Mission trip to Africa blesses Springfield family

A Maasai woman greets the Hughes family of Springfield in Africa.

Lifetime residents of Springfield, Winnie Morrison Hughes and husband John lead busy lifestyles and enjoy raising their four children.

John works locally as a nurse practitioner. Winnie, a homemaker, is a former Pre-K and kindergarten teacher, teaches art classes, home schools their children and runs her Wonder Emporium Art Studio in Springfield. Her parents, the Morrisons, run a preparatory school to help people find education options, which is located next to the art studio.

Before Winnie and John married, they experienced mission trips. Winnie’s father, a retired dentist, often took the family to Kenya as he did dentistry and oral surgery there. John went on church mission trips.

Most people who ever experience going on a mission trip are left with a heart’s desire to make return trips. Close friends of the Hughses are Joye and Joel Dicharry who own and operate Commission Mankind based out of Hammond. They drill solar-powered wells to bring clean water to remote parts of the world.

One day in Winnie’s art studio, a customer mentioned that her mother-in-law lived in Africa and was concerned about the unclean water there. Winnie told the Dicharries, and they started raising money to go and drill a clean water well. This was about three years ago when COVID was starting and President Trump enforced a no travel ban after they arrived to Africa so the Dicharries had an extended stay there.

After they were able to travel home, they began raising funds to help drill more wells on a return trip to Africa. This past July the Hugheses and their children along with the Dicharries packed and headed to Kenya. John brought medical supplies, vitamins and equipment to conduct a medical clinic. Winnie packed a lot of nonperishable foods and art supplies.

The long, tiring flight took 26 hours with only one short layover in Amsterdam.

In Kenya, members of the Maasai tribe welcomed all with hand-crafted jewelry and a Kenyan couple in Machakos County hosted them.

The two-week trip was busy as they worked with the thousands in the Maasai tribe. Winnie taught art classes using water color paints which the children loved and had never seen before.

The tribe raises cattle which is their only source of food and milk. They eat no vegetables or other foods. The women work hard doing all labor, chores and attending children while the men protect and attend to the cattle! Women also make colorful clothing and jewelry. The mission team often joined in the singing and dancing with the tribe.

Eight more wells were drilled, which made for a successful trip.

A tribal lady named Caroline told the team of her vision to start a small college for vulnerable women and presented a list of supplies to get her started. The Hugheses, Winnie’s parents and others agreed to help her vision become a reality. Everyone received a blessing from this act of compassion and kindness.

When the families returned home, COVID numbers in the United States were high. Then Hurricane Ida paid an unwelcomed visit. This has been a time when we all need to reach out and help each other. Winnie kept a blackboard in front of the art studio with updates on where to find gas, food distribution, shelter, help, etc.

Her favorite scripture, Matthew 7:12, says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.”

If you’re around Springfield stop and say hello to Winnie at her art studio. If you would like to help drill a solar-powered well that brings clean water and improves people’s quality of life, visit commission mankind.com for information. The families want to return to Africa when conditions are better and safer for travel.

Many find their calling in life when they take a mission trip. Seeing people living in extreme poverty pulls at one’s heart strings often leading to a desire to continue helping the needy through mission work. Missionaries often tell me that they are the ones receiving the true blessing. May God bless and protect all our missionaries and mission teams.

If you have a mission story to share, call Sharon Creppel at 985-981-4368.

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