Over the past 20 years members of First Lutheran have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to make home ownership a possibility for families in Douglas County. Keeping with that tradition Greg Tvrdik, Steve Heseltine, and Mark Bergerson feel called to expand the reach of First Lutheran Church globally by joining Habitat for Humanity on an international build in Battambang Province, Cambodia. This build is happening as a partnership with Habitat, Thrivent, and the Cambodian government.
We are blessed in the United States with a stable, forward moving society that allows people to own a home and land. In Cambodia that is not the case. Since the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge in the late 70’s to the end of civil war in the early 90’s all land titles and data were destroyed. People were forced to build “squatter” homes on any piece of available land, even with no title. The government can retake those lands at any time and because of no title they do not spend money to do any type of improvements. Habitat for Humanity has partnered with the government of Battambang province to secure 82 plots of land to develop and build upon. The build in November of 2017 with bring together 200 volunteers from around the world to build 15 homes in one week on these secured sites.
Why do we feel called?
Mark Bergerson: I have been a volunteer my entire adult life. I am a volunteer firefighter, along with volunteering with the national ski patrol, coaching youth sports, and chaperoning First Lutheran Church youth on trips and conventions. I also feel the call to share my time with the less fortunate. I have contributed to Habitat for the past 2 years and have assisted in local builds. When Habitat shared the vision of having a Douglas County team join in the Cambodia build in 2017 I immediately felt called to be a part of it. Working with others, sharing my faith, and helping those in need all appeal to my persona. Expanding my world vision is also crucial in my growth as a Christian. I feel compelled to join and participate in this Habit for Humanity Big Build in Cambodia.
Steve Heseltine: I have worked in many volunteer positions over the past 20 years. I have been a Cub Scout Leader, Soccer coach, Confirmation Guide and mentor as well as being part of organizing committees for 5k runs and golf tournaments to benefit a variety of nonprofit organizations. Since becoming a staff member at First Lutheran Church, I have had the opportunity to be introduced to Habitat for Humanity. I have spent time helping to build on 3 houses in Douglas County and the experience has been very rewarding. Last October I learned about the Thrivent Big Build in Vietnam and was fortunate to be able to take that trip with my son, Nick. A group of 200+ volunteers built 20 houses in 5 days. It was an incredible experience in so many ways. I was able to create a deeper bond with my son; we were able to provide affordable and safe housing for a family that had experienced some devastating situations. However, the biggest impact was how this trip touched our hearts and how we could see the hand of God at work through us. We built friendships and relationships with Vietnamese families as well as with the people we worked alongside each day.
As a follower of Jesus we are called to serve others. As a member of First Lutheran Church I am proud to be able to represent our congregation by serving in this way.
Greg Tvrdik: Going on a mission trip means that you will stretch yourself, sacrifice your time, talents, and resources to serve others doing so in the name of Jesus. I believe that this is one of the highest honors a believer can receive—to be the mouth, hands and feet of the Lord. I feel I am privileged to have this opportunity to go to Cambodia and participate in Habitat for Humanity’s Big Build.
There has been a scripture that has been running through my head as I discerned why I wanted to be part of this Cambodia Big Build in partnership with Habit for Humanity. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38). I believe my harvest is plentiful and I have what I need and I ought to share that with others. I may not be the best builder, but I am willing to put in my time and efforts to help those who may need. I have heard over and over how one’s life can be changed just by having the standard things in life such as a roof over their head, a bed to sleep in and a place to be proud of and call home, what a privilege to be able to provide that stability to families over 8000 miles away. I believe that Jesus has gone through the ultimate mission trip. He sacrificed everything, including his very life, to seek and save. I want to reflect Jesus and serve in the mission field as well.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and support as we plan this Cambodia trip.