November, 2014- January, 2015 Newsletter
Click on the file below to download the latest newsletter!! Please be patient with the download...it´s a big file :)
November, 2014- January, 2015 Newsletter
There has been a change in the method of sending gifts for our support.
1 Congregations may include their gift in their remittance to the synod office, clearly marked with our name and 7-digit code: Kari and Justin Eller (MSG0682) or
2 Congregations and individuals may write their checks directly to “ELCA Global Church Sponsorship” and write our name and 7-digit code in the memo line, Kari and Justin Eller (MSG0682). Mail it to:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
ELCA Gift Processing Center
P.O. Box 1809
Merrifield, VA 22116-8009
In addition, sponsors may also arrange for gifts by credit card, or for automatic monthly withdrawals from their bank account, by contacting 800-638-3522.
Checks should no longer be sent to Global Mission, nor to the ELCA offices at 8765 W. Higgins Road in Chicago, nor to PO Box 71764 in Chicago.
Thanks for your cooperation and partnership with this and please let us know if you have any questions.
Dear family and friends,
I realize that I haven´t written since the end of November and that´s quite a while. So, now that I have a minute, let me do my best to catch you up! December for us was all about prepping for the move. Since we could only take 6 suitcases with us, we had 4 yard sales- I guess you could say one for every year we lived there!! And, of course, December was about all of the wonderful Christmas activities. In there as well, Justin began traveling quite a bit and at the end of November we both went to Argentina for the church´s national assembly and to EPES for the International School Reunion while Justin´s parents came to Bolivia to be with Eber. A big hats off and thank yous go to them!! And then the hard part, saying hasta luego to our friends who became like family in Bolivia.
It was a month of roller coaster emotions- being super excited about starting this new chapter of our lives in Argentina, realizing that it was finally happening, changing relationships with the people we love in Bolivia, all the while continuing to work and trying really hard to finish well important projects and we were just exhausted from moving stuff and packing. If you know us, then you know how we are. We packed and repacked suitcases about 5 times to make sure we were taking with us only what was strategically important to take. There were many days, when we remembered that we only took a backpack with us to Spain when we walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2007 and were very, very tempted to do just that in moving to Buenos Aires, but seeing as how we have a child, we always came back around to strategically packing instead.
I promised myself to write to you when I felt settled here in Buenos Aires (when our couch arrives) and yesterday that finally happened! Honestly, I still don´t feel entirely settled as the rest of our furniture is still to be delivered (better priced furniture here is made to size and as it is handmade it takes longer to arrive). There is still so much to do, but the couch has arrived and hence so has this email.
We arrived in Argentina on January 13th (Justin´s birthday!) and slowly but surely we have been putting all the pieces of a home back together and getting to know our way around our neighborhood at least. In addition, we have made visits to the office, spent time getting to know our new congregation, and worked on our residency. It is just simply amazing how long these things can take, but the church here has been fantastic in accompanying us in this process.
Eber is adapting much better now since the couch´s arrival (he clapped!) and we have been able to do more fun things with him like take him to the zoo and parks on a more regular basis now that the bigger things like finding an apartment, setting up the internet, etc. have been done. He starts school on March 5th and we hope that he will have a chance to make friends his age and get settled into a routine, which will also help us out too!
In February, Justin´s went to Mexico City for a trip with GM that was really great. I will have him blog about it in the near future and will send out an email letting you know when he posts it. For now, please enjoy the photos at the top and we will continue to be in touch. Speaking of that, we have a new address to share with you. If you would like to send us mail, please send it to:
Kari and Justin Eller
Marcos Sastre 2891
C1417FYE Buenos Aires
As always, here are a few mailing tips:
-Please put a line through the middle of the number 7 or it is confused with the number 1.
-It takes about 1-2 weeks to receive a letter and 2-4+ weeks to receive a package.
-Please do not send anything FedEx or it costs a lot of money for us to pick it up.
-If you are asked to place a value on your package, please put a small value on it. Otherwise, it appears that we are importing to sell whatever is in it and we are required to pay a hefty tax on the package.
Let us hear from you when you get a chance...whichever way you prefer. We love hearing your news and keeping up with you too!
Our email addresses are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many, many blessings,
“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-8
-for Venezuela: Political tension and unrest
-for Brazil: Protests at rising prices and displacement due to the 2014 World Cup (soccer)
-for Bolivia: The heavy rains, floods, landslides, and displaced persons and families affected. A very dear friend of ours has been hurt due to a landslide and is hospitalized, but recuperating well; thanks be to God.
-for Argentina: Rising inflation and unpredictable devaluation of the Argentine Peso, which affects low and middle income families the most because wages do not match the market price allowing for affordable consumer goods.
-for us: as we start to write with God this new chapter of our life in Argentina with all its mysteries, surprises, joys, and challenges.
The new Sunday school book of the IELB in Spanish is published! Click here to download it!! I can´t tell you how proud I am of all of the contributors and the excellent work they did to make this book a possibility. Publishing the book is a year-long process and it goes something like this:
I pick a reading (mostly the Gospel) from the readings for each Sunday based on the liturgical calendar. Then, I pass the readings chosen along to Justin who identifies the Good News for each Sunday based on the reading. Afterwards, the CPD-IELB local team, Justin and I have a meeting to plan the book´s production and set deadlines.
Each local team member is then in charge of a specific section for each lesson of the book: Pastor Martiza- prayers, Pastor Erlini- music, Sister Leticia- activities, Justin- investigation, and myself- guided questions. We then decide how best to include other church members in helping with our sections and set working meetings with them. Once a section is done, it is passed back to myself and Sister Leticia, the co-coordinator. We put all of the sections together for each lesson throughout the year and then put the book together with the help of other collaborators adding things like: the song section, the glossary, the Small Catechism, etc.
Finally, we review the entire book, word for word, lesson for lesson, making sure that we turn in the very best first draft we can to the editorial. The editorial then sends it to corrections (grammar), we approve the corrections, it goes to the diagrammer to be put into its format, we approve the format and finally it´s off to the printer. During this, all of the songs used in the book are recorded and burned to CDs.
A few weeks later, we have the book in hand and the fun begins! The CPD-IELB local team begins planning local and national Sunday school professor gatherings to distribute and socialize the book in Bolivia, facilitate workshops, and connect Lutheran educators in the IELB. At the same time, we send three copies of the book to each Lutheran companion church participating in or possibly interested in participating in the ELCA- Equipping God´s People (CPD, acronym in Spanish) Project and do our best to raise funds so that more materials like it can be published in the future. We print the books because there are communities in Bolivia and other Spanish speaking countries that are still working on getting drinkable water and latrines, that do not own computers, know how to use them or have access to the Internet. Slowly, all of that is changing as our world becomes more global, however, in the mean time, it is important that everyone has access and therefore, the book must be printed.
We also upload the entire book and CD of all music (this year there are 133 songs!!) recorded to the CPD website for free because we recognize that many people do have and prefer to use technology. The purpose of the book is to be a support for Lutheran Sunday school professors in Bolivia and all around the world and the idea is to make it as accessible as possible. We share the book with a pay-it-forward mentality in hopes that other Spanish-speaking Lutherans around the world who create Christian education materials, whether they are for Sunday school, workshops, confirmation, etc. will want to do the same and share their resources with others as well.
How can you help?
One of the highlights from my Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil trip (Oct 14-26) was getting to attend and greet the inauguration events for the Sustainability Institute that was launched in São Leopoldo-Porto Alegre/RS, Brazil. The Sustainability Institute is a collaboration between the Lutheran churches in the Latin America and Caribbean region, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (IECLB), and the Faculty of Escola Superior de Teologia (EST). Even better was the chance to catch up with old friends from where I went to seminary in Chicago at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Pictured above are (from left to right): Rev. Dr. Patricia Cuyatti (LWF), Rev. Justin Eller (ELCA), Rev. Dr. Mercedes García Bachmann (ISEDET-IELU), Rev. Dr. Vítor Westhelle (EST-LSTC).
While in Buenos Aires, I met with the leaders of the new church we´ll work with, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) and look around at neighborhoods for where we might live.
In Montevideo, I met up with the ELCA´s Horizon Intern, Deb Coté who is serving as vicar with the IELU at the Congregación Nuestro Salvador. If you would like to learn more about Deb and her work with the church, please check out her blog: ielunuestrosalvador.wordpress.com.
Ok. I really want to tell you about a workshop that happened September 20-21, 2013 because it was fantastic and I think that its worthy to be shared, but to do that, I have to teach you a few acronyms...so, bear with me.
CPD: The project I am the coordinator of; it stands for Capacitando al Pueblo de Dios or in English, Equipping God´s People.
IELB: The Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Boliviana or the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
ISEAT: The Instituto Superior Ecuménico Andino de Teología or in English, the Higher Ecumenical Andean Institute of Theology; a seminary, in Bolivia where the IELB and other denominations send their members interested in studying theology to earn higher degrees where we taught for four years.
CEBIPAS: Stands for Comunidades Educativas Bíblico-Pastorales or in English, Biblical-Pastoral Educational Communities. It is a distance learning program hosted by ISEAT, located in various rural communities throughout Bolivia, which serves the IELB and other denominations. CEBIPAS students may or may not have a high school degree. The program lasts about two years and students complete 10 modules and two practical workshops.
Now...this workshop on Christian education that took place was called the InterCEBIPAS workshop, because all the CEBIPAS communities from all over Bolivia and from all denominations were invited to participate. This year, ISEAT decided to narrow in on Sunday school and the CPD local team of the IELB was asked this year to facilitate the workshop because of their publication of the Sunday school book, Señor, enséñanos...Lc. 11:1 and the workshops they have held for IELB Sunday school professors this year. It was a huge honor for the group that they were asked to talk about their book and to share their experiences in working with children from a Popular Education methodology perspective.
The workshop covered things like:
Participants didn´t just sit and listen to the CPD-IELB local team talk, they discussed their thoughts and ideas, led devotionals, taught each other, composed songs and had fun! The first night ended in a talent show, where we saw everything from dancing to theater!
Overall, the workshop was a success and it felt really great after all of the planning alongside the CPD-IELB local team and ISEAT to see all the CEBIPAS students enjoying their time with each other and learning more about Popular Education and how it has and is benefitting the IELB. If you would like to see even more photos, click here!!
September 5-12, 2013 a delegation from the Montana Synod of the ELCA visited the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Boliviana (IELB). The Montana Synod is the companion synod for the IELB. A companion synod works to "extend the bilateral relationships between our churches and Lutheran church bodies in other countries, called companions. The Companion Synod Program is a concrete expression of the communion fellowship among the 140 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and an exciting way ELCA members can engage in global mission!"*
The delegation spent time getting to know even better the IELB by talking with its leaders, visiting the church´s mission in Cobija, Bolivia, the Lutheran Institute in El Alto, Bolivia, attending worship services in Batallas, Bolivia and Rio Seco, El Alto, Bolivia and celebrating with church members during the IELB´s 75th anniversary.
Justin, Eber and I had a great time getting to know the delegation and sharing a little bit of what our lives are like here in Bolivia.
If you would like to learn more about the Montana Synod of the ELCA, click here!!
If you would like to read Pastor Steve´s blog to learn more about the delegation´s visit and see even more pictures, click here!!