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Lutheran Hour Ministries' Online Mission Trip 2016—the organization's fifth mission education program for Lutheran school students—took several thousand "virtual missionaries" to Central America to introduce them to the land, culture, and character of Guatemala—as well as to the work of LHM there. Held Jan. 25-28 during National Lutheran Schools Week, LHM's Online Mission Trip was filled with energy, excitement, and assurances of God's love for people everywhere.

One source of energy and excitement was Alberto, who served as the students' guide and companion throughout the four-day adventure. Over the course of the event, Alberto demonstrated a special gift for seeing his home country from a youthful perspective—taking photographs with his cell phone while visiting the Mayan ruins at Tikal, eating termites in the jungle just for fun, dancing to marimba music with LHM—Guatemala Director Rebeca de Franco (who is also his mother), and even grousing good-naturedly about having to sit at the "kids' table" during lunch at a ministry location.

LHM—Guatemala's holistic Gospel outreach to children was the focus of Online Mission Trip Day 2. Ministry center staff and volunteers visited both Christian schools and public schools across the country to present Project JOEL, a biblically-based values education program that LHM's centers in Latin America have been using with great success for 20 years. Students who participate in Project JOEL activities learn about relationships, about responsibility, and about making wise life choices—and as they do, they also hear the message of God's love through Jesus.

Instead of live-chat question opportunities as in past years, Online Mission Trip 2016 included pre-recorded student questions as part of each day's video—but through the use of social media, students and schools were able to interact with the Guatemala ministry center in new ways. Over the four days of the mission trip, Facebook and Twitter (search #omtguat) were buzzing with questions, comments, and photos from students and other participants. Rebeca worked hard to field the many questions, posting responses on both Facebook and the LHM—Guatemala blog.

Response to the trip from students in the U.S. was very positive; check out just a few of the comments that have been shared so far:

• "Thank you for providing such a great learning opportunity for our class and for jump starting our enthusiasm for mission work."
• "Dear friends in Guatemala, I hope you have fun in your beautiful country and I hope you grow closer to Jesus every day. I am so happy to be learning about your country and culture. I am praying that God protects and provides for you and your families."
• "It was awesome seeing and learning about Guatemala."

You don't need to attend a Lutheran school to experience the excitement of LHM's 2016 Online Mission Trip to Guatemala. The four videos are available anytime, to anybody, for download or to watch through YouTube! And who knows? When you see them for yourself, you might get inspired to use them as resources in your Sunday school, VBS, or small group! Just visit LHM's Online Mission Trip web page at

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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