TOWANDA - Krystal Garrison of Sayre serves her community as a leader of a Brownie troop in Athens and by helping to run a youth group at the Sayre Christian Church in Sayre.

In October, the 28-year-old Garrison will serve others in a different way when she goes on a 15-day mission trip to India.

Garrison and the nine others on the mission trip will volunteer at a school and hospital in the village of Mungeli in the state of Chhattisgarh in central India, said the Rev. James Donahoo, a former pastor of the Sayre Christian Church, who is coordinating the mission trip.

"I've always wanted to go on a mission trip, but a mission trip to another country is even better," Garrison said. "I'm excited. I can't wait."

"We get to learn about a different culture while we're there," she said.

She said she will help out whatever way she is needed, which could include, for example, teaching English to students at the school, doing laundry at the hospital, or doing shopping for the hospital.

The group will stay in a "bare-bones type of facility" that the hospital has for guests, Donahoo said.

While doing volunteer work will be the main way they'll spend their time, those on the mission trip will also be able to do some sightseeing.

Specifically, on one day, the group will travel to New Delhi to visit the National Gandhi Museum, and they will also visit that day the location where some of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes are, Donahoo said. On another day, they will visit the Taj Mahal, Donahoo said.

The mission trip is sponsored by the East Central and Northeast districts of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Pennsylvania.

The hospital was founded in 1897 by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and continues to have strong ties to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Donahoo said. Today the hospital, which has 120 beds, is "a very advanced (facility) with a lot of medical services," said Donahoo,

Garrison, who works as a surveillance supervisor at Tioga Downs, is holding a series of fundraisers to help raise the $3,000 she must pay toward her trip.

Sunday was the first of the fundraisers, which was held at the Sayre Christian Church.

At Sunday's fundraiser, members of the public could purchase and eat a meal cooked by Garrison and her husband Bob, which consisted of Indian dishes and chicken soup.

Other fundraiser meals are also planned at the church.

Donahoo said he has also been involved in mission trips to Portland, Maine and West Virginia. The October journey will be his first mission trip to India.

Donahoo said he has been to India once before, on a three-week trip in 1998, where he gave two seminars on issues related to death and dying.

One of the locations he visited during his 1998 trip was Mungeli.

"I've always wanted to go back to India," he said.

Donahoo recalls seeing oxen-drawn carts on his 1998 trip and being impressed at the time with how widespread the use of bicycles were in India.

One hospital's parking lot had so many bicycles, it was really a "bicycle parking lot," he said.

Motor scooters were also "a big thing in India," he recalled.

Immediately after Garrison's mission trip, a second group of 10 Americans will also make a mission trip to Mungeli, and that mission trip will also be run by Donahoo.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.