2016 Sager Brown Mission Trip
Neither heat, nor mosquitoes (the size of small birds), nor heavy cleaning buckets could keep an intrepid team of 16 adult volunteers from Plymouth Park and Walnut Hill UMCs — plus a few extra friends — from a week of hard work and good times at Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana.
The mission team, led by our own Rev. Dr. Rusty Hedges, left the PPUMC parking lot early on Labor Day morning for a very rainy trip across Texas and down to near the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to volunteer at Sager Brown, headquarters for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) supply operations. Our team was one of many traveling to Sager Brown and a second UMCOR depot in Salt Lake City, Utah, to prepare relief supplies to help in both natural and human-generated disasters.
Due to recent catastrophic floods in Louisiana and other places in the U.S., cleaning buckets, also known as flood buckets, were a major task for the team. Our main responsibility was to go through flood buckets donated by churches and others to ensure that they were properly assembled. Note to future volunteers: Many of them were not. It is important to be attentive to the precise instructions provided by UMCOR when assembling any kind of relief kit.
One thing we learned is the difference between a cellulose sponge and sponges that meet the standard. Cellulose sponges contain moisture and can ruin an entire bucket in short order. To use a technical term, there is nothing yuckier than a moldy, stinky flood bucket.
Another task was to help load two containers, the big ones that go on 18-wheel trucks, rail cars and container ships, bound for Odessa — meaning the Odessa in the Ukraine. You would be proud of our team’s hard work and sometimes surprising muscle. We also learned that it is very toasty in a container around noon on a hot, muggy day in South Louisiana!
PPUMC and our partners are proud to be among the 2,000 plus volunteers who make the work of Sager Brown possible. Because the apportionment covers administrative costs and volunteers provide most of the labor, 100 percent of our donations to UMCOR go to fund this literally life-giving mission.
We will be going again next year, a bit later in September. Plan to be part of the action.
—Rev. Dr. Joan La Barr