Growing through Service to others

The idea of service to others is doing something and expecting nothing in return. I believe that this is how we embarked on or first Service Learning Trip to Indonesia this year. It was probably also a case of not really knowing what to expect in return but we certainly knew what we could give. On Thursday 19th September a team of 9 year 10/11 students from St. Martins Lutheran College, Mt Gambier, SA and 5 adults left Adelaide on route to Singapore and then Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. We had 8 brave female and 1 brave male students, 3 teachers, 2 nurses and 2 reasonable Indonesian speakers amongst the adults. The bravery, the nurses, the translators and the teachers certainly all came into play.

Our journey began with a taste of the environment seeing orang-utans in the wild and being captivated by the beauty of elephants as we washed and fed them in a very natural elephant sanctuary. We then took in the countryside as we toured the local villages and markets before travelling through palm plantations to the large city of Pematangsiantar where we settled into our accommodation and prepared for the week ahead at elementary school HKI 3. From the moment we arrived we were embraced by their culture and their kind and friendly nature. Flag raising ceremony and welcome dance kicked off a beautiful week. Our aim was to share teaching and learning. We read stories, shared letters form SMLC, played maths games, delivered lessons in language and mathematic. We ventured outdoors and had fun with football, hand ball, bush dancing and duck duck goose just to mention some of the activities we packed into the week. SMLC students were legends in leading activities and helping out with lessons. Our students also led some singing activities and devotion. What they didn’t anticipate was how captivated the HKI children would be with them. Over the course of the week our students made strong and beautiful connections with the children, they shared stories and interests and many a selfie or photo.

From the HKI community we learnt a great deal about their culture and traditions and the depth of their faith and worship. We joined them for church on Sunday and were uplifted by their singing and faith. We were presented with a traditional Ulos given as a binding gift between us and them. Many tears were shed the day we left the school following a memorable farewell service and ceremony. It is very hard to explain the feeling. We did also have the opportunity to visit a home for children that is also a branch of the HKI church, this too was special as we shared singing, played games, read stories and sat and chatted to the children and young people in the home.

The final days of the trip were spent relaxing at a place called Lake Toba and it was a delightful way to finish a memorable couple of weeks. Yes, we did find life in Indonesia very different from our own; we embraced the different food, the transportation, the busyness of the cities, the slow going on the roads and listening to a lot of Indonesia. We came home with an absolute love for the people of Indonesia and HKI, their gentleness and their happiness. We came home understanding that you don’t need many things to be happy; you need purpose, love, family and friends to be happy. We came home with an extended family in Indonesia and many, many photos of a truly life changing experience.

If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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