After serving more than 23 years in the National Guard, Judy Greene-Baker of Richmond is very familiar with serving missions.

in eptember, however, Judy was part of a mission that had nothing to do with the military, and she found it to be a life-changing event.

Judy is quite the traveler. She’s been all over the world, much of it for pleasure. Seven years ago, she joined cousin Phyllis Watson, who lives in Louisville, in Jamaica for a wedding and was taken aback by the impoverished condition of many of the people there.

“We decided we should do something, but didn’t know quite what,” Judy said.

Then, about a year ago, Judy got a call from her cousin about a mission her church, the Southeast Christian Church, in Louisville, was preparing to undertake. It was a program, partnered with an organization called Life in Abundance, to help the people of the impoverished country of Ethiopia in Africa. It involved not only health and vision screening, but also included a component known as “Little Dresses For Africa.”

Part of the mission was to sew simple dresses in medium and large sizes to take to clothe girls in Ethiopia.

So Judy and her cousin began sewing dresses starting last October, and by September, the dynamic duo had made 750 dresses between them to take on the mission.

“It takes me about an hour to sew a dress,” said Judy, adding that she had help and support from neighbors, friends and fellow members her church, Broadway Baptist Church in Winchester, some of whom provided material and helped cut out patterns for the dresses. She said there was also monetary support given to help support her travel to Africa on the eight-day mission.

After almost a year, Judy, her cousin, and 10 others were on their way to Jima, Ethiopia.

“It was a seven-hour bus ride to get there, so we saw a lot of the countryside,” said Judy. She had assumed the country was mostly desert, but was surprised.

“It was green as could be, at least during that time of year,” Judy said.

She said she also found the people to be very welcoming.

“The people were very friendly, very warm. The culture is very relationship-oriented,” said Judy. She added that, although Ethiopia is very much a third-world country, with people living in houses with thatched roofs and dirt floors, they seemed very happy.

“It made me realize that sometimes people with nothing are happier than those who have a lot of material possessions,” she said.

In addition to delivering the dresses, the team, which included medical professionals, did medical and eye screenings, distributing magnifying reading glasses to the people, and provided needed medicine. Judy, herself a registered nurse, helped with the eye screenings.

“Although they had very little, people did not ask us for material things. They wanted to be better Ethiopian citizens, to have their children do better in school and to have a closer walk with Jesus,” said Judy.

She said the experience was life-changing for her in that it made her want to do more for others. She now volunteers at God’s Pantry, a Lexington food bank, and would go on another mission, should she feel that God wanted her to undertake one.

Judy, who is now in the National Guard Reserve, works as a warehouse supervisor at the Kentucky Logistics Operations Center in Lexington, and organization that provides military clothing and supplies.

She lives with her husband, Frederick Baker, who works at the Historic Boone Tavern in Berea. They have a son, Mark Anthony Greene, who is in the National Guard and lives in Harrodsburg, and six grandchildren.

Judy is a trustee in her church and is treasurer of the Concord Homemakers, a homemaker’s club of which she has been a member for 30 years.

React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you