Letters to the Editor

Published on: February 14, 2019

My effort to spread light in the world

Dear Editor,

Heading down river to the Asheninka Village in Peru with our group’s translator, Ana.

All around us we see it: Heated Facebook exchanges, scathing news stories and constant unrest overseas. It seems there are enemies where there used to be friends, even inside our own nation. These are the groaning of a broken world. Earlier this year, as I faced this brokenness — a ruined relationship, which affected my closest circles — I was struck by my own helplessness to bring healing.

Being a woman of faith, one day I hit my knees, bawling my eyes out and prayed that the Lord would fix the brokenness that had hit so close to home. I was assured He would, but then, clear as crystal, I heard Him calling me to something I’d looked at before but had completely forgotten about: The World Race.

The program, run by Adventures in Missions, will take me to 11 countries around the world in the span of just 11 months. Along the way, my squad will partner with local organizations to do humanitarian work. This could be anything from teaching, praying over the sick, fulfilling odd jobs in local nonprofits, or even rescuing victims of human trafficking. Whatever that community needs from us, however we are best equipped to help them, we’ll do it. We will spend three months in Central America, three in Africa, then head to India and Nepal, before remaining in Southeast Asia for our final three months. 

The purpose of the trip in a nutshell: Providing practical care and supernatural love to whomever we can.

My nine-day mission trip to Peru with Simmons Loop Baptist Church, and XMA trip leader Randy White paired us with the Asheninka villagers of Bella Nueva.

Of course, this comes with a price tag — and a hefty one — $19,200 to be exact. That includes all airfare and transportation, travel insurance, a team budget for food and all accommodations. Now, that doesn’t include my prep before. Let me tell you, putting together a backpack to take with you for almost an entire year is an adventure on its own. Not to mention scheduling immunizations and meetings, imagining fundraisers, and writing letters. Phew! I have been a busy girl.

Still, I’m ready to see this adventure through to the end, because I truly believe that, now more than ever, people need to see our hands open and extended, ready to do all we can to help lift them up, wherever they are. However, I didn’t want to make that change only for the Race. I want this truth to permeate my entire life. 

As I’ve prepped for this trip, I’ve started engaging the people around me. Striking up a conversation with a cashier, complimenting complete strangers, and trying to actually notice the people I’m surrounded by. It has drastically changed my perspective. I’ve always said I wasn’t a “people person,” but after seeing how such simple engagements can lead to more meaningful conversations — or even just a smile on someone’s face — I understand how awesomely powerful God’s light reflected through my actions can be. 

I would love to engage with you as well. 

Check out my blog at for more information about my adventure. You can also donate directly from there. You can contact me at or call me at 863-266-7676.

Cassandra Holbrook


Haven of Hope says thank you

Dear Editor,

A big thank you to RB and the Gang and the great job they did for the Haven of Hope fundraiser dance. We also want to thank those who were sponsors. Platinum level: Gary and Nicki Kaukonen, Keller Williams; Raymond Borzio; Special Gas Services. Gold level: A-1 Connecton, Marge Connolly. Silver level: Barb Balmenti (Leasing Lady) – Solaris Realty; Sun City Center Homes, Anne Davis; Publix; All Business Underwriters, Dale Chastek; Sun City Center Funeral Home; Rich Shelly, Keller Williams; Brian Bower, Edward Jones; Christina Cieslik, NextStage Moving Services; South Shore Methodist Women’s Group; Cliff and Sharon Whiddon; Flo Vachon; Don and Peg Dionne.

Haven of Hope is a faith-based transition home in Ruskin for women released from prison. The mission is to minister to women whose lives have been devastated by crime, drugs, and alcohol and help them become productive citizens by providing housing, clothing, food, personal hygiene items and a loving atmosphere.

Janet Smith