Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Faith: Missionaries coming, going


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Whether they are retired teachers or children’s camp attendees, church-goers in the Portales community are returning from or preparing for summer mission trips.

Courtesy photo

Retired teacher Alvonna Arnold teaches Kenyan students about the story cloth.

Brian Arnold, a member of the First Baptist Church, just returned from a mission trip in Kenya through the Calvary Road Ministries organization.

According to Brian Arnold, he and his wife Alvonna traveled with members of the Clovis Central Baptist Church, who planned the trip and gathered 21 people.

“They wanted professional people,” said Arnold, a retired school administrator who worked for both the Muleshoe and Portales public schools during his 43-year career. “We had the opportunity to work with public schools in Kenya.”

For a two-week period, the Arnolds taught Kenyan students about the use of a story cloth. “It’s 42 blocks that tell the story of God’s plan for mankind,” said Arnold.

According to Arnold, he and his wife taught teachers in Kenya to be better trainers in what he considers “very active public schools.”

“Tradition is passed down by stories,” said Arnold, discussing the Maasai religion. “When you get into the background, that language is not actually written down.” Arnold also said the story cloth helps teach vocabulary and math.

“Our trip to Africa really was a showstopper,” said Arnold. “It was good for them, but it was even better for us.”

Dyanne Frazier, a member of the University Baptist Church and a retired early-childhood instructor, shared a similar experience traveling for her tenth year to Kenya to train teachers in the region.

“I go to train pre-school teachers from the slums,” said Frazier, who currently does substitute work in Portales. “I teach them how to bring the stories of Jesus into their teachings.”

Frazier said she supplies materials, including books and puzzles, to the schools as part of her missionary duties. She also said her 45 years of early-childhood education experience makes her solo mission trips worthwhile.

“It’s my passion,” said Frazier. “I’ve already got two suitcases for next year.”

While church-goers are returning from mission trips, others are just beginning them.

Members of Central Christian Church left Thursday at midnight for a mission trip to the Caribbean Mountain Academy at the Dominican Republic.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,” said Senior Pastor Don Thomas. According to Thomas, he and his group spent two years preparing.

According to Thomas, the trip will consist of doing construction work, religious teachings and community gatherings.

“We’re gonna be there building on a school, building on homes and building relationships,” said Thomas, who will be returning with his team of nine teenagers and 12 adults on July 14. “My goal for our part is a change of eyesight. I want our eyes to be open to life in a different culture.”

The importance of mission trips is also utilized in a children’s camp that teaches members how to be missionaries.

On July 18, members of the First Baptist Church will be attending the “Run the Race” missionary camp at the Inlow Baptist Camp in Tajique, New Mexico.

According to Baptist Convention of New Mexico Children’s Minister Sara Keller, children from second through sixth grade will be attending the camp, and will include activities such as Bible study, worship, recreation and crafts.

“It’s a time to encourage them and show them what missions are about,” said Keller.

“It’s the only camp where the kids get to meet real-life missionaries,” said Inlow Baptist Camp Director Connie Dixon. “The main purpose is to just let the kids know they are not alone.”

According to Dixon, she is expecting 130 attendees this year. Dixon also said the mission camp has been around for 80 years. “It’s a great time for kids to come together to see they are a part of something big,” said Dixon.