A Look Back At January…. A New Year Begins!!

Happy New Year!! This year once again started off with a bang. Upon arriving back to Kenya after a wonderful Christmas with my family, I immediately attended our field continuing education class at the beautiful Sosian Ranch in Laikipia, Kenya. The topic of our class was “Together with all creatures” presented by Rev. Charles Arand from the seminary in St. Louis. We discussed care of creation, how we see ourselves in relationship to creation, and how we embrace life as creatures in God’s creation. Through all of our lectures we were able to see God’s love for life and diversity, God’s intimate involvement in creation and that God sustains his creation.

We were in the perfect environment for such a class as we went out after our lessons and saw creation at it’s best. We saw a variety of animals, beautiful landscapes and waterfalls, being immersed in creation.

Our East Africa field office once again welcomed agricultural missionaries Delano and Linda Meyer. They focused their teaching at several of our Project 24 sites to be able to teach the children how to manage their gardens. It was a great way to help support Project 24. The Meyers will continue on to Malawi where they will share their knowledge of agricultural practices with the Malawians.
We welcomed four missionary families to our field and held our first field orientation. We were blessed to have Delano and Linda Meyer and Claude and Rhoda Hogue to share a wealth of knowledge and wisdom with them and to help guide and encourage them as they start their service in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Rev. Jonathan and Anita Clausing are serving the Lord as career missionaries here in Kenya. As the coordinator of this area’s Mission Training Center (MTC) programs, Jonathan supports existing MTC programs by teaching lay leaders, evangelists and trainers and providing oversight and encouragement to local coordinators. He also cultivates new requests for MTCs into functioning projects and maintains, develops and provides translation supervision for the MTC curriculum. Their nine children are with them on the mission field.
Sarah Kanoy is a career missionary in East Africa, based in Kenya. In her role as a registered nurse, she provides health care support and health and hygiene education to the local people in the communities, schools and churches in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Madagascar. Throughout her interaction with these individuals, she shares the Good News of Jesus Christ and helps to cultivate their faith in Him.
Rev. Eric and Johanna Stinnett and their three children and Rev. Mark and Stefanie Rabe and their four children are serving the Lord as career missionaries in Ethiopia. Rev. Stinnett and Rev. Rabe will be teaching at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This seminary is dedicated to training faithful Lutheran pastors and other church workers to serve in Ethiopia.
May God protect and bless all missionaries and their families. Keep them faithful in the proclamation of your Word. Grant them strength and patience needed for their work.

Has Your Sanity Taken A Hit Recently…

I read a blog just the other day which asked the question…”Where has your sanity taken a hit recently?” I had to laugh to myself.  Recently I have been trying so hard not to think about a situation that caused me some very unnecessary stress.  As a matter of fact, it already has but I will not allow it to continue to stress me out.

I had been working hard on staying on top of preparations for a team knowing that I was going to be taking a much needed vacation to Bali with friends.  A few days before I was to leave, I was asked to get some additional information for the team that was coming for a clinic in early June.  I went to inquire about it and the process required more documentation than I was told about.  Documentation that will take more time to acquire and time was short since I was leaving for a week.  Immediately  I thought, why is this happening? We have never had to do this before.  When I walked out of the office I wanted to cry.  I have no idea what to do.

I was with a dear friend who tried to offer me encouragement saying it will be okay.  I called a second friend who said the same thing.  I made some inquiries to ask about a way forward.  Then I did the only thing I could…pray.  I asked my colleagues to pray.  The stress was creeping in like a mist and it was starting to overwhelm me.  It was winning, but I could not let that happen.  I went back to my office determined to keep my mind off this “thing” and I took some time to pray.  By the time I got home I was drained.

In just a day I leave for vacation and now this “thing” is sitting on my shoulders.  What am I to do? I feel lost.  I looked at my new painting on my wall that reads TRUST ALWAYS (Proverbs 3:5-6) and decided to pray about trusting in God to help me through this.  I was also feeling anxious but took my stress to the Lord.  Only He can help me through this.  So I left for my trip trusting in the Lord to show me the way forward.

My Lord, my God is the one that has helped me to hold on to my sanity in the midst of this situation.  I will continue to trust Him and hold fast to His promise to not be afraid because He will be with me.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that in the midst of this situation that has stressed me that You were there.  When challenges come my way, they draw me closer to You.  May I always trust You to show me the way and not take matters into my own hands.

Going To The Hard Places

I truly do enjoy this ministry that God has called me to, but it is not always easy. God calls me to go to some very hard places from time to time. “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 I returned again to Samburu with a team from the ELCK and Nuru, going even further into this arid land which seemed like time had forgotten it. We arrived at our destination in Arsim after traveling for about fourteen hours. Some of these places are not easy to get to. The distances are great and the roads, if you can call them roads at all, are not the easiest to travel on.

The team went to do the final distribution of food for the famine relief project. Over 300 families heard the Gospel and received rations of corn, beans and cooking fat. Trips like this can be quite difficult. One never knows what to expect. You are exposed to a culture without knowing all of its intricacies.

The Samburu live in areas that are very remote and isolated. They remain unchanged when most of Kenya is on a fast track. They are proud of their culture and traditions and retain the customs and ceremonies of their forefathers. Some of the things that are hard for me are hearing about females as young as seven years old being sexually active, female circumcision and seeing some of the very young girls that have undergone this rite of passage. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around these things, especially when I’m only there for a short time and will continue to think about them even after I leave. “Why would they do this?” is one of the questions that go racing through my mind.

In this beautiful land of the Samburu, female circumcision is very prevalent. Girls are circumcised around ten years of age. It is brutal but a very important part of the culture. In places like Samburu, culture reigns supreme.

Female circumcision is against the law in Kenya. It is also practiced by other tribes. It is an infringement of human rights. But with the Samburu, the people are unaware because this is normal to them. It is what has been going on before them and is going on now and what will be after them.

I am not here to judge, I do my very best to understand the many facets of the tribes that I interact with. God calls me to go, to be the face of Christ, to share the love of Christ. In going to the hard places, the Gospel message must go forth. The light of Christ must shine brightly. May God continue to give me strength to go to the hard places. 

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Building and Strengthening – Relationships

Relationships are a very important part of our lives. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the most valuable of them all. We were created to be in relationship with him. May we strive daily to draw ever nearer to Him.

Relationships are an important part of my life and ministry. In African culture relationships are key. In South Africa the spirit of Ubuntu is embraced by all. In English, Ubuntu is understood as “people are people through other people.” The late Nelson Mandela says this about the spirit of Ubuntu, “a traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu.” When I visit people most of the time I sit and take a cup of tea. This is part of the relationship.

In the early part of January I traveled to Tanzania and met the bishop and leaders of the LCEA (Lutheran Church in East Africa). We sat together, drank tea together, shared a meal together, all very important in building relationships. During a visit to the home of one of the pastors, the bishop referred to me as “binti”, daughter in Swahili. It was an honor to be received this way. During the remainder of my time in Tanzania I visited several congregations and met other pastors. I look forward to developing this relationship with the leaders of the LCEA.

It was a blessing to host agricultural missionaries Delano and Linda Meyer. I accompanied them for a few days as they taught about agricultural practices in Tanzania. As I spent time with the Meyers, I was able to strengthen the relationship that was started a few years ago. As this relationship grows we have been able to learn more about each other, encourage each other and support each other as we serve the Lord.

Our LCMS – Kenya field office welcomed new GEO missionary Ms. Georgia Witt to the field. GEOs are Globally Engaged in Outreach for 1 to 2 years. Georgia works primarily with Matango Lutheran Theological College (MLTC) located in western Kenya. Her responsibilities include assisting seminary students with research needs, accessing resources and navigating the college’s library. She also helps organize the new library facility, working with leadership to determine resource placement, layout and patron flow. Georgia supports the head librarian as needed so staff and faculty of the college can pursue higher degrees and training. I look forward to developing and strengthening this relationship with my co-worker for Christ.
Once we have begun a relationship it is important to strengthen it. Especially in our relationship with Jesus Christ. To sustain this relationship one must read and study the Bible, pray without ceasing and live one’s life according to God’s will.

God has not forgotten us

A few weeks ago I was part of a team who traveled to the Samburu lands to distribute food to families who are suffering because of the famine.  The famine relief project was a joint effort between the LCMS and our partner church the ELCK (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya). We were also joined by friends from Nuru media ministries (Lutheran Hour in Kenya) who helped to share the Gospel with all who came.   It was a long journey taking us 12 hours north into the Samburu lands.  Over 500 families in three villages received food rations of maize, beans and cooking fat.  The people were very happy and thankful and the one thing that a group of the women said will always stay etched in my mind and heart….”We know now that God has not forgotten us.”

Sharing the Gospel

Food distribution in Sirata

Food distribution in Ngilai

Food distribution in Nchok


South Africa in September

I was blessed to be back in South Africa in September to host the Concordia University Irvine Around the World team (CUI-ATW).  It was a homecoming for me since I started my service as a LCMS missionary in South Africa.   I was also able to spend some quality time with the GEO (Globally Engaged in Outreach) Missionary teachers who are currently serving there.  As their supervisor it was great to see them in their context and to be able to support them during my time there.

CUI-ATW: 32 students -2 professors-10 countries-6 months….It is a wonderful program where students get to learn about many cultures and help with different service projects in the countries that they visit.  The came with servants hearts ready to share the love of Christ. During their time in South Africa the students served alongside the staff at St. Peter Christian College in the township of Mhluzi.  They worked in classrooms and assisted the teachers with various tasks.  The students stayed with host families in the township which helped them to learn more about the culture.

The staff at St. Peter and the team learned much from each other.  It was a wonderful experience for all.  Praise and thanks to God for opportunities to share the Gospel around the world.

In between places….

During my home service I have been traveling quite a bit.  I’ve been adding to my frequent flyer miles on several airlines.  I’ve also been in about 10 airports.  My travels have taken me to Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia, Arizona and California.   It is a very important part of home service to visit congregations to add to your network of support.

Together In Mission

Last night I had the pleasure of sharing about my ministry at Lutheran Church of the Master.  They have recently partnered with me through the Together In Mission (TIM) program.   I will also be visiting Saint Paul Lutheran Church in California who has also partnered with me.

The Together In Mission program offers an ongoing opportunity for congregations to partner with missionaries for the sake of reaching more people with the Good News of the Gospel. Congregations provide emotional and prayer support, along with financial support for missionaries and the missionaries supply regular information about how their work together is progressing.  A Together In Mission commitment, in the form of an annual pledge of support fulfilled as the Lord allows, sustains a strong partnership with our missionaries for reaching the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What are the steps to partner with a missionary?

  • Contact the Together in Mission office to receive a complete packet of information for how your congregation can join.  Please provide your congregation name and mailing address as well as a contact person’s name, phone number and email address.
    Together in Mission Office
    800-248-1930, Ext. 1651
  • Share the information you receive with your congregational leaders and pastor for action at your congregation’s next voters meeting.
  • Commit to support of a missionary through offerings above and beyond your continuing contributions for the operational budget, district and Synod.
  • Invite neighboring congregations to share the responsibility of supporting a missionary if yours cannot do it alone.

Summer Picnic

This evening I attended the Adair Zone LWML-Iowa District West summer picnic.  Had a wonderful time with my sisters in Christ.  I had the opportunity to share about my ministry in Kenya.  Thanking God for the prayers, support and love that these ladies give to me.  This brings my time in Iowa to a close.  I had a great time reconnecting with old friends and making many new ones.

Ministry Moments