Brad Minnehan, left, was one of several business owners to receive a tree trunk snowman from the Minneota area Mission group. Delivering Minnehan's snowman was Emily Pohlen, center, and Skylar Gilbertson.
Emily Pohlen concentrates as she paints eyes on a tree trunk snowman. Jared Josephson took a bite out of lefse for the first time in his life. Although he enjoyed making them, he wasn’t a fan of the taste. Serena Breyfogle, left, and Sydney Larson work on making Oreo truffles.

Kids on a mission

Hope Lutheran Church had the appearance of Santa’s Workshop on Sunday. The church basement was filled with workers baking holiday treats in the kitchen and other rooms, and constructing and painting wooden snowmen in the dining room.

The workers included the 59 students that attend school in Minneota, plus 12 chaperones, all fundraising for the Youth of Hope mission trip to the Niagara Falls area in June.

While on their mission trip, Minneota area workers will be working in soup kitchens at shelters that serve meals to the homeless, working with under privileged youth, and focusing on community beautification.

The Holiday Baking Day was originally scheduled for Dec. 2, but a winter storm that day forced the event to be postponed until this past Sunday. “The group made more than 160 pieces of lefse, over 55 dozen Belgian cookies, and over 350 truffles,” said Terri Myhre, one of the Youth of Hope coordinators from Hope Lutheran Church.

Pre-order forms were posted in the various church bulletins. In the past, Youth of Hope students made the mission trip every other year.

But this year’s trip will also include members of Hope Lutheran and St. Edward’s of Minneota, and Bethany-Elim, St. John Cantius, and St. Peter and Paul, all of Ivanhoe.

The annual Holiday Baking event had traditionally been a Youth of Hope fundraiser.

“With so many of the kids also being a part of the mission trip, it has been expanded to include everyone,” said Myhre.

“Many years ago, the group focused solely on lefse, but times and demands changed, and we started doing the cookies and truffles about five years ago.”

Sampling of the holiday treats seemed to be the norm throughout the day of baking.

“They were excited to get together to share an afternoon of baking,” said Myhre.

“And they did their fair share of sampling to make certain everything tastes great.”

Jared Josephson had never before eaten lefse, nor had he ever even seen it being made before Sunday. But he was quickly introduced to the holiday favorite as one of the cooks.

After taking his first bite of lefse with butter, his facial expression told the story. “I don’t really like it,” he said with a big smile.

“There’s not much taste to it.” Josephson was then told that he would like it better if sugar was also included in the rolled up lefse. So he bravely took a bite out of another lefse with butter and sugar.

“I still don’t like it,” he admitted before tossing it in a nearby trash can. “But it is fun making them.” Manning one of the Belgian cookie grills, Trevor Belaen was asked how his cookies were turning out.

“Some of these got a little too done,” he laughed, holding up some dark brown and odd-shaped discs.

“But I’m starting to get the hang of it.” Everyone seemed to be having a good time, though. “It was such a fun day because many of the kids have never made the traditional treats,” Myhre said.

“And the kids were a little nervous to give it a try. But they dug right in and before you know it, they were rolling and baking away.”

And no one minded if something wasn’t perfectly shaped, cooked or painted. “We work with the philosophy that everything is made with love,” said Myhre.

“It may not be perfect, but it’s about the kids working together toward one goal and with a sense of giving.”

Many businesses have contributed to the 2019 mission trip. And those business names have been emblazoned on t-shirts that mission trip members have been seen wearing around town and at fundraisers.

And to show their appreciation for the generous donations and support from the communities of Minneota and Ivanhoe, the mission group decided to give something back.

“They came up with an idea to make snowmen from tree trunks,” Myhre said.

“We will deliver them to all the businesses that are supporting our trip.”

The snowmen were made from thick slices of tree trunks and hooked together by dowels.

After putting the various sizes of wood together, volunteers painted eyes, mouths and buttons on the snowmen, while others cut out scarves to tie around the snowmen’s necks, attached stocking caps or put wooden carrot noses on them.

The snowmen were then delivered to the various businesses that sponsored the mission trip with a note affixed to them that said “Thank you for your support! The Area Mission Trip”.

All in all, it was a very special day.

Trevor Belaen tried his hand at making Belgian

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