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Q&A: Watertown family prepares for mission to Sri Lanka

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WHO: Andrew T. King, his wife and two children will leave Dec. 10 for a one-year church mission to Sri Lanka. Mr. King, 28, Watertown, is the son of John P. and Ellen M. King of Watertown. His wife, Jacqueline, is the daughter of Kevin R. and Rosa Holmes, Champion. Mr. Holmes is an assistant pastor at Cornerstone Family Worship Center, 231 S. Massey St., where Andrew and Jacqueline met. They married in 2005.

The couple will be taking their children, Bella, 5, and Amelia, 4, on their mission to Sri Lanka, an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of India. The family attends Faith Fellowship Church, 131 Moore Avenue.

Mr. King is rehab services manager at Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics, 316 Sherman St.

The couple will be serving in the Jaffna district of Manipay at Angel International School, where only English is allowed to be spoken. The area was devastated by decades of civil war, which ended in 2009. The school has approximately 800 students in grades preschool through 12.



Have you or your wife been on other mission trips?



“When I was younger, I had never wanted to do anything like this. But I was offered a spot on a mission trip to Mexico through a local church. It’s New Life now, but it used to be a different church. Somebody backed out and they had a spot.

“My wife — she went to Brazil for three months and lived there before we were married.”



How long was your trip to Mexico?



“A long weekend. We built a house there for some really poor people. I saw some fruit in that. It was good to help people. Quite often nowadays ... when you give to charity, you don’t know how much is going to make it there. In this case, I was there just for a weekend to build a house and I was like, ‘I’d like to do more.’

“I also went to New Orleans after (hurricane) Katrina. We helped out there. It was pretty bad.”



How did the Sri Lanka opportunity arise?



“We met the principal of the school (Alex Thevaranjan). He’s a teacher at Syracuse University and friends with my parents, who went (to Sri Lanka) for a short while. Their trip (which began in May of this year) was shortened because my mother got very sick and had to come home.

“When the opportunity first presented itself, I was thinking, ‘I can’t do this. It’s not wise.’”



Why is that?



“It’s just not wise to take your two children and wife to a place where political stability has just been established. We prayed a lot. We decided it was something we could possibly do. If I didn’t do this, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life.”



What will you be doing at the school?



“Teaching English. When the principal originally asked me what I’d like to teach, I said music, music theory and history of music and maybe start a band. That will be something to work on.

“When my parents were over there in May, they were able to make a lot of headway teaching English. My mother told me there’s a lot of need there and there’s going to be so much to do that I’ll have to pick a few things or I’m going to drive myself nuts.”



Are your children excited?



“This is their first trip. Bella was asking me why we haven’t bought any toys recently. I told her when we get there, we’ll buy some because we’re going to start over.”



You’ll be resigning from your job here. Are you apprehensive about that?



“I have faith that God is going to take care of us. The school has a bungalow for us to stay in. I won’t have to worry about the rent bill.”



Why is it important to teach the English language in Jaffna?



“At one point, there were no schools there. When they started the school, they specifically wanted to make it an English-speaking school so kids would have a leg up to speak English because Sri Lanka has a very heavy tourist industry they are trying to start up again.”

(According to the CIA World Factbook, Sinhala is the country’s official language, spoken by 74 percent of the population. English is commonly spoken in government and referred to as the country’s “link language.”)



You need to raise money for airfare, visas and vaccinations and you also hope to purchase some musical instruments. How is that drive going?



“People have been very generous. We’re a little over halfway toward our goal of $10,000.”



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To support the Kings’ mission, tax-deductible donations can be sent to Andrew King, c/o Faith Fellowship Church, 131 Moore Ave., Watertown, N.Y., 13601.

If you have a suggestion for a Q&A profile, contact Times features writer Chris Brock at cbrock@wdt.net.

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