A Joy Story from United Methodist Communities
By Janet M. Carrato, Communications and Public Relations Director
On September 4, 2017 United Methodist Communities’ Home Office received a message from Deputy Commander Major Rick Moreno, United States Marine Corps, stationed at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. “We received your care package for Mark Kistler here at the Special Mission Wing, Special Operations Advisory Group. It arrived at a perfect time and all the items were well received and went a long way toward lifting spirits. We are grateful and would be glad to stay on your mailing list and in your prayers.”
Since the message came from a form completed on The Shores’ web page, it was then forwarded to some associates there. Soon after, it landed in the inbox of Rev. Beth Mallozzi, director of mission and pastoral care who spearheaded a Mission Team of many passionately-involved associates: Pam Walker, Susan Brand, Mary Beth Caggiano, Randy Water and Donna Belfield.
In July, under the leadership of the Mission Team, United Methodist Communities at The Shores’ associates and residents began collecting items to support an Air Force Unit serving in Afghanistan. Chief Master Sergeant Mark Kistler represents the joint unit of 25 men and 5 females, serving multiple operating locations there.
To give The Shores’ Mission Team a personal view, Chief Master Sergeant Kistler portrayed his soldiers’ daily lives:
Among their responsibilities, they mentor an Afghan aviation unit on a daily basis with a goal to help them increase their capacity to succeed. Modest living conditions consist of rooms with twin sized beds housing one or two occupants; most have a small refrigerator. When available, cooking utensils and accessibility is sparse; the unit has access to electricity but share one microwave.
Basic hygiene items are limited, especially baby wipes, shaving cream, razors, mouth and body washes. This also applies to high demand non-perishable organic food like fruit/nut bars, oatmeal, peanut butter, wheat bran, and canned meats, not accessible in any stores. Personnel take care of their laundry locally if they have detergent pods and dryer sheets, which also run out quickly.
In addition to the items above, the unit requested civilian clothing: workout t-shirts, shorts, cargo pants, and collared shirts. Chief Master Sergeant Kistler thanked them in advance for their support and pledged to send updates.
To include the heartfelt support and encouragement to these 30 soldiers, the Mission Team emphasized the importance of another kind of contribution from the residents – soldiers would greatly appreciate personal letters telling their stories to encourage and entertain. The Mission Team recruited volunteers to assist with personal letter writing, especially those concerned about “good handwriting.” The industrious letter writers produced 30 letters, some telling of military service experiences.
On August 22 following a month-long drive, the team finally sealed, addressed and shipped three large boxes of donations overseas. Rev. Beth stated, “My office was loaded with gifts of many kinds. The final shipment weighed a whopping 76 pounds! As the one who carried each of the three boxes into the post office, I can tell you it was quite a load.”
The Mission Team leaders thanked everyone for their generous support and urged them to “use our super prayer power to keep these service men and women in our thoughts and prayers.”
On September 5, upon learning of their arrival, Rev. Beth exclaimed, “Well, this is the end to a beautiful day! Your message confirms our package has not only arrived but was well received! Praise God. This is just one of those joyful giving moments!”