Trinity Lutheran Papio Church in Papillion, Nebraska, has been a longtime partner of The Raining Season. Their church community has supported The Raining Season through sponsorship, fundraising, and traveling since 2010. Matt Pearson, Associate Pastor at the church is a member of the TRS board. He also leads a team to Sierra Leone each summer. Matt took the time to share more about Trinity Lutheran Papio Church’s partnership with The Raining Season over the last ten years.
Trinity Papio Lutheran connected with The Raining Season after participating in a packing event for Kids Against Hunger. The congregation as a whole packed close to 25,000 meals! The leaders of Kids Against Hunger asked if the church cared if the food went to an orphanage in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The church did not care where the food went as Kids Against Hunger knew who and where it was most needed. In case you haven’t put the pieces together, the meals this Nebraska church packed blessed The Raining Season, and a seed was planted.
Not long after the Kids Against Hunger event, founder Erica Rust reached out to the church to see if TRS could travel from Tennessee to Nebraska to personally say thank you to the congregation, and share more about The Raining Season. Matt shared, “ We were excited to hear where the meals went, and how it was being used. At that time, most everyone would have had no clue where Sierra Leone was .” Erica visited the church and shared more about The Raining Season’s work and ministry in Sierra Leone. At the time, TRS had just taken in around forty new kids after a ferry accident left many children from the Shenge village as orphans. This intake nearly doubled the size of children that TRS was caring for in the orphanage. As you can imagine, forty new children was a huge strain on a young TRS organization as they navigated how to cover the cost of 24/7 care for so many children. In that single visit from Erica and the church hearing about the mission of TRS, nearly 50 sponsorships occurred. Matt shared that the church committed to partnering with TRS as a church from that point on, and we have certainly been blessed by the love, support, encouragement, and prayer of their church family. While Matt was not certain, he estimated that up to 90 kids have been sponsored through their church. This includes Mary Kamara, who is sponsored by Trinity Kids Ministry at the church. The Kids Life Ministry also does a fundraiser before teams travel so the teams can throw a celebration party for the kids and staff at the center when they are in-country.
Beyond supporting The Raining Season through sponsorship, Trinity Papio Lutheran also travels as a church each summer. As a whole, the church has traveled nine times. Matt Pearson leads a trip each June where some church members are traveling for the first time, while others have joined him on a mission trip before. Matt has traveled with The Raining Season eight times and planned to lead another trip this summer, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Matt shared that more than 45 people from his congregation, or people connected to the church, have traveled with him to Sierra Leone over the years.
Senior Pastor, Erik Boye, also traveled to Sierra Leone with several members from the church. It was after his trip that the church began regularly giving to TRS financially. The trip made such an impact on Pastor Erik that he wanted to do more. The regular giving allowed Pastor Daniel to transition from caregiver to full-time pastor. Pastor Erik wanted him to be able to focus his time and energy on his ministry, both at the center and in the Freetown community.
Trinity Lutheran Papio is thankful that leadership from The Raining Season has continued to visit their church regularly over the past ten years. Founder, Erica Rust, as well as her husband Jason, have visited on multiple occasions. In 2017, Jason was able to share the latest information on The Roots Project that was just gaining momentum at that time. Our Executive Director, Francis Pyle, has also visited the church sharing updates on The Raining Season and Sierra Leone. On these Sundays, Trinity dedicates the service to sharing The Raining Season's mission and updating the church congregation on what has been happening through the ministry in Sierra Leone.
Currently, two of our Ambassadors for Kids at TRS are connected to Trinity Lutheran in Nebraska. Rachel Staab grew up in the church and traveled on Matt’s team in 2013. Like many members of the church, she has been a big supporter of The Raining Season ever since. She quickly signed on as an Ambassador in December. Casey Schendt recently joined our team of Ambassadors as well. Casey is from Papillion, Nebraska, and was connected to Matt through another church member. She has traveled on several of the church’s teams and continues to sponsor and support TRS, and now joins us as an Ambassador.
The Raining Season has been blessed by its partnership with Trinity Lutheran. Matt shared what has stood out to him throughout this partnership, “For me, it is seeing people travel for the first time and experience Sierra Leone and meet the kids. It is so fun to see them meet their own sponsored kids and the incredible reaction the kids have every time to having someone who sponsors them actually visit them. Then to see the bond and relationship throughout the week grow and their heart for the kids, TRS, and Sierra Leone expand and then the passion they have to share about their experience when they return. I also was in youth ministry for a long time at our church, and to see several of my former students who talked about traveling in Junior High actually go over as young adults has been a pretty fantastic experience. I also love that the experience and trip is for all ages, and we have had people of all ages travel.”
A big thank you to Trinity Lutheran Papio for being a long time partner and supporter of The Raining Season. Thank you for sponsoring, traveling, fundraising, being Ambassadors for Kids at TRS, attending our gala, and supporting our mission.
The Raining Season