Baby steps for God

Published 10:03 am Monday, February 23, 2009

One way to measure the success of the Iowa-Minnesota Lyle Area Oaxaca Mission Group is by the numbers:

14 trips to Oaxaca (pronounced “O-wah-kah”), the capital of the state of Oaxaca, in southeastern Mexico, have been made (1995-2009).

Loren Meyer, the Rev. Russ Wangen and Frank Dunlevey made the first trip in 1996.

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30 people have joined the trips to Oaxaca in the 14-year history of the mission group’s activities.

Loren Meyer has made the most trips: 14 or one every year in the history of the project. Janice Helgeson, widow of Stub Helgeson, has made 13 trips.

The age range of the group participants is 13 (Laura Meany, 2009) to 80 (Loren Meyer).

17 females and 13 males have been a part of the trip.

Three pastors — Russ Wangen, Karl Dalager and Lydia Mittag — have made the mission trip.

Seven people made the latest trip Jan. 31 to Feb. 10: Loren Meyer, Rev. Russ Wangen, Jan Helgeson, Sue Helgeson, Wanda Hanson, Jeanne Steinbrink, Laura Meyer.

Through the years, the majority of the trip participants belong to Mona Lutheran Church, Mona, Iowa, or Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church, rural Lyle.

The church that is the focal point of the zealous mission work is “MAS que VENCENDORES,” where 100 members regularly attend Saturday afternoon services.

The church is in the hearts and prayers of many in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota after annual mission trips to Mexico.

The “dean” of the Mission Group’s participants, Loren Meyer, explained the purpose of the annual visits to Mexico, thusly: “We’re helping them build their church.”

“They moved to a different location this year, and we had to start all over again, but it’s been a positive experience all these years to go to Oaxaca, and I expect that to continue in the future,” Meyer said.

The Lyle area volunteers have been helping Oaxaca families build a church for 14 years without getting discouraged at the slow pace.

Janice Helgeson has chronicled the progress: “Cut window openings in poured concrete walls, applied sealant to flat roof, strung electrical wiring, painted second coat of paint. Loosened hard-packed soil for fill, prepared bricks for north and south walls, moved to new site and removed fences, trees and debris, dug trenches for footings” … and this year, “Carried 1,500 concrete block to the new site to be used for reinforced footings.”