Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 5, 2004

LHS students go to Costa Rica on mission trip

By Chelsea Kovar

“Dios les bendiga” is something students heard a lot. It means “God bless you.”

Eighteen students from Lutheran High School in Mayer traveled to Costa Rica for a mission trip. Students from the area included Paul Fleischman, Maddy Fleischman, and Vanessa Strehlke of New Germany, and Josh Pehl of Howard Lake.

The group arrived in Esparza, Costa Rica on June 14 and stayed there until June 25.

All the students had at least two years of Spanish classes at LHS, some had three.

Some of the projects the students worked on were cutting and laying sod, breaking up large rocks and laying fresh cement, digging nine holes (each a meter deep), hauling logs to use as posts, shaving the bark off the logs with a machete, painting the logs with a chemical preservative, and cementing the logs in place to almost complete the “pole shed” which serves as both a garden nursery and a cattle barn.

Camp Penuel is expected to open in summer 2006 for any Costa Rican children to come and learn of Christ’s unconditional love for everyone. The purpose of the camp is to lead children to salvation through Jesus Christ in a camp atmosphere.

Many groups on mission trips are helping with construction of the camp as they visit Costa Rica.

The students got as much done as possible under the weather conditions. A typical workday started at 7 a.m. and ended when it began to rain or when the goal for the day was accomplished.

Some days it rained as early as 1 p.m. and other days it didn’t rain until four o’clock.

The camp’s supervisor, Miguel Ramirez, would point out the rain clouds moving in and then the students would begin to clean up and head back to the houses fast, in attempting to stay dry.

Besides working, the group got a great opportunity to meet the youth of Costa Rica one night. The students were also able to partake in a Costa Rican church service June 19.

Chelsea Kovar had this to say, “Church was the most memorable part of my trip. I could feel the presence of God just listening to the pastor or watching the members of the congregation singing from their hearts. It truly was unique.”

At the youth night, soccer and basketball games were a large part of the entertainment. Many of the local Costa Rican youth wanted all the LHS students and chaperones to sign their notebooks because we were really special to them.

They knew we there to help build Camp Penuel, which would be made available to them in the future.

Camp Penuel is a family tie for the Bernhagen family of Hutchinson.

Paul Bernhagen, director of the camp, grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Costa Rica.

He can be contacted at benbern@rasca.co.cr or by phone at 011-506-636-7185.

Paul’s parents, John and Letty, are USA representatives for Camp Penuel. Their phone number is (320) 587-6508 and their email address is jlb@hutchtel.net.

If you are so inspired to help Camp Penuel, there are several ways: one is to pray for the Paul and the camp committee. Second, tax-deductible checks can be sent to Camp Penuel PO Box 392, Hutchinson, MN 55350 (write Costa Rica on the memo line). Third, sign up for a short-term mission trip to the camp.


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