"Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me." Matthew 10:40- Quoting from Justin´s sermon, "When any of us are sent and received, we are being Christ with skin on: to love and share the saving story of Jesus and be a healing presence, fighting for justice and peace." Our Sunday with Messiah Lutheran http://www.facebook.com/pages/Messiah-Lutheran-Church/116338565053839 was refreshing for us as well as the Church´s members. Messiah Lutheran Church is the home congregation of members of both my family as well as Justin´s. We both felt that it was good to see familiar faces, sing and worship together once again with family and brothers and sisters in Christ and to "break bread" over a good ole´ Southern homestyle potluck after service. As one congregational member put it, "It was just so nice to see so many people fill the pews again." Messiah is a small, aging congregation located in a changing neighborhood. Thank you Messiah for welcoming us and our prayers will be for your continued ministry of welcoming others.
I think you know a dinner has been successful when the conversation never dies and could go on for hours longer than what it should. We talked about everything around the table from farms and previous mission trips to new jobs, life experiences and friends! Of course, Bolivia was also a big topic and we enjoyed answering questions and telling some of our stories too. All-in-all, we had a lovely dinner and would like to thank Pastor Rhodes and his wife, Krista, for hosting it and those who were able to be with us for your support and kindness. ¡Gracias a todos!
Today was Holy Trinity Sunday and therefore very fitting that we worshipped with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (HTLC) http://www.htlchickory.org/ ! HTLC has three worship services and we had the privilege of attending them all. Justin preached and together we gave a presentation. Afterwards, we went out to eat with Pastor Ballard, his family and church members at a great Italian restaurant. Muchas gracias to Georgene and Hank for hosting us and to HTLC for inviting us to be with you and working alongside us in mission!
The theme this year for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Luther´s Lutheran Church http://www.facebook.com/pages/Luthers-Lutheran-Church/111135992259994?v=info was "Caring for Creation." VBS kicked off with a gathering in the fellowship hall, song and prayer. While the youth made lovely bird houses out of cedar, Justin and I had a chance to present to the adults about our ministry and how creation is being cared for by Bolivians. Luther´s Lutheran we had a wonderful time and are still singing "Oh, who can make a flower grow? I know I can´t can you? Oh, who can make a flower grow? No one but God it´s true!"
How is the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian http://www.nmai.si.edu/ a part of our home assignment? The Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church is 98% Aymara. The Aymara are one of the many nations that make up the Plurinational State of Bolivia. We REALLY liked this museum and even got a chance to practice our Aymara! There was a roaming exhibit presented by a brother from a community close to Oruro which we by chance happened to see. He was very surprised to hear his language spoken and we were shocked to be able to use it. While in D.C., we spent time with my dear friend from college who lives and works in the area. Our visit with her reminded me of how hospitality is expressed in every culture and is an extension of God´s constant grace and love.
In December, Justin and I were given new ELCA projects. My project is in Christian Education and we went to Meriden, Connecticut so that I could meet face-to-face for the first time one of my colleagues, Carmen Rodríguez-Rivera. In between the wonderful meals, kitty time and coffee, Carmen and I worked for a total of seven hours in less than 24 hours and accomplished A LOT...go us!
This visit was our first trip ever to Pennsylvania and we were very impressed, not only with the state, but with how kind and caring every one was at Advent Lutheran Church http://www.adventyork.org/. We had a chance to visit the church´s camp, a beautiful area for youth meetings, adult retreats, and bible studies, to participate in the worship services and present during the Sunday School hour. We would like to say a big thank you to John and Sue Uhler for hosting us while in York and for our bike ride, to Annabelle and John Wentzke and family for our tour of the city and dinner, to Anne and family for helping with our tour of the church and camp, and to the pastors and all church members for making us feel welcome and supporting our ministry. Thank you everyone!
Justin and I are proud members of HTELC http://htelc.org/, a church that has supported us not only through our college and seminary years, but also continues to support us in so many ways. The Gospel this Sunday was John 17: 1-11 and Justin preached on unity in mission focusing on Jesus´ prayer, "May they be one as we are one." We both also presented during the Sunday School hour and after all was said and done, went out to eat with the Missions Committee at an amazing Mediterranean restaurant!
This year was the second time we have had the privilege to attend the NC Synod Assembly in Hickory, NC. The first time was two years ago, when Justin was ordained and our call to Global Missions was publicly recognized. It felt really good to be back and to have the opportunity to reconnect and share some of our experiences with our home synod http://nclutheran.org. While at the assembly, we spoke during a mission moment, held a forum about our ministries and the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church and attended three other forums on how to create bible studies, mission work in Costa Rica and the 25th anniversary of Living Waters Lutheran Church in Cherokee, NC. It was such a blessing to be a part of this assembly and to witness how God is at work throughout our state.
Right before their final exams, Justin and I spent a whole day with my brother and his students at Franklin High School http://www.mcsk-12.org/schools/FHS/default.aspx (Go Panthers!) presenting about life and culture in Bolivia. My brother teaches Spanish I and II and I have to say is an awesome teacher! We also enjoyed eating lunch with a few of the other teachers at the high school and learning a little bit more about some of the wildlife (turtles that can jump) in Franklin.
Home Assignment 2011
From North Carolina to Pennsylvania and Montana, we traveled a lot! Below is the schedule of where we visited and when.