by Rita Schaller ✠ Member of the SML B.O.L.D. [“Building Outside our Local Domain”] Missions Team
Our journey began when we were invited by Kevin Pieper and Catherine Weber from Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball to join them on their mission trip to Brownsville, Texas. Our group consisted of Chris Lorenzen; Jay and Mary Mattern and their children, Austin, Sarah and Grace; Billy and Erin Shipley and their children Natalie, Daniel, Jesse and Harper; and Bruce and Rita Schaller and grandson Joshua Treadway.
We arrived in Brownsville late Friday evening after a 7 hour drive. Early Saturday morning, we delivered a car full of toys that had been collected by Salem to the local police station for their annual Christmas Toy Drive. People had been lining up since Friday morning hoping to receive gifts for their children. Those of us who are parents could only imagine what it feels like to not be able to buy gifts for our kids.
From there we traveled to Good Neighbor Settlement House, which serves the homeless. Some of the services they provide are meals, shelter off site, clothing and the Gospel message to those in need. They have a large garden as well as a resale shop. The gentleman who showed us around explained that many years ago upon arriving in America this shelter helped him. He, in return, has volunteered weekly for over 15 years in thanksgiving to God. We toured the facility and spoke with some of people eating breakfast.
Our next stop was Trinity Lutheran Church where we met Pastor Steven Morfitt and his wife Sandy. While Steven was studying at the Seminary, he knew he wanted to be a missionary but as his wife Sandy said,” We expected to be sent somewhere outside of the U.S.A. but instead were called to Brownsville and we didn’t even speak Spanish!” Steven and Sandy love serving the people, have remained in Brownsville for almost 35 years and now speak excellent Spanish!
That morning we met about 30 people from their congregation and did activities in order to get to know one another better. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, especially their youth.
Later in the day, Trinity’s Day Care had their family Christmas program. As guests entered the church, they were asked to write a prayer on a prayer wall. After the program we, along with Trinity, hosted a celebration! There was food, activities for the children and St. Mark families acted out the Christmas story in full costumes sharing God’s love to many who are unchurched.
On Sunday, during worship Pastor asked us to share with the congregation, why we traveled on this mission trip. Matthew 28:12 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” came to mind. We are not just to bring the Gospel to the people of St. Mark, Spring Branch, or Houston but to all nations. For many of us, that means stepping out of our comfort zone.
Statistics reveal that more and more of our young people are turning away from the church because they feel that the church is not real. They are looking for people who put their faith into action. We hope to continue joining Jesus on His mission by building ongoing, life-changing relationships with Trinity Lutheran and their families; caring and sharing God’s love with them.
Next time we take a mission trip like this, we hope you will join us in this blessed endeavor, too!