Saturday, July 18, 2015

Heidi's final thoughts on Zambia

This morning I woke up at 5 am after sleeping for 12 hours. There was no electricity when I woke up and this put a smile on my face because it felt like I was back in Zambia where the power goes out quite often. I left the house with plans to work on my teaching lessons for ILC camp which begins tomorrow. I have been sitting here for 2 hours and have not gotten anything done because Africa is so fresh in my mind. So let me share.

About two months ago I had a conversation with my dear friend Melanie Hallstein about her adventures in Peru. One thing that she said just stuck with me. To summarize, she said that here in America, when you meet someone the conversation generally goes like this – "What is your name? How old are you? What do you do for a living?" But in Peru she noticed that the conversation was rather – "What is your name? How old are you? What is your family like?" 

I noticed the same thing in Zambia. I don't think I was ever asked about my job or what I studied in school. Even though there was a language barrier, many of the people we met were interested in the more personal aspects of our lives. Miss Riley carried a photo of her family with her the entire trip. When we were in Livingstone at the pastoral training seminar, a group of young men surrounded Riley and her photo and asked about each of the 12 members in her family. They all wanted a copy of this photo so they could remember her family. One day in Livingstone we girls were summoned to have "girl time" with Mary, Ruth, Memory, and Gertrude who worked at our lodge. They were so curious about the people we loved back home. They'd say, "e-mail pictures of your family when you get home" and "tell us when you get married!" It was refreshing to meet people with different priorities than what I am accustomed to seeing. 

There were certain individuals we met along the way that will forever stay in my heart. I'll begin with Pastor Ibrahim who traveled with us the whole trip. This man has a generous heart that always looks for ways to serve the Lord. One night in Livingstone, Pastor Todd and Lucas went to find access to the internet. Ibrahim took the rest of us for a walk and we saw a pool tournament going on at a bar. Ibrahim said, "let's go watch," and we girls looked at each other thinking "is this really the best idea?" But what does Ibrahim do once we get there? He starts witnessing about Christ to random strangers. It is easiest to witness to people that you feel will be understanding of what you have to say. It's safe to say that people don't come to a bar to hear about Jesus. Pastor Ibrahim used the setting anyways as a witnessing opportunity; I find that pretty remarkable. 

We also had the privilege of having our own driver the entire trip. Our driver's name was William and he was the root of much "snort worthy" laughter. Most nights we girls would lay in bed crying from laughing while we reminisced about our William memories. Along the way we had multiple car issues but William never stressed or complained about it. Everywhere we taught he'd sit with the kids and listen to our lessons. He was giving up time with his wife and three kids to drive us around.

In Kitwe I had the honor of taking photographs of each man who attended the pastoral seminar. This gave me a minute to shake hands with and talk to each individual. One 18 year old named "Kings" came back after I took his picture and right away said, "I want to learn everything about you because I probably won't see you until we are in Heaven." This caught me off guard and we continued to have a conversation that I won't forget. Two days later we said goodbye to all of the men from Congo. They took turns sharing how grateful they were for our visit and how much they wished to see us in the future. Lucas reminded them that even though we may not see them again here on earth, soon enough we will all be together in Heaven. 

One night early on in the trip, Riley, Lydia and I talked about how we weren't getting to know any of the kids. In a way we were disappointed because we wanted to be able to look back and reflect on certain names, faces, and memories. We'd see a kid's face in one of the many pictures that we took and think, "I know nothing about that kid!" We were wrong though; we do know something about that kid. We know that that kid received the Word of God that day and honestly that's all that really matters. The rest is in God's hands. Lydia was able to teach the children about the Tower of Babel and how even though there are different races with different languages, we are all of the human race. We all sin, we all need a Savior, and we all have been given the same Savior that loves each and every one of us. Your heart can't help but be happy. 

It has been such a blessing to work with Pastor Todd, Lucas, Lydia, and Riley in sharing God's Word. We are all thankful for the prayers that were sent our way. We were safe, we were healthy, and we continue to trust that the Holy Spirit is creating faith in the people we've met. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

We're Back

Most of the 2015 Mission Helpers have made it safely to U.S. soil! The Lord has again been faithful in keeping everyone safe and secure. 

Please keep Pastor Mike and Anna Gurath in your prayers while they are still traveling and will arrive in Phoenix later today.

Thank you for your support and prayers while we had the privilege and blessings of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Please check back for some summary blog posts!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pics from the girls in Zambia

REMINDED in Kitwe, Zambia (12 JUL 2015)

Since my last post we traveled from Livingstone to Lusaka and then on to Kitwe, Zambia near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. Missionary Matthew Ude and his wife Vanessa had been in Kitwe for a few days before we arrived. The reason he was there was because of a change in immigration laws in the DR Congo which prevented him from acquiring his visa to enter DRC to conduct pastoral training among the men of the CCLC and ELCC as our CLC Visiting Missionaries have been doing in the past. So, rather than just return to India having already spent valuable time and resources it was decided to bring a limited number of pastors from DRC to the Zambian city of Kitwe which is the nearest city to the shared border. While not exactly what we had planned, this did have one advantage that I otherwise would not have benefited from if our original plans would have gone forward. Funny, how God’s plans are always better than our own! The original plan was for Pastor Ude to be in the DRC for a couple of weeks working with the men there while the Mission Helpers were working in other areas of Zambia. Then on the last few days of the trip we would make our way north to the city of Kitwe where we would meet up with Pastor Yumba to visit area villages where he is working with pastors and evangelists to strengthen existing congregations and develop new opportunities. And since the Matt and Vanessa had their return flights already booked out of Lusaka, Zambia I would get the opportunity to visit with them as well. As it turns out, the Lord’s plan was to bring several pastors along with those pastors who make up the leadership of the CLCC from Congo. This was an incredible blessing. It has been over five years since I first met these men after there was a falling out among some of the men we had been working with in the DRC. This “falling out” had to do with non-doctrinal matters in the areas of church governance and organization. It appeared back then that these issues and their seeming inability and unwillingness to come to any type of reconciliation were significant enough that it would most likely lead to a suspension and possible end to our work in the DRC. Joyfully, by the end of that first visit to DRC back in 2010, the Lord brought about a resolution to the issues that were causing the problems.  By the end of four days of reviewing and studying what God’s word had to say concerning their areas of disagreement and our freedom in these areas of adiaphoron, namely church organization and governance, hands were shook and the estranged parties joined together in singing praises to our Lord as He brought reconciliation. I admit that I was surprised and skeptical at the time. I still get goosebumps as I remember the unexpected joy of that day. I’ll have to admit that it was a lack of trust, on my part, in the Lord’s ability to bring about true and lasting reconciliation between the parties involved. Of course there was no basis for my skepticism because we’re talking about the God who loved us so much that He reconciled us to Himself through the sacrifice of His beloved Son. We’re talking about the God with whom all things are possible!

I went back to Congo the next year and again the following year to introduce Missionary Ude as the visiting missionary to the DRC. With each subsequent visit I was able to witness, with joy in the Lord and with contrition over my doubt, as the Lord continued to work in and through these men that had been at such odds just a few years earlier. Today, I was REMINDED of all of this as these men met together to grow in their understanding of God’s word and to encourage the men they work with as Missionary Ude taught the last few lessons he prepared on the early chapters of Genesis. I was REMINDED today of how foolish we sinful humans can be when we try to elevate our own skepticism and doubt above the love and wisdom and abilities of our Savior who can raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal the sick, and earn forgiveness and eternal life for a sinner like me! Why would I ever assume that a problem between men is too much for the Lord to solve? I was REMINDED today again of God’s wisdom and planning, who knew long before the new DRC immigration laws seemed to thwart our well laid out plans, in giving me and the Mission Helpers the opportunity to meet and visit and encourage and be encouraged by the pastors from the DRC that were able to attend the pastoral conference here in Kitwe. It was such a joy to see the faces and hear their voices encourage one another and us. I had forgotten what dedicated and humble men they are and how much I love and appreciate these men. And I was REMINDED of how much these visits mean to them as they spoke of the blessings of “seeing each other face to face and growing together in our faith through the study of God’s word. In visiting with them I was REMINDED of their dedication, their humility, their love for the Lord, His word, the sheep they are called to shepherd, the lost and straying, and for us and each other. All of this would have been missed had my plans trumped the plans of the Lord!

All of this has REMINDED me of how the simple statements of faith are most often the best. As we have been traveling from village to village over the past few weeks teaching children the simple basics of the Gospel Heidi, Lydia, and Riley have been singing songs to the children at the end of our lessons. One of those simple songs keeps running through my mind as write. I’m sure many have heard it. The refrain goes like this “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!” How true, and I thank my God for reminding me of this again these past couple of days as I have had the privilege of seeing my brothers in Christ work together for our Savior’s kingdom!

On Sunday morning I was REMINDED that the grace and mercy of God is not bound by language, traditions, culture, or economics. His grace and power to save was generously poured out upon 43 men, women, and children as they received God’s gift of the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit through the water and the word of baptism. As I observed the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper being given by God and received by His chosen people, I was REMINDED of God’s grace in giving to sinners like us. I was REMINDED and humbled at the thought that these sacraments are a gift from our gracious Lord given to undeserving sinners like us. I was REMINDED how important it is that we continue to remind each other that these sacraments are God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves, not the other way around, as if we were doing something for God by being baptized or receiving the Lord’s Supper. As I struggled trying to follow along with the service that was being conducted in three languages (English, Bemba, and Congolese Swahili) I was REMINDED that God’s abundant giving does not depend on what language we speak, or the shade of the color of our skin, or the order of service we follow, or the traditions we follow, it depends only upon His perfect love for sinners—for me!

It’s good to be REMINDED of just how much our Savior loves us! Thank You Lord for such vivid reminders received today!

In Christ,
Pastor O.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Our Pastor Tanas and family in Bulondane, Uganda

Greetings from Team Kenya/Uganda

Greetings from Team Kenya/Uganda,

Somewhere in the molecules between the US and Kenya, there is a blog post with glowing details about what it was like to see the kids at Milimani again after 3 years. Unfortunately cyberspace ate it. Praying this one gets to you whole. 

This year there was something better than beautiful, photogenic Kenyan children. I wonder if the general impression of mission work is "reaching as many kids as possible and moving on to the next location." But after so many years teaching in schools where some students are hearing the Gospel message for the first time, I've learned it is a long-term investment. Day after day, year after year, question after question. And that is what your missionaries are doing in East Africa. Making investments in pastors and schools. Sometimes that investment is just eating along side the pastors, traveling in close quarters, enjoying the hospitality of the local police station (don't worry, Mom, we're all just fine), sitting on a boat at the source of the Nile (because THAT was cool), worshiping along side them, sitting, sitting, sitting, and meeting their families. 

I have to tell you about one pastor in particular  - our friend Tanas. He's a pastor in the small town of Bulondane, Uganda who traveled with us from the pastoral conference in Soy, Kenya. Tanas lives in a beautiful cylindrical home made of mud walls and a thatch roof with his wife and 5 children. He would be embarrassed if I told you he forgot the name of his newest 3 week old baby, but we'll forgive him since he had to leave shortly after the baby was born. (It's Azaria.) He traveled with us for quite a few days translating in at least 2 of the 7 Bantu languages he knows. He's a farmer, pastor, volunteer civil servant, volunteer social studies and English teacher at his children's private school, and a volunteer child advocate in his village. He also found more tiny children to hold in the children's services than Hannah Hulke. And if you try to express appreciation or compliments, he will most assuredly remind you that it is only the work of our Savior Jesus Christ that he is able to do these things. We've become accustom to people asking for things from us - rather boldly, in fact. But Tanas (and the other Ugandan pastors) haven't asked for a single thing. Not a door for the church, not a Bible, nothing. They just want to learn and grow in their understanding of the Word. One day while riding in the van (because that's how we spend much of our days here), amid conversation about agriculture and politics and current events, Tanas abruptly states, "You know, I have to tell you what I've learned from the conference and you people this week. When I preach at home, I'm so focused on telling my members what they should do and how they should be acting as Christians, but I've learned that our salvation comes freely as a gift and that it all rests on Jesus, not our any merits we bring." We could have all tackled him right there in the van in one large hug. 

You see, there are many Christian churches here, but so much of the messages are bullying, works-righteous, threatening, empty promises of miracles, prosperity gospel, and civic obedience through law, law, law. There are also many Muslim churches here. (The local Muslim church has been wailing away on the loud speakers for a good 40 minutes while I type this.) There's corruption within the Christian churches, disappointment, heartache, and distortion. And to see a faithful heart longing to grow in the Word puts us all to shame. So our messages the last few weeks have been: The battle belongs to God, God heals us, God gives us wisdom, God gives us courage, and GOD saves us. Even when we're weak. Even when we're poor. Especially when we're feeling low on faith, God is there. 

So when you pray for missions, pray for mass quantities to be touched by the power of the Holy Spirit, but also pray over the investments that are being made. And continue to make investments in your own mission field. Even the Christians in your circles need your support. Live along side them. Show you care. Be open to conversations that will strengthen their walk. Be available to your non-Christian friends and ready for the purpose God has for you. And pray for Tanas. 

Kirsten Gullerud

Monday, July 13, 2015

The girls from Team Zambia - Kitwe

Since you last heard from my fellow mission helper, Lucas, we have safely made it to Kitwe, Zambia. However, just like before, we had some more car trouble and had to stop mid-trip to get a bearing replaced. But once that was fixed we had a swift ride here to Kitwe. Pastors from Congo and here in Zambia were meeting with Missionary Ude for a pastoral conference, so we were able to meet them and worship with them on Sunday morning. We were told that there would be many baptisms at this service, but we never anticipated 43! More than half of them were children and there were some adults as well. It was truly amazing to see these children of God be washed and renewed in the Holy Spirit! After the service, filled with dancing and singing praises to the Lord, we went to two schools to teach. During our time in Kitwe we had the opportunity to teach around 400 children. We have finished teaching for the duration of our trip, and will be traveling back to Lusaka in the next 2 days. Our time in Kitwe has been very blessed, even with the daily power outages. We look forward to returning home, but we will never forget the people we have met here in Zambia. See ya'll soon!

Sent from my iPhone

Hannah from Team Kenya (July 13th)-From Kenya to Uganda and Back Again

(It's been awhile since Team Kenya has posted on the blog, but after determining that failed e-mail has been the cause, we're ready to catch up!)

If Etago is Jennifer's African home and Moi's Bridge is Kristen's, then Uganda is definitely mine. I've been the newbie the entire trip, not knowing what to expect, so I'm glad that everyone is at my level here.

We arrived at the border of Uganda and Kenya on Friday afternoon. Immediately, we could sense a difference in the temperature (hot), and see a difference in the terrain. While Kenya is green, Uganda brings it to a whole new level and is brimming with green.

For first school we visited, we arrived at 5 pm, by that point some of the children had needed to leave for the night, and we didn't know how many would even be there. For sure, I thought, there would only be 10 left. However, we were greeted with the beautiful singing of more than 50 people, clapping and smiling as we arrived. What an encouraging sight!

Saturday, we got a taste of a Ugandan church service. Lots of performances and songs and audience participation, definitely a different experience, but a welcome one none the less. We all are trying to soak up as much of the African experience that we can before we leave in less than a week.

Yesterday, after another church visit and a detour or two, we got to be real tourists for a couple hours and visit the source of the Nile River. Today we head back to Kenya for the last leg of our journey.

We have been incredibly blessed with good weather and good health the entire trip. It's clear that the hand of God has been at work for us these last few weeks!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

TanzaniA-team Jessi Schreyer, 7/9/2015 A little late. . .

Mambo from Tanzania!

The Mission Helper's Thursday was filled with ups and downs, literally– but, more on that later. . . The TanzaniA-team headed back out on the road early in the morning to visit the congregations and schools in the Makanya area. We were blessed with safe travels and arrived at the school run by our church in Makanya. We met with Pastor Mshana and his wife, Rosemary, then walked into the classroom. The children greeted us with songs and we all taught our lessons. What a blessing to be able to share God's word with all these little lambs! After teaching our lessons we went outside and played with the children. We played the high five game, giant rig-around-the-rosie games, and took pictures with as many children as possible! The children are all super sweet and full of energy! Our group of children grew larger and larger as the students in the public schools were let out. We had a lot of fun forming new relationships with all the local children
of Makanya! Now, back to the ups and downs. After playing with the children, we were given the opportunity of a lifetime to hike one of the hills surrounding Makanya. It was an amazing opportunity to see the landscape from a different point of view! "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork." So true here! We got back and had supper along with evening singing and prayers.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We pray that the Lord will bless the rest of our time here in Makanya!

Lala Salama! (Good night)

Jessica Schreyer Team Tanzania

Team Tanzania (Monday and Tuesday) - Nathanael

Conference in Moshi (July 6-7, 2015)

"But all things should be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).

This has been a very different trip from my ususal visitations. In the past few years I have been working primarily with the pastors of our districts putting on seminars and pastoral conferences. One of the only times I visit congregations is for the church services on Sunday mornings. Traveling with the Mission Helper Team has changed my role a little this year. The focus of the Mission Helper Team is to get out to congregations and do child evangelism in the communities. So we are visiting more congregations on this trip than I have in several years.

This year our team is using a series of lessons from a CLC VBS series titled "Who is like the LORD?" Raven has been teaching the account of Creation, Jess Schaller teaches a lesson on Redemption using the life and death of Jesus, Jessi Schreyer is teaching Sanctification using the account of Zaccheus, and Sam Naumann is teaching about Glorification. It covers the law and the Gospel, justification and sanctification very well.

The first two days in the Moshi district have been more like previous years. We are in the process of some important work that needed to be completed while I was here. The church body is working through a Constitution for the Tanzanian Church of the Lutheran Confession. This is a necessity before we can register with the government and be recognized as an official church in Tanzania. If you are not registered with the government it is illegal to post signs etc. announcing your congregation. So it is very important that the constitution is completed and the church officially registered.

On Monday, pastors of the districts of the TCLC met together to go over the first draft of the church constitution. There was a great deal of discussion, and it took most of the day, but the day went well and at the end all the pastors present voted to accept the constitution and to move forward with the registration with the government. We thank the Lord for His blessing on the work so far, and pray that He would give strength and endurance to complete the work before us!

On Tuesday I met with the pastors of the Moshi district for a one day pastoral conference. Ten pastors were in attendance and we continued our study of the articles of the Augsburg Confession. Sam presented a lesson on the person and work of Jesus, and I discussed the article on sin. This too was a very productive day and rewarding in many ways.

Tomorrow we will visit three different congregations in the Moshi district and presenting our condensed one-day VBS program and on Thursday we move south to Makanya.

May the Lord continue to bless the preaching of His Word of Truth throughout Africa!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Team Tanzania (Wednesday) - Jess S.

Greetings from the TanzaniA-Team!
Rest assured moms and others- We're all alive and doing very well! I've even seen Sam eating some vegetables! Yesterday was bananas busy for the team, so I apologize for not giving an update sooner!
After 2 days off, we went full force into Wednesday. We traveled many kilometers and visited 3 groups of precious lambs!
Our first group wasn't actually a church, but was a school. What I really loved about this group was that it was all preschool and kindergarten age kids! They were kind enough to sing us a song or two, and as you can imagine, we had a lot of energized kids eager to hear about our Savior and ready to play after our lessons! Many new friends were made!
The second and third groups that we visited were churches, so we made a lot of old and young new friends! The thing that really hit me about these two churches were the songs they sang to us. If I could wake up to their songs every day, I would definitely become a morning person! The harmonies, clapping, percussion, and just straight up sincerity in their voices warm my heart! I cannot WAIT to hear their beautiful voices again in Heaven!
Throughout this trip, we've all been reminded of the constant outpouring of God's grace and blessings to us. The beautiful singing, gorgeous landscape (layers upon layers of mountains, hills, and plains! Everywhere you look, something more beautiful!), and the precious lambs he has us tending to this week have made my heart more full than I could have ever imagined!
Bwana Asifiwe, Praise the Lord, for his unlimited love!
-Jess Schaller

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Update from Team Zambia

Team Zambia has returned from Livingstone to the Lusaka area. We have been without a reliable internet connection for much of our time here in Africa and apologize for our lack of blog posts.

On Monday we loaded up our small SUV for our 6 hour drive to Livingstone, Zambia, on the southern border with the country of Zimbabwe. The city is one of the most famous in all of Africa and named after David Livingstone. It boasts one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, Mosi-Oa-Tunya, aka Victoria Falls.

As is often the case in countries that are not quite as schedule oriented as the US, our 6 hour ride began late, and was conveniently interrupted by a faulty bearing on our vehicle. This allowed us to stretch our legs for about two and half hours while we pulled our vehicle into Last Hope Auto (after limping the vehicle 10 km AND picking up a stranger who had run out of gas). We arrived in Livingstone at 11 pm to meet with our host pastor, get situated in our lodge, and we still made it to dinner.

Tuesday morning was set aside for a pastoral seminar with 11 attendees. There was no child evangelism sessions planned for the afternoon so we had the opportunity to put our tourist shoes on and check out Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfall. Needless to say, we all stood in wonder at its majesty.

The next morning we taught child evangelism lessons at two schools, reaching over 130 children. 
  • Overcoming the language barrier while teaching children on these Mission Helper Trips can be a challenge. Here in Zambia, the official language is English, so we have actually been able to teach a few lessons without using a translator. Although it is the official language, English is the second language (and sometimes 3rd or even 4th) for the people here in Zambia. Here in Lusaka the common language is Nyanja. In Livingstone, Ntonga. In Kitwe, Bemba. (note: these are 3 separate languages, not 3 different dialects of the same language) For the groups in East Africa, they have undoubtedly heard the word "mzungu" (usually said by a child pointing a finger and yelling to their friends), which is roughly translated to mean "white person" (wazungus is the plural form). We have learned from experience that the word is not confined only to the Swahili language spoken in East Africa, but crosses many African languages, including Nyanja, Ntonga, and Bemba,  and we are wazungus here as well. That being said, a soccer ball (football to the rest of the world) transcends the language barrier quite well.
Today was another travel day, with lodging in the Lusaka area before we travel another 4+ hours tomorrow to meet with Missionary Ude for a pastoral conference and more child evangelism lessons.

It has been a humbling experience for our team to be able to share the truth of God's saving love and see one of the wonders of His creation along the way.


What A Day in Zambia

After four days of teaching children in the Lusaka area and a village about 45 minutes South, we arrived in Livingstone much later than anticipated. We had hoped to arrive around 4:30 pm to get checked into our rooms and then have a nice dinner at one of the many good and unique restaurants in this tourist friendly town that draws so many visitors. This town is popular because of the close proximity to one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls. But, what brought us to this southern town is a group of pastors that Pastor Ibrahim has been eager for me to meet. For the past few years Pastor Ibrahim has been traveling on behalf of the CLC Bd of Missions to work with a group of pastors who desire training. These pastors are located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the African nation to the south of Zambia. The city of Livingstone just happens to be the main border town and crossing point between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Zambezi River is what divides Zambia and Zimbabwe and this is the river upon which Victoria Falls is located.

Back to our travels from Lusaka to Livingstone. Our original plan was to stop at the rural CLC-Zambia congregation that is about 45 minutes south of Lusaka in the village of Chilangala. This is where Ibrahim has been working to establish a congregation for the past few years. We were supposed to arrive between 8:00 and 9:00 am. Due to a series of circumstances that are not uncommon in Africa, we didn’t arrive until about 11:30. But we were greeted by about 60 children along with their parents and grandparents. They met us near the main road by singing a beautiful song that one young man had written as a special song to welcome us to their village. In perfect harmony they sang of our wonderful Father in Heaven! Even though they had waited for more than three hours for our arrival, they did not show any sign of being disappointed or discouraged. The smiles on their faces were incredible. Pastor Ibrahim has developed a very close relationship with this congregation and it shows both by the way they interact and their depth of Biblical understanding. He has been training two elders in the village to serve them weekly. He makes the long trip from his home in Lusaka by bus every other week to visit, preach, and teach at this congregation. We shortened our lessons a bit due to our late arrival and then we piled back into our little van with all of our luggage to continue the last 4 hours of our 5 hour trip to Livingstone. About 2 hours into the trip William (our driver) pulled over to the side of the road to investigate a funny noise and smell coming from the front driver’s side wheel. After a quick look he reported that there was a problem with the bearing. So we drove the next 15 Kms or so very, very slowly at about 10 kph. William did not seem to be worried at all. When we arrived in the town of Monze he simply pulled into a small oil-soaked yard that was filled with cars in various states of repair. He pulled right up to the car that was currently being worked on and told the man that we needed a bearing replaced. The mechanic got up from the ground where he was working on the other car and started to take off the tire of our vehicle. We were told it would take about 30 minutes to fix. It took a little longer than that as we were back on the road about 2 ½ hours later. Pretty incredible really! And the cost was around $150 for parts and labor. It was dark by the time we got back on the road which allowed us to actually travel faster because there is very little traffic on the road at nights here in Zambia. We pulled into Zambia around 10:00 pm and found Pastor Sait waiting for us at his office. He took us to our Hotel and then to a restaurant for a late meal and to discuss the schedule for the next day. By midnight we were back to our hotel and in bed. What was supposed to be a relaxing evening to get some rest and for me to look over my lessons for the next day just didn’t pan out.

So this brings us to the reason for the title of this blog post: WHAT A DAY! While we certainly have reason every day to rejoice and be glad in the day that the Lord has made, there are some days that we just can’t help but rejoice and thank the Lord for allowing us the privilege of being servants in His kingdom! Tuesday was one of those days.

As I mentioned earlier, Pastor Ibrahim has been passing through Livingstone every-other month for the past few years. His purpose for coming to Livingstone was simply to make his way to Zimbabwe. But as the Lord so often does, He opened a door of opportunity for Ibrahim to proclaim the truth of God’s word here. And Ibrahim was ready whenever and wherever the Lord opens a door. He met Pastor Sait a while back and has been meeting with him and explaining to him that he is involved with the CLC in training pastors to be faithful preachers and teachers of God’s Word. Pastor Sait, who hasn’t had the opportunity to receive formal pastoral training in a college or a seminary, was very intrigued by the possibility of working with Ibrahim to be better equipped for the ministry that God has entrusted to him. Pastor Sait is also involved with a group of ten pastors who have left other church bodies and have joined together to encourage one another in the Word and in their callings. Pastor Sait and Pastor Ibrahim have been planning this day for the past several months. As is often the case, due to language and communication issues with our contacts and the work in foreign fields we do not always know the full plan for our visits until we arrive. All I knew from Pastor Ibrahim from our emails over the past several months was that we would be coming to Livingstone to teach children and to meet with a few pastors. What I found out this morning is that these few pastors (10) are very eager to learn more about what Lutherans teach and that they are hoping and praying that Pastor Ibrahim will be able to start a pastor training station here in Livingstone. So for the first half of the day I had the privilege of explaining to these men about the work we are involved with around the world and that our primary focus in our foreign fields just happens to be exactly what they are looking for; as our priority is the training of pastors to be faithful teachers and preachers of the truth of God’s saving word! We then spent our time going through a review of the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose as a starting point for establishing a unity of faith and doctrine. As we closed out session, I explained that there should be not any expectation of financial assistance for their ministry from us but that we are pleased to assist them in the necessary costs of receiving their training from Pastor Ibrahim. Pastor Ibrahim then asked the men if there was agreement on what we had discussed thus far and if they would like to continue studying with him. It was unanimous among these 10 men that they would like to continue their studies with Pastor Ibrahim. WHAT A DAY as I was allowed the privilege of teaching these humble men the basic truths of God’s Word and encouraging them their faith and in their calling as pastors. WHAT A DAY, as I was privileged to see the beginning of work of the Holy Spirit in establishing a God-pleasing unity of faith and doctrine among these men through the study of His Word! WHAT A DAY, as I was able to be a small part of establishing a new district of the CLC-Zambia in Livingstone.

And, as if that wasn’t enough! After we took a few pictures, exchanged contact information, and said our goodbyes to the pastors, we drove about fifteen minutes outside of Livingstone to see one of the most incredible, awe-inspiring, praise to our gracious Lord inducing sights that any child of God can witness. WHAT A DAY! We spent about four hours walking all around Victoria Falls in an attempt to take in as much of this beauty as possible. This is just one of those places on earth that you want to see from as many angles as possible. We walked along the viewing paths that give you a full on view. These are also the paths where you get soaking wet from the mist that comes from the bottom of the Falls. The mist from the mighty water (Mosi-oa-Tunya – native name for the falls that means “Mighty Waters”) shoots into the air and comes down like rain. We also walked to the bottom of the Falls to see what is called the “boiling point” where the water violently swirls before taking a hard turn to the southeast. It was tough hike back up to the top for this old fella but well worth the effort. We also walked the path that takes you above the Falls where you can walk along the bank of the Zambezi river as it seems so gentle just a few kilometers before it crashes into a most beautiful wonder of the world. What one soon discovers is, that much like the Grand Canyon, there is no way to take it all in. There is no one vantage point from which you can truly see this sight in its entirety. It is absolutely incredible. What also amazes is the fact that this incredible place is the product of destruction! It’s just so incredible to think that Victoria Falls is part of what was left following the world covering flood recorded in Genesis that destroyed the whole world. Amazing isn’t it, when you think that God can bring something this amazing, this incredible, this awe-inspiring out of total and complete destruction.

When we look at the wonder and majesty of God's creation we can't help but utter thoughts like...My God is truly an awesome God, worthy of all of my praise. And yet, the beauty of Victoria Falls can’t even begin to compare with the beauty of our Savior and the loving sacrifice He made for sinners like us. While Victoria Falls may fill us with wonder and amazement, what truly gives a child of God reason to be amazed is the wonder that comes as we consider the question, why me? Why Lord, have you chosen a sinner like me to receive the gift of Your love? Why Lord, have you chosen me, the chief of sinners, to be Your child through faith? Why Lord, have You given me the privilege of being part of this chosen generation, this royal priesthood whom You have called out of the darkness of sin and unbelief into the marvelous light of Your Son? Why Lord, why me, why do get to serve You and proclaim Your saving Word? Thank You Lord, You deserve my all and my every ambition. WHAT A DAY!

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Zambia Team Checking In

Without electricity there is no internet, and thus very few blog posts from the Zambia Team.

We're all doing fine and have finished our time in Livingstone. Thanks to Pastor Sait having friends in the tourism industry, we'll try to see some big-game very early tomorrow (Thursday - 08 JUL) morning at a very discounted price. Then we head back to Lusaka for a night of sleep before we go to Kitwe, near the Democratic Republic of Congo border on Friday.

Hopefully we'll all have time to blog when we get to Lusaka tomorrow afternoon. It's been a pretty incredible few days in Livingstone.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Team TZ Church and Travel Day. Sam

Mambo from Moshi!

Don't try to translate that because it's some of the slang we've been learning over here! Basically it means a cool hello and you need to respond with pua.

We had our last night at Christina House and went to the parish that Pastor Jeremiah serves in Arusha for Sunday church. The liturgy was surprisingly similar to what we use and he picked all German melody hymns so that we would have an easy time singing along (Although there were definitely differences because they sing all of their melodies from memory and don't have music printed out, but only the words). Swahili is pretty easy to read so we were all able to sing loud and long to our Lord with our fellow believers here in TZ. After that we had a short lunch with Pastor J and his family. His son and daughter in-law drove us to the bus stop and we took a shuttle over to Moshi.

On the shuttle we saw our first glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance and we drove straight toward it for about an hour and a half to get to Moshi. We have nice rooms at a local hostel and have a great view of the mountain from the patio and lunch room. The Mountain is majestic. After taking a short tour of Moshi on foot we came back to the hostel and I had the Africa version of a Mushroom steak for $3! It was not a steak, but was still tasty. The girls all had spaghetti.

After a long day of travel we were grateful to get some sleep and get ready for our next couple of days in Africa!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Bwana Asifiwe (Praise the Lord)

Happy 4th of July from Team Tanzania!  Although this post is up a couple days late, we can still celebrate our independence in the states year round, right?

The Lord has really been blessing our trip so far!  We have been blessed with a wonderful hotel to stay at that offers AMAZING food as well as wonderful fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have been so welcoming to us during our stay here in Tanzania.

Our day started off the same with a delicious breakfast of African pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bananas.  We then had a very nice devotion before splitting off to do some laundry before Pastor Jeremiah picked us up to head out to Pastor Edward's church in a rural Masai village.  Our drive out there was CRAZY!  Besides the typical traffic with no real rules,we also got to experience some pretty extreme off-roading.  Thanking the Lord that our vehicle stayed in one piece!  All the bumpy roads and off-roading was well worth it!  When we approached the Masai village church, we were greeted with the pastors and children singing a very cool song!  About 50 children were in attendance, and each one of them were so precious!  We all taught our lessons and handed out our gifts.  I pray that our lessons of the gospel will allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of all of the souls who hear our lessons. But, I am always reminded of the verse from Matthew "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them", these words always bring me comfort when I teach my lesson.  After handing out gifts, we all headed outside to play with the children and take lots of pictures!  Afterwards, we enjoyed tea with the pastors and went on our way so that the children could travel home before dark.  After another crazy drive home, we settled back into our hotel and enjoyed another delicious supper.

We are all really enjoying our time here and learning a ton!  The Lord has and continues to bless us as we work to spread the gospel to as many souls as possible! We all appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers!   

Bwana Asifewe!

Team Tanzania

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jinsi Wewe Ulivyo Mkuu - Anna Gurath, Team Kenya

Hello from Matunda! Today we had church, which lasted for about 4 hours but I wouldn't have had it any other way! Eric (Sagala) picked us up from the Tabasamu Hotel (tabasam = smile) and I FINALLY got to see Holy Cross Emmaus Milimani in person! After years and years of being around Holy Cross Phoenix and seeing the continued success of the church and school through photos, stories, etc. I at last was able to be there to see HCEM with my own two eyes - such an exciting and amazing feeling! Anna was there to greet us along with Nancy, another one of the Sagala siblings, and we went in to sit and begin singing. I don't know about anyone else, but singing How Great Thou Art in Kiswahili was AWESOME. The fellowship we were blessed with was incredible and beyond words, so you'll have to wait till photos are posted. Oh, and I apologize for giving false hope of photos and things (for now) since I've been taking them on my phone, but I promise they will be uploaded before we head back home and you'll thoroughly enjoy them - worth the wait!

Pastor Samson Otieno, Henry (a catechism teacher that has graced the congregation with his presence from the ELCK, which I guess you could say is like coming from WELS) and Mike/Pastor Gurath led the service including 3 baptisms by Mike and communion. Kirsten gave the children's message and after the service concluded we all introduced ourselves. Mary and Anna helped share backgrounds of everyone and expressed how truly happy they were to have visitors return and that Pastor Gurath finally found a wife (that's me!). We had little Michael Norman Gurath (he's 3 now) come up to the front and take some photos with his "spiritual mama and baba" and then they proceeded with changing the altar table to a cake-and-soda table. We recreated the cutting of the cake (this "small cake" was 3 tiers) and after the dancing and singing was over we passed out the purple and white cake complete with everyone's personal soda. But wait, there's more! We then handed out stickers from Kirsten's grandma Ida, toys and bookmarks to everyone. The stickers weren't a hit until I took one from shy little Michael N. Gurath's sheet and put it on his hand. He instantly warmed up, other kids started placing them on their foreheads, and by the time I turned around again little Michael had them all over his face. Adorable. 

Eric took the van back to the shop, so we just decided to start walking to town and maybe catch a matatu. If you're just joining us, that's a bus that they cram packed full of people and even have riders hanging out the sliding door of the van. So we had a nice walk through to the main drag and waited for one that could MAYBE fit all 8 of us in...wasn't going to happen. Mike finally said we should just take a motor bike (aka piki piki) back to the hotel, so Mary called two of them over and we rode the 5ish minute drive back. Anna gave her musician friend Benard a call after deciding that there was not going to be a matatu that would fit them all, so Benard gave the rest a ride. We had a nice meal at the hotel with everyone (Nancy, Irene, Mary, Anna, Benard, Eric's 2-year-old son Martin, and our team) then went back to our rooms for the night. 

Tomorrow we go back and have some time with the school kids at Emmaus Hill School and I believe go to Soy in the afternoon so Mike can make sure everything is set up for the pastoral conference and have a late lunch. Tuesday afternoon we should have dinner at Anna's house, then Wednesday and Thursday are the conference for Mike (aka the girls get to relish in more fellowship!) and we leave for Uganda on Friday, Lord-willing.

The congregation here sends their greetings to all, including tall Shom, Russ aka Masai, Tom with the loud speaker and big stomach, Kate O, Jordan like the river, Pastor Maas, everyone back at Holy Cross Phoenix, and anyone that has visited these last, oh, I don't know, 10 years? They remember everyone and are so grateful for all of the American friends that they have had the pleasure of meeting and working with at the little church and school that could, would, is, and will!

Happy Fourth at home in 'Merica. Looking forward to sharing more from our time at our other home in Matunda. 

Bwana Mungu, nashangaa kabisa
Nikitazama kama vilivyo
Nyota, ngurumo, vitu vingi vyote
Viumbwavyo kwa uwezo wako.

Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu,
Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu!

Heidi and Riley from Team Zambia - Lusaka

Hey y'all. Life is good here in Zambia. We are actually in a very big city so life doesn't seem so much different from America... that is until you get to the remote villages. We have been staying at the Gossner Mission House with our German host, Wolfgang. So far we have taught around 465 kids; all of the schools have been entirely welcoming and grateful to have us share God's happy message. One teacher had an awesome idea of having their young students become pen-pals with our students back home. This would allow the kids to work on their English and more importantly, connect with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Riley and I both find it amazing that we have not learned a single name of any of the kids that we have interacted with because this is not what we initially anticipated. However, even though we don't know names, we trust that God is working in both our hearts and the children's hearts.
Well, tomorrow we take off for Livingstone and will be visiting Victoria Falls on Tuesday.

Love from your Wazungus in Lusaka!

Sent from my iPhone

More Pictures from Riley - Team Zambia

Pictures from Riley - Team Zambia

Lydia - Team Zambia - our trip so far

Lydia - Team Zambia - worship in Lusaka

Lydia- Team Zambia

Team Zambia has been doing well our first few days of traveling, first in Dubai and now in Lusaka, Zambia. We have had the privilege of teaching to 5 schools already and worshiping with several congregations. The Lord has surely blessed our trip!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

3rd of July with the Masai

Jambo, everyone! This is Jess (Schaller) reporting today for Team Tanzania! We're all in good health and enjoying our time here in the Arusha area!
Yesterday (Thursday, July 3) started out on a delicious note- Africa Pancakes and Fresh Bananas! It's crazy how much tastier fresh bananas are compared to what we eat in America. Sorry mom, but I may never eat another banana at home again! After fueling up for the day, we were picked up by Pastor Jeremiah and headed towards Arusha and beyond. Driving in Africa is absolutely bananas to me, but I'll save that for another time. We made it safely out of Arusha, and when we did, the land changed abruptly. Here where we're staying, the land is very lush and green, with a lot of hills. It's absolutely beautiful, but not what I expected to see in Africa. However, on the other side of Arusha it looks like it's straight out of the Lion King- brown and red dirt, dried grasses, plains, and mountains in the distance. Even the trees were breathtaking. No pictures or words could ever begin to describe or capture the beauty there is to be seen out here! What a Creator!!
Unlike the Lion King, we saw no lions (simba actually means lion over here!) or giraffes (twigas), but we did see plenty of goats, cows, donkeys, and even some camels! When we finally met up with one of our pastors, he (in full Masai robes and a CLC t-shirt) jumped on his Motorcycle (pikipiki) and took us off road, up, around and behind a mountain. The views up there were breathtaking as well. Fifteen (or so) minutes later, we pulled up to the little church destination. We were greeted by the Pastor Joshua there and some older women. The older women were in their Masai robes, with beautiful jewelry and beaming faces. I thought they were breathtaking, and then I saw the kids. All so beautiful, and in their brightly colored Masai robes as well. Their smiles (after they stopped crying from first seeing Sam) can just melt your heart. (Don't worry, Sam did redeem himself after our lessons with the bubbles he brought. They were a hit!!)
We needed two translators yesterday, which was crazy to all of us. First we'd speak English, Jeremiah would translate to Swahili, and Joshua would deliver the Word to the people in the Masai Language. It was really incredible to see their thirst for the gospel, and to know that even through 2 translators, we had that same common faith. They watched and listened intently as Pastor Joshua delivered the words to them. Praise the Lord for giving us this opportunity to share these saving words with these people!
Later today, we're heading out to see different Masai people, which we could not be more excited about! Please continue to pray for not only our Teams here in Africa, but for the people we are reaching!
God is good!

-Jess (Schaller)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Team Zambia Checking In

The Mission Helpers to Zambia arrived safely a couple of days ago. Once we left the airport we have been without internet access until today (Friday).

We've spent the past couple of days teaching several hundred children ranging is ages from 5-20. Pastor Ibrahim made arrangements for us to visit and teach in several community schools in the impoverished areas just outside Lusaka where he has serving the community with the Gospel. These community schools are not government sponsored and do not have a paid staff. Most of the children who attend these schools are orphaned due to the death of one or more of their parents or due to negligence of their parents because of drug and alcohol abuse. The children are cared for by relatives. The schools have developed through the efforts of local community leaders who charge a small tuition fee for the children to attend. All of the school buildings are very crudely constructed and most are not even near completion with roofs made of scrap metal and plastic bags. The walls are made of concrete brick construction, but again, most of them are not even close to be completed with no windows. It's sad to see the conditions in which these children are expected to learn, but also a joy to see a handful of men and women dedicated to offering the next generation a chance. One man today told me that this was his responsibility to give the neglected children a chance and some sort of hope for a future better than their surroundings. This man and the other teachers we met receive no salary from the school and they all work other jobs to support the schools. They asked for no monetary support for their efforts but they did ask that we return to give the teachers some training so that they could better instruct the children. There are so many opportunities to good to the least of these!

Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to conduct outreach seminars in two locations where Pastor Ibrahim has been working to establish preaching stations in the impoverished area of Chapata on the outskirts of Lusaka. This is the same community where we have been visiting and teaching in the schools. Pray for Pastors Ibrahim and Victor as they work to proclaim God's Saving Word to these folks who are so eager for Good News!

My internet time in running out...hopefully we'll have time to share more soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sam From Team Tanzania (July 1-2) - Teaching in Arusha


Africa is incredible! It's nothing like you would imagine with green everywhere to be seen from banana trees and coffee plants (I still don't honestly know if it's a tall bush or a short tree. They've looked like both to me.) to cabbage and corn it's all so lush and vibrant! For our first two days here in Africa Pastor Mayhew and I taught local pastors at a seminar (this was mostly Pastor Mayhew) and on the second days evening Jess, Jess, Raven, and I gave our first Bible lessons. We focused on Creation, Redemption, Sanctification, and Glorification. Lots of kids with eager attitudes listened as the Lord worked through us to spread His Gospel message. How Humbling. Tomorrow, believe that we're headed out to some Masai tribes in the area to teach the kids and share in this great fellowship! Singing the "Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man" song with kids was great fun and I can't wait for more opportunities to sing praises to our God with my fellow believers here in Africa. For those wondering, I did have my checked bag returned to me tonight after standing by the side of the road for 15 minutes waiting for the delivery guy to drive by and see me. This is Africa! Lord Bless!


"Hello, Mr. Mzungu!" Update from Team Kenya!

After days and days and days and days and DAYS of traveling, we finally got to teach our lessons today! And to none other than the children in Etago!

We landed in Nairobi around 8:30 local time Tuesday night, stayed overnight at our hotel, left early the next morning for Kisii, and stayed there overnight and left early this morning to Etago. Still so much traveling! And everywhere we went, we could hear "mzungu!" from random people, mostly children, as we drove by.  One man in particular was rather polite to Pastor Gurath, calling him Mr. Mzungu.

​When we arrived in Etago, there was a huge line of children singing to us and leading us to the building.  When we sat down inside, they continued to sing beautiful songs and tell us stories in Swahili.  It was just as incredible as it was three years ago.

I absolutely loved being back in Etago.  I love the hills, the bumpy gravel road, and most of all, all of the children in their blue and pink uniforms and their beautiful smiling faces. We got to visit Enosh and his family and his wife Elizabeth made us all delicious lunch during the school's lunch break. Then we went back to continue our lessons to the children.

The plan is to go back tomorrow and to have a full day of fellowship with the children and teachers of Etago before we travel north to the other schools.  I am extremely thankful that the Lord has given me this opportunity to see this beautiful area and the beautiful children of Etago again!

Bwana asifiwe!
Jennifer Grabow

Team Tanzania June 29th-30th Safe Travels

Jambo from Tanzania!

Praise the Lord who blessed our team with safe travels and good health. Team Tanzania left Chicago with Team Kenya to Amsterdam and split up from there to our final destinations. The flights were long, but very smooth. All luggage arrived with us except for Sam's checked bag, which will hopefully arrive very soon because he has the tiniest carry-on bag I have ever seen :-) After we were picked up from the airport late on June 30th, we were all ready for a good night of much needed sleep. We are staying at a beautiful place with amazing food. I am beyond excited to see what God has in store for us and the wonderful people of Tanzania. God is so good!


Team Tanzania (Nathanael) Safe arrival in Tanzania

Team Tanzania arrived safely at Kilimanjaro airport last night.  Everything went well with one exception, but Sam can tell you about that....  

This is my 9th trip overseas and my 8th trip to Africa.  I have had people back home ask me why I feel the need to travel overseas, when there are people all around us in the United States that are lost and need to hear the Gospel.  That is a good question, and worthy of a thoughtful response. 

First, it is true that there are many people close to our homes that are in need of what we are bringing to East Africa.  Mission work isn't just going to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus, the Savior of sinners.  Mission work includes reaching out to the person across the street, in the next cubicle at work, or the Facebook friend across the country.  We should be doing that personally, and with members of our congregations at home.  But we are confronted with a problem.  Not everyone is interested in what Christ has entrusted to us.  When someone comes to us, and says "I want to know more, come and teach me" or "Come and help me reach others with the Gospel", we jump at such an opportunity.

We have come to Africa because we have been asked to come.  We have been asked to come and teach and to help believers in our fellow church bodies share the Gospel through child evangelism.  Our Mission Helper Program is very similar to our Traveling Vacation Bible School Program in the United States.  We are going to help sister churches in other countries put on a Vacation Bible School program, and Lord willing, give them the tools to be able to do this on their own in the future.  This is our prayer.

Going overseas on a Mission Helper trip or as a Part-Time Missionary doesn't excuse us from our responsibility back home.  Instead, it prepares those who participate to be ready to see and respond to the opportunities that they may be confronted with in the future.  Either next door, across the country, or on the other side of the world. 

There is a second benefit that comes from serving the Lord overseas.  It changes you.  It changes your outlook on the physical blessings that the Lord has bountifully bestowed upon us in the United States.  We take these blessings for granted every day.  When a person comes to Nepal, India or East Africa, you leave with a greater appreciation for these blessings.  You also come away with a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that our brethren overseas make for the sake of the Gospel.  Working with our fellow believers overseas is rewarding, uplifting and greatly encouraging and motivational.  It is a joy to see how the Gospel works in their hearts and in their lives!  It changes one's perspective on what sacrifice really means.

Finally, relationships are built with our fellow believers overseas.  This is beneficial to them and to us.  I have personally seen the gifts and struggles of fellow believers.  Knowing this I have something to keep in my prayers during the years to come.  This too, is a blessing for me and for them.

Paul writes: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV).

May God bless our witness to all the world! 

In His service,

Nathanael Mayhew

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 29 - Nairobi Jammin - Anna Gurath, Team Kenya/Uganda

My husband has a way with words, which is good because his line of work requires it! Mike/Pastor Gurath's blog post from last night well detailed the happenings of our "Arrival Survival" and our first day in Nairobi...I'm not an eight-time veteran though, so I hope I can bring some fresh perspective! 

While waiting in the line for our visas, I'm pretty sure that a good handful of fellow travelers asked me random questions that I didn't have a straight answer to (it's been a while since I've traveled internationally, let alone ever traveled to Africa), so I just looked up at Mike and he would kindly lead them in the right direction...we soon found that this was a trend. Looks like blondes have more fun AND are more approachable! After about an hour getting through the looooooong visa line and thankfully identifying that all our luggage had made it with us, Mike was quick to find Jemima's friendly face in a crowd of a couple hundred Kenyans trying to find their family, friends, clients, or new mega-church pastor. Yep, think Joel Osteen arriving in your hometown. Apparently there was a celebrity pastor that had arrived around the same time we did, and there were a ton of people there to greet him in his fancy suit. Jemima and her friend Joan graciously helped roll our luggage out to where they had parked after stopping at safaricom for the technological essentials and dropped us off at the hotel to get some rest.

Yesterday (Monday) we ventured off to breakfast at the guest house/hotel after sleeping in. We made it to the tail end of service time and had the whole dining area to ourselves, which is nice because that means less spectacle. Pancakes, potatoes, steamed cabbage, bread and jam, Spanish omelette, etc. were available - and we're enjoying taking advantage of the spread while in town! I finally got to meet Abdallah the driver after hearing funny anecdotes and videos of his jokes the last few years, and we made our way to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation to get some printed materials to share in the days ahead. It took a while to find the new location, but it was found with the help of Herbert, who helps run the place. We were blessed to miss the dreaded Nairobi jam on the way back and witnessed the other side of the road not experiencing the same. Naps and dinner followed where we met another wazungu that introduced himself as Mark, a guy from Tennessee who goes around doing medical camps and was in between sending teams off and picking up another at the airport. He gave us the lowdown of the room and shared that the Kenyan Junior Olympic team was also staying with us which explained all the kids coming in and out of the lobby in Nikes and wind breakers. We did some studying, social media updating and blog writing when we went back to the room and woke a few times early this morning for hunting the lone mosquito that made it through the net and the morning call to prayer at the mosque next door. Today is all about resting before we pick up the rest of our team tonight (Kirsten, Hannah and Jennifer) and head out to Kiisi town tomorrow. Hopefully I can share more photos as we go along - Mike has his camera for plugging in to the laptop for easy posting. 

Many thanks to all for your continued prayers as everyone makes their way to their respective countries - may the Lord keep us in his care as we share his love (foreshadowing of our lesson series!) with so many in East Africa!

In Him,

Team Tanzania Vistitation Schedule

Just a quick note to let everyone know about the tentative visitation plans for Team Tanzania.  Our team includes Pastor Nathanael Mayhew, Raven Haight, Sam Naumann, Jessica Schreyer, and Jess Schaller.

June 30 - Arrive Kilimanjaro Airport 8:00pm - drive to Arusha
July 1 - Meet with pastors in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 2 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 3 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 4 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 5 - Church in Arusha area / travel to Moshi in afternoon
July 6 - TCLC Conference in Moshi all day
July 7 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 8 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 9 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 10 - Travel to Makanya / meet with pastors in evening
July 11 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 12 - Church in Makanya / congregational seminar and VBS with children in the afternoon
July 13 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 14 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / return to Moshi in the afternoon
July 15 - Return to Kilimanjaro airport in evening for return trip home

Thank you all for your prayers for a successful visitation.  May Christ's name be glorified in all that is said and done!

In Christ,

Nathanael Mayhew

Arrival Survival

Pastor Gurath

Phoenix to L.A. to Amsterdam to Nairobi with a maximum of two hour layover in each city kept us cruising along.  The usual mish-mash of foreign businesspeople, returning residents, tourists, volunteers and others jammed into our oversold flight headed for Jomo Kenyatta International airport.  The international terminal is still being rebuilt from the fire that consumed nearly the entire thing two years ago.  Passengers deplaned onto the tarmac and crammed into buses that shuttled weary masses to the immigration line.  That's where things really start to liven up.  Fill out your blue entry card, or the tan one they gave you on the plane, don't forget to pick up a visa application…oh and your customs form.  Once you actually get the visa to be allowed in the country from the surly desk agent it's time to play "Where in the airport is my luggage…if it is, indeed, in the airport?"  The little things we take for granted at airports like the signs that point us in the right direction or  the instructions you can study while waiting in line, you know the ones that we reply to in our heads with "Well, duh, everyone knows to have their I.D. and boarding pass out for inspection"  are sorely missed in this setting.  Oh, but that's not all.  That suitcase full of maybe forty dollars' worth of books or medical supplies that you decided to bring along to help people can be taxed at a nearly one hundred percent rate.  Thanks, Obama.  (He's just an easy target these days.)  It's really not that bad after the 7th or 8th time coming through this way.  I know that it's way better having someone travel alongside of you.  She's  (Anna, aka Mrs. Gurath, aka the more popular Gurath in Kenya already) counting how many times I mention that traveling alone is the worst and traveling with her is tremendously  better.   So far, it's a lot.  Jemima and her friend Joan were kind enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our guest house for the evening.  We are already adjusting to the time change and had Monday to finalize some trip details and even make it out to see our friends at the Lutheran Heritage Foundation out in the suburb of Hardy with the help of driver and friend, Abdallah.  He laments the fact that I come every year at Ramadhan and we don't have the opportunity to sit down to a meal together as he is fasting during the day.    They have been very generous in helping with our work here in East Africa by providing issues of Good News Magazines,  along with catechisms, The Book of Concord,  God's No and God's Yes by Walther and several hymn books in either Swahili or a local language.  We went to and fro without hitting the dreaded Nairobi traffic jam and settled in for the evening.  Thanks for all the prayers and support.  Psalm Devotion of the day Psa 62:1-2  . For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  (2)  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.


Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 29, 2015


Good Morning!

It's departure day for most of the Mission Helpers. Pastor Mike and Anna Gurath arrived in Nairobi yesterday and will spend the next couple of days getting things ready for the others on the Kenya Team.

The thirteen other Mission Helpers will be arriving in Chicago today by air and by land. A big thanks to Pastor David Pfeiffer and the members of Ascension Lutheran in Batavia (Chicago area) for helping out again with shuttling us to and from the airport and taking care of vehicles while we're gone.

The Kenya and Tanzania teams fly out together this afternoon while the Zambia team starts their 37+ hour (flights and layovers) trip to Lusaka later this evening.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated. We'll try to check in along the way.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Getting Ready to Go...

The 2015 CLC Mission Helpers to East Africa are counting down the days until their June 29th departure. This trip will allow fifteen volunteers the opportunity and privilege of proclaiming God's saving word to more than 2500 children. Some of these children will be members of CLC affiliated congregations, but most of them will not. For many of the the children, this will be first time they have heard a clear and Biblical presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ as the one who died and rose from the dead for their sins! Along with the child evangelism efforts, several pastors and leaders in four different countries in Africa will receive encouragement and training from Pastors Michael Gurath, Nathanael Mayhew, Todd Ohlmann. 

A Dala Dala
waiting for more passengers in Tanzania
The fifteen Mission Helpers will divide into three teams and travel separately to their destinations. Teams flying to Tanzania and Kenya will travel together as far as Amsterdam where they will then part ways. Team Kenya will fly into Nairobi and Team Tanzania will will be flying into Kilimanjaro. Team Zambia will fly through Dubai on their way to Lusaka. Buses, Dala Dalas, Matatus, and rented vehicles will take them to a variety cities, towns, and villages where they will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Team Kenya
Michael Gurath (Phoenix, AZ) 
Anna Gurath (Phoenix, AZ)
Kirsten Gullerud (Mountain View, CA)
Jennifer Grabow (Mankato, MN)
Hannah Hulke (Eau Claire, WI)

Team Tanzania
Nathanael Mayhew (Sleepy Eye, MN)
Samuel Naumann (Clarkson, WA)
Jessica Schaller (Watertown, SD)
Raven Haight (Markesan, WI)
Jessica Schreyer (Mankato, MN)

Team Zambia
Todd Ohlmann (St. Louis, MO)
Lucas Brown (Phoenix, AZ)
Lydia Albrecht (Milwaukee, WI)
Heidi Lau (Eau Claire, WI)
Riley Noeldner (Eau Claire, WI)

Pastor Ibrahim with the children
during the 2001 Mission Helper Trip to Tanzania
Please pray that the Lord would give an abundance of wisdom, love, compassion, patience, and safety to the Mission Helpers and to those they go to serve as the Gospel is proclaimed to 2500+ children in several villages throughout Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. Pray also for the pastors and church leaders that Pastors Mayhew, Gurath, and Ohlmann will be working with during the pastoral training seminars and conferences.