Lodi Connects to Isolated Community Amid COVID

People of Sandy Lake, Ontario, Canada, are neighbors and mission partners to Lodi United Methodist Church. The indigenous community located in northwestern Ontario, is only accessible by plane, so this pandemic has become a greater challenge than anyone inside the community could have imagined.

It’s been five years since Lodi UMC started sending adults and youth to Sandy Lake to share in Christian kinship, teach Vacation Bible School to the children and participate in community programs. Each summer, the mission trip team brought along with them, hats, scarves, and prayer shawls, that the women of our Lodi congregation knitted with love.

God didn’t let the church down despite the pandemic. Sandy Lake has a radio station that everyone listens to. Most families in the remote island community do not have the luxury of home internet. A group from Lodi church designated a week, sent materials in advance via international mail, and placed a call to the Sand Lake radio station every day to provide VBS to the children. During the months of July and August, as the church hosted a bi-weekly Summer concert with local musicians in the parking lot, people were encouraged to donate hygiene items for the school in Sandy Lake. While hand sanitizers were still prohibited from shipping to Canada, four boxes of 106 hats/scarves and 134 soap bars were recently sent.

Across the border and the lakes, prayers and friendship continue to be shared. “It warms my heart when I see my friends in Sandy Lake comment on our church Facebook page that they are watching with me our Sunday service,” said Joan Gehrke, a leader of the church’s Sandy Lake mission.