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The Ecumenical Women’s Breakfast group met on Monday, March 10 at Centenary United Methodist Church in Louisiana with 43 in attendance from 12 area churches.
The Rev. Paul Catterton offered a prayer before the meal, which was prepared by the ladies of Calumet Presbyterian Church and Centenary.
President Judy Allely opened the business meeting and thanked the hostesses for the wonderful breakfast. It was decided to donate money from the breakfast to the Buffalo Township United Fund since it helps so many causes in our area.
The Rev. Pat Glenn asked the group for help in hosting a group of Hamline University students who are traveling from Minnesota and will soon be passing through Louisiana on their way to a big mission project in Texas. The ministerial alliance is coordinating details for housing and for meals while they are in town. Students will be doing work projects in our area while they are here.
The program was given by Eric Dolbeare, who spoke to the group about his experiences while working in eastern Afghanistan for the USDA for 18 months. Previous to that time he had served as an agricultural advisor in Iraq. He showed slides illustrating the landform diversity of the area, where 85 percent of the residents are engaged in farming despite it being a mountainous with rocky soil.
With the lack of systems for producing electricity, there is little opportunity to have any type of industry for creating manufacturing jobs.
Malnourishment is a problem for most of the country, so part of his goal in serving there was to help improve food production, mostly dealing with grains and soybeans. Dolbeare was stationed with a military unit which also provided protection while he went about his work. Interpreters were also needed in order to communicate with most of the people there, although some did speak English well.
When asked if the area was dangerous, Dolbeare said where he stayed came under rocket attack upon occasion. He also had a heightened sense of awareness of his surroundings when traveling off the base.
One of the non-work related activities he engaged in was the gospel choir. This was a group of Christian musicians living on the base.
They practiced a few times a week and performed each Sunday morning at the gospel service.
He stated that he feels the United States with their involvement in the country has helped the Afghans greatly, especially in the area of educating the women, as it used to be a very small percent of girls attended school but now at least half of them do.
The type of work he had been doing on behalf of the USDA is now being phased out.
The next meeting of the Ecumenical Women’s Breakfast group will take place on Monday, June 9 at 8:30 a.m. at First Christian Church in Louisiana with the ladies of Bethel AME as co-hostesses.