From December 26, 2004, through January 2, 2005, ten youth and two adults from
the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod traveled to Argentina to participate in a
youth servant event.
The event was held at San Timoteo (St. Timothy), in the city of La Plata, about one hour southeast of Buenos Aires.
San Timoteo is a congregation of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Argentina and Uruguay (IELU). The synod and the IELU are companion synods.
Although the event was sponsored by the synod, no funds came from the synod.
The adults and the youth all paid their own way. Some congregations raised funds
to help with costs. Those congregations that raised more money than needed gave
the extra funds to the youth, who presented the money to Pastor-President Alan
Eldrid, the bishop of the IELU.
“The kids learned that there is more joy in giving than in receiving,” said
Kurt Garbe, synod staff and one of the adults on the trip.
In this issue of Partners, three of the youth share reflections on the trip — the
same three youth who shared their thoughts before the trip in the December issue
Below are reflections from Walt Hampton, a member of Christ Lutheran Church,
Dryville, and Todd Ebling, a member of Allegheny Lutheran Church, Knauers
Walt Hampton writes, “The synod servant trip to Argentina was amazing.
The whole thing started at the airport. As soon as we got to the terminal, the
ten youth from around the synod became ten close friends. It was amazing how
quickly everyone bonded. We immediately sat and talked and played cards.
“When we got to Argentina the youth we met there thought we had known each other
for years. It didn't take everyone long to get over the language barriers though.
The first evening we were playing cards and talking to the Argentines like we
had known them for years. It was amazing how God brought such an awesome group
of kids together from both countries.
“The second day we began our work. We painted multiple parts of the church we
“It was fun to work with our new friends. In between our work times we talked
about each other’s likes and dislikes. In my group we talked a lot about
football — the football of Argentina, which is called soccer here. I learned
about the strong rivalries between the fans of the two major teams in Buenos
Aries. In the afternoons we got to hang out with all of our new friends and go
“It was interesting to hear the stories of the struggles the Argentines had to
endure to get out of a military coup in the seventies. It was really neat because
the church where we were staying was strongly involved in that part of their
history. We saw how a country and our Church could stand strong and do what is
right. It is amazing to think about how God kept the congregation safe when it
was cleared by armed soldiers on a Sunday, or when they actually fired on the
church and left bullet holes in the pulpit.
“Throughout the week we made friendships that will grow and last forever. We saw
how God influences everyone around the world and most of all we got to serve
God by helping a church and congregation in Argentina.”
Todd Ebling writes, “Todd Ebling here again. This trip to Argentina was
everything I had hoped for and more than I could have expected. I got a chance
to connect with a culture of beautiful people who share the same awesome faith
even though they are thousands of miles from my home. I learned so many lessons
of life and so many things about myself that are really priceless to me.
“I feel as though God picked me out and placed me there to do something in the
world. I helped these people who were in need of help and I truly feel that they
helped me so much more. I was so blessed with this amazing chance and now I exist
with so much more purpose and vigor and excitement and life because of it. I
felt compelled to go there and help and leave, and once I was there I felt compelled
“God can do absolutely amazing things in just one week and I experienced these
things to an incomprehensible extent.
“One last word...AWESOME!!!”