“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

There’s no doubt that this year’s seniors have faced any number of challenges and disappointments since life as they knew it changed drastically in March with the fallout of a global pandemic. And yet, the Bible verse they chose as the theme for the school year speaks to the resilience and perseverance they’ve shown, as they navigate these trying times and still continue to reflect the life of Jesus in their service to others.

Members of Valley Lutheran’s Global Awareness Club load canned goods and non-perishable items gathered during a food drive this fall.

Two of those seniors, Ian Schoemeyer and Danielle Browning, share what their involvement in Valley’s student service organizations entails and the ways they’ve adapted to continue to serve, both locally and globally. Schoemeyer, an active member of the Global Awareness Club, has been involved in a number of the group’s efforts to engage the entire student body in service, from organizing collections of canned goods and non-perishables for local food pantries, to assembling boxes of gifts for children sent all over the world through Operation Christmas Child.

Another mission supported by the group is a yearly trip to Good News Bay, Alaska, to do a Vacation Bible School program for the small remote village there. The group spent time during their weekly meetings making tie blankets to send along for the kids in the village. Schoenmeyer was planning to travel with the group and participate first hand, but the trip was cancelled because of the pandemic. He shares how they creatively ministered to the people of Good News Bay despite the circumstances: “The other Valley students and I put together short devotional style videos that were posted on Facebook so the kids could still have some Biblical teaching. All the supplies, including the blankets we made and craft activities were still sent. It would have been amazing to go on the trip, but I was excited to help the mission in a different way.”

The Key Club, an organization focused on getting students involved in service to the local community, has used the humble shoebox to bless homeless men in the area. Danielle Browning details last year’s efforts in assembling 75 of these gifts: “These shoe boxes contain many items that these men need on a daily basis to properly care for their bodies. We send these boxes out in the winter so we include hats, gloves and hand warmers to keep them warm and also lots of hygiene products.”

Key Club members have also been involved with Old Town Christian Outreach and cleaning up several local playgrounds in the area. Browning knows it won’t be the same this year, but she chooses to have a positive outlook: “We are trying our very best to do everything we did last year. Even though there are some more restrictions, we are still going at it with a happy heart. All the members can’t wait to get back out into our community!”