From "Homeward bound"
By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR.
Read article at Salina Journal
Seven Marshall Island natives living in Arkansas and who had been locked up for seven days in the Saline County Jail left for their home in Springdale, Ark.,on Thursday morning aboard a van provided by Revolution Church, 1111 W. South.
The men had been incarcerated for seven days on charges of hitchhiking on Interstate Highway 135 on May 10.
They were attempting to walk back to Arkansas after an aborted plan to drive to Denver to visit the grandmother of one of the men.
They probably would have been set adrift in Salina after their release from jail had their behind-bars prayers not been answered.
Revolution Church pastor Jeff Piepho said the men, ranging in age from 17 to 23, told him they prayed somebody would help.
"Who knew someone from the Marshall Islands would be here" Piepho said.
That someone was church member and trustee Mike McConnell, who worked for three years at the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll Reagan Missile Test Site there.
"I know the Marshallese very well," McConnell said. "They are a very good, kind, trusting people."
So when he read a Salina Journal newspaper story about the men and that a stolen vehicle was involved, he knew they were in real trouble.
"They just don't steal things," McConnell said.
Started with car trouble
The men borrowed a car in Springdale to get to Denver, unaware the car was stolen.
"It was from a buddy back in Arkansas," said Franklin Naisher, 21. "We didn't know the car was stolen. We trusted him."
They were stopped and when their story checked out, the car was impounded, and May 9 they were taken to the Salina Rescue Mission in the Airport Industrial area. The next day, they started hoofing it back to Arkansas, which is when they got arrested for walking on the interstate.
A week later, they were back at the mission, awaiting the van that would transport them home.
God answers prayers
McConnnell said nearly all of the islanders are Christians, and that was musically demonstrated when the men broke into song, seated in the mission's main room. In Marshallese, they sang of God and how he answers prayers.
Once in the van and buckeled in, the men bowed their heads as Piepho led them in a departing prayer.
"As a pastor, this is the sort of thing I want to do, instead of sitting in my office," Piepho said as he watched the van drive off...
"Promoting more information disclosure by the public service, rather than secrecy which may allow corruption to be hidden" -
from Nitijela UN Workshop Outcomes Statement, Feb. 17, 2011