Artist tells Heeko membership about mission trip to Zimbabwe

Patty GambillHeeko journalist

Well-known local artist John Free was guest speaker when the GFWC Heeko Club met in April at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Free did not speak about his art, but told about his recent mission to Zimbabwe in Africa, for the club’s International Outreach program. He told of his group’s training in preparation for the trip, which began on Sunday with an 11-hour flight to Frankfort, Germany, followed by another 11-hour flight that arrived Tuesday morning at Johannesburg, South Africa — from where they took a small plane to Zimbabwe.

As explained by Free, almost everyone walks in Zimbabwe, as there are few cars and the roads are very poor. Since the British were forced to leave their former colony, many of the country’s buildings have become dilapidated and infrastructure is disintegrating from lack of upkeep. There is a lack of organization. People rarely take the bus to town, due to the cost.

Free said the people he met were friendly and respectful. When he would stop to talk to them as they walked along, he said they would immediately stop whatever they were doing to talk with him. They were all church-goers, and were well-acquainted with God and Jesus and Bible stories, he said. Every night during the two weeks he was there, he showed movies about Jesus, always with about 200 people in attendance as religion is very strong in the country.

The children of Zimbabwe walk to school early every morning and, after arriving, they say a prayer and begin their studies. Out of about every 300 children, there are about 100 orphans, and about 100 others will have only one parent. They keep up with the world by listening to radios and by watching TVs that are operated off batteries.

Free found it all to be a real experience — and it was a good one, since the people were so friendly and hospitable (even those who could not understand English. He found that they certainly knew and embraced God.

Debbie Reed, club president, opened the business session with a recitation of the flag salute and the club pledge. She also conveyed thanks to the hostesses — Marilyn Maher, Dottie Allen and Hester Ferguson. Sherry Williams, the club’s secretary, called roll and read minutes of the March meeting. Mrs. Maher announced that the May meeting will feature include the installation of officers.

Jenna Hague discussed some changes in the membership committee procedures. Barbara Strahm reported on the Constantine Theater’s upcoming season and mentioned that five of the theater’s air conditioners are probably going to have to be replaced. She also thanked club members for their donations to the Christmas HELP party.

It was reported that workers are needed to help at the Soup Kitchen, where the kitchen has been serving more people every month.

Joyce Ward made suggestions for projects that the club might take on next year and quoted from an article (“GFWC Celebrates 125 Years of Volunteer Service”) which revealed the worldwide membership had volunteered over six million hours last year. The 2015 service of GFWC Heeko members included the volunteering of 2,077 hours and the donation of more than $15,000 to the Pawhuska community.

Before the meeting adjourned, members repeated the “Clubwoman’s Collect.”