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Artists, Missionaries bound for Malawi

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Gary and Elicia Kuhl are two artists who believe in using their talents to benefit the greater good. Both of them are loyal members of Eden Baptist Church in Lake Lindsey, Brooksville, and in June 2023 the couple is planning a church mission trip to Malawi, Africa. In anticipation of this trip, nature photographer Gary Kuhl is presenting his finest wildlife and natural landscape photos at a series of fund-raising events happening this summer at the church. And Elicia Kuhl, a skilled seamstress, is making clothes to give to poverty-stricken girls in Malawi–as a part of a major mission that will bring life-sustaining resources to children and families in great need. “I love using my knowledge of nature photography for a good cause,” said Gary Kuhl, a retired engineer. “Doing something I love to help others is a win win.”

Kuhl’s debut fundraiser called “Wild Things of the Nature Coast” took place on June 24 at Eden Baptist Church. At which Kuhl presented a grand display of photographs of wildlife and natural landscapes taken in the north central coastal area of Florida. Although this was a free event, donations were accepted to supply funds needed for the mission for which parishioners are paying for their own travel. Kuhl plans to take photos during the mission trip. “I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people that came out, and I really enjoyed myself,” he said. “People donated $200 for the cause, which is a good start.”

Coming up at 6 pm on August 8, is another Kuhl exhibit fund-raiser at the Eden Baptist Church. This one focused on photographic artwork created during his trips to the tropical Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands; and featuring photos and videos depicting the exotic landscapes and exquisite animals of these popular destinations. For more information, contact Malawi mission trip organizer Julie Keiper at 352-436-0151.

This Florida native took his first photos as a youth traveling with his parents; snaring prime shots of the Withlacoochee River and other local points of interest. Similarly, wife Elicia claims a similar lifelong passion in the knit arts. “I’ve been sewing since I was 15. It’s a great passion for me,” she said. “I made my own clothes for school.” Now Elicia is putting her skills to work as a part of Women on a Mission, a special mission project hosted by Christian activist Linda Rescorl. “This mission is close to my heart,” Elicia said.

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Aside from making clothes for students in Malawi, Elicia Kuhl has made special undergarments as a part of the Everyday Women Panti Plus mission, that empowers young girls to attend school any time of the month. And she is passing on her advanced skills to the young women who need them most. “I’ll be teaching sewing workshops in Malawi to children ages 8 and up. We need to empower these girls to be self-sufficient,” she said.

Elicia Kurl cherishes the opportunity to use her art in the service of other people and of God. “It is my heart’s desire to use my skills as a part of this mission,” she said. This reflects the spirit of Women on a Mission, according to Eden Baptist Church missions director Crystal Bishop. “We’ve been doing this mission for 15-20 years, and have been to Costa Rica, Honduras, and now Malawi,” Crystal said. “We love to help Linda with this mission, to serve in this way.”

And according to Julie Keiper, this mission is all-encompassing in scope. She shared, “We have enough clothes for families and food supplies to fill 40-pound suitcases.” And for the Kuhls, it’s a labor of love. “I just love photography,” said Gary Kuhl. See the work of Gary Kuhl at https://kuhlphotoart.blogspot.com.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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