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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Giving back

Turning success into significance has become a way of life for Earl and Chris Mummert of Harrisburg, Pa.

Success is measured in terms of meeting our goals and desires," Earl says. "Significance is measured in terms of meeting others' needs. It's a change in focus from self to others."

That philosophy carried them to Slovakia last year when Chris accepted a nine-month assignment to teach English at a high school sponsored by the Evangelical [Lutheran] Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovenia. Earl accompanied her as "house husband" and offered consultation to the church's bishop.

They say the experience gave them a new perspective. "Things will never look the same because I see what tremendous resources we have in our country," Earl says. "It's just a matter of our will on how we use them."

"Where we mow grass, they grow vegetables and fruit trees," Chris says. "They don't waste anything. They are good stewards of what they have, and they are very family minded people."

The Slovakian students have few clothes and live in modest homes, but they have a healthy dose of curiosity about life in the United States — enough that 14 youth signed up to come for a monthlong visit this summer. Chris found host homes through Lutheran congregations.

But the Mummerts want to do more. Besides being active in the social ministries of her congregation, Tree of Life Evangelical Lutheran, Harrisburg, Chris is taking Spanish classes with the hope of someday ministering in Latin America. She also tutors two refugee families from Bosnia through Tressler Lutheran Services, an ELCA-related social ministry organization.

Both say their lives are enriched by cross-cultural connections.

"You get back so much more than you are able to give," Chris says. "That has been true right down the line. It's like you prime a pump and you get back more."

"We have a feeling of daily being thankful and compelled to do as much as we can," Earl adds, "to make a difference to as many people as we can."


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