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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.

Sunday’s Sermon August 18, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on August 18, 2019

Lessons: Jeremiah 23:23-29, Psalm 82, Hebrews 11:29–12:2, Luke 12:49-56

Sermon: “A Race That Requires Perseverance”

Prayer:O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression, and you call us to share your zeal for truth. Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed, and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Sunday’s Sermon, August 11, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on August 11, 2019

Lessons: Genesis 15:1-6, Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:33-40

Sermon: “By Grace Through Faith”

Prayer: Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church. Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Sunday’s Sermon, August 4, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on August 4, 2019

Lessons: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23, Psalm 49:1-12, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21

Sermon: “Being Rich Toward God Is A Curious Abundance”

Prayer: Benevolent God, you are the source, the guide, and the goal of our lives. Teach us to love what is worth loving, to reject what is offensive to you, and to treasure what is precious in your sight, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Sunday’s Sermon, July 28, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on July 28, 2019

Lessons: Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138, Colossians 2:6-15, Luke 11:1-13

Sermon: “A Message from Pastor Eva Steege”

Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour upon us your abundant mercy. Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience, and give us those good things that come only through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Sunday’s Sermon, July 21, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on July 21, 2019

Lessons: Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42

Sermon: “A Message from Pastor Roger Berner”

Prayer: Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ, and you make yourself our guest. Amid the cares of our lives, make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Time With The Scriptures

 “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”
2 Tim 3:16

Time with the Scriptures is a ticklish dance.  We see the Bible on the shelf and imagine getting to it – or we have had moments when we read and screwed up our noses at what we thought we heard.  Sometimes we are just confounded by what we read, not knowing how to make sense of it.  Some of us have an ongoing relationship with the Scriptures, shaped over time, intentional or otherwise.  But few of us live steeped in the Scriptures regularly over large portions of our lives.

While I have been on vacation I have had the chance to be the recipient of preaching and interpreting of the word because I have been away from preaching and leading worship myself.  This allows me to be in worship where someone else leads and preaches.   It is easy to forget how important it is to have the scripture “opened” up for you.  Last Sunday (July 28) I sat in worship thinking I knew the stories and the texts and could expect what I would hear, and then… the preacher happened to say what I needed to hear!  I was reminded that I too am hungry for the Word that I also try to share with others.

This dance of ours with the Scriptures is a complex one.  Even as a long time reader of the scripture, I still find myself searching for the application that it can make in this moment of my life.  It reminds me that wherever we are in our current relationship with reading, digging into and exploring the Scriptures, the dance is going on and God is ready to step in and dance with us, even as we “read,” or simply remember a verse we read some time ago.

I believe that not all the scriptures are equal.  Some are more relevant to having life with Jesus than others, but taken together they are indispensable to living and growing in faith.  They dance in our hearts and minds as we work out who we are and where in our lives we are discovering God in the world before us.  Some Scriptures better challenge us, convict us and set us free to love and serve God.

Thank you for the ways you, as the people of God, have allowed me to learn and discover the living God among you and in the scriptures we read together and read on Sundays.  And thank you for the ways you teach me about how our lives together matter in the dance of shaping faith in our hearts.  And, I invite you to add new and deeper dance steps with the scriptures in your life journey.  There God speaks and hearts and even lives are changed.  But I have one word of advice.  Don’t read the Scriptures alone, mostly.  Read them together, read them in conversation, read them out loud.  Read them in concert with searching out what they mean for our lives.  This is the Dance in which God loves to move and breathe and speak, in us, with us and through our lives.

Here is one of my favorites: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

and another, “Jesus began to weep.” John 11:35

Pastor Mitch

August Highlights

Good Sam Happenings in August

August 4 [Sunday Theme] “Being Rich Toward God is a Curious Abundance”

*August 7 Taco and Talent Night at Good Sam

   * Stitching Sisters Summer Camp Week 1 (August 5 – 6) from 9am -11:30am

August 11 [Sunday Theme] “By Grace Through Faith”

  *August 14 Final Summer at Good Sam Night 

August 18 [Sunday Theme] “A Race That Requires Perseverance”

August 25 [Sunday Theme] “Do You Have the Ability to Set People Free?”  

August newsletter “Grapevine”

Sign up for our weekly email news to stay up on all the Good Sam Happenings.

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

Welcome…Welcome…Welcome

Join me on Sunday, August 11 during fellowship where we will take about 15-minutes and discuss 5 techniques to welcome someone new.

As you know, we have been trying to establish a “Welcome Team” that will provide consistency and be intentional about creating an atmosphere where all who enter our doors feel welcomed and valued.

On August 11th , we will offer some insights as to the kinds of things that reflect that sentiment. Bring your ideas too!  What makes you feel welcomed in new situations/places? What gives you pause and leaves you uneasy?  Perhaps while reading this some ideas are already bubbling to the surface.  Send me an e-mail and we can get the conversation started.  It would be fun to get some ideas and begin to communicate before the 11th.  gail.wathen0115@gmail.com

Let’s learn together how we can best display what it means to truly welcome others into the community of Good Sam.

Peace,

Gail Wathen, Council President

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