Enthusiasm, curiosity keep Dixon’s Mills woman young

By Carolyn Drinkard

Special to The Watchman

Someone once said that you are not old until your enthusiasm and curiosity have withered. If that’s true, then Catherine Sumerlin will never grow old! Sumerlin’s enthusiasm for life and her curiosity about the world she lives in have taken her on 12 mission trips to Belize, and at 79, she’s not letting age slow her down in any way.

Catherine Sumerlin worked with young children from Belize in a summer Bible School.

Catherine Sumerlin worked with young children from Belize in a summer Bible School.

Sumerlin, who lives in Dixon’s Mills, attends Springfield Methodist Protestant Church, and in July, she and 5 other church members travelled to the mountainous region of San Lazaro, Belize. For nine days, the group helped with Bible School and village evangelism. They battled heat, dirt roads, language barriers, termites and large mosquitoes, but they carried out their mission to take God’s message to hundreds who live in the small mountain village.

Sumerlin started going on the “Belize Blitz” 12 years ago, at the age of 68.  “I had begun to feel like I wasn’t needed, so I prayed, and God put me in the direction where He needed me to go. I found my purpose in life. Now, I don’t want to quit!”

Brenda Byrd, a retired teacher who also travelled with the group, said that Sumerlin is her inspiration for going on the mission trips.  “With Cack, there’s never a dull moment. She loves the Lord, and she loves the people that she works with.”

Florene Carlisle, who also went on this trip, laughed, “It wasn’t easy keeping up with Cack. She never got tired. She was always ready to do everything. She’s our real ‘go-getter’!”

Sumerlin’s trips have given her many opportunities to get to know several Belizean families. As the years have passed, she has watched young children, that she once taught in Bible classes, grow up and then start families of their own. She says she feels like she is going home when she goes back to Belize.

“I now know almost all the people in San Lazero,” she stated. “You never know how you can touch people and never realize it. God uses every one of us in some way.”

Sumerlin stays active and enjoys life. She still teaches a 4 and 5-year-old class on Wednesday nights and works in the nursery at her church. She also works with the Jane Hamilton Ministry Team that visits Thomasville Healthcare and Rehab Center each Wednesday.

Sumerlin has two children: Phil Sumerlin, who lives in Dixon Mills, and and Sabrina Taylor, who lives in Mobile. She also has three grandchildren.

“The people I have met in Belize have so little,” said Sumerlin,”but they are so thankful for everything we do for them. I especially enjoy the children. We are so blessed here in America, but I know we take our blessings for granted.”

Sumerlin plans to go on the Belize Blitz again next year when she will be 80. She chuckled,” God still has a lot He wants me to do!”