Ontario Mom Swims across Lake Erie for Guatemalan Mission

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On July 16, a crowd of family members, friends from church congregations, and strangers passing by cheered on marathon swimmer Anita Doppenberg as she completed her 20-km (12-mile) crossing of Lake Erie.

Doppenberg, 44, made the crossing from Sturgeon Point, N.Y., to Crystal Beach, Ont., in 7.5 hours—a feat she spent a year training for.

The effort was in support of her brother- and sister-in-law’s missional outreach, the Doppenbergs in Guatemala (DIG). Doppenberg had set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for School of Hope, a DIG project in the province of Jutiapa, Guatemala. Through all sources, the total raised was nearly double that. “Approximately $20,000,” Doppenberg said. “Praise God! It will complete phase one of the school.”

The former Coffee Break leader at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ont., describes herself as “an ordinary wife and mother of five who lives in Niagara and has a great desire to do something extraordinary.”

The crowd of about 75 well-wishers and the many supporters who donated online and in fundraising events over the year of training witnessed that extraordinary achievement Saturday.

Doppenberg said she felt “extremely grateful for all God has given me: health, strength, ambition, ability, opportunity, family, friends, and even the beautiful water he created! I am overflowing!”

Jeff and Rita Doppenberg and their three sons have been living and serving in Guatemala for six years, having relocated from Beamsville, Ont. Their ministry is under the umbrella of Commission to Every Nation.

“I joyfully watched from afar as my sister-in-law completed her swim across the Lake,” Rita said. “I watched on Facebook as people who know each other, and strangers on a beach came together to be together, a part of this endeavor. . . . I think that the [School of Hope] has brought hope not only to the families of the people here in Guatemala that it will serve, but to so many who joined together to encourage and cheer for this middle-aged mother of five who had a goal and worked her tail off to achieve it.”

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.