In 2000, Orange Lutheran teacher Mark Maietta’s long-time dream of taking students on short-term mission trips materialized when he took his Construction Management class to Mexico for a weekend to build a home for a family in need. News of the trip grew, leading to another trip -- this time, open to all OLu students -- the following year. By 2003, a need for an annual Mexico trip became apparent. The fledgling OLu Missions Program was born.
After the trips to Mexico, the students who participated found themselves missing the community that they experienced in the mission field. As a result, several students decided to host regular lunch meetings for participants to reconnect with each other. The new Missions Club grew to host outreach events and service initiatives such as Cell Phones for Soldiers, Promise Child, a recycling program, and more.
In 2010, the Missions Club evolved into what is now the Missions Class and the Missions Program. This class deepens students’ understanding and knowledge of evangelical ministry and missionary work. Over the years, the class has proven incredibly important for brainstorming, planning, and promoting Missions events, along with providing students and staff with helpful and practical insights about missions.
Since the initial inception of the Missions Program in 2000, we have grown exponentially in the number of trips that are available to students, their parents, alumni, faculty and staff. Our international trips have included Mexico, Romania, India, China, Ethiopia, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and more. Our domestic offerings have also grown with the addition of an annual trip to Appalachia, the poorest region in the country, and two annual Native American Reservation Trip (NART) opportunities to help the Paiute Nation in Bishop, CA.
In addition to annual trips, we also assemble teams as needed for emergency disaster relief in partnership with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and local churches. OLu Missions aided with recovery efforts following the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as in Joplin, Missouri after a catastrophic tornado hit the town in 2011. In 2017 and 2019, more than 150 Orange Lutheran alumni and students helped restore homes in Houston and Galveston, Texas, that were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.
The Lord continues to bless the OLu Missions Program. Every trip is different and allows for new and exciting experiences for students and all who participate. One thing that will never change, however, is the work that God continues to do for and through this program and through the lives of our students and those we serve in the name of Jesus Christ.