by Katey Swenson
Sep 13, 2012
As long as I can remember, Lutheran World Relief has been in the background of my faith life. My home church, All Saints Lutheran Church (ALSC) in Phoenix, Arizona, stays very involved in the Lutheran communities, highlighting LWR’s work whenever they can.
Every year at Christmas, my dad buys me a goat through LWR Gifts. Several years ago, he saw what he refers to as “The Goat on a Plane Video” in church. What he really wanted to do was try to bring a goat onto his next flight, but my step-mom convinced him to participate by supporting LWR Gifts instead.
Mornings at home always smelled like Fair Trade coffee. My parents buy it when there is a Fair Trade booth in the narthex of our church. Annually, ASLC buys coffee, tea and chocolate in bulk and sells it to the congregation. My parents recently took over the booth themselves because they were so excited about my new involvement with LWR.
I remember Sundays when LWR was featured for their monthly special offering. I now know that those donations go to fund meaningful programs and partnerships in 19 countries throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia.
ASLC is not the only church I have attended in my lifetime, but I know I have never attended a Lutheran church that did not have a quilters’ group. LWR Mission Quilts are important in the midst of disaster and unrest when people need to keep themselves or their families warm, not to mention how they bring US Lutherans together to form meaningful bonds among members.
When I started looking for post-graduate careers in marketing, all I knew was that I wanted to find a good transition from college to the real world, and I did not want to sell insurance. What I found was divine guidance.
In the midst of applying for corporate positions, I found a year-long position in marketing and communications at Lutheran World Relief, through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I knew I had found the perfect fit. It gave me an opportunity to have hands-on work experience, live with other recent graduates and work for a meaningful cause with people who are all dedicated to making the world a little bit better place to live for everyone.
In the few short weeks I have been here with LWR, I have worked with all of the areas that have impacted my Lutheran life for so long. LWR is working to bring more LWR Gifts than ever to people in need this Christmas season. I have easy access to order my own Fair Trade coffee for my new home. I have heard first-hand accounts of how the offerings of US Lutherans affect the lives of real people all over the world. And I have seen the engraved bricks of Lutheran quilting groups from all over the country.
For me, LWR came with a new city, new roommates and colleagues, and my first experience with a 9-5. So far, I love everything about it and the adjustments have been fairly easy, but change usually does take time to sink in.
I know that even though this year is full of new beginnings, God has a plan for my life, and this is just one step of my future. “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)