Serendipity can be a sign from God, when your eyes and heart are open. Robert Mack joined the Navy in the 1990’s and first came to the area in the early 2000’s. He met and married his wife, Kanawha, in 2005 and together they have 7 children. At that time, he chose to attend the chapel on base, and after a few years the Navy swept them off to South Carolina and Japan. When the family returned to St. Mary’s County and Robert retired, they were initially looking for a Missouri Synod church but they were visiting all of the Lutheran Churches in the area. A neighbor invited the family over and there sat Pastor Mitch from Good Sam…. Robert knew it was a sign!
Robert and his entire family have been active at Good Sam ever since – participating in events and outreach, as well as serving on council. As an individual, he feels that his roles are to be a loving father, friend and mentor to his own children and the children in our community. At first, Robert resisted being in this role to mentor other kids – he thought he would just be a good example of a man, father and Christian. But God’s call was greater – Robert continued to see that these kids need a role model and guidance. They need someone to see past the anger and judgement and to continue showing them love and support and rules. This is not an easy job and he does it well – and it’s obvious by the respect that he is given because he has earned it.
For the same reason, Robert also enjoys being a troop 413 Scout Master. He gets to guide boys from 6th grade to High School on the path of earning their Eagle and gets a front row seat to see them mature into young men with values. His own son, Isaiah, just got his Eagle last year. Away from church, he landed a job last year as the JROTC instructor at Great Mills High School. Let’s start by breaking the misconception that this program is all about discipline – it’s not! Some kids choose to come, some are referred, and some are assigned by counselors – but however they get to his office, they find a mentor who cares. Whether they are college or career bound or need technical skills, JROTC is there to support them. Robert helps them plan for life after High School – he encourages them to have hopes and dreams. This is what it means to live a life in mission.
Terri was born in Pax River back when her dad was stationed here with the Navy. They left for a while for other duty stations, but ultimately returned to Pax and call it home now. Her husband Billy’s dad was also Navy, and they bumped into each other canoeing on base as young teenagers and began their friendship. Terri has such an amazing, adventurous spirit and during her junior year of high school she set off to be an exchange student in Chile! By her senior year, she was enrolled in a local college part time and always up for adventure. Terri struck out to attend Shepherd College in West Virginia after graduation. Three days before Billy joined the Army in 1976, the highschool sweethearts married and she returned to St. Mary’s College briefly before following him to a North Carolina duty station where she attended Fayetteville State for 1 year. Always up for a challenge, Terri managed to stay in school AND have 2 kids (Will & Mary) before her husband got unaccompanied orders to Germany and she returned back to Pax to finish up college back at St. Mary’s, getting her Bachelors in History in 1980! This woman was born with determination. More duty stations and 2 more kids later, the entire family set off on orders back to Germany for a 5-year adventure. Terri boarded the flight with Will, age 8, Mary 6, Elizabeth 2, and a new baby, Steven. Her husband left the service in 1990, and Terri, believing everyone should serve their country, took her turn and enlisted in 1991. What was intended to be 1 enlistment became a 13 year passion and career, including a stint near the Iraq border.
Amidst the many moves, Terri was searching for a church home. Both she and her husband were raised in multi faith homes and he was Catholic. While in North Carolina they were searching for a church home and Terri felt led to try this Lutheran church that was welcoming and felt like home. Once in Germany, they again found a home with an Evangelical Lutheran church and Terri learned her first German through the church. Once back in Pax, she heard about a new Lutheran church that was recently founded…. it was Good Samaritan, and she’s been with us ever since! Terri is currently serving on council, but her call to mission and serving reaches far into the community and the world. On top of her military service, Terri has always been involved serving locally with Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts, as well as the VFW. She has found a way to reach into the secular world and bring her loving spirit and light into so many organizations, like the Lexington Park Community Association, helping orchestrate a geocaching trail that brings people from all walks together.
Never one to slow down after retirement, Terri began a new journey as an Uber driver. Some passengers are quiet and others want to talk; some she meets once and others are regulars. She has found that she can provide a judgment-free, safe place for people to share what’s on their minds and hearts and she has the opportunity to simply listen and support and encourage them on their journey. A few passengers she has also had the opportunity to share her faith with and even invite them to church. It’s exciting because she never knows where the conversations and relationships built will lead. For a few special passengers, she has been an instrument of God to guide their path with ideas and encouragement, helping them solve a personal problem or find employment. Terri is such a beautiful example of listening to God’s call and being a light in the world throughout her life. We are blessed to have you as a part of our community!
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.
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 (email@example.com) 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
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.
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.
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.
Mission Spotlight: Laurie Johnson-Brown
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.
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
- 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