Mission Trip to Aggie Land

Well, actually it was Bryan/College Station, Texas, but I couldn’t resist the small dig from a TCU Frog. (For my Canadian and UK readers, there’s a huge football-and everything else-rivalry between Texas A & M University and other Texas schools, especially University of Texas, where my husband went to law school, and Texas Christian University where I got a graduate degree.) So we get a chuckle out of the idea of a mission trip to their land.

Eleven members of Ridglea Presbyterian Church church traveled south on Friday to spend all day Saturday making PETs. No not animals, but Personal Energy Transportation for people in third world countries who aren’t able to walk.

Here’s the bus. I sat over the wheel cover so I could prop my feet. Very wash-boardy ride. I kept trying to thing of how to write how it felt. The best I could dome up with dh-dh-dh-dh-dh, said very fast.  Picture taken at the end of the work session.


According to the Brazos Valley P.E.T. brochure:

The United Nations estimates 22 million people have lost the use of their legs due to birth defects, landmines, disease or accidents. 15 million are bedridden, or have use of a standard wheelchair. That leaves 7 million people depending on family to carry them or crawling on the ground.” Sometimes that’s with a child on their back.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly imagine that situation.

About twenty years ago, a man saw the need and developed a different mode of transportation. His design has been subtly tweaked over the years, and this is what it looks like now.

Jean Hadley, Dick Witherite


We started our day moving tires then we relocated long pieces of wood. Then we got general instructions and split up to learn a piece of this very complicated process.

Cutting steel for the front end. Martin Cleworth


Assembling front end.Dick Witherite, Jean & Steve Hadley


The completed front end.


Cutting wood to make the seat and box.

Allison Cleworth & Mike Strange


Cutting material and gluing it and stapling it to the wood to make a seat.

Gary Newcomb (husband of the president Margot Newcomb)  giving instructions to Betsy Kibler  & Mac Zimmerman (I love that a woman runs the shop!)


Assembling all the parts and disassembling the parts and packing them for shipment. This included putting together the boxes that were the exact right size to hold everything. This is the station I worked with my friend, Katrina Little. We wielded a giant stapler and a pincher, both of which took considerable upper body strength. My Pilates muscles got a work out. Milk cartons are recycled to make packing material.


I was amazed by how many details were involved in each and every step of the process.

The regular volunteers Tom Mosley, a 93-year-old expert in steel and Ken Graalum came in especially to work with us on Saturday. Wonderfully knowledgeable, super nice, and very patient when they had to repeat the instructions for the tenth time. 🙂

It costs $300 to make one of these transports, including shipping to another country.

Our church has sent money in 2014 and 15 but this year we wanted to get hands on as well.

Very worthwhile experience. Hard physical labor, super important work. We made a difference in the lives of 7 people and their families and friends, because at the end of the day, we had 7 P.E.T.s stacked on the pallet for shipping. This is the 6th one going up. IMG_3352

Boy did I sleep well Saturday night! Even my sore, achy muscles didn’t keep me awake.

If you’d like to learn more about this project and live in Texas check out http://petbrazosvalley.org

If you live elsewhere, check out the national site http://petinternational.org/

You’ll find a great video titled Where There’s a Wheel, There’s a Way.

I hope you’ll feel moved to get involved.

So have you ever gone on a mission trip before? Where to and for how long? What organization did you work with?

Love to hear from you.

6 responses to “Mission Trip to Aggie Land

  1. You constructed 7 of those PETs in one day? What a team! PET project is such a worthwhile organization. I know they are built well because where they are sent, there aren’t a lot of replacement parts available if they break down. Yes, we’ve done several mission trips. After we sold the flower shop, we full-timed and spent the first few years on mission trips with the NOMADS, an RV group who stays 3 weeks in a sunny location in the winter in the South working at United Methodist sponsored missions such as children’s homes, church camps, churches, hurricane damaged homes. You don’t have to be a Methodist to join the group. Very rewarding work and such great people to meet. Enjoyed your report on the PET experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, JQ. Yes, we did. But to keep our heads from getting too big, Margot told us of one of the volunteers who can do twenty in one day, by himself! We figure lots of the parts must be already made and he’s assembling them. But still… The sponsoring church for this project is Methodist, too, though we all are Presbyterian. Love the NOMADS. I’ll ask my neighbors who RV and are Methodist if they’ve heard of them.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marsha, what a big difference you and your church team made via this project. I am so impressed. I had never heard of the PET program.

    These transports look incredibly sturdy. Think of the people you are helping. You definitely made points with God. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Susan. This was the first time since I was in middle school I have gone on a mission trip. This was definitely more pleasant. Nice hotel bed to sleep in, pleasant weather, good food, and only three hours from my home. No language or cultural issues to deal with. Definitely a white gloves kind of mission trip, but still you’re right. We made a big difference in the lives of 7 people. People we’ll never know. It’s kind of like with your nursing and my teaching–you never really know the impact you have on someone’s life. Thanks so much for stopping by. Always glad to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Regina. Everyone can make a difference–even a small one. Sometimes we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones. When I think I’m getting too old to contribute, I think of the 93 year-old-man. Quite a role model. Thanks so much for stopping by.


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