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Locals to help build church roofs in Africa

A group of 12 local residents will leave Sunday for the African nation of Cameroon for a two-week mission trip.

The trip will include building tin roofs for churches in the west central African country and sharing in fellowship. Ten members of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Mitchell and two members from St. John's Lutheran Church in Dimock will serve abroad until they come back to the area March 2. The trip has been coordinated through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, with Trinity and the churches in Cameroon working as sister churches in recent years.

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The Rev. Chris Baesler, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Mitchell, said the congregation previously served in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and other locations in the United States.

The two churches combined to raise almost $16,000, which is enough to build two roofs for Cambodian churches. The locals in Cambodia have already built the walls for their churches, using what concrete and materials they could gather.

Chuck Storm, who traveled to Cameroon in 2005, will go for a second time.

"They can certainly do the labor for the roofs, but it's a matter of being there and showing that we care," he said. "That does mean a lot."

"They'll have most of what we need to build the church roofs and so we'll just be there to help them work on those," added Todd Tegethoff.

Tegethoff will be among those who are making their first overseas mission trip. The development director with Mitchell Christian School, Tegethoff said he's always wanted to travel abroad for a mission trip, especially because he's seen the impact it has made on students at MCS.

"I think the biggest thing with them is that they always have a real prideful look on their faces and they're genuinely thrilled to be there," he said. "I've always longed to go and it has really weighed on my heart to have an experience like that, so I'm excited to go."

Tegethoff said there's always some anxiety with traveling to a foreign land.

"I think it's normal to be nervous. We don't really know exactly what to expect, so we're going to play it by ear."

Storm said the group will also visit a pair of hospitals in the country, donate medical supplies and visit a seminary.

Baesler said it will be important to remember the purpose of the trip and what the group hopes to accomplish.

"We're not going over there to serve for them," Baesler said. "We're going over there to serve with them and I think that's exciting for us."