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Dorm Parents Loving Opportunity At Lustre Christian School

Some parents might think that having one or two teenagers in the house can be stressful. Bernie and Deb Swartzendruber, the new dorm parents at Lustre Christian School, are happily dealing with 22 teens under their roof this school year.

The students, ages 14-19, come from all over the world including the Bahamas, Taiwan, India, Ethiopia and Japan along from states ranging from California to New York.

Although there have different backgrounds, the students share many of the same interests and they always can keep adults on their toes.

“With teens, it’s a surprise every day,” Deb laughed.

Bernie added, “With young people, you expect surprises.”

The students’ differences include their tastes in food. The couple explained that one Indian student’s mother prepared a special meal during her stay in Lustre.

“She said she toned it down, but it was still on fire,” Bernie said of the food’s spices.

Slowly, it’s being determined which foods are the most enjoyable for the students. All of the teens appear to like rice. Chocolate pancakes are a big favorite.

“We’re teaching them to be thankful for what they are served,” Bernie said. “It’s a process. It takes time.”

It’s also took some time for the students to get accustomed to be up early enough for the 7:30 a.m. devotionals held prior to breakfast.

“They’re doing quite well now,” Bernie said.

The Swartzendrubers, who were living in Michigan, heard about the dorm parents’ opportunity from a friend in Opheim.

Bernie has served as a pastor and chaplain during his life. Both of the couple’s parents were missionaries. The Swartzendrubers’ experience includes running a children’s home, serving as foster parents and adopting children. They were parents of three special needs sons who have all passed away. They explain that their faith and the support of their local congregation helped them through those difficult challenges.

“I believe God has prepared us for this assignment,” Bernie said.

During the school day while the students are attending classes, the couple stays busy with its own routine.

“Number one, we make sure we get a nap,” Bernie said.

He is a builder and helps maintain equipment at the grounds including the boiler.

Deb emails updates to parents and answers any questions. She might also be needed to take care of a student who is home with an illness.

In addition, they make activity plans for weekends including a camping trip or a fun day in Williston, N.D.

The couple embraces Lustre’s rural and peaceful setting. Bernie grew up on a farm in Iowa.

“It’s a great place to study and perfect grades,” Bernie said of Lustre.

Deb added, “When you have 22 kids, you never feel alone or by yourself.”

They said they are impressed with the Lustre community and grateful for the opportunity. “We love the kids,” Bernie said. “The community really supports this school and the dorm greatly.”

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