By Deaconess Deborah Graf, Trinity, Reading
This story was printed in the August issue of Steeple Notes, the newsletter
of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reading.
Another story about the trip from one of the youth participants
will appear in the November issue of Partners in the Spirit.]
On June 13 a group
of eleven high school youth met at the synod office to travel to experience
life in one of our companion synods.
They hailed from all over our synod territory — from outside
Reading to Mountain Top.
The first part of
our trip was spent in the Borna area just outside Leipzig, and the
second half was spent in the Loebau/Zittau
district, which is situated on the Polish/Czech border.
My husband, Peter,
and I accompanied them as we saw many sights including the St. Thomas
Church in Leipzig and the Wartburg
Castle where Martin Luther translated the Bible, and took
a short trip
into Poland and the Czech Republic.
Led by two youth
ministers from Germany, we visited schools, participated in youth group
activities, and hiked around
Why do we do this?
I think a comment from one of the German youth sums it up well. “All
my preconceptions about Americans have been wiped away.”
Everything he had
seen on television or read in the newspaper was simply not true about
our group (no, we are not
all like the people
on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride”). His simple
example was ketchup. He assumed all Americans ate everything
At dinner one night,
when one of the German youth proceeded to put ketchup on her pizza,
the Americans exclaimed, “EEEEEEWWWWW!!,” appalled
at the thought. Preconception gone.
The youth exchange was a time to experience how God’s Kingdom
extends beyond our national borders and to get a glimpse of the
feast to come. What a blessed journey it was.
[In addition to Deborah and Peter Graf, participants
from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod were Jason
Kaufman (St. Paul, Mountain Top), Jessica Keinert
(Jordan, Orefield), Sarah Keinert (Jordan, Orefield),
Jo Lonaberger (Advent,
West Lawn), Gillian Marx (Jordan, Orefield), Lorien
Moura (St. Paul, Mountain Top), Nettie-Rose Reynolds
Catherine Rusuitti (St. Paul, Mountain Top), Nathan
Union, Alburtis), and Elizabeth Ziegler (New Jerusalem, Hellertown).]