Are you ABLE?
Missions take place everywhere from your neighbor’s back yard, to the Appalachian Mountains, to a village called Assassin in Ghana West Africa. Please enjoy the pictures and summaries of some of our past missions.
To participate in our missions please contact us at 859-536-7463.
ABLE Youth Missions
One of ABLE’s key objectives is to get young people involved in valuable service projects – whether in the local community or in under-developed countries. Most are in middle school or higher grades. There are very active groups in Lexington and Austin.
Many of the international missions include ABLE Youth (with adults, of course). Domestically, the young people engage in a wide variety of activities, from helping Military Missions prepare packages to send to American military members serving overseas, to putting together “goodie” bags for senior citizens for the holidays, to helping with community gardens, to helping low-income senior citizens with landscaping problems…
The list is really quite long and seems to change every month. Anyone interested in participating can contact us in Lexington or Austin and we’ll connect you with the project leaders.
These are just a few of the photos of ABLE Youth in action:
Dominican Republic Mission Trip by Ethan Vick
Where do I even start……what a week……what an opportunity……what a truly life changing experience. I first want to say how thankful I am for the opportunity given by God, Mrs. Smith, and all those with ABLE who made this experience possible.
Going into this trip, I really didn’t know what to expect. I just went in as open minded as possible. My main goal was to do the most I could to help everyone, in any way that I could.
When we arrived in the Dominican Republic, all we could see were mountains and grass. We were greeted by traditional music and dancing. The culture was very different and I had never seen anything like it before.
Driving into the center of the town it was quite beautiful, but as soon as you got 2 miles out of the middle part of the town that was when reality kicked in. Houses were so small, poorly built, and just awful… so much more than words can describe. Cows, dogs, and other animals just roamed the streets. And the kids had no shoes and torn clothing. The one thing that I noticed though, was that all the kids and adults that we saw had one thing in common ………a smile on their face. Everyone looked so happy.
When we arrived at the compound, it was bright green and yellow, and completely gated. Across from the compound was a basketball court and playground. It was nice to see the kids were playing and having fun!!
When we walked in to see where we would be staying for the next week, it was so different than what I was used to at home. The beds were twin size beds, and you had to sleep under netting so the mosquitos didn’t bite you at night. There was no air-conditioning and it was so hot and humid in the room. Throughout the week, we had to keep the door open just to stay cool. It was more like camping inside a room if I had to describe it.
After getting settled into our rooms, we gathered and said a prayer, and then had a meal. It was some sort of meat, plantains, and a vegetable mixture. I thought plantains were like potatoes so I ended up putting ketchup on them. I had never eaten food like that before. It seemed healthy and honestly tasted pretty good.
When we walked down to meet the kids, I immediately got hugged by Bryling, a 10 year-old boy who was the craziest and funniest boy you could meet. I’d never met a kid that was so happy all the time.
On our second day, we got up and ate breakfast and then headed to the Cathedral. Arriving at the church it was just amazing. It was in the heart of downtown in the Square. The Cathedral was white on the outside and white on the inside too. It could probably hold up to 500 people. There was no AC so they kept all the doors open and had fans inside the church. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the Bishop. During mass, they even talked about us. We didn’t know what they were saying because it was in Spanish, but we heard Lexington Kentucky and people started clapping. After mass was over we took a picture with the Bishop and then then went back to the compound.
Later that day, we fed and spent time with the kids. I fed Moises. He’s 6 years old, dark skin, brown eyes, and a big smile. I won’t forget about him. There were some kids who could eat by themselves, but for the most part every kid had to be fed. And almost all of the kids were in wheelchairs. Just realizing how long it took us to feed them with the staff, made me realize how long it would take them to take care of the kids without any help.
At night our mission team had social hour, and each night we played a game. Everyone had fun and laughed the whole time. After social hour we would head down to the Chapel and pray and then we all had to answer the same question. That night’s question was, “What did you expect this place was going to be like before we got here?” My answer:
“I had no idea. I didn’t really think about what to expect. I just wanted to help in any way I could and just bring smiles to all the kids.” Most of us had that same answer. We didn’t know what to expect or what it was going to be like.
On day 3, we worked and helped out at the compound. We split into two groups, with group one doing yard work and group two doing physical therapy with the kids and helping with laundry. I was in group one. We were pulling weeds on this very steep incline. About an hour in, I noticed a boy holding onto the other side of the fence. I didn’t know much Spanish but I tried to talk with him with what I knew, and had people help me. I asked in Spanish, “What is your name boy?” and at first he didn’t answer. So I held his hand through the fence and said in Spanish, “My name is Ethan, what is your name?” He then answered, “Majre.” I asked him, “Do you live here with your parents?” he said “Si” or yes in English. I noticed that he looked very sad. So I asked him in Spanish, “Are you okay Majre? What’s wrong?” Majre looked at me and just looked down. I saw a ball that we found while cleaning and doing yard work. So I grabbed the ball and threw it over the fence to him. I told him, “this is for you, I want you to have it”. He threw it back over to me. So I grabbed it again, and said in Spanish, “This is yours now Majre. Smile, stay happy, have fun!” He then smiled at me and tried to hug me through the fence. I will never forget his face. This was way out of my comfort zone but I’ll never forget how one small action made someone smile and so happy.
Later that day when I worked with the kids in physical therapy, I really connected with a 3 year old girl named Bianca. She had brown curly hair and made me smile so much. When I would walk away from her, she would cry. When I would set her down in her stroller, she would cry. She wanted to constantly be with me and she made me feel so happy. I ended up taking care of her the rest of the day. We played and then I fed her, and when it was time to go I didn’t want to put her back in her stroller. That day I realized that I can’t wait to be a dad one day.
After we ate and had social hour, we went to the Chapel. We finished praying and then the group was given another question. That day’s question was, “What was the best part about your day?” One person said it was seeing all the kids’ smiles. Someone else said that it was just realizing how lucky we have it back at home. When it came to me, this is what I said:
“For me, it wasn’t about the kids in the compound. It was about a boy named Majre who lived on the other side of the fence. He was sad when I first met him and didn’t talk at all. We ended up talking and then I calmed him down. I turned his sadness into happiness. I gave him a ball and it made him smile which made me smile. I realized today that love and being a good person can truly make others happy.”
That was one of the most unforgettable days in my life. And it has forever changed who I am as a person.
Day 4 was very much like the day before. We went to church and worked all morning. That night’s question was, “Why did we want to come on this mission trip?” My answer was:
“I wanted to help out and change someone’s life. But I also came because I wanted my life to be changed forever. I wanted to experience this and see what life was like in a 3rd world country. I did this for them, but I did this for me as well.”
On day 5 we went to the beach. I really enjoyed the times that we got to drive around the city and see what it was like. We got to see the mountains, the people, and most importantly we got to see their culture. Something we weren’t familiar with.
The beach was so beautiful. It took 25 minutes to get there, but it was truly amazing. We brought three of the residents from the Mustard Seed Community with us – Baby Love, Bryling, and Chupla. They were so happy to see the beach because they didn’t go there often. After we got done swimming, we ended up doing the Rosary on the beach. We walked each time we said a Hail Mary and stopped in between. The scenery was truly amazing. After we got done our Mission leaders surprised us with a trip to get ice cream. Now I personally don’t eat a lot of sweets but I wanted to try it because it was from a different culture. It was amazing. Different but amazing. We ended up getting back and feeding the kids for dinner and then after that we ate ourselves. Today was a good day, it really was.
The question that night was, “What will you take away from this experience?”
My answer was simple:
“How lucky we are back home”
I took love from the fact that when we love one another it brings happiness. Smiles and joy can come from the love of one’s heart. Realization came from the fact that I realized this isn’t a dream or make believe, it truly is reality for lots of people in this world. Lastly, how lucky we are back home. We wake up knowing we will go to school, have a place to go home to, and a meal on the table. A lot of kids in this World don’t have that. This trip made me realize how lucky I am and how grateful I need to be for the things that I have.
On Day 6 we were back with the kids. We prayed with them, sang with them and worshipped God. Later, the boys built and painted walls while the girls did Physical Therapy with the kids and made shirts for them. We ended up feeding the kids dinner and then went up to get ready for dinner ourselves. We cleaned up and showered and then after we ate it was party time!!!!! That night, we went down and danced and sang songs with the kids and overall just had the time of our lives with them. We wore neon glow bands and bracelets. It was truly a great time for everyone.
On our last day, we headed home. It was hard saying goodbye to Miss Yadelka – our instructor, and all the kids, especially Baby Love, Irene, Bianca, Bryling, and Baby Ruth. While I was sad to leave, I was also so excited to be going back home to Lexington.
When I arrived at the airport, I saw my mom and sister waiting for me. I hugged them and was just glad to be back home.
This was a trip I’ll never forget. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this Mission trip. It was a trip filled with faith, fun, realization and so many other words and feelings that I can’t describe. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of it.
-Ethan Edward Vick
Mission Trip to Kenya
June 22 – June 30 2019
We were excited to see our friends at Olare Orok School. It had been several years since ABLE’s last mission to this location. The School has grown quite a bit, now educating up to the 8th grade. The school was proud to share with us that this year their 8th graders will be tested for opportunities to go on for a higher education. In order to support this school’s educational efforts, ABLE volunteers completed the addition of a large classroom onto the school. We also painted chalk boards, constructed a wall mural and water collection system, held art classes and a medical clinic, and much more.
Summer 2018: Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and Jamaica
The summer of 2018 brought two major missions: one to Appalachia and one to Jamaica.
In Appalachia, ABLE volunteers repaired two mobile homes and provided assistance to the St. Vincent Mission, which serves many low-income families in Eastern Kentucky. Here are some photos from the Appalachian trip.
The mission to Jamaica included support to the Mustard Seed operation. ABLE volunteers – young and old – provided assistance to extremely handicapped residents.
Thirty-five ABLE volunteers – including 22 high school students – recently completed an incredible mission in Haiti, which is still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake. The mission was led by Lexington Catholic High School senior (and ABLE Board member) Christian Cole, and his father, Jon (also and ABLE Board member.
They worked in the remote area of Grand Goâve, which was one of the hardest hit areas. It is about 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.
The goal was to build two “rubble” homes, using rubble from the earthquake to create building blocks for the simple structure.
The first home was to be for a woman and her three children. Her husband was killed in the earthquake. They have been living in very cramped quarters with her grandmother.
The team spent several days crushing rubble and sifting sand in near 100 degree temperature.
An unexpected problem with materials forced the team to improvise, but this also caused delays. During the days they couldn’t work on the home, the volunteers painted a school, distributed toys, dental supplies and school materials in nearby villages. They also visited an orphanage, where they passed out clothing, dental supplies and school materials.
By the time the wire mesh was available, the team has only a day and a half remaining. They used every moment, shoveling the rubble into 5 gallon buckets and forming a human chain to pass the buckets along to people on top of the walls. The rubble was emptied into the baskets and this process was repeated over and over again until the walls were completely filled.
Before they left, they made arrangements for both houses to be completed.
A small team of ABLE volunteers recently returned from Spur Tree, Mandeville, Manchester Jamaica, where they worked with different operations of Gift of Hope. These organizations serve orphans, disabled children and adults, as well as many others who have no other source of aid. The ABLE volunteers helped with a variety of tasks, but spent much of their time bringing joy and love to the poorest of the poor.
Twelve ABLE volunteers traveled by SUV to Black Mesa, Arizona, where they worked on the Church of Joy and pastor’s home on the Navajo Reservation. Native American Pastor, JR, said the original Navajo Church was built in 1974 and the current church with attached dining hall, kitchen, and work-in-progress basement was built in 2005 by another nonprofit organization. JR’s congregation consists of about 25 members in the remote area and he also ministers throughout Arizona and Utah with his traveling tent revivals.
The ABLE group volunteered to do a “Kid’s Club” Bible study during the week, but focused on work projects. Some of the group mopped and swept the kitchen floor to prepare it for painting and others helped move a pallet of 92 pound cement bags. The upstairs crew did a fantastic job painting the kitchen floor and later applying the paint by feet (as in ice skating).
The kitchen crew began painting the island while ABLE’s other half started work on Pastor JR’s floor. JR and his wife live in a 43 year old trailer home near the church that has rotted beyond repair. JR has added a bedroom and family room to the trailer and the floor was concrete. Our job was to tile and grout the space.
The kitchen crew also hung dry wall and painted the kitchen cabinets. The other crew went back to the pastor’s house and grouted the tile work. Later, cleaning the grout proved to be a great challenge, because it required numerous buckets of clean water that had to be carried in from the outside tanks to complete the job.
The ABLE team had a great experience and had an opportunity to see some of the area and enjoy the local culture. It wasn’t easy, though. There is no running water at the church. Volunteers took solar showers outside and had access to two outhouses and four port-o-potties. It was not until Wednesday evening that the port-o-potties were serviced. It definitely wasn’t like home.
Mission to Ghana: July 2015
Fourteen ABLE volunteers traveled to Ghana to build a two classroom kindergarten, with teachers’ offices. The village had no kindergarten and it was a 3-mile walk to the nearest school. Local village chiefs donated the land and had it cleared. Nearly 30 local workers, including volunteers, also supported the project. There was no electricity or running water in the area, so the work was quite demanding. The entire team ate lunch together daily. On the last work day of the project, about 50 local volunteers came to clean up the site before the final celebration. The local leaders erected tents and about 100 people, plus local chiefs and dignitaries attended. A choir traveled 45 minutes to take part – all to celebrate the work and contribution of ABLE!
Mission to the Dominican Republic: June 2015
Ten ABLE volunteers traveled to the Dominican Republic to support Go Mad Ministries. They worked at several locations to paint, clean and perform other tasks in schools and clinics. Shortly before the team’s arrival, 60 homes had burned to the ground. ABLE’s team purchased food and other supplies and helped feed about 300 people. When they departed, they left behind funds to install solar panels and a cistern at a clinic in Esperanza and they funded a parking area and sidewalk to the clinic and school in Munoz.
Mission to Jamaica: June 2015
Fifteen ABLE volunteers went to Jamaica to work in several Mustard Seed locations. At “Sophie’s Place,” they worked with severely disabled children – most with cerebral palsy. They also worked at a facility that cares for teen males who have been infected by HIV and at another that houses 150 orphans. At “Mary’s Child,” the volunteers had a chance to help pregnant teens and young mothers. Among other tasks, the volunteers helped clear drainage ditches in advance of expected hurricanes.
Critical Home Repair
ABLE has provided critical home repairs to low income senior citizens, disabled individuals and military veterans. There are specific eligibility requirements and most beneficiaries are referred to ABLE by social workers. The majority of the projects occur in central Kentucky. Individuals helped must own the homes.
Many of the projects involved the construction of handicap accessible ramps or removing barriers for wheelchairs. However, we have also repaired steps, floors, eliminated water or wind access.
A low-income, disable senior citizen – recovering from heart surgery – had a major problem when her back deck collapsed. This left her with only one exit in the event of fire or other emergency. ABLE volunteers were able to build a new, sturdy deck for this very grateful homeowner.
Some examples of work done are shown below. Some of the photos show conditions before ABLE’s work.
Mission to Belize: January 24 – 31, 2015
Volunteers continued renovations that were started last year on the Jesuit School located in the poorest section of Belize City. Our goal during this trip was to improve water drainage around the school, paint as needed, and continue to organize the library.