Petersburg Pilot -


Lutheran youth spread good will in Puerto Rico


Submitted Photo

Pastor Mike Schwarte took a youth group to Puerto Rico for a mission trip in June. Each of the kids performed a particular job and came home humbled and appreciative. Shown here are: (front from left) Diane Murph, Lauren Bryner and Emma Peeler; (middle) Olivia Martinsen, Catherine Cardenas, Grace Weller, Jael Swanson, Samantha Marifern, Makayla Newman and Jennifer Bryner; (back) Jimmy Martinsen, Aaron Murph, Pastor Mike Schwarte, Dan Cardenas and Ethan Bryner.

Members of the Petersburg Lutheran Church traveled to Caugas, Puerto Rico in June on a mission trip.

The Week of Hope mission trip meets the needs of all age groups and includes meals to the homeless, tutoring poor or struggling children, leading day camps organizing and painting a room, working with disabled children and assisting with the elderly.

“We took about 12 kids on this trip,” Lutheran Church Pastor Mike Schwarte said. “They are a great group and worked very hard.”

Each day youth would go to their respective jobs and work.

“I worked in the botanical gardens,” Ethan Bryner said. “It was a great and humbling experience.”

He also explained that he and the crew he worked with built retaining walls and garden terraces.

“This was such a rewarding experience,” Bryner said. “I really look forward to the opportunity to go on another mission trip.”

There were other jobs in the garden as well. Lauren Bryner, Ethan's sister, also worked in the garden.

“My job was restricted to elephant grass,” she said. “It took a pick ax and lots of hard labor to get rid of it.”

According to Bryner, the main purpose of this work is to make a park and garden area that everyone can enjoy.

“This was a wonderful project,” she said. “I left there feeling such a sense of accomplishment.”

Sam Marifern and Jael Swanson worked at the battered womens’ shelter.

“We revamped a room that was like a classroom,” Marifern said. “The ceiling was coming down in there, it was awful.”

Marifern stated that while the workers were repairing the ceiling, they would go across the street to the safe house.

“We kept the kids happy and got to know their mothers some,” Marifern said.

As of last week, Schwarte and the youth of the Lutheran Church were looking into the next trip and how often the group will take mission trips such as this.

“I feel it's important to do this at least every other year,” Marifern said. “But we don't want to overtax the community with fundraising.”

There’s the possibility of taking a domestic trip one year and a trip abroad the next.

“This will give us an opportunity to make a difference somewhere every year,” Schwarte said.


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