Hand in Handhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/Celebrating diversity in Hong KongCarolyn Schneiderhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/443http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/443<div class="ExternalClass474A92A5768D41A5AAB25AEAC20A59DA"><p>​<img alt="Schneider_Hong Kong_9-16-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Schneider_Hong%20Kong_9-16-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000">Carolyn Schneider, center, meets with some of her Lutheran Theological Seminary students. </font></span></p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>Carolyn Schneider is an ELCA missionary teaching at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong. To support Carolyn, or another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries, </em><em>click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a>.<em>&#160; </em></p><p>Dear friends and companions in our church's global mission,&#160; </p><p>Many thanks to you for your prayers and financial support, and greetings to you from To Fung Shan road in Hong Kong's New Territories, where my home and the Lutheran Theological Seminary are both located (Tao = Logos/Word, from John 1&#58;1; Fung = Wind/Spirit, from John 3&#58;8; Shan = mountain). </p><p>The seminary tops the mountain, a 20-minute uphill climb for me each day, during which I meet many avid morning hikers, so I have quickly learned the Cantonese expression for &quot;good morning&quot;&#58; jio san.</p><p>The academic year has just begun. We have completed the first week of classes, following a week of retreat for faculty and new students at Cheung Chao, one of Hong Kong's many islands. </p><p>From these weeks I have learned that the striking international diversity of Hong Kong is reflected just as strikingly in the seminary community. Of the nearly 300 students, about 70 percent are from Hong Kong and about 30 percent are from other countries. Of the 23 full-time faculty, about 60 percent are from Hong Kong and about 40 percent are from other countries. Most of the international students are from other parts of Asia, such as mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Nepal. But some also come from the United States and Europe. Most of the local students from Hong Kong go on to become pastors and lay leaders in the various Lutheran church bodies in Hong Kong that have joint responsibility for the seminary. You can explore the seminary's website at <a href="http&#58;//www.lts.edu/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.lts.edu</span></a>.&#160; </p><p>Instruction at the seminary is in Cantonese (the language of Hong Kong) or English, with an occasional course offered in Mandarin (the official language of China). I teach in English and most of my students are international. For them English is a second (or third or fourth!) language, so it is not easy for them, but it is the language they have in common. The students in my classes this semester (Early Church History and Reformation Church History) are from Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Indonesia, mainland China and Switzerland. </p><p>Apart from their nationalities, my students are diverse in many other ways as well. Some come from families of generations of Christians; some are the only Christians in their families and were baptized only a few years ago. The seminary requires that applicants for academic programs that equip people for leadership in the church have been baptized for at least three years. Some of my students are earning their first bachelor's degree or have never studied theology before; some are pursuing a doctorate in theology. Our class discussion is never boring! </p><p>All of this diversity inside and outside the classroom is gladly and thankfully acknowledged by the seminary community as perhaps its greatest strength. But there is also recognition of the great challenge of finding ways to weave these diverse strands into a real community. Language barriers, differing expectations and experiences, and cultural divides are hard to overcome. Maybe you have discovered this in your own local community. </p><p>One of the ways that Lutheran Theological Seminary actively seeks to integrate its community is through &quot;families&quot; of students and faculty. A pair of faculty members meets monthly with a &quot;family&quot; of about eight or nine students to have fun together and to support and encourage each other. I met my family at the retreat in Cheung Chao, where we talked about what they would like to do together in the coming year. They suggested sharing food and stories of their lives, doing a little hiking (not too much!) and sightseeing, watching religious movies and discussing them, and visiting a synagogue, mosque, and other places of worship. That sounds good to me. In the photo above&#160;is my family, representing Hong Kong, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Pakistan, Germany, Norway, and the United States (me).</p><p>The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4&#58;7). </p></div>09/16/2014Team ministry in Central AmericaStephen Dealhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/442http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/442<div class="ExternalClass03F0F59CA0D64FC08C2878A7EC26EBE8"><p>​<img alt="Deal-workshop-9-9-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Deal-workshop-9-9-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>Stephen Deal facilitates an open-air workshop with members of the Espiritu Santo mission in northern Honduras. </p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>Stephen Deal and Marta Giron are ELCA missionaries in Costa Rica. Stephen is the regional representative for Central America. To support Stephen and Marta, or another of the ELCA's over 240 missionaries in the global church, </em><em>click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span lang="ES-CR" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a><em>.</em></p><p>At the risk of pushing a metaphor too far, I will open this reflection by referring to the recent World Cup Soccer Championship in Brazil.&#160; </p><p>You may have heard that Costa Rica's national selection (known here as the 'Sele') created quite a stir. It wasn´t because they finished first; they only got as far as the quarter finals. But that was their best showing ever in the World Cup. </p><p>When Costa Rica's team headed to Brazil in early June, no one gave them a prayer (myself included).&#160; Their first-round opponents were Uruguay, Italy and England – all previous World Cup champions.&#160; Matched against these world soccer powers, few expected Costa Rica to win a match – or even score a goal. </p><p>Some joked that Costa Rica (the <em>rich </em>coast) would have to change its name to Costa 'Pobre' (the <em>poor </em>coast).&#160; There was a kernel of truth in those jokes since each of Costa Rica's first-round opponents had a star player (and sometimes more than one) whose annual salary was greater than the salaries earned by all 11 of Costa Rica's starters put together. </p><p>When all was said and done, Costa Rica finished eighth and was one of only three undefeated teams in the 2014 World Cup (the others being Germany and the Netherlands).&#160; </p><p>How did this happen?&#160; Sports commentators have devoted hours of air time to this topic.&#160; In the end, the consensus seems to be that a key to Costa Rica's success was the triumph of team play over high-paid, individual stars.&#160; </p><p>I find a certain parallel between Costa Rica's success in the World Cup and the changes taking place in the Lutheran churches here in Central America.&#160; </p><p>As a group, the Central American churches are small, young and resource-poor; they share a commitment to holistic mission in contexts of poverty, marginalization and exclusion where the pastoral demands can be overwhelming.&#160; </p><p>Being a church <strong><em>of</em></strong><em> </em>the poor, rather than a church that helps the poor, has its special challenges.&#160; When it comes to finances, Sunday offerings are insufficient to pay a pastor's salary. </p><p>Rarely is it possible for an ordained pastor to serve a single congregation, so multi-point parishes are the rule rather than the exception. Congregations function much of the time without the physical presence of a pastor. How? By taking full advantage of the gifts and talents of lay leadership.&#160; </p><p>In Central America, there is a growing emphasis on &quot;pastoral teams&quot; where volunteer lay leaders assume the roles that have been reserved for a paid pastor in more traditional church settings – presiding at worship, preaching, teaching, visitation, counseling, etc.&#160; </p><p>In the ELCA, we call this team ministry. It has its roots in the Lutheran doctrine of the universal priesthood where, by virtue of our baptism, <strong><em>all</em></strong> are called to mission and ministry in the world.&#160; </p><p>A noteworthy example of this shift from a pastor-centered model of congregational ministry to pastoral teams is occurring in the Honduran Lutheran Christian Church.&#160; </p><p>Since December 2012, leaders from every Honduran Lutheran congregation and mission point have been constructing a new model for pastoral ministry so that the church can survive and grow, notwithstanding the extremely limited number of ordained pastors that it has now – and can expect to have for the foreseeable future. </p><p>I have served as workshop facilitator through-out this process. I spent 10 days in Honduras last December just before home assignment back in the United States. After returning to Central America, I made two additional trips back to Honduras for the conclusion of the process – at the end of March and in early June. </p><p>With the input of over 150 active church leaders, the Honduran church has embraced a ministerial model where the multiplicity of pastoral tasks performed by volunteer lay leaders is recognized and valued.&#160; </p><p>The church has also set priorities for ministry-specific training for lay leaders over the next three years, specifically in the areas of Bible study, Christian education for youth and adults, and music and liturgy. </p><p>Our Honduran brothers and sisters were inspired and guided by a passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians&#58;&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (I Corinthians 12&#58;7).</p><p>That is to say, all members of Christ's body – lay as well as clergy – have been given unique gifts and talents.&#160; Ministry isn't what the pastor does, but rather what all baptized members are called to do when we put our God-given talents at the service of the church and community.&#160; </p><p>This is a pretty good way of describing the missionary task in today's world&#58; Recognizing that our gifts and talents are manifestations of the Spirit and that we are called to use them to serve others.&#160; When we respond to that call, regardless of whether the cultural setting is San José, Costa Rica; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; or your congregation's neighborhood in the United States, we are engaged in ministry and serving as missionaries. </p><p>So, my fellow missionaries, thanks be to God for the unique gifts that each one of us has been given.&#160; With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we all find our ministry calling – that place where we employ our God-given talents in loving service to our neighbor and in the care of God's creation.</p></div>09/09/2014Global Church Sunday toolkit now availableAnna Moorheadhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/441http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/441<div class="ExternalClass8DF7C9C28710401D8217488384F34CB1"><p>​<img alt="Global Church Sunday 2014_7-29-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Global%20Church%20Sunday%202014_7-29-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p>&#160;</p><p>Has your congregation started planning a Global Church Sunday celebration? Consider coordinating your Global Church Sunday celebration on Sept. 21 (International Day of Peace), Oct. 5 (World Communion Sunday) or Oct. 26 (Lutheran World Federation Sunday).</p><p>Download the new toolkit and learn how to plan Global Church Sunday and find ideas at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/resources/globalchurch"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.ELCA.org/resources/globalchurch</span></a>.&#160;Click on the Global Church Sunday tab.&#160;The toolkit has everything from global inspired coffee-hour ideas, to contacting a <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Young Adult in Global Mission, </span></a>&#160;to discussion questions about the global church. Here is a sample of the Global Church Sunday toolkit. Go to the toolkit for more ideas.</p><ul><li>The ELCA belongs to <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Lutheran World Federation</span></a>, a global communion representing over 72 million Christians in 79 countries<strong>. </strong>Have a <strong>discussion</strong> about how your congregation is connected with the global church. How can your congregation become more connected with the global church?</li><li>The free downloadable <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_GCS_Placemap.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Global Church PlaceMaps</span></a> are a great way to highlight our connections during <strong>coffee hour</strong>. You can print them out on 11x17 paper on your printer or <a href="http&#58;//resources.elca.org/Products-Global_Mission.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">order copies</span></a> to be mailed to you. Consider offering fair-trade coffee, tea and chocolate or other treats from around the world. Or you could have a fair-trade fair on Global Church Sunday. </li><li>Collect a <strong>special offering</strong> during worship to support <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Missionaries"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Missionaries</span></a>, <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Young Adults in Global Mission</span></a>, <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-International-Leaders-and-Scholarships"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">International Leaders</span></a> or <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Global-Ministries"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">global ministry</span></a>. Order free <a href="http&#58;//resources.elca.org/Products-Global_Mission.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">global offering envelopes</span></a> to use on Global Church Sunday. </li><li>Incorporate global inspired music, liturgy, prayers or art into a <strong>global-themed worship</strong> service. </li></ul><p><em>ELCA Global Church Sponsorship offers an opportunity for you or your congregation to help build </em><em>&#160;</em><em>Christ's church by supporting Missionaries, Young Adults in Global Mission, International Leaders, and Global Ministries to work with our companions in Christ. Learn more at </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/globalchurch"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>www.ELCA.org/globalchurch</em></span></a><em>.</em></p></div>09/02/2014New YAGMs in MadagascarAustin and Tanya Propsthttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/440http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/440<div class="ExternalClass5EBDB712A8374761A4C36979C998FF80"><p>​<em>To learn how to sponsor a participant in the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program, see </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/YAGMsupport"><em>www.ELCA.org/YAGMsupport</em></a><em> or contact&#160; <a href="mailto&#58;globalchurch@elca.org">globalchurch@elca.org</a></em><em>.</em>&#160;</p><p>We are blessed again with an amazing group of young aults that have been called to serve in Madagascar. This Friday [Aug. 22] the group of eight, or as they've been dubbed &quot;the Ate's,&quot; will arrive.&#160;Soava Dia … Blessings on their travels!</p><p>The Ate's&#58;</p><p>My name is <strong>Molly Beyer</strong>. I am 22 years old <img alt="Molly Beyer_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Molly%20Beyer_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />and have been blessed with a life that has sparked my interest in travel and adventure. I have been to Germany, Italy, France, England, India, Canada and Switzerland. I chose YAGM (Young Adults in Global Mission) because after graduating with a degree in international relations and spending time studying other places in classrooms I'm ready to explore a new culture and learn from new people through personal experience. I entered college with the goal of one day working for a nonprofit organization internationally so being a part of YAGM was a perfect next step for me! I love music and can sing and play flute (not at the same time although that would be impressive), and I also enjoy cooking. I have seen so many amazing things that God has created and I can't wait to see what He has in store for me this next year.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>My name is <strong>Christina Espegren</strong>. I am a recent graduate from<img alt="Christina_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Christina_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" /> California Lutheran University with a double major in biology and studies of women and gender. I have been very involved in the Lutheran community at my university as well as in my own home congregation in Sacramento where my father serves as a pastor. In the future I plan to pursue a graduate degree in public health and am particularly interested in women's health issues internationally.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p><img alt="ellen_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/ellen_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Hello! My name is <strong>Ellen Doering</strong>. I am from a small town just outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I just graduated from Hamline University with a major in sociology. In my free time, I love spending time outside doing things like hiking and swimming. I also enjoy growing vegetables and fruits as well as cooking them. Being a sociology major, I love spending time with friends and family, as well as working with youth and families. During my YAGM year, I am looking forward to learning about Malagasy culture and people. I am excited to share my talents with the community that I live in! I can't wait to see what this next year has in store!&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p><img alt="JD Engelhardt_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/JD%20Engelhardt_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />I am <strong>JD Engelhardt</strong>, I recently graduated from Augustana College with a triple major in political science, religion studies and communication studies.&#160;I am originally from Des Moines, Iowa, but I am now working at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, Ill. The reason I choose YAGM was twofold&#58; one, to better learn what it means to be in service to others, and second, to be in service with a community. My hope for my time with the program is that I learn what it means to be a part of a community but also to walk with people that I do not know or ever fully understand.&#160;I have done a lot in my short life. I lived in Europe for a couple of years and in other parts of the world, as well. I've been backpacking and canoeing in remote parts of the United States. I love anything outdoors related – give me a sleeping bag, a tent and the stars in the middle of nowhere and I am a happy person! I also love to study other religions as well as my own to see the diversity of ideas of how religions work in our world. I like to think I am a mix of a hands-on person and hands-off. Meaning I like to get in there and get dirty but also to take a step back to look at my action and work. I love all types of food and I don't have a favorite. I just think it is fun when food comes in all tastes and smells. I have three favorite colors. People tell me I can't have three, but I do anyway. They are green, blue and red. I can't wait to go to Madagascar and see what this next journey brings. I know that there will be good and hard times ahead, but that's what makes life worth it.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><img alt="Joel_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Joel_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /><strong>Joel Barkel.</strong> Iowa born and bred, lover of literature, and adventure bound musician.</p><p>I write this sitting in a tree; call me Joel. I'm a recent graduate from Luther College in northeast &#160;Iowa hoping to journey out into that far-reaching and ever-expanding unknown that people commonly refer to as the world. I'm a sailor of seas, runner of gorges, spectator of sports, and lover of the Lord! Water has always been a passion of mine. I am a thorough believer in its baptismal power to bless and bring new life. Spending three years as a lifeguard gave me patience, the ability to teach and find creative solutions. My love of water led me to spend a month of my life sailing through the Virgin Islands on a schooner called the Roseway, where my own life found a new current to run on. I decided to spend this year with YAGM because it's always been my hope to give as much of myself as I can to a community that might need a new and slightly unnerved partner to share a sundry of experiences with, and through those experiences, I would learn things completely out of reach from me now.</p><p><br><img alt="Kelsey Kresse.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Kelsey%20Kresse.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />My name is <strong>Kelsey Kresse</strong>. My favorite color is lavender. My favorite movie is &quot;Gone with the Wind,&quot; and I almost never stop singing. I just graduated this April with a degree in the history of art and architecture from the University of Pittsburgh. Though I have been living in Pittsburgh for the past four years, I am originally from Erie, Pa., and I am incredibly excited to be heading to Madagascar at the end of the summer! I can't wait to become immersed in the Malagasy culture and to learn new songs, try new foods, and experience a way of life that is very different from my own. I chose to apply to YAGM because of the opportunities to serve in a new way. I have loved serving Christ through my time on summer staff at Camp Lutherlyn in Prospect, Pa., and at the Lutheran University Center in Pittsburgh. However, I feel that I have so much more to give and even more to learn about the work of Christ and his people. I am more than excited to begin this journey, and I hope that I may be able to join a choir, teach some of my favorite English songs and learn to cook Malagasy recipes!</p><p>&#160;</p><p><img alt="Maddie_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Maddie_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Hello! My name is <strong>Madeline Thomas</strong>, but most people call me Maddie. I grew up in Ohio before going to school at Adrian College in Michigan. I just graduated with a degree in French and elementary education, and I want to be a teacher someday. Right now I am working at a Lutheran camp in Colorado called Sky Ranch. We have an international counselor from Madagascar, and it has been really fun to learn more about the Malagasy culture and language from him.&#160;I'm really excited about YAGM because I love to learn and teach languages and get to know people from a variety of backgrounds. I lived and studied in southern France two years ago, which was an incredible opportunity to get better at French, try new foods, and immerse myself in the culture with my host family. I also enjoy photography, writing, traveling, being outside, and the color blue! I'm really looking forward to the coming year and all of the new experiences and friendships that are in store!</p><p>&#160;</p><p><img alt="Michael_8-26-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Michael_8-26-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;260px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Hello, my name is <strong>Michael LaCagnin</strong>. My hopes for the program are to learn and grow through and with everyone I encounter during the year. I am trying to not have too many expectations. I want to go into this year with a completely open mind ready to embrace whatever God has in store.</p><p>My favorite color is forest green or navy blue. My favorite food is either bananas or avocados (I can be pretty indecisive at times, if you can't tell). My favorite sport is by far soccer. I am beyond excited! I look forward to seeing what God's plan is for me.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p></div>08/26/2014Health care ministry in TanzaniaMark Jacobsonhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/439http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/439<div class="ExternalClassF4428113F3974E4CAA2AF05357272206"><p>​<img alt="Arusha nurses_8-19-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Arusha%20nurses_8-19-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000">The new School of Nursing admitted its first students.</font><em><br><font color="#000000"> <br> </font></em></span><em>Dr. Mark and Linda Jacobson are ELCA missionaries in Tanzania where they work with the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre. In this recent newsletter, Mark provides an update on the important work of the medical center. To support Mark and Linda, or another of the ELCA's more </em><em>240&#160;missionaries in the global church, click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a><em>.</em></p><p>Dear friends in Christ, </p><p>The common greeting in church and church meetings is &quot;Bwana asifiwe!&quot; (Praise the Lord!)&#160; And reply is a rousing &quot;Amen!&quot;</p><p>How appropriate to begin this letter to you faithful supporters in this same voice.&#160; &quot;Bwana asifiwe!&#160; Amen!&quot;&#160;There is much to praise God for just now especially, as it seems God has been accomplishing great things in our midst.&#160;This morning, we held a staff meeting at the hospital and it was a time to review the accomplishments and the challenges of Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre.&#160; Wonderfully, the blessings have been many and the accomplishments amazing.</p><p>Much of our current focus is on education and capacity building.&#160;In March we opened our new School of Nursing and admitted a class of 25 bright and eager young people wanting to become nurses.&#160;Many of you together with Operation Bootstrap Africa have helped to fund this start up. Our partner hospitals under Exempla Health Care in Denver have now helped us to apply for a large U.S. Agency for International Development grant to construct our own facility. We are waiting impatiently for the decision on grants and so again, appreciate your prayers. </p><p>In January we launched a surgical residency to train Tanzania doctors to become fully qualified surgeons. We have two residents in our first class and we are using a program together with the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons to train and mentor these young doctors to become Christian leaders and Christian surgeons.&#160;It's truly an exciting time and opens a major new direction for our hospital services.&#160;&#160;&#160;</p><p>I write today in a mood of gratitude.&#160;Your support, your prayers, your love and friendship continue to carry us forward here in Tanzania.&#160;Your faithfulness is life giving to us and to the people we serve together.&#160;Thank you profoundly and we pray God's many blessings to continue upon you and yours.</p><p>Blessings,<br>Mark and Linda Jacobson<br>Missionaries in Tanzania</p></div>08/19/2014Finding the ‘yes!’ in ‘Jesus’Carol Sackhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/438http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/438<div class="ExternalClassA3317341206D47238963B2DCDE95054A"><p>​<img alt="Setsuko photo.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Setsuko%20photo.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;300px;height&#58;214px;" /><br>Setsuko, left, and Carol Sack</p><p><em>The Rev. Jim and Carol Sack are ELCA missionaries in Japan.</em> <em>Jim is a professor at Japan Lutheran College and Carol is a director of Lyra Precaria, a bedside ministry of prayerful presence through harp and voice.</em> <em>To support them, or another of the ELCA's more than 240&#160;missionaries in the global church, click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a><em>.</em></p><p>Setsuko is a beautiful 72-year-old woman who has been a volunteer&#160;for the past 10 years&#160;at the hospice for homeless people where I offer pastoral harp ministry. </p><p>Over the years, Setsuko has made the one-hour-forty-five minute (one way) trek across town, at her own expense, for two, three or four days a week, starting less than two months after her husband's death. Her first time to venture to Hope House Hospice happened to be on a Tuesday, the day I visit patients. She accompanied me to the bedside of three patients that day, and she has been my support and partner for every patient visit thereafter. </p><p>She and I somehow felt a strong kindred spirit from the first meeting, and Setsuko has become one of my dearest friends. Before I actually met her, someone told me, &quot;She cared for her husband for 15 years. He came down with early Alzheimer's in his late 50s and just passed away recently.&quot; </p><p>Hearing this, I remember thinking, &quot;Wow, that poor woman. What a burden she has carried.&quot; </p><p>Then I met Setsuko – with her bright, smiling, radiating countenance. Where did that come from, I wondered? She was like an incarnate oxymoron. How could the woman just described to me exude such vibrancy?</p><p>But that very first day she told me how she loved every minute of caring for her husband. Yes, in the early stages of the disease, before his condition was diagnosed, things were confusing and disconcerting. But as soon as she understood it was all due to a disease, she realized there could be no denial of that which is, and from that point she researched and learned to accept that which was coming day by day.</p><p>And she <em>loved</em> caring for her husband, who had always been such a kind and caring family man. She proudly showed me photos of his pure, childlike smile, with his strong nature still shining brightly through the surface diminishments of his disease. Setsuko grew to respect the strength of the soul itself, which not only stayed intact but radiated in new and undeniable ways. </p><p>Setsuko is not baptized (yet!), but she attended Christian schools and I dare say she knows the Bible better than I do. She stayed at home by her husband's side for 15 years, and read book after book about the spirit, the soul. </p><p>Then, shortly after he passed away, she found herself at the doorstep of Hope House Hospice and has not been able to stay away since. She often says, &quot;My husband led me to my life's work.&quot;&#160;</p><p>What captured me was her statement&#58; &quot;When we try to run away from the things that come to us, we increase our suffering greatly. I feel so blessed that I was able to just respond with YES! YES! YES! And in this I found&#160;my source of joy.&quot;&#160;</p><p>There was something linguistically interesting going on in Setsuko's statement. In Japanese, it just so happens that the word &quot;yes&quot; is pronounced &quot;eeyehsoo&quot; – which also happens to be the same way &quot;Jesus&quot; is pronounced (similar to &quot;Jesu&quot; as in &quot;Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.&quot;) So she was saying&#58; &quot;I feel so blessed that I was able to just respond with Yes! Yes! Yes! / Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! And in this I found my source of joy.&quot; </p><p>She and I talked about this interesting intertwining of pronunciation, and she seemed surprised to realize that &quot;Jesus&quot; and &quot;yes&quot; were not actually one and the same word!&#160;</p><p>Through Setsuko, and through her gentle husband's guidance, I have learned a new level of the meaning of I Corinthians 1&#58;20 – <sup>&#160;</sup>&quot;For in Jesus every one of God's promises is a 'Yes.' For this reason it is through him that we say the 'Amen,' to the glory of God.&quot;</p></div>08/12/2014