A passion for helping others
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Geneva Farr’s blue eyes twinkle and her whole face lights up when she talks about the last three trips she’s taken out of the country.
Not that she’s been enjoying an exotic resort in the south of France, exploring ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico or basking in the sun in the Bahamas.
No, this Rifle resident has been doing something far more important.
For the past two years, Farr has gone three times to Cap-Haïtien, in Haiti, where she serves a 10-day mission along with other members of her church – The Rifle Church of Christ – to help spread the word of God and provide food, medicine and basic essentials to the people in this ravaged Third World country. Haiti’s already poor economy has been exacerbated by recent disasters, including in January 2010 a 7.0 earthquake, which left 230,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless.
Most recently, in October 2010, Haiti saw a cholera outbreak that reportedly killed about 900 and sickened 15,000.
Farr became involved in the Haitian mission through her minister and his wife, Milton and Holly Eckhart of Rifle.
“It started with Milton and Holly’s passion that I wanted to support, and it ended up being my calling to serve,” Farr says earnestly. “Going to Haiti helps me to be courageous in my own community – to share the truth, be real and to help others walk through their trials and experiences knowing that there is a purpose for them.” The Eckharts both have backgrounds in the medical field as a neurosurgeon and a nurse. The couple used to live in Haiti, where they started the Center for Bible Training (CBT) – a three-year program that trains 12 students at a time, who after graduation, can go out and start their own ministries.
Milton Eckhart currently teaches anatomy and physiology at Colorado Mountain College, and Holly works at the Family Visitor Programs.
On her first trip to Haiti in January 2009, Farr was taken by surprise at the filthy conditions of the city and the poverty of the people.
“We flew into the Dominican Republic and I thought, oh my gosh, this place is so dirty,” Farr recalled. “But it wasn’t until we crossed into Haiti that I realized the Dominican Republic looked good in comparison. It’s a poor country with too many people and not enough commodities. This country makes our [landfill] look organized.”
A group of five people from the Church of Christ along with those from other states hauled bags of supplies into Haiti and once there, lived under very Spartan conditions in the CBT building. Snacks and lunches for the group would often consist of tortillas, oranges, granola bars or cookies. “There was no mayonnaise or cheese because they don’t have refrigeration,” Farr said. “Breakfast was vanilla rice milk and cereal.”
On a typical day during their mission, the door of the CBT opens at 6 a.m. to a group of Haitians waiting outside for help. The church group listens to their needs and then begins their daily duties of helping to provide services to families, the make-shift hospitals and children in the orphanages. They bring items such as clothes, medicine and beans and rice to preachers at the local churches who then distribute it to the people.
“We don’t want to be the center, we want their own community to be the center,” Farr emphasized.
Many of the children don’t have a lunch to bring with them to school, but they do receive a meal a day, five days a week at school in the form of a big square of casaba bread with homemade peanut butter on it.
For some, it’s the only meal they will eat all day.
“And sometimes they won’t even eat it and take it home to their family and that’s all their family will eat all day,” Farr said.
One of Farr’s favorite places to work is with the children in the orphanage.
“The more we go there, the more they know we’ll come back and that gives them hope,” she said. “We celebrate their birthdays and hang out and play with them and stay all day long.” Farr wasn’t brought up in the church, but has been a member of the Church of Christ for the past 18 years, joining through her husband, Rick Farr.
Geneva grew up as an Army brat from Texas and attended Midwestern State University where she received a full-ride scholarship for volleyball and basketball.
She met her husband, Rick, while he was coaching volleyball at another college and the two married in 1992 and moved to Rifle in 1993. The move led Geneva into a career herself, coaching volleyball at DeBeque High School, Roaring Fork High School and Rifle High School from 1994-2008. She is also well known as an exercise instructor in Rifle teaching various classes from step aerobics, Body Bar and Boot Camp to kickboxing.
She currently works as an independent consultant/educator for Arbonne International, which specializes in top quality health and beauty products. Rick is a project manager for Habitat for Humanity. The couple have two boys – Clinton, 15, a freshman at Rifle High School, and Logan, 11, a sixth-grader at Rifle Middle School.
For Farr, her Haiti trips are her calling to serve both God and her community. Her involvement with her church is one of total commitment, and when she’s not in Haiti or participating in church activities, she walks the talk with her friends and family.
“I love serving and encouraging others,” she says enthusiastically. “Yes, the economy stinks right now and people are discouraged. My family has also been personally affected by it. The ultimate decision to take hold of our lives comes from within. Choose life and live it to serve others. It makes everyone feel good and takes the pity off of ourselves.”
And Farr has a personal motto to back up that belief.
“Even my worst day isn’t as bad as compared to Haiti.”
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