A Family Mission – Serving and Letting God be their Strength
Two Martin Luther alumni siblings share the family resemblance of mission service. Morgan (2015) and Alec (2017) Leissring have both been on multiple mission trips in their lives. Now, their experiences are shaping their future goals and career paths.
Morgan is a junior attending UW-Madison. In her early college planning, everything was lined up for her to become a nurse practitioner, until the end of sophomore year when her application was denied. Disappointed and frustrated, she didn’t know what to do next. Her church, Hales Corners Lutheran, was taking a group to Haiti that summer. Morgan decided the trip was a perfect opportunity to take some time away and gain new perspectives. In Haiti, she was heavily involved in the construction for the new orphanage’s door rooms, installing doors and windows. She also helped with the VBS program. She quickly took to the work and made great relationships with the people of the town, feeling God’s plan work through her.
On the trip, she met an emergency room doctor. They had great conversations about the medical field, and by the end, Morgan was convinced that she should pursue a career as a doctor instead. After a shadow experience, the job didn’t seem intimidating, and she saw how giving her life to God had finally brought her to this path. She is now pursuing a major in Biology while working for a certificate in global health and leadership to follow the pre-med track and residency to become a doctor.
A moment that stuck with Morgan in Haiti was during a teacher conference for all the teachers in the area. They learned how to teach beyond their lesson plans, with managing a classroom, memory tricks, and new styles of teaching. Morgan noticed how excited all these teachers were to learn something new, and it reminded her to appreciate her own education more, because not everyone can receive that.
Morgan’s biggest realization from the mission trip was the fact that something so simple, like painting a wall or teaching a lesson, can have such a lasting impact to someone else. “I had zero talents to offer going in, but they still loved everything I did for them. I could tell I was needed, I belonged, and could help their situation even for just a moment.”
Once her new class schedule was planned out, Morgan immediately decided to use one of her breaks to go back to Haiti in November. She went with a new group of people, including some other high school friends from Martin Luther, to continue the construction work. She was thrilled that the children and people there recognized her from June. “It was a reunion, and I knew my heart was there.” Her goal for her next return is to learn some of the language of Haitian-Creole through an online class so she can contribute more to their future. A long-term goal would be to assist in a clinic that is yet to be built.
Alec Leissring is a freshman in college and attends Concordia University Irvine majoring in English with a Lutheran Teaching minor to become a high school English teacher. After appreciating later in high school the value of attending Lutheran schools, he chose his career path to share his faith with students everyday in class. His inspiration was his high school English teacher, Mr. Scott Nickel, who not only made English interesting, but also included Christianity into the discussion questions, even with secular books. Alec says, “I hope to not only teach my students English, but to share my faith by incorporating it into what I teach everyday, just like Mr. Nickel did.”
The summer after he graduated from Martin Luther, Alec also went on the Haiti mission trip with his sister Morgan. He was part of the team that went to the village school to put together a Vacation Bible School for the children in that area. They did crafts with the children, performed a skit and read the bible story, and had a verse for them to memorize in their own language. They taught them that God will always be with them and always love and protect them. They also did the same for the children in the orphanage they were helping there, along with maintenance work like planting trees and painting.
His experience in Haiti reminded him how much God has blessed him in life, and showed how God can use him in a tangible way. “I did nothing there; it was all God working through me, which is why He called me to go there.” After seeing a lack of essentials in the school we take for granted here, like notebooks and pencils, Alec asked his summer recreation program group to bring in some school supplies that they could send to the teachers in Haiti so that they could have some supplies for their students to use with the coming school year. “I realized that God has blessed me with so much so that I can share those blessings with other people through missions.”
Alec has been accepted to go on another mission trip this coming summer to Africa. It is connected with a spring semester class about Biblical foundations of missions, fundraising, cross-cultural training, missionary survival basics, living and working bi-culturally, and other issues on the mission field. The class will then travel together to Africa for a three-week missions trip to put their learning into practice by interviewing missionaries, analyzing local cultures, interacting with locals, carrying out service projects, and journaling daily. He chose to take this course because of how much Haiti impacted his passion for mission work. He hopes to teach mission courses like this in his future career, to help students feel confident out of their comfort zone like he had to learn to be, and show them how God can use them in the field of mission too.
Both of these siblings got the “mission bug” early on from being involved with church events and going to the National Youth Gathering. Their mother, Cheryl, is an active volunteer member in their church, and their father, Bob, worked in high school ministry at Hales Corners Lutheran Church and School for 15 years before becoming a teacher at Martin Luther in 2015. Bob is also a Milwaukee Lutheran alum from 1985.
To find out more about the mission trip organization that was used to go to Haiti, you can visit the website www.missionexperience.org.