Dad and Daughter Enthused about Volunteering through Lutheran Hour Ministries
"A mission trip will grow your faith."
Chuck Drewett speaks from experience. In the past four years, he has traveled to Guatemala on three Lutheran Hour Ministries International Volunteer Trips with a team from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson, Mo. Chuck's daughter Valerie, 21, served as a digital marketing intern for LHM during the summer of 2013; she has accompanied him on two Volunteer Trips. In August, The Layman spoke with Chuck and Val about the challenges and joys of their volunteer experiences.
The Layman: What did you do on your International Volunteer Trips?
Chuck: On my first trip with our team built a house for a lady who lived in the city of Gualán. Then we helped rebuild a concrete ramp that children at the Lutheran school in Gualán used to walk between the school's buildings, which are built at different levels on a hillside; the previous ramp had been washed away by a storm.
Val: I worked at a place called "Hearts in Motion." This was a health center that would take in children who were malnourished, feed them, nurse them back to health, and then return them to their families. We also helped lead a vacation Bible school at a village near Gualán called Los Limones. On our second trip to Guatemala, I visited a government center that cares for children while their single mothers are at work.
The Layman: Apart from a new home, a new ramp, and improved health for the children at the center you talked about, how did the people in these communities benefit from your visits?
Chuck: It's not easy to put into words, but the people I worked with seemed to have a deeper sense of their own worth. If you were to interview them, I think they would probably say something like, "These people from the U.S. thought enough of us to raise money and take time out of their lives to come be with us." Those of us who have gone more than once-well, the people in Gualán remember us! The lady we built the house for-we met her again on subsequent trips, and both times she told us how thankful she was for the home we helped provide...she got pretty tearful; it was very emotional.
Val: The kids are the same way! I met one little boy on my first trip; when I went back, there he was-bigger now-and he recognized me and came right up to me. I think the kids get a lot out of the VBS's, too. They are so respectful and attentive-and always ready for the next thing you have to teach them.
The Layman: So would you say that relationships are where a lot of the benefits are?
Chuck: Yes, and not just between the team and the community we served. The relationships we built together within our group strengthened us both as a team and as individual followers of Christ.
Val: Right-the experience really allowed some of our team members to open up and express our faith and our personal impressions. We saw a whole new side of a team member who was moved one day to lead a prayer in front of a group-something he doesn't ordinarily do "back home."
Chuck: Then there's the idea of "team" itself. In reality, our mission team was our whole congregation-those of us who went but also those who helped raise funds, those who donated, those who prayed for us…. These mission trip projects bring our church community together. We grow in faith together.
The Layman: What are the advantages of working with Lutheran Hour Ministries as your partner in volunteer mission service?
Chuck: LHM has done a great job of providing educational tools that helped us prepare for our trips. And the staff at the ministry center help guide us and keep us on task.
Val: LHM has been a good choice for us. Rebeca [Lutheran Hour Ministries-Guatemala Director Rebeca de Franco] is amazing-she is always making sure we are headed down the "right path." And it has been especially great for me personally. While I was in Guatemala in 2011, I met Bruce Wurdeman, who had also come to visit the ministry center there-and he encouraged me to look into intern opportunities with LHM in St. Louis.
The Layman: And here you are.
Val: Here I am.
The Layman: What would you tell somebody who is thinking about going on a Volunteer Trip for the first time?
Val: The places where Lutheran Hour Ministries plans Volunteer Trips are where people need real help throughout the world. It's a great opportunity.
Chuck: For me, the decision to go was a response to an urge...a calling-the Holy Spirit working inside me. Afterwards, I have always felt as if I've received more than I gave. Hey-if Chuck Drewett can do this, you can! Listen for the Spirit's call.
Want to learn more about Lutheran Hour Ministries International Volunteer Trips? visit www.lhm.org/teams now.