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Halifax church group travels to Uruguay

Ever since she was a little girl, Jennifer Ellington of Scottsburg has always wanted to do mission work. This past April she got her chance.

Ellington and four other members of her church, Fork Baptist, went to Uruguay on April 7-15.

Participating in the missions trip were April Rathel, David Rathel, Dean Throckmorton and Lee Pugh.

 “I’ve always been told that you’re supposed to keep your religion a secret so I did not tell most people that I was going. I learned about the trip through my church and felt it would be a good starter trip,” Ellington said. 

The group stayed in mission apartments in Montevideo, Uruguay, which she described as the New York of Uruguay minus all the up to date technology. Their days revolved around a 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. work schedule that constantly changed.

 “I went with the attitude of I’ll go and do what they ask of me which worked out really well,” Ellington said. 

While there, the mission group adopted a church named Iglesia Evangélica Bautista Roca Eterna. The church was previously used for Marxists meetings and had recently been turned back over to the community in a bad condition. 

Men of the community and the men of the mission group worked together to renovate, while Ellington and other women recorded the Gospel of John, church information and other Bible tracts. 

 “We took those tracts everywhere we went, and we distributed them at a street market,” Ellington said.

 “During our trip, we wanted to reach out and touch people. There were self-proclaimed agnostics, atheists and Catholics, but despite their religion, they welcomed us. Showing up and being kind to them was enough.”  

The ladies also went to an orphanage packed with girls ages 5 to 13 having small rooms containing three sets of bunk beds for six or more children. 

The adoption rate is very low in Uruguay because adoptive parents do not gain the same rights as they do in America. The children of the orphanage are given food, medicine and are taken to school during the week, but on the weekends, they must stay with a relative. 

 “Those children are living in chaos going from people who love them to people who could care less. We wanted to show them God’s love while we were there, but we weren’t allowed to mention Him unless the children did,” Ellington said. 

 “We made crafts with the girls including bracelets with crosses on them. The children would ask about the crosses and that gave us an outlet to share God.” 

Ellington said her favorite part of the trip was singing in a choir during a night service at a local church. The church was filled with young people in their teens and 20s ready to learn about God writing in notebooks and asking questions. 

 “It was amazing to see all the young people and to feel all the love and spirit that everyone had. Everyone was there for God. You could just feel the energy in the room,” she said. 

Uruguay was a trip of a lifetime for Ellington that allowed her to impact peoples’ lives in ways she never knew she could. 

“I have a strong desire to go back and do more work with the Uruguayans, and I hope to save and raise funds to return again in the spring. They are eager to learn what we know, and I am eager to go back and share,” Ellington said.