St. Peter’s Episcopal Church plans fundraiser for medical mission trip

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published January 5, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Chris Odom, from the left, Penny and Robert Rubow are some of the artists who are participating in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s annual fundraiser, Art, Pray, Love, on Jan. 25. The fundraiser features a silent auction of artwork.

CONWAY — It’s been five years since St. Peter’s Episcopal Church sponsored its first medical mission trip to Guatemala. Plans are well underway for the fifth visit and for the church’s annual fundraiser for the trip, Art, Pray, Love: Teaching Hearts, Changing Lives.

As in years past, the fundraiser will feature an art show, a sale, a silent auction, heavy hors d’ouevres and live music at the church, 925 Mitchell St. in Conway, and in the Ledbetter House, which is across the street from the church on Prince Street.

Marianne Welch, chairwoman of the fundraiser and trip, said a team of approximately 20 medical personnel and others will set up clinics in the west highland mountains to treat the native Mayans. The trip is always scheduled for the first week after Easter Sunday and will be held April 26 through May 3 this year. The medical team expects to see approximately 450 people during that time.

Welch said the church depends on the generosity of its congregation and of the community to make the annual trip possible.

“All profits go to fund the trip,” she said.

Approximately 20 artists will have their works on display and offer them for sale. Many of the artists will be available to visit with potential buyers. Some artists have donated their works for the auction.

“We will have some new artists this year and some returning artists,” Welch said.

Among the new artists who will participate in the event are Robert and Penny Rubow of Conway. Both are members of the Conway League of Artists.

Robert said he does “a little bit of everything in the two-dimensional category.

“I consider myself a portrait artist, and I do oils,” he said. “But recently I have been doing encaustic monoprinting.”

His monoprints are one-of-a-kind and created using beeswax pigment sticks to put a design or image on a hot plate and then print it on sumi or mulberry paper.

He will donate two of these prints for the silent auction.

Penny is a pastel artist and said she is not yet sure what she will donate, “but it

probably will be a pastel abstract,” she said.

Robert said he is a longtime supporter of a similar fundraiser in Little Rock, but this is the first time he and Penny have participated in Art, Pray, Love.

“I think it’s important for the community to expand its outreach efforts and for the artists to reach out as well,” he said when asked why he is involved in such fundraisers.

Chris Odom of Conway is a returning artist, donating two of his photographs this year.

“I’ve been a volunteer since we began the mission trips,” he said, noting that he is a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

“But this is only the second year I’ve participated as an artist.

“I got on board with this project right after Teri (The Rev. Teri Daily, vicar) came back from the first trip and shared her stories with us. I’m always amazed that we are able to do so much with so little.”

Welch said Art, Pray, Love came about five years ago after she had returned from a medical mission with a church in Little Rock.

“I got back and started thinking about it,” she said. “I said, ‘There’s a nurse here, a nurse there, and there’s a doctor over there.’ So I

mentioned it to Teri, and she said she would be interested in sponsoring a mission trip from here. The art show was her idea. She said she knew we had several artists in the church and in the community. We approached some of them, and the idea took off.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have had great community support,” Welch said. “We’ve even had some artists from Little Rock participate.”

Welch said the medical team would return to areas of Guatemala where they have served before.

“In many of these Mayan communities, we are the only doctors they will see all year long,” she said. “After five years, these folks look forward to seeing us return.

“By going back to the same place repeatedly, we are beginning to see a little healthier population, a little more rosy look in their cheeks.

“There is a little family in Chuexga that has two sons with mild cerebral palsy,” Welch said. “One is about 5, and the other, 3. When we first met them in 2012, neither little boy could walk.

“Just by chance, we had a pediatric physical therapist with us. She worked with the family an entire day, showing them how to massage the hip muscles and helped design a small ‘pushable’ chair that could grow with the children and help them begin to walk.

“One year later, the older boy is walking almost normally, and the younger boy is beginning to push his little chair. We are so eager to see them this spring.”

Daily will not be making the trip this year.

“I hate it,” she said. “I wish I could do everything, but I cannot.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful trip. They will be providing medical services to the people in small villages, but they also will be visiting with Dr. Roberto Armas, who is a priest and a physician that usually goes with us to visit the villages. They will visit his church in Quezaltenango and do a small construction project there.”

For more information on Art, Pray, Love, call St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at (501) 329-8174.