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Paynesville Press - August 17, 2005

PHS graduate heading to Bolivia as missionary

By Michael Jacobson

Being a missionary to South America might surprise Ralph Ludwig's former classmates at PHS, the 1972 graduate admits. But Ludwig, his wife, and their youngest daughter plan to return to Bolivia in September and to stay for 13 months as missionaries.

Ludwig, who grew up on a dairy farm five miles southeast of Roscoe and attended grades 11 and 12 at PHS after his family moved to Roscoe, has done various occupations since leaving PHS in 1972: spending two years in the army, driving truck, drywall contractor, and remodeling contractor.

Clean and sober since 1989, Ludwig turned to God when his oldest daughter Amanda died in November 2000 at age 19 from complications of juvenile diabetes. "This made me realize how short life was," wrote Ludwig in a bio, "and that our time here should be to honor and praise God and do whatever His will is for us."

In August 2002, Ludwig and his wife Anita took a life-changing ten-day mission trip to Mexico City with their church from Dayton, Ohio, where they have lived since 1986.

Soon after that trip, the Ludwigs opened their home to burn victims from Bolivia, who came to Ohio to seek medical care. Twelve-year-old Juliana, from Bolivia, lived with the Ludwigs for 18 months, while her brother America lived with them for six months.

Ralph, Anita, and Sarah, 9, their youngest daughter moved to La Paz, Bolivia, in March and lived in the South American country for three months. (The Ludwigs also have two more children: Luke, 23, and Tina, 22.) They returned home to Ohio for three months this summer to raise funds for the missionary work and plan to return to Bolivia in September for at least 13 months.

While in Bolivia, they worked with the "river kids," who live in cardboard or metal huts in La Paz, said Ralph, visited orphanages, and preached and taught the word of God. It only takes $35 per year to fund a river kid with school fees and school supplies, added Ralph.

Bolivia is a landlocked country roughly five times the size of Minnesota. Its western third lies in the Andes Mountains, and the Ludwigs lived in La Paz at 10,000 feet of elevation. (The eastern two-thirds lie in the Amazon basin, where the Ludwigs hope to visit and bring their mission work.)

Ralph also said that they would like to organize mission trips for other Americans in Bolivia.

The Ludwigs will be speaking about their mission work and sharing pictures of their life in Bolivia on Sunday, Aug. 21, at the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services at River of Life Assembly of God Church between Richmond and Cold Spring. Donations to their mission are tax deductible and can be sent to Rock Salt Ministries; P.O. Box 168, Bellbrook, Ohio 45305.

Anyone interested may also sign up for their newsletter, where they share their missionary work, said Ralph, who feels his family is fortunate to be able to do missionary work. Anyone who contributes to their mission gets "a chance to invest in the Kingdom of God," added Ralph. "We're just lucky to be the middlemen."

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