Little Norfolk Nebraska is the Hub
Orphan Grain Train’s International Headquarters is the hub around which all Orphan Grain Train activity revolves. While the 26 branch and collection center locations around the country are all volunteer workers, the International Center employs 12 dedicated workers. These employees accomplish the task of arranging for international and domestic transportation of relief supplies for all of our 26 locations. Daily they work with customs officials, keep track of inventory, do the bookkeeping, update promotional material and all other tasks needed to support the work of the satellite locations.
Mission Trip To Haiti Eye Opening for Staff
Traveling to see where Orphan Grain Train containers are shipped and provide hand-on relief aid was the joy of six Orphan Grain Train staff and associates earlier this month. Grant Schmidt, Vice President, Karen Mangels, International Shipping Director, and her husband John, Doug Sunderman, Board of Directors member, Jim Schmersal of Lincoln, and Watson Marin of Omaha spent 6 days in Haiti. Partnering with Kids Around the World, Orphan Grain Train shipped a playground in early August. With the blessing of the Mayor of Thomassique, Haiti this playground was assembled by the team, and dedicated in a city wide celebration with over 1000 in attendance. The smiles on the faces of the children playing in this community where no swings, see-saw, or slides ever existed will stay in the hearts and minds of this group forever. The reality of the poor and needy in Haiti was overwhelming everywhere. Their requests are the basics, water, food, latrines, and schools for their children. Hundreds of children attend schools in simple facilities with food cooked over outdoor fires for the child’s only meal of the day. Despite the conditions the children are dressed in uniforms, respectful, and eager to learn. Thomassique is located in the mountainous east central part of Haiti close to the Dominican border. A four hour drive from Port au Prince over dirt roads passable only with 4 wheeled vehicles the people of Thomassique welcomed their guests from OGT. Friends were made, relationships built, and memories last. (11/2018)
Thrivent Action Team Fun Together To Help Haiti
Karen Mangels, OGT’s International Shipping Director held a Thrivent Action Team event for OGT’s staff and family. The group packed 8 duffle bags with sports equipment and strung over 150 wooden crosses to make necklaces. The wooden crosses are made and mailed to OGT by Rev. Leonard Aurich, in Dubuque, IA. He is OGT’s VP Grant Schmidt’s father-in-law. He also creates small animals and cars for OGT to ship to children worldwide. Included is a picture of Rev. Aurich. Over $1200 of sports equipment (basketball, soccer, and volleyball) were packed with goods purchased with Thrivent Action Team dollars, donations from Concordia University in Seward, NE and OGT staff "casual Friday" monies. The cross necklaces will be distributed in Thomassique, Haiti at a dedication of a playground that was donated and shipped to Haiti by OGT but first the construction of the playground will have to happen. OGT’s Grant Schmidt, Karen Mangels with husband John and Doug Sunderman, OGT’s board member will help to put up the playground this coming week. They will also be in Haiti to meet OGT’s recipients and visit some of the orphanages and schools that we help to support with food and goods. More pictures to come following the trip. We are very excited for this amazing opportunity and ask for prayers for safe travels and to touch lives by sharing the love of Jesus in Haiti.(11/2018)
OGT Packs 2,376 Meals for Mercy Meals
Sunday, October 7th some of the OGT staff and family members had a fabulous time participating in Mercy Meals Pack Away Hunger Day. The event consists of several tables being sponsored by organizations and businesses from Northeast Nebraska packing fortified rice meals to serve those in need in the US and worldwide. OGT was there to deliver all the Mercy Meal products and then loaded the 133,488 completed Mercy Meals! OGT staff and family packaged 11 boxes or 2,376 Mercy Meals in about 1.5 hours! It was a humbling experience to pack rice meals for starving families and knowing I am going home to a full refrigerator. Feeling grateful and blessed to be able to help those in need. The OGT group picture back row L to R: Pastor Jim Carretto, director of care ministries; Becky Carretto, bookkeeper; Chris Carstons, inventory manager; Paul Brandt, assistant warehouse manager; Riley Brandt, Pastor Lee Rosenthal. Middle row L to R: Suzie Leffers, director of public relations; Emily Brandt, Tessa Nelson, administrative assistant; Rosa Gonzales, assistant director of international shipping and multicultural outreach; Linda Miller, financial secretary and front row is Hope and Hunter Leffers.(10/2018)
Happy 80th Birthday Pastor Wilke
Pastor Wilke, founder and president of OGT recently celebrated his 80th birthday! OGT staff invited him and his wife Judy for a card party with delicious ice cream cake. Many memories and birthday wishes were shared. Thank you for your vision, leadership and dedication to OGT!(9/2018)
Thrivent Action Team Event Produces 40 School Kits and 33 Christmas Boxes
Chris Carstens, OGTs Inventory Manager, organized a dual Thrivent Action Team event for the OGT home office and warehouse staff and their families in Norfolk, NE on August 20th. We had the opportunity to make a difference by serving the Lord faithfully using our talents to assemble and pack School Kits and Christmas Gift Boxes. This was a great activity from Thrivent to help those in need around the world. We put together 40 School Kits; which have already been included on a shipment to the Republic of Georgia. Once there, the organization ‘Union of Investments & Humanitarian Projects’ located in Mtshketa will distribute them to local kindergarten children. We also assembled 33 Christmas Gift Boxes which will be included in a future shipment. Following the assembly, refreshments were enjoyed by all. If you are a Thrivent member you can apply for an Action Team to receive $250 in seed money to help make hygiene kits, school kits, quilts, and other special projects for OGT to ship to those in need in the US or around the world. Check it out at Thrivent.com. Pictured L to R: Linda Miller, Financial Secretary; Suzie Leffers, Public Relations; Paul Brandt, Assistant Warehouse Manager; Terri Rosenthal, Office Assistant; Grant Schmidt, VP of Operations; Chris Carstens, Inventory Manager; Karen Mangels, International Transportation Director; John Mangels; Bill Begeman, Board Member; Bonnie Begeman, Oliver Begeman, Chris Begeman. Front: Hunter Leffers, Henry Begeman, Daisy Begeman, and Hope Leffers. Not pictured are Doug & Shirley Trampe.(9/2018)
OGT Staff and Family Enjoy Thrivent Action Event
OGT’s Director of International Transportation Karen Mangels arranged for office and warehouse staff and family to do a Thrivent Action Team event making hygiene kits after work Monday February 19th. It was a great time of service, fellowship, prayer, and snacks which included 16 people completing 17 boxes of 126 hygiene kits!(2/2018)
A New Region in Haiti to Serve
February 12, 2018 OGT’s international office had a visit from a new recipient Josias Marin from Thomassique, Haiti. He is associated with the Lutheran church and school in Thomassique and is excited to be receiving French Bibles, 57,024 Mercy Meals, 5,000 pounds of mixed edible beans, linens, clothing, recreational clothing and sports equipment, coveralls and rubber boots for local goat farmers (special request from Josias), beds with mattresses, hygiene kits, school kits, classroom chairs and tables shipped from the Norfolk warehouse. The 40’ container will remain at the school to be converted into a computer classroom. How exciting to be able to help children and families in another region of Haiti. Pictured is Josias Marin with Grant Schmidt, OGT’s vice president.(2/2018)
Partnership for Humanitarian Aid
On Sunday, January 21 Karen Mangels OGT’s Director of International Shipping spoke about the ministry of OGT to Zion Lutheran Church congregation in Sioux Falls, SD. Rev. Jenina Gatnoor with Gaat’s Kid African Mission was also there and will soon be receiving shipments from OGT in Ethiopia. OGT donated 2 bags of sports equipment (10 deflated basketballs, 10 deflated playground balls, and pump) and 1 bag of OTC medications and bandages that Rev Gatnoor will take with him when he travels to Ethiopia in February. At that time land will be purchased and the contacts finalized for OGT to ship containers of aid to the Gambella region in Ethiopia to serve the South Sudanese refugees and others there. Pictured is Karen Mangels giving the donated items to Rev. Jenina Gatnoor.
Blessed To Help An Amazing Organization
Recently OGT had a visit from Dave Hansen with Helping Hands For Haiti. Inna Netesov joined him on the visit and has been to Haiti twice this past year. They brought 1,000 Lights for Literacy which are solar powered and great for students to use at home to study. In Haiti it gets dark early in the evening and without lights they cannot study. They also brought clothes, new shoes and a clutch for their vehicle to be put on the next shipment to Haiti. Enjoy these wonderful pictures from Helping Hands For Haiti - Mesi means Thanks.(10/2017)
Excited to Establish Relations in Peru
OGT is excited to be building relations with the country of Peru through Rolando who was raised in Peru and currently lives in Sioux City, Iowa. Rolando knows the conditions and need for humanitarian aid and food in regions of Peru. OGT’s President Pastor Wilke and VP Grant Schmidt are currently in Peru with Rolando to see what OGT can do to help families in need, rural schools and clinics. Pictured L-R – Grant Schmidt, Rosa Gonzales; interpreter, Rolando Luna, Pastor Wilke and Doug Sunderman; OGT board member are in front of Presidential Palace in Lima, Peru.(6/2017)
John Peter with India Transformed Visits
OGT had a special visitor from India, John Peter with India Transformed. John Peter has been a grateful recipient of OGT shipments. It was intriguing to hear about the culture and conditions in India. There are estimated 18 million street children and Christians comprise less than 2% of the population. 70% of the women are involved in domestic violence. His programs contain shelters for children, education and job training for abused women and sharing the Gospel through Community Transformation Centers. He is helping to spread the Gospel and start new churches in India. He brought a beautiful handmade ‘Thank You’ book with photos of OGT donations being used by children and families in need. He is an inspiration and OGT is excited to be able to support his ministry and outreach. Pictured L to R: Karen Mangels; International Transportation Director, Chris Carstens; India Transportation, John Peter and Grant Schmidt; OGT’s VP of Operations.(5/2017)
Action Event SUCCESS
Chris Carstens, OGTs Inventory Manager organized a Thrivent Action Team for the OGT home office and warehouse staff and their families in Norfolk, NE. We had fun sorting boxes of clothing and repacking them into OGT boxes with Summer-winter labels. After 2 hours of packing we enjoyed a pizza party. This was a great activity from Thrivent to help pack boxes for those in need around the world. If you are a Thrivent member you can apply for an Action Team to receive $250 in seed money to help make hygiene kits, school kits, quilts, and other special projects for OGT to ship to those in need in the US or around the world. Check it out at Thrivent.com. Pictured back row L to R: Mike Widhalm; Director of OGT Logistics, Terri Rosenthal; Office Assistant, Chris Carstens; Inventory Manager, Grant Schmidt; VP of Operations, John Mangels, Paul Brandt; Assistant Warehouse Manager, Shirley and Doug Trampe; Warehouse Manager Second Row L to R: Tessa Nelson; Administrative Assistant, Suzie Leffers; Public Relations, Karen Mangels; International Transportation Director, Becky Carretto; Bookkeeper. Front row L to R: Christopher and Braiden Ingebritson (sons of Paul Brandt), Hunter and Hope Leffers. Not pictured is Nicki Carstens and Linda Miller; Financial Secretary.(5/2017)
Malawi and OGT Join Hands
His Excellency Edward Yakob Sawerengera, who is the Malawi ambassador to the United States, and others from the southeast African nation along with Dr. Joe Mtika, founder of Norfolk Public Schools of Malawi visited OGT on April 25, 2017. OGT has shipped school supplies, humanitarian aid and Mercy Meals to Malawi for distribution by Joe Mtika. Joe was born in Malawi but has resided in Norfolk, NE for several years and founded the school in Malawi to offer education to the underprivileged youth. Sawerengera and those with him were especially impressed with the Orphan Grain Train and Mercy Meals. OGT and Mercy Meals will be aiding Malawi in the future and helping the nation to feed its people given that Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries. Sawerengera shared that “What the Orphan Grain Train does (is) something that (will benefit Malawi) a lot in terms of the food items, clothing and the medical (equipment).” It was amazing to meet at OGT and see how we can better serve those in need in Malawi. Pictured are the delegates from Africa, Joe Mtika (far left), Grant Schmidt, OGT’s VP of Operations; Pastor Ray Wilke, OGT’s President and Edward Yakob Sawerengera, Malawi ambassador to the US (far right).(4/2017)
OGT received some very sad news January 17th. One of our Haitian recipients, Leonard Isidor was shot and killed outside his home this afternoon. Leonard visited OGT home office in 2015 with Dick Buethe of Haiti Lutheran Mission Society. He gave to others freely what was given to him and often sang hymns of praise while doing so. He had a church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zion, built beside his home and after services he would distribute baggies of beans or rice to those in need. He sent OGT pictures and videos of distributing OGT donated food and supplies to those in need. He was given an OGT polo shirt and wore that in most all of the distribution pictures. Please remember Leonard, his family and congregation in your prayers. He will be missed. (Below is from when he visited us here at the Home office.) (1/2017)
OGT International Office in Norfolk, NE had a special guest from Haiti, Leonard Isidor along with Dick Buethe and Jim Schmersal from Lincoln, NE. Mr. Isidor shared a video about his Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti, which he started at his house. He has two ordained pastors that offer four church services weekly and a bible class. Leonard prepares ground corn and peanuts to share with those in need after church. He says some children and families will go 3-4 days without eating. Whenever he has extra money, he will buy food or other items for those in need. His church holds 200 people and is always full. He is truly a blessing for people that want to learn more about Jesus and the Word. Dick Buethe and Jim Schmersal are involved with Haiti Lutheran Mission Society and make several mission trips yearly to Haiti. They have been instrumental with getting food and supplies to the less fortunate in Haiti. Pictured from left to right: Dick Buethe, Leonard Isidor and Jim Schmersal. The other pictures are of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti. (10-2015)
Lincoln Collection Center Opened for Donations
OGT is excited to have a collection center in Lincoln, Nebraska which opened their doors on February 20. More than 20 people stopped by to donate items for OGT. The facility is located in a warehouse and will be open every third Saturday of the month from 9-noon. Be sure to think of OGT collection center while spring-cleaning and they are also hosting a winter coat drive for Palm Sunday.
The OGT Collection Center Warehouse is located at:
2316 Kimarra Place
For more information, call:
A shipment of food for farming families in Mindanao, Philippines will arrive this week. El Nino has caused a devastating drought to the region and farmers are unable to grow crops or earn an income. Earlier this month, 6,000 farmers planned a protest rally demanding subsidies for farms affected by the El Nino dry spell. The rally became violent with 2 farmers killed and 13 others wounded when police opened fire. Families are feeling tension and desperation with starvation setting in. OGT’s shipment of 122,400 Mercy Meals and 136,800 Kids Against Hunger meals is expected to be unloaded this week. We also have another shipment planned to arrive in May. Please keep these families and children in your prayers for rain and food for nourishment.(4-2016)
Drought + Hunger = State of Calamity
A letter of desperation sent to our recipient Jeff Long of Kids International Ministry (KIM) in the Philippines:
The other day our province has declared that we are under the state of calamity due to El Nino. Yesterday Glenn and I went to our farm. Most of our land is so short of water that we are not sure of what harvest would look like. Thanks be to God that He is in control whether we will have a harvest or not. Though for a lot of farmers their crops are dead. Right now since even the vegetables cannot grow anymore, hunger has started to be felt all over. It has just started! I am afraid what it will be a month, 2 months from now. I think this is the worst for our province.
Hence, we are appealing to you to please consider sending us again the rice packs and beans as we are entering as the news said El Nino will be worst in March. They said rain may come May or June. If we plant June harvest will be October - November. Our 2 fishponds in the camp have all dried up. Even the Sawaga River is almost dry. I pray our God will provide you a sponsor to send us a container. Thank you for ALL that you do for us thru the grace of God.
Grace for Mt. Moriah Camp
Jeff Long contacted OGT sharing that they already help with impoverished mountain communities, KIM children’s home, camp and Madi Bennett’s pre-school are in this region. Jeff appealed for two 40-foot containers for food. Today, Norfolk warehouse is loading a container with 259,200 Mercy Meals for the island of Mindanao. On March 17th, Wisconsin Branch is shipping a full container of black beans from Norfolk to this same destination to help this calamity. Please pray for the children and families affected by this severe drought and that they will have food and assistance during this difficult time. The pictures are of a recent distribution of food in the effected region.