Trio plans ‘vacation with a purpose’

Published 8:22 am Friday, April 1, 2011

Joanne Revoir, back, Gail Minerich, left and Roberta Finneseth, recently returned from Jamaica where they served in an orphanage as part of a mission trip. -- Eric Johnson/

Women from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church will talk about their past trips to Jamaica, but they’d much rather talk about future trips. They realize it’s their continued effort in Mission Jamaica that will make a difference.

They call it their “vacation with a purpose” — an annual trip to Westhaven Children’s Home, where more than 80 residents need help. But because of poverty, many of the children remain there until adults with nowhere else to go, often until they die.

Our Savior’s Joanne Revoir, Gail Minerich and Roberta Finneseth returned from Westhaven about two weeks ago. Although they washed clothes, painted, provided physical care and did many general tasks, they’ll tell you the most important part was relationship building.

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That’s why the women are already planning for next year’s weeklong trip. What started as just Revoir and Minerich grew to include two others: Finneseth and a woman from Aitken, Paulette Anderson.

Relationship building within the church and the Lutheran congregation is only half of it. The group looks forward to seeing the Jamaicans each year.

“I feel so needed when I’m doing those things,” Revoir said. “This is a worthwhile thing.”

Several years ago, Our Savior’s didn’t have people working on international projects. But through doing local and national projects, Revoir, who is the Missions Director, tried to step things up. Although, she’s part of a small group, the women have made progress as part of a bigger scheme — Mission Jamaica.

“We’ve been there three years and you’ve been able to see the difference it makes,” she said.

Revoir has heard some people in Jamaica say the doors would be closed to Westhaven if it wasn’t for the help of their group and the many others like it.

“For me, it’s love for the kids,” she said.

All of the women have developed their own reasons for going there, and they plan to go every year.

“I think it’s being able to make a difference and hopefully, long-term,” Minerich said.

The lasting difference is something Finneseth also likes, but she likes the positive feeling she gets, as well.

“It makes you feel good and hopefully makes the people you’re helping feel good,” she said.

The group mentioned donations can make a big impact as well. The natives will spend the money within their economy, which will somewhat support it.

Our Savior’s Lutheran lends helping hands on a scale from local to international, with both youths and adults who participate, too. It helps the Salvation Army, Feed My Starving Children and Global Human Ministries. It’s sent missionaries all around the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Tanzania and possibly Japan in the near future.

But one thing missionaries can agree upon is continued effort in one area, building relationships through Mission Jamaica and assuring progress. While not in Jamaica, their next step is to recruit others.

The group is holding an organizational meeting on May 9 for 2012’s trip, at which they will likely say there’s no shortage of help.

“There’s something for everyone,” Minerich said.