Eastbrook Mission Barn Director Nelson Thayer reported this week that "despite the snow, we have been making real progress on our ministries." The Mission Barn, which serves as an official UMCOR Depot, has developed a network of satellites to collect kits and donations of relief supplies.
"Volunteers will be glad to hear that we have taken serious steps to complete the indoor bathroom project," Thayer said. "The old Milking Parlor has been transformed - with glass block windows, new double doors, insulation in the ceiling, a new floor, and drywall - into an almost livable space. It will still be a while (waiting for the money to catch up) before the composting toilet is installed and the space is heated... but we hope to be fully functional by late spring!"
The Mission Barn passed a mile marker in late January, Thayer added. "We have either shipped or prepared for shipment $1.5 million worth of UMCOR material supplies in four years. The best news about this is that the pace of our kit ministry is increasing - it took three years to reach 1 million shipped, and only 1 year to add another 1/2 million." He estimated that the Conference contributions of material support for UMCOR had increased four-or-five-fold.
"In 2013 we received more than 3,500 empty School Kit bags - hand sewn by UMW volunteers across the Conference," Thayer noted. "This donation demanded that we begin to purchase kit supplies in major quantities - something that we had not done before this. The result is that we have 15+ pallets of School Kits (over 4,200 kits) ready for shipment - and 1,200 empty School Kit bags still to fill!"
The completed kits were scheduled to leave around Feb. 17 for distribution in Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, and Syria. In the previous two weeks, UMCOR shipments had been sent to South Sudan, Lebanon, and the Philippines. Western PA churches and volunteers are truly having an international impact through their support of UMCOR and the Eastbrook Mission Barn, Thayer said.
As of mid-February, according to Kathy Kraiza at UMCOR's Sager Brown Depot,the most-needed kits were: