All her family members had taken mission trips to Haiti in the past, and Callie Traver, 17, had been anxious to have that opportunity, as well.
She got that chance recently, joining nine others through St. Paul Lutheran Church in Aiken – including her grandfather, Bill Blosser.
A retired dentist from Florida now living in Aiken, Blosser began taking a dental team to Haiti in 1985 – visiting several mission sites before focusing on Christianville – a program established by Jim and Carol Herget seven years earlier.
“They had a dental clinic and school and also housing for mission teams,” Blosser said. “We worked with them nearly every year.”
By 1993, the Hergets had established the Village of Hope Lazarus Project – located about 15 miles from Port-au-Prince. With the help of Lutheran churches and many other denominations, the village provides a school, a health center and a facility for children and adults with handicaps.
“We would go with mission teams,” Blosser said. “I had some dentists from Florida and we set up dental field units, taking our own equipment.”
Blosser retired and moved to Aiken in 2001, but continued to provide dentistry in Haiti until 2005. It was shortly after he arrived in Aiken that a seemingly innocuous meeting by chance led Blosser to something extraordinary.
He was playing golf one day with Chuck Newton, a man he had met not long before. Blosser had mentioned the work he had done in Haiti.
“Then Chuck said an amazing thing, especially as I didn’t really know him.” Blosser said. “He told me the Lord wanted me to help people anyway I could every day. It really turned my thinking around. I learned you can retire, but you don’t retire from life.”
Soon afterward, Blosser joined the Lazarus Project board of directors and coordinates dental teams. He got more involved St. Paul in 2005 and has hosted four mission teams, including the most recent one.
“Every trip I go on has been more rewarding than the one before,” Blosser said. “I just see what it means to those who go with me. We work with the Food for the Poor program on this trip, and it’s important how we interacted with the Haitian people.”
What made this trip so special, of course, was his opportunity to share the mission with his granddaughter.
“I’ve been hearing so much about Haiti and was excited to come with my grandfather,” said Traver, a South Aiken High School senior. “It’s nice to see the fact that he is such a big part of the project and has so much experience in Haiti.”