This past summer was so hot that it would seem crazy to go south during the summer.
But that’s what members of Lutheran Church of Peace in Platteville did in June — specifically, to South Carolina on a mission trip in June.
Eleven youth and four adults went to Conway, S.C., June 9–17.
Rev. Jeff Pedersen, LCP’s pastor, said this was their first trip to South Carolina, “although we’ve taken many mission trips in the past. Every year we try to go on a mission trip.”
The Lutheran Church of Peace group was one of four to have gone to South Carolina, but the only one from an area of the country where southern accents are not prominent.
The group helped build a dining hall for a boys home, working daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“These boys have been abused and abandoned,” said Pedersen.
Alaina Reeves was struck by “seeing the boys we build the dining hall for, how hard their lives were.”
The group also conducted a vacation Bible school for children ages 3 to 12.
When asked about a typical day, Alyson Reeves gave a one-word answer: “Hot.”
“I’m from Wisconsin; I’m not used to that,” said Lexi Neumeister. “It’s different heat.”
Lauren Kieckhafer doubled Reeves’ response: “Hammering nails.”
“There was a sense that we had different people from different experiences all coming together for a common goal to hugely affect the lives of others,” said Kathryn Kieckhafer. “They just jumped in and worked together even at the hardest times. It was getting out of yourself. It was amazing how the right people came together. It was just like God providing.”
“We got to experience what God can really do in your life to help people out,” said Dan Iselin, whose father, a UW–Platteville engineering professor, was the only person on the trip with anything remotely close to construction experience. “Helping people out, it affects their lives. It wasn’t exactly easy getting up at 6 and working until 3, but it felt really cool helping people instead of sitting at home and playing video games.”
“With this group, I saw a high level of maturity,” said Pedersen. “Never once did I have to prod them along; they were always ready to go Just a high-driven group; I was very impressed by that.”
The groups held a special service the last day of the trip, in which participants wrote their problems on paper and nailed to a cross.
“It made people really emotional,” said Noah Hoeper, “like they were free of the stuff that was hurting them.”
Pedersen said the group will be doing a mission trip next year, though the location and dates haven’t been determined yet.