Sisters Helena, 17, and Carina, 14, Johnson-Lusk of Coarsegold have big plans for next summer - to travel to Detroit, Mich., to join 35,000 other students at the week-long National Youth Gathering sponsored by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Lutheran students 14-18 years old, will meet in Detroit to engage in spiritual growth, service to the Detroit community, and form positive, faith-filled relationships with Lutheran youth from all over the United States. The theme for the Youth Gathering is ‘Rise Up Together.’
Of course, with the trip comes expenses - $3,600 to be exact - for travel, lodging, food, and activities while in Detroit. The sisters have raised half the funds with help from the Lutheran Church Men’s Club, donations from other church members, and fundraisers of their own, including making and selling selling Christmas wreaths.
To help raise the other half ($1,800), two dinners are planned at the church the sisters regularly attend - Oakhurst Lutheran Church - a spaghetti dinner on Sunday, Jan. 25, and a barbecue chicken dinner on Sunday, Feb. 22. Both dinners will be held at 5:30 p.m., immediately following the church’s 4 p.m. Western Gospel Service. The suggested donation for both dinners is $8 per adult and $2 for children.
There will be a raffle at both dinners of handmade aprons donated by Helena and Carina’s grandmother, Pat Johnson.
Helena is a junior and Carina is a freshman at Yosemite High School, where both are active in water polo, swimming, are officers in the school’s Leo’s Club, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club. In addition to sports and clubs, Helena is actively involved in FFA.
This is the second time Helena has attended the National Youth Gathering, having traveled to New Orleans in 2012.
“The trip in 2012 was five years after Hurricane Katrina and there was still a lot of work to do due to the devastation from the Katrina the devastation of the hurricane,” Helena said. “The 35,000 attendees were split into four groups with each group spending one full day doing community service. We helped rebuild a high school, helped build a house for habitat for humanity, and cleaned up a lot of people’s yards.”
Helena further stated that helping the people of New Orleans and being a part of 35,000 students worshiping together every night in the Superdome are memories she will have for the rest of her life.
Carina is looking forward to the experience.
“I’m really excited to be able to help the people in Detroit and also make new friends with students from across the United States,”Carina said.
The sisters are the children of Anita Johnson of Coarsegold, and Tony Lusk of Dubai, United Emirates.
Details: National Youth Gathering, elca.org/youthgathering.