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Member In Mission- Rob Hay

Diane and I had the privilege of serving for two weeks in Puerto Rico as part of a rebuilding team after Hurricane Maria. We were part of a group led by Pastor Mark Palmer that consisted of people from our DC synod and the Baltimore Maryland synod ranging in age from 14 to 70.  While most people came for one week, we were lucky enough to attended for two and be able to welcome the larger group from Good Sam when they came on the second week.

The state of the island is a mix bag two years after the hurricanes.  People’s homes seemed to be four distinct categories. Those with resources had their homes, neighborhoods and infrastructure repaired and back to normal.  Those that had the means to fill out the correct forms and the knowledge of where to ask for help have their homes livable (windows and roofs restored). These neighborhoods also had basic infrastructure, but the roads were still damaged and the electricity unreliable. The third category would be those that were unable to repair their damaged homes and have not returned to them.  This was most prominent in the neighborhoods that we worked in and by a casual estimate looks to be about a quarter of the homes. The fourth group is where we were trying to help through the auspices of Puerto Rico Lutheran Social Services. For the most part the people we served did not have the resources to fend for themselves, lacked family that could help, or didn’t know where to begin to get help within the bureaucracy that is needed in a response of this magnitude. The three houses my team worked on included a husband and wife team who were dealing with kidney failure and dementia, an older man that was blind and very hard of hearing and another coming off of treatment for cancer. We were lucky enough to form relationships with these homeowners and our counterparts in LSS (Lutheran Social Services). In many cases it was difficult to speak to one another due to the language barrier (despite being part of the United States, Spanish is the predominant language spoken on the island), but small acts of kindness on their part made us feel welcome and befriended. One homeowner brought us bananas from their tree in the backyard, another shared soda or the most notable for me, the sister in law of the blind man gathered us in a circle before we left home at project completion and said a long prayer for us in Spanish.  

While building houses and relationships with our Puerto Rican hosts was the predominant goal of our trip, we were also able to build relationship bridges with the synod and with the participants of this effort.  The group from Good Sam, although being one of the larger contingents, was constantly working and socializing outside of ourselves. Some were group leads, some were drivers and others led some of the nightly devotionals.  It was good to see our little church become so involved with bettering our relationships with those outside our community.

We, along with all the other volunteers stayed at Campamento Luterano Eduardo Roig, which used to be used as a Lutheran summer camp before the hurricanes. Everyone slept in bunk house arrangements in either 16, 8 or 4 person rooms.  We were fed breakfast and most dinners at camp and the food made me feel like I was back at boy scout camp. The shared showers had a propensity to cut out to a trickle the minute you got shampoo on your head. The work was difficult, almost always dirty and by the end of the day we were all pretty tired.  It was a great experience. It turned out not to be an experience to endure or survive but one in which you could learn a sense of compassion in which respect and honor must be key components. We learned that even through their struggle, the people that we met were warm and welcoming and enjoyed life.

Member in Mission: Karol Carlsen

Karol’s Senior project is a painting in three parts. Each panel of the tri-panel painting is a 5 x 7 foot standalone painting and when they are joined together that complete a fuller expression of the experience she is reading to replicate, imagine and share.

Often artists will create their paintings from photos to help them remember the images, detail and connections to create a collage of the experience. For this project Karol’s method was to skip using photos and try to capture the experience, the mood, the feeling of the setting, rather than copy the photographed environment. This way she is painting from her emotions and her memory of the feelings rather than anything she has particularly observed. Her effort is to convey a synthesis of the experiences and moods she invites people to step into. Karol is heading to Graduate School in July to Maine College of Art’s, Masters in the Art of Teaching Program.

Karol grew up at Good Sam and in the last three years Karol has been our Lead Staff Member in charge of Nursery Care. She has provided a caring, engaging, welcoming and learning environment where she has often used her art experience to invite the nursery children to express themselves. We look forward to celebrating her work among us on June 30, 2019 following the worship service.

Do you have a Graduate in your household? Let the office (office@goodsam.community) know and share some of the details around their accomplishments and plans for the future. We hope to publish a Graduates list in early June.

Member in Mission: John Scheffler

Member In Mission John Scheffler

by.  Kelly Thurber

John Scheffler was one of the very first people who talked with me and connected with me when we first visited Good Sam. I seemed to see him everywhere! As I started to get more involved at church his name popped up as the point of contact or as a good person to talk to about their experience over and over again. How much can one person be involved in? Turns out when you retire and choose a path of “Professional Volunteer” you can be involved in quite a lot. It’s not about how much he can do though, it’s about a calling and openness to give small amounts of his time that make a big impact.

John moved to the area in 1997 with the Navy, bringing his wife Cyndi and their two girls Carol & Amy, who are now grown and married. Having been baptized and raised in the Lutheran Church and even attending Lutheran elementary and high schools, each duty station they sought a Lutheran Church. So when they moved to Pax, John pulled out the best 90’s technology for finding a church – the phone book! He found Good Samaritan and was given the rather cryptic instructions of where to find it in Millison Plaza: “in the basement under the restaurant, next to the art studio” (ok, so it was really under a bar & beside a tattoo parlor).  Read More.

After his retirement from the Navy in 2005, he spent the next 9 years as a contractor. Following the passing of his wife Cyndi in 2013, he began looking for an alternate career, and in 2014 he left his job and chose to become a professional volunteer serving his community. John and his family were first introduced to Hospice as his wife spent her last weeks there. This experience led John to a passion for health care advocacy and eventually landed him on the St. Mary’s Hospice Board. Every week he spends a couple hours in the office helping with admin tasks. He also helps with their annual events such as the Run & Fun Walk fundraiser, Festival of Trees, and Camp Sunrise for kids who have experienced losses . His very first volunteer experience was helping with this camp in 2014, and he subsequently has had the privilege of presenting veteran’s honor certificates and occasionally serving specific Hospice patients.

From Choir to Men’s Word & Prayer Bible Study to Finance Team – John has been active at Good Sam in these quiet roles for decades, but he is also instrumental in several other programs in the church and community as well. Although he doesn’t remember exactly how he initially became involved with the Saint Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen, over time he answered more requests to volunteer and is now the lead volunteer for Good Sam’s monthly 3rd Saturday breakfast at the soup kitchen – planning the meal and coordinating volunteers in cooking and serving . He is always happy to welcome new volunteers who have an interest in checking it out. Those three hours on one  Saturday each month feed dozens of men, women and children.

If you don’t have a middle schooler, you may not know that John is also the co-lead for Confirmation with Jennifer Normyle. Each week John uses his gifts to connect with and guide our kids through confirmation topics! But John’s love of working with youth also extends to his participation in the reading tutoring program at Carver Elementary (a partnership started by Gennifer Koebke 3 years ago with the  Title 1 school that serves Good Sam’s neighborhood). He continues to go for one hour every Thursday morning to work with students on their reading and gets to share in the joy of reaching their goals as their skills and confidence improve. After traveling to Guatemala last fall, he enjoyed using his very rudimentary Spanish to talk with a student in both Spanish and English.

Thank you John for your servant heart and cheerful spirit and for sharing your personal journey into mission.

Member in Mission: Rich Slavik

You may recognize Rich Slavik as the guy who hands you a bulletin as you walk into church or passes you an offering plate during service. He’s quietly assumed this role of usher for so long that even he has forgotten how many years its been, but he’s earned the title of lead usher because without fail he shows up and is there to serve. He has been showing up at Good Sam since 1996, back before the tattoo shop, when our congregation met at the Knight’s of Columbus Hall.

Originally from New Jersey, Rich first found himself here in Pax River with the Navy and during his 27 year career he was stationed a total of 4 times. It was on his last tour here that he found Good Sam. After retiring from the navy, he dabbled briefly with civilian contracting on base, but ultimately found his next calling in serving with The Arc Southern Maryland. This organization’s mission is “Creating opportunities for independence and personal success for people with different abilities in inclusive communities.” This job brought him into a support and friendship role with adults with developmental disabilities – Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and more. Rich spent the next 14 years taking assignments to care for and serve individuals; helping them with their daily routines, taking them shopping, playing pool, or going to movies.  He maintained connections and friendships with these men and women and their families.

All the while Rich continued to attend and serve Good Sam, through transitions and changes of location. He has served on the finance team on and off, and still serves as secretary. He witnessed the birth of the Food Pantry through a youth group challenge to bring in food, watched it grow, helped when he could, and after retirement eventually took over as the lead of Our Daily Bread food pantry. I see Rich in the office every Monday like clockwork as he picks up food from the donation bins and carries it across the parking lot. He is participating in a group trying to bring a Food Bank to St Mary’s County for the benefit of ALL of the local food pantries and soup kitchens, but for now he and others weekly drive to Waldorf to restock what’s needed from the closest area Food Bank. He leads volunteers from our church and community every Wednesday and Friday as they restock shelves and then help hand out food to the 120 patrons who come each week. Rich’s steady and persistent mission to serve others helps sustains the ministries he touches, and we are lucky to have this member in mission as part of our community.

Member in Mission: Leanne Hicks

Member in Mission: Leanne Hicks

Wife, Mother, Church Member, Business Manager and Volunteer EMT – these are the many roles Leanne has been called to. How does one come into all of these roles in life and in the community? A life time of answering those calls to mission and purpose!

Born in New York, Leanne grew up an Air Force kid and came to live in Pax River with her family as a child. In 2000 her mother, Deborah Yates, started a residential and commercial cleaning company called Spare Hands Cleaning. In 2006 Leanne joined the company and for the last 10 years she has been the manager as well. This is the same company that has cleaned for Good Sam every other week for more than 8 years and has served the community for 19 years! This family company has a remarkable mission – and it’s not just cleaning! Like many businesses they do their fair share of donating a percent of profits and raffling off a free service, but they also partner with the Department of Aging to offer discounted services to those in need and have services available to hoarders who want help making their homes livable. Another wonderful program they participate in is “Cleaning for a Reason” – A non-profit that serves women undergoing cancer treatment by matching them with a company who will provide house cleaning service for free. Locally Spare Hands donates 2 cleanings a month to the program and Leanne had been blessed to be a part of the lives of all those in need who find their way to the Spare Hands family.

A year after starting with Spare Hands, Leanne and her fiancé Thomas were searching for a church that would marry them and their path led them to Good Sam. They continue to embrace the mission of the church as well, finding ways to serve the community. Just 4 years ago Leanne decided to answer another type of call – to be a trained as a volunteer EMT for our local Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad (LPVRS). The 2 stations that make up the LPVRS are on call 24/7 staffed 100% by volunteers – drivers, EMT providers, and crew!  To become an EMT, Leanne took the 5-month training course and passed a practical exam and committed to passing a National Certification Exam as well to serve to her maximum potential. The flexibility of volunteering for shifts and committing to a minimum of 30 hours a month fit well with her other roles in home and business. Her 12-year-old, Kara, is involved as well as an Associate Member helping with fundraising and starting on her own years of service in our community. When she turns 16 she will be able to serve as a Junior Member, become CPR certified, serve on shifts and even ride on as crew. Her older daughter Kamesha found her own path in the community volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Thank you, Leanne for sharing your mission and being an example to your children and a light to those around you in our church family and our community.

Member in Mission: Laurie Johnson-Brown

Mission Spotlight: Laurie Johnson-Brown

On Dr. Laurie Johnson-Brown’s first trip to Westmoreland Parrish in Frome, Jamaica she helped to finish a school in partnership with the Church of the Nazarene – Burnt Savanna. This past holiday season she traveled on her 2nd trip with 3 suitcases full of school supplies to deliver to Ferris Primary & George’s Plain Primary Schools! She was invited to run workshops for parents, admin & Sunday school teachers – one of which was focused on best practices for students with special learning needs. She also led a program for young adults in their 20’s called “Single & Saved.” Back home in Maryland she is the Vice Principle at a special education center in Charles County where her passion is to “be a light in public school.” She surely succeeds at making community connections at home and abroad. 
 
After returning from 12 amazing days in Frome, Jamaica Laurie says “I’m am praying for God to afford me the opportunity to go back to work with the teachers and to provide assistance with supplies and educational materials!”

Summer Members in Mission

NEW Members in Mission This Summer

We are creating a SPACE FOR GRACE this summer. During the school year so many people have sports and activities and other obligations. Some of us may travel this summer near and far, or take the opportunity to enjoy the weather on weekends or sleep in. Summer is a time to relax and refresh and get to know some different faces! I’d like to introduce you to a couple of new members who have taken on big roles in our new summer program:

Kathy Marbach, her husband Pete, and their girls Cora and Mabel, moved here in 2017 with the Marine Corps. She was searching for an active Lutheran church and found Good Sam. Originally from Edinburg, VA, Kathy has always been active in church and ministry everywhere she goes! She has served as a small group leader with the Virginia Synod youth, volunteered in the nursery, a VBS volunteer, and served on the council for Hispanic Ministry in California. Here at Good Sam, she has stepped up as a substitute Sunday school teacher, serves on the fellowship team and helped coordinate our thriving Eat & Play Fellowship of Families programs. This year she began teaching Spanish in an after-school program and is continuing to teach this summer at a Spanish Camp for St. Mary’s County Public Schools. Kathy is also part of the team headed to Puerto Rico in July and has previously been on a Lutheran cultural youth trip to Puerto Rico in 2008 as a trip chaperone and in 2007 she went to Guatemala to build houses. When Kathy sees a need she is ready to jump in! Why did Kathy join the Summer Programs Team? Because the Bible instructs us to TEACH our children the ways of the Lord and she believes this is the priority of the church as in Deuteronomy 11:18-21.

Josh Buyert relocated from Iowa here to Pax River a couple of years ago when he got a job as a civilian with the Navy. His wife Tabitha and their daughter Elizabeth were finally able to join him here in 2018 and they all joined Good Sam earlier this year. They also welcomed their son Connor in April. Tabitha grew up Lutheran and they tried a few churches before finding their way to Good Sam. Although they have been participating in church activities for a while, this will be Josh’s first real leadership role in the church. Josh and Robert Mack volunteered to help lead the Middle & High School youth this summer. He was involved himself as a youth and is excited to connect with that group at Good Sam. Why did Josh join the Summer Programs Team? He saw a need during our interest meeting and wanted to fill that need, he felt called to step up. His hope is that people show up and have a good time! We are excited to welcome new energy and role models for our teens and hope to create lasting connections for them with their peers and other adults in the church.

So, we invite you to come have dinner with Good Sam (Yeah, no cooking! Unless you want to bring something to share), shake up your Wednesday night and enjoy the company of others in whatever way you want to participate. Doors will open at 4:30 PM, Dinner at 5:15 PM, Angelic Voices Choir practice at 6:00 PM, an opening prayer at 6:15 PM and activities and small groups until 7:00 PM. Drop in when you can, leave when you need to, bring a friend, or make a new one! Join us in our Space for Grace this summer.

Journey With Our Building Puentes Mission Team 

First, we would like to thank everyone who participated in our two fundraisers – the Chili Cook Off and Sweet Frog night were both a success and were a fun time to connect with each other and enjoy some good food! In addition to Thrivent Member Choice Dollars and Facebook Campaign donations from friends near and far we raised a total of $2400 to offset the cost of the trip for our team of eleven. Our team has a heart for mission and God has faithfully blessed each family with the funds to cover their remaining balance.

We will be leaving for Puerto Rico in two groups – July 21st and July 28th and all returning August 3rd. 

When I pray for people, I love to know a bit about them and have a face to bring to mind! So, as you keep the team in your thoughts & prayers leading up to and during the trip, I hope to learn a bit more about them helps you connect more deeply with them through this shared journey.

Katie Hayden – This is my 1st mission trip! I’m excited to meet new people, experience a new culture, and grow my faith while helping others. I am most nervous about the bugs! 

  • Spouse: Mike Hayden  
  • Kids: Elizabeth- 5, Charlie -3, Henry -3 
  • Hometown: Hollywood  
  • Day Job: Part Time ESOL Teacher in Calvert county
  • Hobby: Lately, Training our two new puppies 
  • Joined Good Sam: February 2019, but have been attending for about one year    

Kathy Marbach – I served in Guatemala previously restoring homes in a village in the highlands. I am most excited for this trip to learn something new and refreshing, use my Spanish skills and do recreational activities in Puerto Rico. I am most nervous about the heat and being dehydrated.

  • Spouse: Pete Marbach 
  • Kids: Cora & Mabel
  • Hometown: Edinburg, VA
  • Day Job: Caring for Kids & Part Time Spanish Teacher
  • Hobby: crafts & Sewing, Zumba/Exercising 
  • Joined: 2017

Eric Thurber – I have done a couple local mission service opportunities in the past. I’m most excited about visiting a new place and meeting people, as well as getting back into construction type activities.  Nervous about sleeping in the heat!

  • Spouse: Kelly Thurber
  • Kids: Max – 5, Eli -4
  • Hometown: Ocean Springs, MS
  • Day Job: Navy Test Pilot
  • Hobby: Racing cars & outdoor stuff
  • Joined Good Sam: 2016

Kelly Thurber – I served as a short term missionary in Uganda in 2011 & 2013. I have done a few other small trips in the US over the years and I am most excited to be part of a group effort with my church and bonus that I get to use my construction skills. I am most nervous that it’s been so long since I have used my skills; I worry I will struggle to work, teach and lead adequately.

  • Hometown: Birmingham, AL
  • Day Job: Usborne Books & More Consultant & Educational Services Rep
  • Hobby: Volunteering & Outdoor Activities
  • Joined Good Sam: 2016

Ron Stepp – This is my first mission and I’m excited to help people who need assistance and to spend time with the Puerto Rican people. My only concern is my poor hearing will impact my ability to understand people which may inhibit how I am able to connect with them. 

  •   Spouse: Laurie Stepp
  •   Kids: Three Boys – 33, 31 & 28
  •   Joined Good Sam: 2004 – currently living in York, PA
  • Hometown: Buena Park, CA
  • Day Job: Retired from NAVAIR flight testing
  • Hobby: Bicycling

Laurie Stepp: While helping my 3 sons raise funds for mission work in Mexico, I wished I could have belonged to a youth group doing that kind of thing; and now is that time! I am excited to live and work in a community of like-minded Christians who want to share God’s love where needed. Although, I am worried a very little bit about being in the 16-person dorm with no AC! Ron and I hope to continue to travel abroad and do Thrivent Builds.

  • Hometown: Modoc Co., CA.
  • Day Job: Retired
  • Hobby: Grandchildren, Gardening, Cycling 

Diane Hay: We are getting to the age of retirement so we are looking forward to meeting new people and to see if trips like this are something they would like to continue to do in our retirement.

  • Spouse: Rob Hay
  • Kids: 2 grown kids, Stephanie and Gregory
  • Hometown: Hatboro, Pennsylvania
  • Day Job: Certified Veterinary Technician
  • Hobby: Camping, Hiking, Travel
  • Joined Good Sam: 1996

Rob Hay

  • Hometown: Collingdale, Pennsylvania
  • Day Job: Engineer
  • Hobby: Camping, Hiking, Travel, Biking
  • Joined Good Sam: 1996

Gennifer Koebke – I’m excited to be going on this mission trip with my husband and son. I enjoyed our mission work with adults with disabilities at last summer’s Youth Gathering in Houston where we made so many new connections. I’m most excited about meeting new people. I’m most nervous about sleep issues.

  • Spouse: George Koebke
  • Kids: Megan & Chelsea (grown), & Gregory -15, Grandson Bode -2
  • Hometown: Mayville, NY
  • Day Job: Elementary school reading teacher
  • Hobbies: Watching Gregory play baseball, visiting with family, reading, swimming
  • Joined Good Sam: 1998

George Koebke- Our family is looking forward to helping the people of Puerto Rico in whatever way we can.

  • Hometown: Hyattsville, MD
  • Day Job: Retired Boeing flight test engineer
  • Hobby: Doing small repair jobs

Gregory Koebke – I enjoyed the National Youth Gathering last summer and working with adults with disabilities. I’m most nervous about being away from familiar routines and most excited about seeing Puerto Rico and meeting people there.

  • Hometown: Maryland
  • Day Job: Sophomore in High School
  • Hobby: Baseball

Mission and Engagement

The purpose of Missions & Engagement at Good Samaritan Lutheran Church is to train and equip ordinary people to go and do extraordinary things in the name of Jesus so that all might see, hear and experience God’s love in tangible ways.


About our Local Engagement

Through building bridges in our local community, Good Sam strategically leads and partners with ministries that care for the most vulnerable in our community. Through equipping the saints (you), we are able to show the love and compassion of Jesus to a broken and hurting community. We believe that the key to transforming lives for Jesus is through the context of the relationships we build in our neighborhoods.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. {Ephesians 2:10}

We will help you find the intersection of passion and purpose in your life which God has specifically gifted you to serve.

Good Sam-Led Ministries and Initiatives

Local Partner Ministries

Member-Led Ministries of Passion

Global Mission Ministries

Puentes Mission Trip 2019
Kelly Thurber’s Building Puentes Temple Talk

Mission Focus Stories: Finding Our Neighbors Along the Journey of Faith

dawning upon usHave you experienced the loss of a close friend, parent or other relative, when you were a child or adolescent? Maybe you know someone who had such an experience. This past weekend (June 6 & 7) Hospice of St. Mary’s held their annual Camp Sunrise, a grief camp for children ages 6-17 who have experienced a death in their lives. Camp Sunrise was developed to address the unique grieving process of children and their developmentally appropriate response to death. Camp Sunrise is an opportunity for children to learn how to express their feelings and thoughts on the loss of their loved one, honor and remember their loved one, and connect with other children who have experienced loss.

Serving as a mentor for a few of the Camp Sunrise attendees was my privilege and honor. The young people participated in art activities, horse related activities, canoeing, yoga, swimming and many other opportunities to connect with each other and work on their grief. It was an opportunity to walk alongside young people who have very deep needs for love and support. If you would like to know more about Camp Sunrise, or other opportunities for bereavement support or end of life care available through Hospice of St. Mary’s, please contact me.

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