It All Began with a Hurricane

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It All Began with a Hurricane

The 2020 hurricane season was devastating for regions of Louisiana. With the wind at almost 100mph recorded in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, and water levels in the south-central Louisiana coast raising around 9 feet, Hurricane Delta destroyed many homes and businesses throughout the state.

In the Fall of 2020, Zach Ritland and Caleb Korhonen were attending Iowa State University. Zach grew up in central Iowa and attended Salem Lutheran throughout his life. Caleb lived in Iowa while his father, Pastor Korhonen, was serving a church at Radcliffe. Caleb is also an alum of the Free Lutheran Bible College.

As leaders for their connection group/Bible study, they were brainstorming ways to get the guys in their group involved in the community. The idea for a service project stuck out and they volunteered as a group with Samaritan’s Purse to help with hurricane relief in Louisiana.

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During this trip, Caleb and Zach were eyewitnesses to how the simple act of helping someone clean up their home can make a larger impact. Caleb stated, “We didn’t have a whole lot of skills, but we went. And people were amazed; they were so thankful we were willing to help where we could.”

Cleaning debris, they were assisting on a yard clean-up for gentlemen who was so overwhelmed with gratitude, he cried for what he saw the team accomplish. The leader of the Samaritan’s Purse team was able to share the Gospel with him. Caleb and Zach were both impacted by how practical help, just cleaning up sticks in a yard, can open up Gospel conversations.

When they came back from this service trip, Zach knew they had to go again, maybe international this time. “Where else could we go and serve?” Shortly after, Caleb and Zach filled out applications for the Journey Missions’ missionary assistant program and were planning to go to South America.

Their trip to Brazil   

Celebrating their Christmas break in Paraguay and Brazil, Zach and Caleb flew down to Paraguay in December of 2021 and traveled to Brazil in the new year. Motivated to work hard and serve these ministries, they are praying that God shows ways for them to best use their short time in Brazil.

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Christmas was spent with Mafú and Edany Abel 

Their plans are to be useful and serve in whatever capacity they are able. Being willing to be flexible doing whatever is need, their hope is to serve the missionaries and their fields of ministry. Various tasks like yard work, painting, and other upkeep projects are on the list of what they are expecting to accomplish at places in Campo Mourão and Curitiba.

One thing Zach shared that he is excited to see through this trip is how God will continue to use small tasks to build the Kingdom of God in Brazil, just like they saw in Louisiana. “When your right there with people, helping them, it’s a great opportunity to see God work,” Zach also added with a smile, “and I have never been out of the county so I’m excited to see that too." With hearing about Brazil through his parents and friends, Caleb is eager to finally see the country for himself: “I am excited to meet these people I have heard so much about and work alongside them.”

 - Madison Greven, Communications Coordinator for AFLC World Missions