Building houses in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay are experiences John and Kristi Budin will share at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Ridgeville, for the 19th annual Valentine’s Day dinner and food drive, Sunday, Feb. 17.

They will share their experiences in St. John’s Fellowship Hall, beginning about 12:30 p.m.

John Budin was in the Dominican Republic for 10 days this past July as part of Habitat for Humanity’s outreach to countries in Central and South America. Both he and Kristi worked under the same program in Paraguay for 10 days in September, another hands-on practical experience, building homes for three families.

“We laid foundations and dug septic systems with shovels,” said Kristi.

Both know enough Spanish “to get by,” said Kristi, and were able to develop friendships with the eight or ten children in the neighborhood who liked to watch these Americans at work.

The food drive, which began in January, will continue until the end of February with donations designated for food pantries in Tomah and Wilton. About 500 families are served monthly.

Regular church service at St. John’s begins at 9:30 a.m. with Pastor Robert Gerke as interim pastor. A social hour will follow in the Fellowship Hall with dinner served, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The dinner, program and food drive are sponsored by the Women’s Organizations of the combined churches of St. John’s, St. Jacob’s and St. Peter’s with the support of Thrivent Community Action program.

The public is welcome for any or all events that day and may donate nonperishable food items if they wish.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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