Soldotna teen prepares for trip to Guatemala

Posted: Monday, March 01, 2004

All roads do not lead home for Soldotna resident Eric Fischer. The path that he is taking heads to South America.

Eric, a sophomore at Soldotna High School, has been invited by the Indian Rock Christian School to travel to Antigua, Guatemala, to work on missionary outreach projects.

The Florida-based school works closely with Student International, a nonprofit organization that has set up the missionary camp to help the area residents.

On March 9, Eric is scheduled to join 17 other teens from around the United States to spend two weeks there helping the local residents.

Scheduled is the operative word. While the tickets have been reserved and the desire is there, all of the necessary funding isn't. The families have to pay for the trip.

The $2,800 cost of the trip includes airfare, accommodations, excursion trips and meals. Eric currently is $500 short of his goal.

"I have been doing odd jobs and have saved the money that I made from a skateboarding video I helped make for the trip, but I am still short on funds," he said.

"He was invited only about two months ago," said Kim Fischer, Eric's mom.

"We wanted to do it on our own and have almost succeeded, but it is such a wonderful opportunity we just had to try to help him make this happen."

The unexpected invitation came by way of his church, the Funny River Bible Church.

"Pastor (Joel) Poe's brother-in-law came up last summer and he is affiliated with the school. He thought Eric was a hard worker, a good builder and a good boy, so when an opening occurred, he was invited to join them," Kim said.

The camp Eric will stay at has operated for 10 years. It has a medical clinic, holds sports camps and houses the students who go to help.

"All of the kids are kept together for safety," Kim said. "They have never had a problem, but they let you know right up front that they won't compromise the safety of the group if one gets separated, but I have complete faith he will be just fine."

Eric has the same unwavering faith that God not only watches over him but also out for him.

He is not intimidated by the thoughts of rebel forces, lack of funds, extreme temperature differences, the language barrier nor by the fact that he has never been out of the country.

"It will all happen. The trip, our safety and finding a way to help those people. Everything is in God's hands," he said.

Members of the missionary group have several areas they can volunteer at while there. Some will make contact with nearby residents to assess their current needs. Some will help to improve the area by building new structures or helping to renovate existing buildings. Others will work in the sports camp.

Eric, a dedicated skateboarder who spends many hours practicing his moves, hopes to work with kids in the sports camp.

"If I can't break the ice with words, I hope to demonstrate my skills on my skateboard and reach them that way," he said.

He also plans to take his video camera.

"I know I will film, but I am not sure how I will use the footage. Perhaps to bring it back and show people what it is like there. It is a different world, financially, spiritually and culturally from anything we know," he said.

With only one week to go before his scheduled departure he seems calm.

" I just continue to get ready for my trip, and I feel very excited for the chance to do this for God," he said.

Anyone wishing to help can send their tax-deductible donation to the Funny River Bible Church, Atten-tion: Missionary trip, P.O. Box 158, Soldotna, AK 99669.

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