Hand in Handhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/Helmut and Rotraut Diefenthal: Service in Malaysia and TanzaniaY. Franklin Ishidahttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/490http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/490<div class="ExternalClass3DA2BD73BA4D492DA25EE3DC17D9CBF5"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Diefenthal_screenshot_4-8-15.jpg" alt="Diefenthal_screenshot_4-8-15.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The son of a Jewish father, Helmut Diefenthal and his wife, Rotraut, survived Nazi Germany and World War II. After the war, they committed their lives to serving God. After many years as missionaries, they retired in 2014. To watch a short video and hear more about their experiences as workers in the global church, click <a href="https&#58;//youtu.be/WRoA7jTrpRw">here</a>. To support another of the ELCA’s more than 240 missionaries, go <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship">here</a>. </p><p><br></p></div>04/08/2015Nurturing the church in JapanNathan and Sharonette Bowmanhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/489http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/489<div class="ExternalClassD203A8A99FEC431FBF32C52853D8BDD1"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/playground%20equipment_Japan_3-31-15.jpg" alt="playground equipment_Japan_3-31-15.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>New playground equipment is enjoyed at the kindergarten. </p><p> <em>The </em> <em>Rev. Nathan and Sharonette Bowman accompany people in every stage of life in their ministry in Kumamoto, Japan. Nathan serves as pastor, chaplain and community advocate at three congregations. Sharonette has taught English as a second language, and serves as a facilitator and leadership developer.&#160;To support them and their ministry, click </em> <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/Japan?_ga=1.266222857.761203769.1358453479"> <em>here</em></a><em>. To support another of the more than 240 ELCA missionaries in the global church, click </em> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship?_ga=1.232140825.761203769.1358453479"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>Dear Family in Christ,</p><p>We have entered spring on a chilly note, but not near as cold as many of you have experienced this year. The cherry blossoms are beginning to dot the landscape and are expected to go into full bloom around Easter, after which the ground will be carpeted with pink petals.</p><p>Christmas this year became a celebration of God's bounty. As we began distribution of the Christmas presents for children in 16 institutions in and close to Kumamoto prefecture, we were at about 70 percent of need (30 percent short) when we began dividing the gifts into the 16 stations at Powlas (Nursing) Home here at Jiaien. Two hours later, we confirmed that we had a bounty, and not a deficit of about 30 percent. God blessed the work by multiplying the gifts before our eyes even as we were distributing. </p><p>Last year's Christmas gifts for the children included wooden toys made by Davis Crater of Minnesota and another gentleman, Louis, from Arizona. Later, we heard that Davis' battle with cancer ended in late January, as he was called home into the eternal presence of our Lord and Savior. At his wife's request, a memorial gift was used to repair, paint and upgrade two rooms at the children's center at Jiaien in his memory. These two rooms had been an eyesore, and in any other country would have been condemned. We were also able to replace light switches, which were a fire hazard. Now it is repaired, and the pathway to the infirmary is brighter and clean. We pray for God's comfort to strengthen and bless the family of Davis Crater. </p><p>As Japanese laws concerning the care of children change, there has been a push to incorporate nursery schools with kindergartens. Called &quot;Kodomo-en&quot; or children's gardens, (Isn't that what kindergarten means?) many kindergartens, including Kuwamizu Kindergarten, have had to upgrade their facilities to accommodate babies from 6 months old. As the school year begins the beginning of April, Kuwamizu Kindergarten has completed a new facility for $700,000. Additional playground equipment will give the 140 children many opportunities to share, explore and grow. </p><p>From winter to spring, we have been blessed with time to repair and to rebuild. Part of ministry is providing a safe worshiping environment. Our pews at Kuwamizu Church are very old, and in my opinion, uncomfortable. As a preacher, I do not have to sit there very often. To the members of the church, the old pews are sacred. Many people have sat in them and offered prayers there. They are also falling apart. Many are in disrepair. Part of being a missionary here is to safely welcome people into God's house! &quot;Maintenance&quot; is not a well-known word in this country! We will see what can reasonably be done!</p><p>We have continually been blessed with new opportunities for ministry in every area of our ministry. The International Church ministry is also in a time of transition. Our Indonesian pastor will be returning to home with her family, and we are sending back to America two missionaries who have worshiped and led worship for us. One will be going into seminary, and another will become a librarian. They have been a blessing to us. We welcome three new missionaries who are called to teach English at the Lutheran schools here in Kumamoto as short-term missionaries (two years of teaching). </p><p>As we approach Easter, we thank God for the amazing gift and sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died to make fellowship with God possible and to give us not only a new lease on life but to give us eternal life in God's presence. Next week, we will celebrate this amazing gift with many services and then join once again in the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. We remember with thanksgiving your commitment and faithfulness in ministry and mission, as you continue to support us with your prayers and your gifts. May God richly bless each of you in your mission of outreach and encouragement in the name of Jesus.</p><p>Celebrating Jesus, who gave his life for us,</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Nathan and Sharonette Bowman</p></div>03/31/2015HungerKirsten Fryerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/488http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/488<div class="ExternalClassB251307FEACF4DECB17EC9CD97432D8D"><p> <em>The Rev. Kirsten Fryer</em><em> serves as pastor at St. Andrew's United Congregation in Cairo and is also pastoral associate for St. Andrew's Refugee Service, which works with South Sudanese refugees. During Lent, Kirsten is writing daily meditations on various words. This one, from March 17, is on &quot;hunger.&quot; To support Kirsten, click </em> <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/Egypt?_ga=1.241253508.761203769.1358453479"> <em>here</em></a><em>. To support another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries in the global church, click </em> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship?_ga=1.233241880.761203769.1358453479"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>It's lunch time at St. Andrew's Refugee Service (StARS). <br></p> <p>About a half an hour ago, I walked down through the courtyard to see children lined up waiting to walk through the lunch line. A little later, students ranging from 3 to 18 were sitting around the courtyard, eating lunch, talking and laughing. Often, they will combine the beans into one dish and eat communally, as they do at home. &#160;</p><p>One of the important services StARS provides is breakfast and lunch to all of the children who are present every day of the school year. This includes the Montesorri preschool, Children's Education Program, Unaccompanied Youth Bridging Program, and any child who is here for an appointment with Psycho-social or the Refugee Legal Aid Program. When money is tight, and it is among most refugee families, hunger is a huge problem. In some cases, this is the only opportunity the children have to eat a nutritious, hot meal.</p><p>On most days, over 200 children eat lunch at StARS. The cook is a master at cooking beans in the gigantic pot. She uses fresh ingredients and is assisted by a few older students who receive modest stipends for their work. Without that stipend, they may be forced to drop out of school to find work. This allows them to learn important skills, stay in school, and earn a little bit of money.</p><p>One of my favorite parts of the program is watching as students gather around tables, sit along the garden ledge, and where ever else they might find a clear spot. Earlier today, I saw two of the Unaccompanied Youth Bridging Program students sitting under the basketball hoops, enjoying good conversation and a healthy lunch. Across the courtyard, a line of 8- to 10-year-old girls sat, one next to the other, eating, talking and giggling.</p><p>The program feeds more than hungry bellies. It also allows children to be kids. They eat lunch, and then they play – football, jump rope, Hula Hoop, chalk. They sit and talk and giggle. The older students return to class after a time. The younger ones often wait for their older siblings to finish class so they can all go home together. They know they are safe. They know they have a place here.</p><p>I'm proud that <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/ELCA-World-Hunger">ELCA World Hunger</a> helps support this program. In most cases, when you send your check to ELCA World Hunger, or Presbyterian World Mission, or Church World Service, or whatever organizations you support, you don't get to see the other side. But I see it every day of the school year when hungry bellies are fed and kids get to be kids. On behalf of the children who are eating lunch outside right now, thank you. </p> </div>03/24/2015Women’s Sunday in KenyaLeslie Weed-Fonner and Michael G Fonnerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/487http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/487<div class="ExternalClass698A4BFDE62549B7BB1D54CF5CE1F5CD"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Womens-Sunday_3-17-15.jpg" alt="Womens-Sunday_3-17-15.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="font-size&#58;12pt;font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;">Women’s Sunday worship March 1 at the Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation.</span></p><p><br></p><p><em>The Rev. Michael Fonner serves Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation and Leslie Weed-Fonner works with the Pangani Lutheran Children's Center. To support these ELCA missionaries in Kenya, click </em><a href="/Pages/OurWork/Kenya.aspx"><em>here</em></a><em>. To support another of the more than 240 ELCA missionaries in the global church, click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship?_ga=1.265296009.761203769.1358453479"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation had an absolutely wonderful Women's Sunday worship celebration on March 1!</p><p>A little background&#58; The Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, the ELCA's companion church body, designates the first Sunday in March as Women's Sunday in concert with the global ecumenical celebration of the World Day of Prayer.&#160;We adapt the liturgy and theme from the World Day of Prayer and work to make it informative and relevant to our setting.</p><p>This year's theme was the Bahamas, and we learned about the beauty of those islands, the special needs that Bahamian women have, and how the people of the Bahamas are striving to care for their precious natural environment.</p><p>This was our third Women's Sunday here in Kenya. At the first, we had a regular worship service led by the male pastor with a woman preacher. At the second, an ELCA seminary-educated woman Kenyan pastor took a strong lead and led the service.</p><p>This year Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation women were firmly and wonderfully in control of both planning and execution&#58; leading the liturgy, saying the prayers, doing the children's message, and having the sermon by a local woman leader of International Bible Study Fellowship.</p><p>The women read through the liturgy, which was provided by the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church's Women's Desk, and it was exciting to see that one woman specially wanted to pray for the preservation of the Bahamian seas, while another woman wanted to pray for health care of Bahamian girls and women, while yet another woman wanted to pray for women and children, particularly single women raising children, and so on.&#160;It was our sense that these Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation women felt a sisterly closeness to the concerns for which they were praying on behalf of people, especially women, in the Bahamas.</p><p>A key goal of ours as we serve at Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation and with the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church is to transition the congregation to local leadership after many years of leadership by Americans.&#160; Women's Sunday was not only a terrific celebration for, of and by women at Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation, but it was also a striking moment of leadership by strong, local women.&#160;Thanks be to God!</p></div>03/17/2015‘Tranqui’Hannah Watsonhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/486http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/486<div class="ExternalClassB9C15EC44B584A819429B14280070DA4"><p> <em>Hannah Watson is spending a year in Argentina as part of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. To support Hannah, go </em> <a href="/Pages/OurWork/Argentina.aspx"> <em>here</em></a><em>. To support another of the more than 240 ELCA missionaries in the global church, click </em> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>&quot;Tranqui&quot; means, relax, no big deal, it's all good, don't worry about it.</p><p>I am told this a lot; when I have to text my supervisor that I'm running late because I had to wait for the bus for over 40 minutes, when I'm frustrated because I can't find the Spanish word for something, or when my site-placements all have something going on the same day and I'm not sure I can make it to everything. I am often too hard on myself, so it's always great to hear. </p><p>During the summer, much was tranqui. Both CreArte and Petisos, two of my placement sites, took vacations for the summer, and many of my friends also had time off. My community told me time and time again to &quot;disfruta el verano,&quot; to enjoy the summer, especially the gorgeous days. I spent New Year's Day at the beach with my madrina, Laura, and her family. I drank mate at the beach with friends. I read books. I went to a youth camp with my church in El Bolson, an hour and a half drive from Bariloche. We participated in theological discussions, went on hikes, and led a service with Pastor Reiner near the Rio Azul on the Sunday morning of camp.</p><p>I've been learning &quot;to be&quot; more than &quot;to do.&quot; This is accompaniment in my placements. While I can't tell you that I've built houses this year, I can tell you that when working with CreArte, I hold some of the students hands while going up and down the stairs so they feel safer. I lead the adults who are physically able to in running, and I love when some come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they love running, and that we share a hobby. I play guitar for church services even though I'm still incredibly shy about playing and singing. I sit with the kids at Petisos, and hope I am helping them make even a small progress on their reading and writing skills, as it hurts my heart to see them struggling. </p><p>Accompaniment is out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it is seeing the intense hardships of others and making myself more vulnerable than I want to be. &quot;To be&quot; is also to give a part of myself. I know that when I return to the United States in five months, I will not be the same person that left, and that's OK. I will only truly be &quot;tranqui&quot; by trusting God – letting go and putting all my joys and brokenness in God's hands. </p><p>I want to share with you a quote about faith that I'm finding even more to be true throughout this experience&#58; <br></p><p> <em></em></p><p></p><blockquote>Wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder. – <em>Don Miller, &quot;Blue Like Jazz&quot;</em></blockquote><p></p></div>03/10/2015In accompaniment in Zambia​Philip Knutsonhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/485http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/485<div class="ExternalClass550F85221F1541AE8A680EC142BB5AF9"><p><em>Philip Knutson is the ELCA regional program assistant for Southern Africa. To support Philip, click </em><a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/southernafrica"><em>here</em></a><em>. To support the ELCA Global Ministry &quot;Zambia&#58; Constructing New Churches,&quot; click </em><a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/Zambia"><em>here</em></a><em>. To support another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries in the global church, click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><em>here</em></a><em>. </em></p><p>Dear friends,</p><p>During Lent we are reminded of the 40-year journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land and also of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, which lasted 40 days and 40 nights. In his book &quot;Manna and Mercy&quot; (1992), Daniel Erlander speaks of the journey through the desert as &quot;The Wilderness School&quot; where God taught the people how to live by God's gifts of grace as a liberated, reconciled and inclusive partner people in harmony with God, with others and with nature.</p><p>As the ELCA, we are on a similar journey of reflection, conversation and discernment as we walk, converse and work as congregations and with companion churches around the world.&#160; We continue to learn what mission accompaniment means&#58; &quot;Walking together in a solidarity, that practices interdependence and mutuality where gifts, resources and experiences are shared with mutual advice and admonition to deepen and expand our work within God's mission.&quot;</p><p>In February I was privileged to once again visit our companions in Zambia, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia, this time with Dr. Mary Marete, ELCA Global Mission program director for sustainable development.&#160; </p><p>Senior Pastor Alfred Chana and several church members took us to visit a number of sustainable livelihood projects outside of the capital city of Lusaka. These projects have been started with the training and support of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia Malaria Program.&#160; We met with members of two congregations who showed us a pig-rearing project, a grocery store and a health post. Community health care workers reported that through early diagnosis and treatment of malaria symptoms and other health problems the health post, located next to a rural school, has helped reduce the number of days children are absent from class.&#160; </p><p>The members of both congregations have also made sun-baked bricks and constructed new church buildings up to roof level. <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em> has made a commitment to raise funding to assist the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia in the erection of 15 permanent church buildings with corrugated iron roofing. </p><p>Visit <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/globalchurch">www.elca.org/globalchurch</a> for more information. </p><p>Thank you for your prayers and continuing support through the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship program, ELCA World Hunger, the Malaria Program and <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em>.&#160; </p><p>Thank you for your participation in God's mission locally and globally.</p><p>Yours faithfully,<br>Philip Knutson Rev. Dr.<br>ELCA Global Mission<br>Regional Program Assistant – Southern Africa<br>Johannesburg, South Africa<br>Feb. 20, 2015</p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/">www.southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com</a> </p></div>03/03/2015