St. Joe’s

March 4th, 2012

I love that Grace is in service to others whether in our local community, in other states or across the globe and that we are teaching our youth the value of helping others and living as Christ taught.  While my daughter Katie was in confir­mation, her class served at a St. Joe’s meal site.  While the parents provided the food, it was the youth who served the meal.  As the people came to the kitchen asking for seconds, they didn’t want to make eye-contact with the kids or even speak very loud.  I watched the kids ask questions and talk with the individuals without any judgment and how the people responded with louder voices, eye contact and smiles.  The inter­action was marvelous – I was so proud of all of the youth that night as they were truly behaving as Christ and showing how we are taught to love one another.

Cindy Savely

Faith Changes Everything

March 1st, 2011

By Hannah Campbell

This article first appeared in the publi­cation “In His Grip”, a publi­cation for youth in congre­gations of the South­eastern Iowa Synod.

Guatemala had everything one could hope for in a mission trip-lots of sun, dirt, and smiles.  Most impor­tantly it had a lesson-an eye-opening, heart-filling, faith-growing, bubble-blowing lesson.  It taught me that faith can change everything and thanks be to God for that.

When I stepped off the plane in Guatemala City, it was like stepping into another world.  The airport was dark and small.  Everything seemed small-the streets, the buildings, even the people.  I saw a lot of things I never expected to see.  There were beautiful green mountains with patchworks of farms going up the side.  Cows were everywhere, crossing the road and grazing in cornfields.

There were things so “American” it shocked me.  SUV’s were driving down the tiny streets, past McDonalds and huge hotels.  They weren’t too far from houses made of mud and tin.  They weren’t too far from fire stations run by volunteers, with only one working truck and ambulance.  Those who couldn’t afford “private hospitals” had to rely on these volunteers.  That’s a lot of people.

Many people didn’t have running water.  The village where the Grace team worked, Las Rosas, used wells.  The emergency room in the public hospital was packed, while loved ones waited outside.  (There was no room inside for relatives to stay, so many just slept and waited outside until the patient got better.)  Most kids had to work at a very young age, so continuing their education for very long would be impossible.

Yet, for everything the people of Guatemala didn’t have, they did have an abundance of spirit.  Someone always gave a wave and a smile, even to a perfect stranger.  It seemed to be cultural to make the most of what they did have, including faith.

The faith of the people of Dios con Nosotros and Emmanuel was amazing to say the least.  It wasn’t just something to have, it was a way to live.  Hundreds packed the not-so-big chapel of Emmanuel weekly, even though this could mean a long and difficult journey.  Outside of church, members gathered in their hometowns for prayer and worship.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about Guatemalan faith was how willing people were to share it.

When members of the Grace team went to Emmanuel to meet and sing with their members, we were embraced as brothers and sisters, literally embraced, as “hermanas” and “hermanos.”  It had never hit me until just then, but we are.  We had never met, didn’t know a thing about each other, didn’t even speak the same language, yet we were family.  I knew we were family, on in Christ’s love.

The same sense of family and unity followed the team to the work site in Las Rosas.  I could hardly understand a word the members of Dios con Nosotros said, and I’m sure they could hardly understand me.  However, that didn’t stop us from shoveling sand and dirt, swinging pick-axes, and just plain working together.  We even played together.  The kids were shy at first, but once the bubbles came out, so did they.  Before anyone knew it, memories were being made and good times were being had, sharing the spirit of joy.

No matter what we were doing, I felt connected.  I think that must be what the Holy Spirit feel like.  I think I’ve grown a lot in my faith.  Faith is a blessing, something that only gets stronger with each test.  It’s a blessing to share it, because that’s what makes strangers family.  It’s a way of life, something to live by and celebrate, not just have.  It makes a heart grateful and everything enough.

Faith changes everything.