A Casey County man, who moved out of the country with his family to work and live as missionaries, is being fondly remembered. John Lello, 46, was killed last month in Papua New Guinea.
“It was kind of heartwrenching,”¿said Randall Morris, a neighbor and fellow church member of John Lello.
Lello died as a result of a tragic accident while felling trees with local villagers, according to the Adventist Frontier Missions website. Lello and his family moved to the underdeveloped Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea to “minister to the Ama people” living along the Sepik River, according to a post Lello wrote on the site previously.
Lello, his wife and two daughters had moved to the country earlier this year — in March or April — after saving funds since 2010, when they moved out of Casey County to another state. According to multiple posts, the Lellos had taken up residence in a warehouse in another state, living as minimalists in training to relocate to the remote country of Papua New Guinea.
Morris knew the Lellos from Grove Seventh Day Adventist Church on North Hwy. 501, which the family attended up until 2010, before they moved away. While living in Casey County, Lello owned Quality Construction.
Also, Morris said his daughter had become quite close with Lello’s two girls, and was very sad to see them leave. However, Morris said he understood and was impressed at their decision to make the move.
“They wanted to go as a missionaries; sold everything they had and went,” Morris said. “John was a very personable person and he was eager to be of help to others.”
The families had been exchanging emails since the Lellos departed in 2010. Morris recollected one of the more recent emails from the Lello’s, after the family had begun making a life for themselves in the foreign country.
“His girls were raising birds; they had become their pets,” Morris said. He explained that the family had primarily been working to learn the language, as they had only moved to the region earlier in the year.
Morris expressed sadness at Lello’s passing.
“We are saying prayers for his wife and children,” Morris said.
Lellos wife, Pam, and their two children are expected to return to the area later this month, as he will be buried in Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery.
A private burial will take place for Lello in the cemetery, with a public memorial service to be held 3 p.m. Dec. 20 at Liberty United Methodist Church.
According to Adventist Frontier Missions, a fund has been set up to assist the family. Contributions may be sent to: the Lello Memorial Fund, care of Adventist Frontier Missions, PO Box 286 Berrien Springs, MI, 49103.