while also giving them something they knew about and wanted,” stated Faircloth. “You would have thought we were giving them new iPads.”
The mission trips, the women said, offered a glimpse into another world and gave them more appreciation for their own.
“We are so blessed here in America. Being able to travel on these mission trips has helped us both, as well as the other members of the teams we have been with, to become humble and more appreciative of the many, many blessings we have here. We take so much for granted and often do not see how much God has given to us. It is amazing to see these people that have so little but they are happy, appreciative people. All they want it to know someone cares for them and just want to touch us,” expressed Hartsoe.
These young ladies have made a commitment to go on a least one mission trip each year. They shared that they have been touched by God to do this ministry and will be working through the EBA as the missions committee coordinators.
“One little girl in Haiti was so appreciative of the new pair of flip-flops we were able to give her she just beamed. However, she would not let go of her old pair, either. She held them tight in her hand and took them home with her. Even though they were very worn we assumed she was going to use the old shoes as everyday wear or share them with a younger brother or sister. It was funny but sad at the same time. If it was one of us we would have just tossed them in the trash but she saw value in the old shoes,” cited Hartsoe.
On the trip to Kentucky, the mission team worked to help small churches with aging congregations. The ladies power washed the steps and help to paint the handrails. They also cleaned areas that needed to be cleaned and made some minor repairs. Landscaping was also a part of the projects they completed while there.
“I think one of the most moving things we did while we were in the ‘Holler’ was to visit a secluded trailer park. The people there were so poor. We held a block party and put on a puppet show. We gave the children salvation dolls. It was really an experience I was not expecting…to see such poverty in America,” remarked Faircloth. “We have been blessed to be able to share the love of Jesus and to share that others do care about them. This is what missions is all about,” added Faircloth.
The costs for these mission trips are high. Fortunately the church has assisted with the costs to Haiti but the ladies have paid their own way on the other smaller trips. They are planning another trip to Haiti in the near future and covet prayers and any donations to further God’s work to so many people in need around the world.