At Gloria Dei, we like to help and serve others. Not for what we get out of it, but as a response to what Jesus has done for us.
Many of these opportunities are beyond the walls of Gloria Dei. Our efforts include a variety of service opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally.
A variety of opportunities are available throughout the year to help others here in our own community. Short term projects are often scheduled for Saturdays while longer term projects are available at a variety of times. Depending on who you have a heart to serve, there's probably a project waiting for you.
Each project offers an opportunity for you to serve others, experience their culture, spend time with friends, and broaden your faith.
Working in the 3rd Ward of Houston - Generation One is a mission Gloria Dei supports with both volunteers and budget dollars. In the past year Generation One has boldly opened a day school for impoverished children. Meeting in two churches that have opened their classrooms to neighborhood children, qualified, and dedicated teachers instruct in math, science, reading and other fundamental skills, but they also share the gospel. These chidlren lack the family environment that we take for granted. They learn street life early and Generation One wants to catch these children before they turn to a life of crime, drugs and abuse. The rewards are not just about changing one child's life; it impacts the entire community every time a child succeeds and breaks the cycle of poverty and poor education. Volunteers from the collar communities, like Gloria Dei are welcome to come there and work with the children and assist the teachers. The environment is tough but the kids are learning in a healthy, Christian environment. That is something rarely experienced in this inner-city community. There is a great story about how lives are being changed: http://www.undignified622.blogspot.com/2012/10/holy-hands.html.
National and International Mission Trips
We invite you to join us on a tour of the Village of Chaguiton, state of Zacapa, Guatemala. This is a small village on a mountain in a coffee growing region of Central America. Gloria Dei has entered a partnership agreement with Chaguiton for a period of five years. Our goals include sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as we can in and through this village to others. We also will help the village to be effective at caring for the needs of the village in areas like medical, education, and overcoming poverty. Mission work has often been defined in a narrow sense by churches. Deliver the gospel and do good work. For many years that is how Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Clear Lake Texas defined mission work. We traveled to Central America to work in Panama, Belize and Guatemala. The work involved doing Vacation Bible School and helping pastors and congregations to share the Good News with people. For a number of years we even helped build homes for people in dire need – widows, single mothers, or people with handicaps. The work was fulfilling to a degree but we soon discovered we were only dropping in and out of people’s lives. We had no ongoing relationship with families we helped and we seemed to be somewhat nomadic in our approach, helping people in a variety of places.
In 2013 we began to do missions different. With the help of Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS) we focused on three villages with the purpose of choosing one. A small team of leaders from Gloria Dei went to visit each of the three villages. Our goal was to establish a long-term relationship with a village, preferably five years. We spent a week meeting with key leaders from each village, touring the villages, usually with about six hundred residents, and visiting the public areas, like schools or clinics. We also visited with people we found at home in these very remote communities.
Each village had a unique list of problems that hampered the ability of the community to be wholesome and thriving. They also had many things in common, like abject poverty, poor education and disease. Two of the communities had sold most of their farm property to land barons. After several generations the villagers discovered the benefits of the sale of their property was short sighted and they became dependent upon the land barons for employment. They were land-locked and experiencing a population growth that forced families to share their homes and resources with others in need. Many were forced to abandon their village and move somewhere else to live. The morale in these villages was very poor due to their hopeless situation. Guatemala is a country with “haves” and “have-nots”. Those who own land control those who do not. From 1966 to 1999, Guatemala was in civil war. At the conclusion of the war little had changed. Those who “have” continued to dominate those who had not.
One village had not sold out to the land barons and, although they were poor and uneducated they still had something very precious, a small piece of land they could call their own. This past year, following the second year of a coffee blight that has wiped out almost 60% of their crop, they were paid seventeen cents a pound for their coffee. Their status is not much improved over those who live nearby and work for the rich land barons, but they still have their land. In 2000 this village, called Chaguiton in the state of Zacapa, was chosen by UNESCO to be a case study of how Guatemalans are faring since the civil war. The report was quite thorough and the Cocode, the elected village leadership, presented us with copies of the report. Although it was fourteen years old, the report provided great insights into the life and culture of the village of Chaguiton. Not only that, we discovered that this village had become a leader for the communities surrounding it, by helping with water resources and medical assistance. Gloria Dei decided that we could impact all the villages around them by helping with this one, due to their willingness to share resources with other villages.
After a number of trips to the village we have discovered that we have chosen wisely. Each trip is designed to provide assistance to the whole community rather than to one family or individual. As a result, our work is proving to be a very good cooperative effort. There is a book we use to train our work teams from America. It is called, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. This book has been very instrumental in helping our teams act with unity of purpose and in a determined way to prevent dependency in the mission field.
1) We are working with the University of Michigan to help create a safe filtration system for water. Currently the Chaguiton is drinking water that contains ten known bacteria that are harmful to humans. Their water source is a spring up the mountain but it has pesticides and fertilizer residue in the drinking water. Blue Lab, the undergraduate program from U of M is going to send a team to build a water filtration system. The men of the village are anxiously awaiting the team to come, so they can help install and care for the system Blue Lab will provide. The Cocode plans to distribute water to other villages so there will be clean water for as many as possible. They are also discussing building a water bottling facility to be able to sell water at reduced prices to others on the mountain.
2) The community is almost entirely Roman Catholic, but in a unique arrangement with the R.C. priest who manages 60 villages on the mountain, we have been welcomed as Christian brothers and sisters into Chaguiton. One of our goals is to expand the Church in the village because they have standing room only every Sunday.
3) Since the children in the school (187 pupils) rarely eat breakfast before school and generally receive one meal a day in the afternoon, we will be providing Incaparina every morning for the children. In keeping with the lessons we have learned about not creating dependency, we will pay $44 per year per pupil to purchase the Incaparina and to pay for a stipend for a director who will arrange for parents to be present every morning to cook the Incaparina and serve it to the children. Incaparina has proven to be a vital tool for education, since the children are nourished prior to beginning their studies for the day. The Guatemalan government has been promising this protein drink for the children for a number of years but they are long on promises and short on delivery.
4) The medical clinic has not had essential medications to handle the maladies of the residents. Blood pressure medication, diabetes drugs and gastric disorder medication are basic and important but rarely available. On our last trip we delivered $500 worth of pills and prescription drugs to the clinic. They were overwhelmed with their supplies. The clinic nurses work in Chaguiton and three surrounding villages. Even the simplest things like blood pressure cuffs and thermometers were deeply appreciated. Our January trip will be a medical mission trip to deliver doctors, nurses and dentists to Chaguiton and surrounding areas.
5) We will be pursuing the opportunity for good students to continue on in school beyond Chaguiton by providing scholarships to those proving to have the desire and ability to continue on. School in the village ends at ninth grade.
We expect to be able to help the community in so many ways. They are still being revealed to us as we continue to work together. They have no central area for the Cocode to meet and discuss village business, so we may be building a civic center there. They have asked us to consider helping them with soccer uniforms. Considering the connection we are making with University of Michigan we are convinced we can easily get them uniforms if they like maize and blue.
The flood gates have just begun to open a little right now. We have no way of knowing all the ways we can be involved yet, nor do we know what impact this will have on the whole mountain but we intend to find out. With God’s guidance and the generous nature of the people of Gloria Dei we are sure we will make a huge difference in one place in the world.
June 27 - July 5, 2015 – We will be sprucing up three junior high classrooms, inside and out.
August 22 - September 1, 2015 – (all spots on the team are filled)
Trips for 2016 will be scheduled by July 1, 2015.
For more information or to express interest in a mission trip, please contact Chuck Requadt at 281-326-1980.