Giving of Themselves all Over the World
Jack Pearson | Apr 30, 2012, 9:59 a.m.
In this increasingly avaricious world of ours, there are still people all around us who quietly and anonymously provide not only their own money, but their time and expertise to help others without any compensation. These people often volunteer in hospitals and senior centers. Then there are those whose humanitarian activities not only take up their own time, but cost thousands of dollars out of their own pockets. I am not talking about millionaires such as the Bradleys or the Kohlers, but ordinary people, most of whom you’ve never heard of.
While there are probably many, here are two, Joel Samuelson, an electrician who lives in Brookfield, and Dr. Lee M. Tyne, an orthopedic physician who has offices in West Allis, Brookfield and Pewaukee. Their stories are quite remarkable.
Joel and his wife, Sue, live a couple houses up the road from this writer. They own a couple of lively and playful dogs called Fin and Wedge, and we have one, whose name is Casey. Joel and I and our canine trio occasionally take walks together. In all the years I’ve known him, he has never mentioned the missionary-type trips he has taken all over the world over the past few decades. I learned of them through my wife, Margaret, who was told about them by Sue. So later, I asked him about them.
“I’ve always had a yen to visit far off places and see the world,” Joel told me. “When I was a youngster, one of my aunts worked for a Swedish consulate, and she was quite a traveler. She bought me a subscription to National Geographic, and I read all the stories and studied the maps and pictures, and it all stuck in my mind.
“Years later, after I went to trade school, I became a licensed electrician and got married. I also joined Elmbrook Church in 1973, which is a non-denominational church in Brookfield. One day, during services, I heard a talk about the conditions over in Senegal, Africa, and the needs of the missionaries there. That was in 1979.” Senegal is a country on the extreme western coast of Africa, a bit larger than the state of Wisconsin. It is a former French colony, independent since 1960.
“I decided to sign up and go over there with a small group and help in a project there,” he told me. “It was a three-week commitment and we all had to raise support for our own travel costs. My flight, from Milwaukee to New York and then across the Atlantic to Dakar, cost about $800, round trip. It was quite a bit of money back then. The work we were to be involved in was to build a house for one of the missionary families. There was no electricity in the area, and I soon realized my own expertise would be of no use. But I did learn to be a pretty good brick layer. They make their own bricks there out of mud, straw and water, and they’re quite a bit bigger than the bricks we’re used to here. Anyway, I was given a quick course in bricklaying, and was soon busily at work.
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