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$615,000 Science Renovation Creates New Opportunities for Students

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When Lincoln Lutheran students start school next fall, they will be welcomed with three new classrooms dedicated specifically to science education.  A $615,000 renovation project will re-purpose two different areas within the building.  Two current high school science classrooms will be transformed into one larger life sciences classroom, a prep room and a guidance center. The other part of the project will re-purpose currently unused space into a chemistry and physics lab, a science lecture classroom and a prep room.

Lincoln Lutheran Executive Director Scott Ernstmeyer says the new space and resources are long overdue. “We have outstanding teachers who have been creative and innovative with undersized classrooms and limited resources. Because so many of our graduates transition into post-secondary fields of study connected to the sciences, we felt it was important to expose students to resources and opportunities that would fully prepare them for their future.” Ernstmeyer and other school leaders took tours of area public and non-public schools to determine best practices and ensure the new space will meet or exceed the quality of resources within the community.

In the late 1990’s Lincoln Lutheran transitioned from offering a 7th-9th grade junior high program to a full junior and senior high school.  Due to budget limitations at the time, a planned science wing expansion was cut from the building project. Ernstmeyer says science classrooms have been on the school’s wish list ever since. “Schools have many needs and we’ve been blessed to work on a variety of projects over the past fifteen years that have had a positive impact on the educational experience our students receive. We are thankful to have been blessed with some wonderful financial gifts allowing us to make this important upgrade to our facility. It will open up new opportunities for learning by our students.”

The renovation was able to start moving forward when the school secured a $300,000 matching gift. Director of Ministry Advancement Lloyd Wagnitz has been researching and writing proposals to secure grants ever since.  These efforts have generated additional grants and donations totaling $252,000 with awards ranging between $2,000 and $100,000.  Wagnitz is thankful that the process has largely stayed clear of the school’s traditional donor base. “We know how gracious our donors are and how much they sacrifice to help us pursue our ministry.  It has been a real blessing to connect with area foundations who are excited to be a part of our project.”

Construction on the project will begin this spring with a scheduled completion date of mid-July.  The guidance center will include an office for the Guidance Director and provide space for a small student lounge. New classrooms will be outfitted with all new equipment and furnishings.

Lincoln Lutheran Middle and High School provides faith-based education for students in grades 6-12.  For more information about the science renovation or other programs and offerings contact Principal Matt Heibel at

Singing Valentines on Sale Now

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Singing Valentines are a tradition that has been around our school for over 15 years.  Not only are they a main fundraiser for the choir but it is the choir member's favorite time of year. The high school choir spends all day on Friday the 12th going around Lincoln and Seward surprising and serenading the recipients. Taking the day to travel and sing has been one of senior Nick Schmeling's favorite memories from all four years of choir. He stated "It's such an amazing experience seeing all the different reactions people have and knowing that you've made someone's day." There are always new and interesting places that are traveled to including, banks, office buildings, schools, churches, malls, factories, rehab facilities, retirement homes and swim schools.

Numerous fond memories have been made on the journey of delivering singing valentines. Senior Hallie Hohbein said that her favorite memory happened sophomore year. "We were all excited because we were singing in the mall food court so right after we would get to eat lunch and the idea of singing in the mall just sounded fun. Shortly after we started the mall security came up and made us stop because it was actually illegal, something about disrupting the peace. We didn't get kicked out but we all laughed and it was defiantly memorable." Lizzie Moore who is now a sophomore agreed that Singing Valentines were the highlight of her first year of choir. She retold her story of her fondest memory of the day. "We were singing in a bank and this guy came up to us and asked us if we took orders that day. He told us about how he completely forgot it was valentines day and didn't have anything for his wife. Since we were doing so good on time we got to go to his house and surprise his wife. We were so surprised when he gave us 100 dollars just to go sing but when we saw the mansion he lived in it made more sense. I loved being able to not only surprise his wife but save the guy from having nothing to give."

This year the student's will be selling Valentines for $30. It is a great experience for all involved, whether you are receiving, giving or a student delivering. Valentines can be purchased through the Lincoln Lutheran office or a choir student (form attached). You can purchase them for anyone, whether it's romantic, for your mother or even a joke to embarrass your friend. We would love for you to support our choir in such a fun and memorable way and on Friday February 12th, our choir would love to spread some Valentines day spirit to whomever you want it delivered too.

Article by Madison Schmeeckle, Class of 2016

Community Outreach Team Visits Arbors

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“That was the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time!” said Cindy. Cindy is a resident at Arbors Memory Care Community and she was referring to the two hours she spent caroling, painting and craft-making with the Community Outreach Team. I agree with Cindy! This month’s outreach event was special beyond words.

“We were supposed to bless them, which we probable did, but I think I got more out of it than anyone,” said teacher Julie Stahr. “It literally brought tears to my eyes when the girls sang Silent Night in German for the lady that requested a carol in German.” 

It was a team effort all around. Music director Michael Werner arranged sheet music for caroling. Jen Bockerman’s art students created crafts and painting projects. The team used a $250 outreach grant from Thrivent to provide materials and food for everyone. And, as always, God’s Spirit was the one who filled our hearts with His love.

Saturday morning’s event marks the first visit to the Arbors for the COT, and the ninth service event this year.  “We appreciated how involved the students and adults were, interacting and connecting with our residents” said Activities Director Michelle Veratti. She confirmed that the $100 donation would be dedicated to improving the resident experience with special consideration for those in the memory care community.

Many of those who served had a special place in their hearts for memory care patients. “I didn’t visit my grandmother as much as I’d like to have when she was alive and was living in a place like this,” said teacher Joel Stoltenow. “But, when I think of these residents like my own grandmother, it helps me see them differently – and special – because they are someone’s grandparent.”

“I felt a little awkward at first,” said senior Hallie Hohbein. “But, as they began to sing along with our songs it became much more relaxed. I really loved listening to their stories. I felt like by simply listening, I was bringing them joy.”

Senior Kate Staab continued that sentiment. “It was a great opportunity to do something different as students and teachers. I could have continued singing with them for hours!” 

The Community Outreach Team exists to share the love of Jesus by serving in our local community. As an extension of the school – and LCMS Church – the group strives to incorporate the following in each event: 1.) a parent, a student and a staff member represented, 2.) a devotional prayer time preceding the event, and 3.) a small donation from the COT Fund. 

Our goal for this school year is to complete 20 events and accumulate over 1,000 hours of service by 300 different people. We are well on our way. If you have a passion to serve at a community organization, or have ideas for the COT, please contact Joel Stoltenow ( 


Advent Chapel in Hymns, Carols & Chant

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December 2015 marked the 10th year the faculty, staff and students of LL have joined together to prepare for Christmas through a service of hymns, carols and scripture.  Mr. Sommerer initiated the format in 2005 and has led this special chapel each of nine years since then.  He likes Christmas Carols and decided to structure a chapel service around Advent and Christmas songs.  Originally intended to be an every-other-year service, the “Christmas Carol Chapel” has become an annual event due to student request.

Mr. Sommerer introduced each song with a few words about who wrote it, the circumstances in which it was written, or the meaning of some of the lyrics.  A faculty member read Bible verses from the Christmas story that go along with each song.  The service was enhanced by musicians from both the student body and the faculty.  Approximately eight hymns/carols are sung each year.

Two years ago, we introduced elements of the chapel in other languages.  That year a verse from each song was sung in the native language of one of our students, a student who spoke that language read verses in their native tongue, and the verses were then read in English.  Students read and sang in Vietnamese and Norwegian, as you might expect, but also in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Tok Pisin and Ukrainian.  The students who spoke each language helped print the song verse in their language and helped develop an ad hoc phonetic spelling to assist the other students in pronunciation.  Our students did a great job of jumping in and singing in other languages!

In 2014 and 2015 we sang a verse of Silent Night in Vietnamese.  We have more Vietnamese speakers than any language other than English, so this was a nice way to include them.  We are thankful to Mr. Sommerer for making the effort to organize this chapel each year.  Not only does it provide a special opportunity for our students to enjoy carols and hymns, but it reinforces the fact that the message of a Savior who loves us enough to give his life for us is for people of all nationalities.


2015 Student Device Survey Results

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Tomorrow we will send out our annual device Buyer’s Guide, but before we do that, we would like to share with you the results of our survey of how satisfied students are with the devices they currently have. These results come from surveying all of our students at all grade levels with a 99% participation rate.

Executive Summary:

Android tablets were the devices that students have the most trouble with and are the devices that students switch away from most frequently. All of the other types of devices continue to work well for students. With different types of devices excelling in different categories.

Devices used

Approximately 75% of our students have an iPad or an iPad Mini. This is not surprising as this is the device we indicated our teachers were most familiar with. It is also the type of device that we lease to students. Last year 65% of our students had iPads. About 3% of our students use Android tablets. This is down from 7% last year.  About 3% use Windows tablets which is comparable to last year’s numbers. 16% of our students use laptops (8% Apple, 8% Windows). This is a decrease from 23% a year ago, mostly due to seniors with laptops graduating. 2% of our students use Chromebooks which is the same percentage as last year. Note the relatively small number of Chromebooks and Windows tablets when you read the data below. It is a pretty small sample size.

Would/Did you switch devices?

Approximately 12% of students have switched devices since the start of the 1:1 initiative last year. Students with an Android tablet were the most likely to switch to a different device (71% of them switched). Most students who switched to another device chose the Apple iPad as their new device followed by a Windows laptop.

We also asked students if they would chose the same device again if they were starting the school year over. About 90% of them would keep the same type of device. Students with an Android Tablet (60%) or Windows laptop (40%) were the most likely to switch with the Apple iPad and laptop the most likely device to switch to. Chromebooks were high on the list of people who would switch last year, but are not this year. Either the right people have Chromebooks now or it takes a little bit of time to get used to them.

Note that Android tablets and Chromebooks tend to be lower priced devices and Apple iPads and Laptops tend to be higher priced devices, so this may just be students wanting a more expensive device.

Also worth noting is that we did not include students in the above statistics if they switched or indicated they would switch to a newer version of the same device, for instance, from an iPad 2 to an iPad Air.

Battery usage

Most (93%) of our students report that their devices have batteries that almost always last for an entire school day. Windows tablet and Chromebook users report that their battery life lasts the longest (averaging 8 hours) and Windows laptop users report that their batteries last the shortest amount of time (averaging 6 hours).  Laptop users in general report a higher chance of running out of battery power than tablet users. Keep in mind that these are survey results and that actual usage will vary by student and by day.  

Problems with school work.

Students with Android tablets reported the most problems working on school related tasks. Students with Windows laptops and Chromebooks reported the fewest problems. In this section of the survey we asked students how often they had problems with the following school related activities:

  • Getting assignments from eBackpack (best: Windows Laptops & iPads, worst: Android tablets)
  • Annotating assignments with ebackpack (best: iPads, worst: Android tablets)
  • Turning in assignments with eBackpack (best: Chromebooks, worst: Android tablets)
  • MAP testing (best: Chromebooks, worst: Windows tablets)
  • Using Google Drive/Google Docs (best: Chromebook worst: Windows tablets)
  • Using Moodle (best: Chromebook, Windows laptop, worst: none)
  • Using email  (best:none, worst: none)
  • Using Kahoot, Quizlets & Socrative  (best: Chromebooks & laptops, worst: none)
  • Using word-processing software  (best: laptops & iPads, worst: chromebook)
  • Using presentation software (best: laptops & Chromebooks, worst: Android tablets)
  • Using spreadsheet software  (best: laptops & Chromebooks, worst: none)

Chromebooks performed surprisingly bad on word-processing. This may be due to problems printing or turning in assignments rather than creating them (an area where we expect Chromebooks to beat tablets).

Of all of the questions we asked, this is the one that will most strongly affect the types of devices that we recommend. In general we will be suggesting that parents avoid older Windows and all Android tablets and devices with small screens in the future.

Satisfaction with devices for school work

We next asked students how satisfied they were with using their device when working on the same types of activities as above. Below are the averages of those 11 scores (5 is the highest).

Device 2015 Results 2014 Results
Chromebooks 4.7 4.0
Apple laptops 4.5 4.5
Windows laptops 4.2 4.2
Windows tablets 4.3 3.9
Android tablets 3.8 3.6
iPads 4.5 4.3

Satisfaction with devices for personal use

Because some parents buy devices as birthday or Christmas presents, we also asked how satisfied students were with their devices for personal uses. We asked them about listening to music, reading books, playing games, using social media, browsing the internet and reading news. In this area the Windows laptops and Android tablets were noticeably worse than the other devices. When you are picking a device for both personal and school use, make sure you get one with enough memory to use for both. 16GB is enough for school; you will want more to also use it as a personal device (or plan on using cloud services for that extra storage).

Last year the Chromebooks were one the bottom of this category. This year they are at the top. Once again, either it takes a while to get used to a Chromebook or Chromebooks are great devices, but only for certain people.

Device quality

Overall, students with Apple laptops and Apple iPads were most satisfied with the quality of their device. Students with Android tablets, Chromebooks, Windows laptops and Windows tablets were least satisfied with the quality of their devices. Specifically, we asked students about these items: Durability, Battery Life, Screen Size, Screen Quality, Camera Quality, Speaker Quality and Ease of Use.

Under Durability, Apple laptops came in first with Chromebooks and iPads a close second. Android devices were last by a wide margin.

For Battery Life, Chromebooks came in first with iPads a distant second. Windows laptops came in last. You can buy Windows laptops with just as good battery life as Apple laptops, but they cost more than cheaper Windows laptops (our buyer’s guide will have Windows laptops with a battery life over 7 hours).

Students with iPad Minis and smaller Android devices were the least happy with the Screen Size of their devices. Everyone else was satisfied with their screen size. Apart from Android tablet users, everyone was satisfied with their Screen Quality.

Students with Apple devices thought more highly of the Camera Quality of their devices than any other group. This result was mimicked by Speaker Quality with the exception that Android tablets also performed above average in this category.

As far as Ease of Use goes, students with Apple laptops, iPads & Chromebooks thought their devices were much easier to use than others. Users of Android tablets were at the bottom.

It should be noted that there are many different types of Android Tablets, and that the higher end devices scored higher than the low-end devices. Also, Android tablets with a more recent edition of the Android operating system tended to score higher. The same thing applies in general to all devices. Students gave higher marks to the iPad Air than to the iPad 2.

Having said that, the most obvious trend this year is that Android devices in general are performing worse than all others by a significant amount.

Ownership Information

We collected some new information this year including length of ownership for devices. As you might expect, 6th graders have owned their devices for the shortest amount of time at just under 6 months. 7th graders were averaging 18 months (right on track). 8th graders 20 months (just what you would expect). 9th graders were at 13 months, so a fair number of families purchased new devices for high school. 10 graders were at 17 months, 11th graders at 20 months and 12th graders at 18 months, indicating that some seniors were getting new devices for college. Of our students, about 20% reported that their devices were previously owned.


There were students who were happy with each kind of device and students who were unhappy with each kind of device. All we can present here are general trends. We hope these are helpful for you when you decide that it is time to purchase a new device. Having said that, you should probably have a good reason for choosing an Android device over one of the other options.

Later this week we will publish the list of devices that meet our requirements. If you are interested in receiving an email when we find a good price for one of these devices, please subscribe to our “Device Deals” email list here:

If you would like to look at the data that went into this survey, you can do so here:

Lloyd Sommerer
Technology Coordinator
Lincoln Lutheran

NAC School Bus Arts Grant

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The Nebraska Arts Council provided a NAC School Bus Arts Grant to Lincoln Lutheran, allowing us the opportunity to take our entire 7th and 8th grade classes to Celebrate Creativity at the Joslyn Museum of Art, hosted by the Omaha Symphony Orchestra on Friday, October 30th! Celebrate Creativity is is an arts-infused experience designed to spark creativity with cross-curricular activities and discoveries. 

Students crafted their own schedules of artistic investigation, choosing from a wide range of hands-on exploratory workshops led by industry professionals. Students also attended a museum tour of their choosing and engaged in an interactive concert with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra! Our students displayed a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm about the opportunities to explore the areas of theater, media arts, music, and dance with working artists from across Nebraska!

Supporting NAC helps bring art programs into communities, making them available to our students. We would like to thank NAC in sustaining artistic opportunities for Nebraska’s students, which equip them with Twenty-first Century Learning Skills in creativity, innovation, and critical thinking! 

New Mission Partner: The Rock Lutheran Church

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Lincoln Lutheran Welcomes The Rock Lutheran

Three new students started school at Lincoln Lutheran in August with a couple of things in common:  they share the same last name and they are all members of The Rock Lutheran located in Seward, NE.  Ben, Ella and Gretchen Moll are the second set of triplets to attend Lincoln Lutheran and the younger siblings of Warrior alumni Emmi (2014) and Zach (2011).  Parents Tim and Sara Moll are founding members of The Rock Lutheran Church located in Seward, NE and were instrumental in connecting the young congregation with Lincoln Lutheran.

The Rock joined the Lincoln Lutheran School Association as its newest Mission Partner in August.  Mission Partners represent area congregations who support Lincoln Lutheran’s mission of Christian education and seek to foster an environment where families would consider Lincoln Lutheran for their children.  Other Mission Partner congregations include Peace Lutheran, Waverly and Immanuel Lutheran, Lincoln.

In just ten years, The Rock has been blessed to move from an idea to a quickly growing ministry.  “It all started in August 2005, when a group of families started talking and praying about the idea of a new church in Seward.  Meetings led to Bible studies which led to larger groups and eventually to Sunday worship,” shared Tim Moll.

The Rock began regular Sunday worship in October 2008, and became an official member church of the LCMS in March 2009. Pastor Mike Meyer was serving as an Associate Pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Fremont and accepted the call to serve as The Rock’s first pastor in February of 2010.

According to Tim, founding members had great support from area leaders. “We didn’t really have a mother church, but Pastor Scheich and others at Christ Lutheran were a great resource to us.  Our worship style is modeled similar to Room 211 worship at Christ.  Dress is casual, the music ‘rocks’ and messages are based on 2-4 week series.”

The Rock has been renting space for worship, but will be moving into a permanent facility very soon.  A three-story building in the old Seward Middle School complex was generously donated by the developer. The congregation is finishing up renovations to use the space for worship and other activities.  “It’s an incredible gift as we will end up with approximately 30,000 square feet on three floors,” said Tim. 

The name The Rock comes from Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  The mission is to reach out to those who have become disconnected or were never connected to the church – focusing on those people who, for whatever reason, may not be comfortable in a more traditional church setting.  Everyone needs a “firm place to stand”.  The church worships around 150 weekly, and is blessed to have approximately 300 people who are either members or friends of The Rock.   

To learn more about this exciting ministry, visit



Checking in with "All Shook Up"

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Since late August, the cast and crew of this year's fall musical, "All Shook Up," have been hard at work to make this Elvis-inspired show come to life. The show's stellar cast is led by Nick Schmeling and Kate Staab, and is directed by Mariel Olp and Michael Werner. The story is based on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and is set in a small, Midwest town in the 1950s. All of the music comes from the King of Rock and Roll, Mr. Elvis Presley, and is sure to get any 

"All Shook Up's" cast and crew have not only been hard at work learning lines, counting measures, and blocking out scenes, but they have followed the lead of Jon Kisker and Nick Schmeling in cleaning up and organizing the stage area and the Green Room. This, along with the occasional pick-up game of volleyball or photo shoot, has really allowed this dedicated group of young people to work well with one another and come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. God's gifts to them will be on full display November 13-15. But for now, back to rehearsals!

Alumna Esther Soenksen named player of the week

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Having already topped her season goal total from 2014, sophomore Esther Soenksen has ridden a hot start to 2015 to GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week recognition, as announced by the conference on Tuesday. It’s the first career weekly award for the former Lincoln Lutheran High School standout.

In last week’s only contest, Soenksen fueled the 7-0 blowout victory over York College with four goals, including two in each half. The Lincoln native now has seven goals over the season’s first three games for the 21st-ranked Bulldogs. She ranks third among all NAIA women’s soccer players in goals and fifth in goals per game. Soenksen has been incredibly efficient with seven of her nine shots on goal finding the back of the net.

After playing in the midfield last year as a freshman, Soenksen has thrived in more of an attacking role for head coach Greg Henson’s squad, which is off to a 3-0 start.

“We definitely made an effort to move Esther a little bit more forward,” Henson said after the win over York. “She has the ability to do well up there and score goals for us. She showcased that.”

Soenksen now has 11 career goals in 25 games as a Bulldog. She has started every game since arriving at Concordia last fall.

The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday when they host No. 6 Benedictine College (Kan.) (5-0). Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.

LL Builds with Habitat for Humanity

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The first Community Outreach Team event of the year happened to fall on the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which ravaged many homes in the New Orleans area back in 2005. While the COT did not travel to Louisiana to build homes, nine students and four adults did spend the day building homes here in our community with Habitat for Humanity. 

Volunteers rotated through each of the steps needed to put siding up on a house. Some measured to ensure the bottom panel was flush with other panels. Others ran siding panels back and forth from the saw to the house. Still others hammered siding into place, while learning how to keep the panels visually aesthetic. And most workers avoided hammering their thumbs for the majority of the day (emphasis on most).

“Volunteers are key to building homes for our family partners.  The students from the Outreach Team were exceptional, and did a fabulous job of meeting the daily goals our construction manager had set,” said Rosanne Christensen, Interim Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity. 

Senior Nick Schmeling started the day off with a devotion that focused on our purpose in Christ (Eph. 2:10). He read how we are God’s workmanship to be used for acts of love as we are united in Christ. Sheila Ziems saw to it that the crew started the day with warm banana bread – something that was not wasted on adolescent boys.

“I wanted to do an event like this to complete my service hours,” Schmeling said. “Once we started working, I got to meet the future owner of the house. I found it surreal to realize that I’m helping someone actually build the house they’ll live in someday.”

From there, the team met at the site and went through a short instructional time. By 8:30am, the team was split into teams and working on different areas of the house. By lunch time (11:30am), well over half the house was finished as comradery and teamwork were growing. By the end of the day, the team finished the majority of the house and a shed.

 “At first, it seemed like the guys were concerned with mud all over their shoes. Then, they directed their attention more toward getting the siding to look ‘just right.’ By the end of the day, I saw them increase skills and interest in siding a house,” said parent Jim Otte. “Forty years from now, we can still walk up to that house and know we did right in our community; we created memories; we served.”

The words “building” and “community” come to mind after witnessing Saturday’s work. I know the adults enjoyed showing the craft of using a level, hammering nails, designing an appealing wall. Also, the kids enjoyed showing the adults just how hard they can work and how much they can accomplish when given the chance. When we think of service, often times we think of once-a-year trips to distant locations to help those communities (and, to be sure, that is a fine endeavor). However, Saturday’s event drove home the point that we have plenty of opportunities to serve and make THIS community a stronger one right here in Lincoln, NE.

One of the boys asked me during lunch, “So, wait. Can you just come here and work any Saturday you want? I don’t have to wait for you to organize it?” (I answered in the affirmative.) “Whoa! I’m definitely coming back again. This is fun.”

For anyone not familiar with Habitat for Humanity, this link responds to frequently asked questions ( The partnership between the Community Outreach Team and Habitat for Humanity goes beyond volunteering hours. The COT will donate $100 and provide future volunteers throughout the year at this house. Also, through the Thrivent Action Teams program, Habitat will receive a $250 pre-paid debit card to be used for supplies. Lastly, in this month, we will pray for the Christian non-profit group as it works to fulfill its mission: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

God gives us opportunities every day to serve right here in our community. Sharing the love of Jesus can be done without saying much of anything. It can be done by doing something for our neighbors. Those interested in other events should contact Joel Stoltenow ( or at 402-770-3927.