To continue the renovation work begun in June 2015 on CCE’s new high school, eight hardy souls from Minnesota—folks who don’t shy away from the rigors of winter travel—found their way to Martin in January and got down to business.
The group from Roseville Lutheran Church, which has coordinated builders group mission trips to Slovakia since 2003, embraced their marching orders: to demolish walls, floors, and ceilings in a space destined to become the Lutheran Academy’s first chemistry/physics lab.
The trip had a dual purpose, according to trip organizers KJ and Bob Bach. “Besides our labor, we enjoyed renewing long-time ties with our Slovak friends and establishing relationships with several high-school students. All of us were delighted to have the opportunity to meet and get to know these amazing young women and men from Martin. What joy and energy they have—and what appreciation for their new high school.”
Why did these Americans take on the challenges of physical labor in Slovakia—in January? To the Bachs, it’s simple. “The work we do with each trip is truly a labor of love for these students and their families—to freely give of our time and talents so that others might share in that same love of Christ, and pass it forward to their families, friends, and future generations of eastern Europe.”
Lutheran Academy student Barbora Sopoligova enjoyed seeing the Americans back on Slovak soil. She notes that since 2004 her school has grown from 25 first-graders to almost 600 students from preschool through high school. With that growth, she says, “More and more buildings and facilities are needed. Without the support, love, and help of our American friends, we wouldn’t have this chance to grow. Every year groups of Americans come to Martin to help us and share God’s love. Some of them have even been here ten times!”
Last summer, Barbora notes, she and several other Lutheran Academy teens had the opportunity to visit America in July and live for a month with families from some of CCE’s partner churches. Having the Americans in Martin in January provided an opportunity for many of the high-schoolers to spend some free time with their new-found friends, including an evening at a local coffee/tea café, preparing and hosting a halušky dinner, and playing floor hockey.
Barbora says knowing the American volunteers has taught her much. “Through them I really see how God works. Because of them we will finally have a chemistry and physics labs, which we never had before. Because of their work, so many children will have an opportunity to study and learn in new classrooms in better conditions. The volunteers have inspired me to help more, to care about the environment and the people around me. Thanks to the whole Builders Group and to all the people who care about our school and help us grow!”
High-school student Jan Drahos worked alongside the Americans during their stay. He summed up his feelings about the time: “It was great to meet our friends and partners from Minnesota again and together experience a sense of building our future. I really appreciated the chance to be part of this ‘brigade’ and have a nice time together. I want to say thank you for their help with our school.”
Likewise, the Americans were grateful for CCE’s help in making the trip a success, particularly naming the several contractors working with them and the following individuals:
- Tomáš Gulán
- Ľuboš and Katka Froĺová
- Eva Janotová
- Janka Mineková
- Dušan Haško
- Dušan Schudich
- Blythe and Tony Barreto
|Together, Americans and Slovaks are working side by side to make the Lutheran Academy unlike any other school in Slovakia. Do you have a heart for service? Additional builders group trips are planned to continue the renovation of CCE’s new building.
• April 18-May 3 Organized by Joe Lunders in Minnesota (email@example.com)
• June 8-20 Organized by Gail Jernberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Don Swanson (email@example.com) at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill.
No construction experience required; all inquiries welcome! For details, contact the organizers.