Twenty-two elders and sisters from the Washington D.C. South mission recently helped in a service project to benefit victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
LDS missionaries gathered Feb. 18 at two different sites, one Catholic and one Baptist, in Bristow, Va., about 30 miles west of Washington, D.C., on a sunny but chilly afternoon to help sort, pack and load boxes that Medical Missionaries would be sending to Haiti.
The non-denominational humanitarian organization, Medical Missionaries, has had an ongoing relief effort in the country for 12 years, said Dr. Gilbert R. Irwin, the Manassas, Va., physician who founded the charity. But the need has increased since the devastating earthquake hit Jan. 12.
Taking a few minutes' break from loading, he said Medical Missionaries' St. Joseph's Clinic, in Thomassique, about 70 miles from the epicenter, sustained minor damage, but medical needs have challenged its 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week services.
In this latest shipment, medical supplies as well as clothing, toiletries, and non-perishable food are on their way to the clinic for distribution.
Days after a record-breaking snowstorm shut down Washington, D.C. and surrounding states, the LDS missionaries in the Centreville Zone were invited to help out in a double effort to load not the usual one, but two huge containers to be trucked to Baltimore and shipped to Haiti.
Muddy roads and big piles of snow on grounds of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia -- where goods are stored and sorted near the old dairy barn -- meant boxes had to first be loaded and hauled across the highway a half mile to the cleared pavement of the parking lot at Old Dominion Baptist Church before they could be unloaded, then loaded onto two semis.
Medical Missionaries exists to help "the poorest of the poor," according to their website, www.medmissionaries.org. "They had hardly anything before [the earthquake]," said Dr. Irwin. "They have even less now."
Dr. Irwin explained that the organization has depended upon and been grateful for the help of many volunteers in recent weeks, including Latter-day Saint missionaries.