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PART OF THE CHANGE

The owner of Western Drilling, Inc., a geothermal well-drilling and excavating service in Bismarck, Capital Electric Cooperative member Kurt Fleck says he’s looked at going on a mission trip in the past. Because of their goal to build homes in Guatemala, Kurt says the opportunity to join members and friends of Charity Lutheran Church last year was a good fit, and felt like the right thing to do.
The owner of Western Drilling, Inc., a geo-
thermal well-drilling and excavating service
in Bismarck, Capital Electric Cooperative
member Kurt Fleck says he’s looked at going
on a mission trip in the past. Because of their
goal to build homes in Guatemala, Kurt says
the opportunity to join members and friends
of Charity Lutheran Church last year was a
good fit, and felt like the right thing to do.

Capital Electric Cooperative members volunteer in Guatemala

Michael Grossman knows how to build a house without power tools. A senior at Century High School, he sawed boards, mixed concrete and laid brick by hand. The end result: a one-room shelter, size 12’x16’, which would become a home for an elderly couple in Guatemala, who were raising their grandson.

Their former home, a hole in the wall, did not have furniture so they slept on the ground. When it rained, the home would flood. They kept buckets nearby to scoop the water.

“They’ve lived a hard life, and you could see that in their eyes,” Michael’s mother, Julie Dolbec, reflects. Using the money from their working group, Julie and Michael helped buy beds and pillows for the family. It would be the first time they would sleep in a bed.

That night, it rained hard. Michael shares it was the greatest feeling in the world to know that the family was comfortable and dry.

At the end of their trip, the grandmother broke down and cried. Julie speculates the woman hadn’t cried since she was a child.

“She kept blessing us. She was so overwhelmed with what we were doing. You could tell that she, as a woman, had to bear so much to keep her family going,” Julie describes.

“One of the men said, ‘Why would you do this for us because we are garbage?’ When we got there, there was a picture of Christ stuck on the fence, because they truly believe that we were there because God sent us to them,” she reflects.

“And, it’s true.”

Putting things into perspective

Julie, a Capital Electric Cooperative member, and her son were part of a large group organized by Charity Lutheran Church in Bismarck to do mission work in Guatemala. She is the youth coordinator for the church.

In July 2012, the volunteers flew to Guatemala for 10 days to build homes, visit the God’s Child Project warehouse and organize clothing drives, and offer assistance at a homeless shelter and malnutrition center.

Sam Coleman, youth pastor at Charity Lutheran Church, used to work with the God’s Child Project and says he’s always looking for ways to provide mission opportunities. This is the third time he’s taken groups to Guatemala, which has the third-highest malnutrition rate in the world.

“It’s not that they don’t have food; they just don’t have the education to know what nutrition really means,” Julie elaborates. “There are a lot of children who are very loved by their parents, but they weren’t getting the nourishment they needed.”

Over the years while on his three trips, Pastor Sam noted positive change, thanks to more awareness and generosity from donors and volunteers. In 2009 at the malnutrition center, there were 70 children sharing one jar of peanut butter. By 2012, conditions had improved significantly.

“We learned that a Baptist ministry out of Florida had found the malnutrition center,” he explains. With money coming into the center, it was able to hire a nurse, and then staff, and later doctors and interns.

“You could see a massive difference,” he shares. “It showed us that when you start to minister and help out, a difference can be made over time. It really does change things,” he continues. “It was really cool for us to say, ‘We’re part of the change that’s happening over there.’”

In the God’s Child Project warehouse, the volunteers saw bags filled with donations that were ready to be distributed. Taped to the bags were notes that indicated where the donations came from — including items from Beulah and Hazen.

“It was so encouraging to know that our donations actually get to these people. Sometimes when you donate, you wonder where it’s going and if people ever received help,” Julie says.

Michael expands and says the experience changed him by revealing how a person doesn’t have to go on a mission trip to make a difference.

“Our whole time over there, we distributed things that had been donated from here in the United States. I learned that just staying home and giving away things you don’t need, instead of throwing them away, goes a long way and people really appreciate it. You don’t have to go there to make a difference,” he affirms.

Capital Electric Cooperative member Kurt Fleck and daughters Carlee, 19, and Caitlin, 16, also attended the mission trip to Guatemala. Carlee says she always wanted to go on a mission trip. When her sister learned about Charity Lutheran Church’s trip, the sisters joined forces and talked to their “overprotective” parents.

“Mom figured, with two blonde girls in a foreign country … dad better go,” Carlee laughs. The truth was that the sisters wanted Kurt to go.

While on the trip, Caitlin, a student at Shiloh Christian School, found it was humbling to hand out food and spend time with the children.

“That was very changing, just the little things we could do to help them,” she says.

Carlee, a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, says she didn’t think she took her lifestyle for granted. Since the trip, she says she has a better understanding of her numerous comforts.

“I was pretty open-minded to see what God was going to do while we were down there,” she reflects. “When we went to the house of a family we were building it for, they just broke down crying. The uncle kept telling us, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you. Most people like you don’t care about people like us.’ … It touched my heart to see how appreciative they were. It really put things into perspective."

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