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Last promise to dad leads down new path

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Earl Morrill praying with Haitians on his mission trip in May 2009.

By PENNY FLETCHER

penny@observernews.net

WIMAUMA- One local woman is preparing to get out of her comfort zone and enter a world her father knew well.

In October, Kim Newberry will spend eight days in remote areas of the Dominican Republic to fulfill a promise to her father, Earl Morrill, who died in February.

“My dad passed away just hours after he asked me to take his place on the upcoming mission trip,” Kim said in a recent interview. “He went on three of these mission trips, Haiti twice and the Dominican Republic once. This would have been his fourth trip in less than three years.”

Her father got interested in Three Strand Cord ministries when he met Brent Wertz who was picking up supplies that had been donated by his church.

Brent is the founder of Three Strand Cord, which is affiliated locally with the South Tampa Fellowship, and regularly sends help to the poorest areas of the world.

“Dad was interested in it from the minute he first heard about it,” said Kim. At the time her father became involved, he was 73.

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Penny Fletcher Photo
Kim Newberry prepares for her first mission trip to the Dominican Republic. She promised her father, Earl Morrill, who died in February, that she would take his place on the upcoming trip Oct. 16-23.

Earl was helping Brent load pews that were stored at Friends and Family Assembly in Wimauma when they met. The pews had been donated by a Brandon church and not yet put into use. When Kim’s husband, Donnie, the pastor of Friends and Family, heard about the need for them in Haiti, he was glad to help, Kim said.

But she never pictured herself as a missionary.

“This is really going to be a culture shock,” she said. “I am excited to be going but this is totally out of the box for me. People tend to remain in their comfort zones, so I’m looking at this as a real growth opportunity for God to use me in whole new ways.”

Her father was able to accomplish many things while on his trips. “He was an accomplished musician, from the time he was in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) String Band that played for President Eisenhower.”

Although Kim isn’t sure what year it was, she knows her dad graduated high school in 1954.

“He could play just about any kind of string instrument,” she said. “He also prayed with people. And he helped sort medications and did all kinds of jobs when he went on his mission trips. You never know what you’ll be called to do in places like that.”

The mission team has asked Kim to bring her flute and do morning devotions. She has already met many of those who will be going from this area at training meetings. They have had two, and plan two more, plus a packing party where supplies will be divided into packets and put into boxes.

“The main thing they tell us is to be sensitive to the work local pastors have done in the country. We need to listen to the guidance of those pastors,” she said.

Those going from the United States need to actively listen to the people, she explained. It is difficult to imagine the thinking patterns of people whose income is around $300 a year. “You have to be careful about how you respond so nobody has to go back and correct anything you’ve said or done.”

She said when her father planned his first trip, he asked Brent the various age brackets of the children he would be coming in contact with so he could purchase toys and games. But when he arrived, and realized they had no food, he and the rest of the team bought what they could find there out of their own pockets.

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Kim’s father, Earl Morrill, (far right) sorting medicine with other team members for the medical clinic before his last missionary trip.
“My dad had such a heart for children. When we were growing up he had a bus route with the First Baptist Church of Ruskin and he was like a child magnet. They would flock to him. He would go way out on country roads to pick them up,” she said. “He was a real soul-winner.” He was also a Deacon in the church.

The upcoming trip is a medical mission but the volunteers do not have to have a medical background. There are many other things for team members to do.

Two local dentists, Dr. Gerald Isbell and Dr. Gregory Jacobs, donated toothbrushes and toothpaste last year and plan to do so again this year, said their office manager of 20 years, Raquel Arredono. They put several hundred tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes into plastic baggies and send it to the packing crew, Raquel said.

The toothpaste and toothbrushes will be put with over-the-counter medications like aspirin, Tylenol and cough syrup; things that are not available to the residents of poor countries like the Dominican Republic.

The team Kim will be on consists of 14 volunteers. They will be staying in the city of Juan Dolio in dormitory-style facilities that have running water and air conditioning. But every day they will go into remote locations and set up clinics.  

“On the average, we will see between 300 and 500 people a day,” Brent said in a telephone interview the day after I spoke with Kim. “The mission team has adopted a small AIDS orphanage, and will spend its last day with children who have HIV and full-blown AIDS.”

In the morning prior to that visit, they will purchase food, toys and games, and spend the rest of the afternoon playing with them.

“We will show them God’s love,” he added. “The mission team is the only one that visits this orphanage.”

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The medical team poses with prison officials after holding a clinic day at a Hatian prison on one of Earl Morrill’s last mission trips. 
Travel expenses are between $1,300 and $1,400 a person, plus the cost of pharmaceuticals brought by doctors, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and fever reducers, plus daily feedings and toys for the children.

Three Strand Cord was formed by Brent in 2005 in order to supply mission trips and missionaries, but its Web site says it is not a religious organization. It is a 501 © 3 tax-exempt organization with programs designed to create and promote cross-cultural friendships and non-denominational help that will foster change.

To find out more, or to help or donate, visit https://www.3strandcord.org or email Brent at info@3strandcord.org. The telephone number is (813) 238-4800. Donations may be dropped off at Three Strand Cord Inc., 5502 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, or mailed to P.O. Box 9691, Tampa, FL, 33674.  

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