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Sister Francesca Lowis, SAC, offers a blessing of the hands Friday to Ariana Long, who will be traveling with the Hands and Hearts for Christ to Guatemala in 2022 on a mission trip.
Sister Francesca Lowis, SAC, offers a blessing of the hands Friday to Ariana Long, who will be traveling with the Hands and Hearts for Christ to Guatemala in 2022 on a mission trip.

Local group will embark on 21st international mission trip this year after pandemic hiatus

BUCKHANNON – The Hands and Hearts for Christ will be embarking on their 21st mission trip this year following a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, members of the group received a ‘Blessing of the Hands’ at the chapel at St. Joseph Hospital so they ‘may go forth to serve with caring hands and compassionate hearts.’

David Long, one of the members of Hands and Hearts for Christ, said the mission trip for 2022 will be to Guatemala.

“This is our 21st mission trip,” Long explained. “For 18 years, we went to Belize, and our last two trips have been to Guatemala – this will be our 21st year.”

The group will take both a surgical team as well as a dental team to the Central American country.

“We do surgeries and dental procedures,” Long said. “The surgeries will be mostly gallbladder and hernia repairs. We also perform a few lump-and-bump things. The dental team does a lot of fillings, teeth cleanings and extractions of teeth.”

Approximately 35 individuals will go on the mission, Long said. The core group is from Buckhannon but includes folks from Barboursville, Ohio and some from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area.

Members of the Hands and Hearts for Christ are working to put together their supplies for an upcoming mission trip to Guatemala where they will perform surgeries and dental work.
Members of the Hands and Hearts for Christ are working to put together their supplies for an upcoming mission trip to Guatemala where they will perform surgeries and dental work.

Debbie Orsburn was a member of the very first mission team and will travel with the group to Guatemala in 2022. She said she was motivated to serve because she feels she has a gift to share.

“Everyone has a gift, and if you can share your gift, that is great,” Orsburn said. “We go down there to share our gifts and help their needs.”

On Friday, a ‘Blessing of the Hands’ ceremony was held at St. Joseph Hospital. It was led by the Rev. Barry Moll, Hospital Chaplain and an associate of Pastoral Care, and Sister Francesca Lowis, SAC, who is currently the Vice President of Mission Integration at St. Joseph Hospital and a member of the Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors.

During the ceremony, Moll said that in 43 years of being a pastor he has witnessed a lot and seen the power to heal.

“I saw some miracles, especially on the missions I made to orphanages in Russia,” Moll shared. “We needed something that was unexpected and it seemed like God was there to help us provide that or give us the compassion we needed. I think we are going on a holy mission – one that is set apart for God’s purposes – and I believe God will be with us and will give us what we need to do our work.”

Sister Francesca anointed the hands of those traveling to Guatemala and said her prayers are with them. As she anointed their hands, she made the sign of the cross and told the mission members to ‘go forth in the name of Jesus.’

“This is to remind us we are doing the work of Jesus,” Sister Francesca said. “We are the hands, the feet and the eyes of Jesus.”

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