Christian Reformed Church makes 1,000 Dutch apple pies

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Get them while they’re … cold.
Pease Christian Reformed Church has wrapped up the making of homemade Dutch apple pies and a mission trip fundraiser has begun. The frozen and ready-to-bake pies can be purchased for $10 each at the church or from Kiel’s Appliance, Country Sales and Furniture Inc., and Milaca Depot Floral.
This year there were 55 volunteers who helped out in some way by picking apples, peeling apples and assembling the pies. The youngest helper was 3 years old, and the oldest was 89. The church picked apples five times, did four sessions of peeling and made the pies on six different occasions this year.
“So many people get involved, from young to old,” Julee Moorlag said.
Moorlag has been making the pies for 10 years and first started to raise funds for her daughter’s mission trip to Australia through the People to People organization. Two hundred pies were prepared and sold to raise the money.
“They sold really fast. Then we knew we had something we could keep doing,” Moorlag said.
The following two years, Moorlag made the pies to raise money for the Milaca school softball and basketball teams. For the last seven years, the pie funds have reached as far as Guatemala. Moorlag’s father, Jim Seger, has been to Guatemala three times for mission trips with Milaca’s Trinity Lutheran Church, and over those three years the pie fundraising took place at his church. Moorlag’s parents used to wake up and peel apples as early as 4 a.m. One year, her parents peeled enough apples for 800 pies on their own.
“My dad says a family that peels together stays together,” Moorlag said.
While on the mission trips, the Trinity group would focus more on the foreign country’s schools. Trinity Lutheran Church has since taken a break doing the mission trips, so Pease Christian Reform Church started making pies in 2000 to raise money for their own mission trips, through World Renew, and has been doing so ever since.
World Renew is a global volunteer program that has been working in Guatemala since 1976.  Its programs are aimed at helping communities develop conservation agriculture, preventative health care and education. The program hopes to help a country with a troubled recent past and rich cultural heritage discover opportunities and hope through Christ.
Moorlag has been to Guatemala six times before. She will join nine others from the Christian Reformed Church on a trip again next year. The group of missionaries will travel from Feb. 13-21, 2015. The Pease church will focus on the Guatemalan schools, but has an additional focus on the communities.
“We usually help them with a project,” Moorlag said.
In the upcoming 2015 mission trip, the volunteers will aid in a project to build a new kitchen for the school in La Palmara, which will allow children to be served snacks during the school day. The entire community will also be able to use the new kitchen. Last year, the missionaries aided with building a kitchen at one school and a classroom at another school.
The members of the Guatemalan community are responsible for helping raise funds and help with the work for the projects. Moorlag believes that this allows them to take some ownership and pride, and she thinks they will appreciate being helped more than if the building was simply built for them.
“The community we built for last year got so inspired that they built a garden,” Moorlag said. “It’s more about relationship building.”
While in Central America, the group will teach a vacation Bible school where they will sing, read Bible stories, play games and create artwork with the children they will be visiting. Local parents have come to watch the missionaries playing with the children in previous years. Moorlag said the parents like to see their kids smile because the children are usually working.
“We taught them how to play,” Moorlag said.
The group helps five villages and drives for an hour and a half by bus to get to them each day. Moorlag described the roads as being “really bad” and said that, “Even the good roads are not like our roads.”
During her second mission trip to Guatemala, the group she traveled with helped repair a road. They mixed the cement by hand on the ground because there were no cement mixers.
It was during her first trip to Guatemala that Moorlag discovered her fellow missionaries were the first Caucasian people the villagers had ever seen. Moorlag said the highest focus is on survival, food and land for the Guatemalan people.
“What we see as their biggest need is the education,” she said.
Pease Christian Reformed Church collects school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, erasers and scissors for 540 children, which are donated to schools in Guatemala. Some of the items are brought by the missionaries when they fly into the country, others are purchased once they arrive.
The apple pie sales help with trip costs, but those attending must pay $1,000 on their own. Some people joining the mission trip are able to finance the trip to Guatemala themselves. The total cost per person is $1,400. For each person’s trip, $400 is covered by the pie proceeds.
“Our congregation has been very generous in sponsoring people who can’t afford to go on their own,” Bonnie Kvien said.
This year will be Kvien’s first year attending the mission trip, and she is going with her 16-year-old daughter, Shelby Wicklund.
“She just has a passion for everybody, especially young children,” Kvien said about her daughter. “She has a missionary’s heart.”
The rest of the pie funds go toward projects that the missionaries will assist with in Guatemala. An amount of $5,400 is set aside for the school supplies and building costs; $3,000 will be donated to the John Calvin Seminary, a program that teaches the local Guatemalan people to become pastors. The pastors can then travel all over Guatemala to be ministers.
“We like to support that so we know that the name of Jesus is being spread all over Guatemala,” Moorlag said. “Even their government doesn’t really care about them much. Just us being there and smiling at them means so much to them and helps them continue on.”