Nov 3, 2022

21 Years Later, India Travelers Unite

The summer of 2001, youth from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church (Excelsior, Minn.), along with Pastor Paul and Lisa Pettersen and their four children, ventured to India. It was the first trip LPGM offered to primarily a teenage audience.

Late September, several of these now 20- and 30-somethings and families reunited for a weekend of events to celebrate the 21st anniversary of this life-changing trip.

"The connection we made with our sponsored students was very powerful," remembers Brittany (Libbey) Dahlman, now a family liaison, Spanish interpreter, spouse and mother of two. "The bond formed so quickly and transcended language. It was so hard to say good-bye."

On Saturday evening, the Pettersens hosted a dinner and time of reflection for travelers. Sunday, the group and family members worshiped at Normandale Lutheran Church (Edina, Minn.), where Pettersens now serve, before heading to a picnic at nearby Rosland Park.

Co-founders Gordon and Betty Olson shared how important Mount Calvary was in the early days of LPGM’s sponsorship program in India, when so many Dalit children needed support to be able to stay in our Lutheran partners’ boarding homes in Tamil Nadu while attending school.

For many of the travelers, this trip was an experience that has long stayed with them and even influenced their fields of study, as many work in social work/social justice, development, and education. 

Pastor Paul wrote in his journal on July 30, 2001:

"Where do I start? I start with tears streaming down my face,

not for sorrow, but for joy, not for pain, but for the sheer beauty of the many encounters,

not for the distance between us, but for the deep connection,

knit together by the same God who created us all."

To read more exerpts from Pastor Paul Pettersen's journal from the trip, visit this related post.