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Hello happy followers. Just wanted to let you know that we are home. The last travel day had some delays. But even though we didn’t get home on schedule, we got home. The kids are elated and the parents are tired. And we’re all cold. It’s winter here. We weren’t quite ready for that weather adjustment.

We’ll post more as soon as we are able. In the mean time, please keep the young adults in service in Southern Africa in your prayers. They will be leaving their sites soon and coming to Pietermaritzburg for a closing retreat and the beginnings of their journeys back to the U.S. These are some days of really tough good-byes for them.

Thank you to everyone for your love and prayers during this journey!

One More Week….

How did this happen? We only have one more week in the USA. We have so many things to share with all of you from our time in the U.S., the church visits, family and friend gatherings, etc. We hope to have a moment soon to share some more highlights with you. But for now, know that we are enjoying a week by a Minnesota lake, hanging out with my (Tessa’s) family. We are trying to soak in as much last goodness as we can. Hope you all are doing well as well. Please keep us in your prayers as we begin flying on the 7th of July, landing on the 9th.

Home Assignment Beginnings

Greetings from a week of vacation with family in Iowa! Already, we have visited sponsoring congregations in each of our geographic areas where we have sponsors (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio). We have more we will visit in June in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Thank you to everyone for all of the great hospitality you have shared with us!

Here are some pictures from our time so far:

Adventurous cooks at First Lutheran, Morris, MN, who prepared a South African meal

Daring cooks at First Lutheran, Morris, MN, who prepared a South African meal

Wednesday Night Worship at St. Ansgar's Lutheran, Cannon Falls, MN

Wednesday Night Worship at St. Ansgar’s Lutheran, Cannon Falls, MN

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

An extra day in our well-loved city of Duluth, MN (the shores of Lake Superior)

An extra day in our well-loved city of Duluth, MN (the shores of Lake Superior)

After having watched so many ships come into the Duluth Harbor, I have never seen one come in while there was still ice on the lake. A "cool" experience!

After having watched so many ships come into the Duluth Harbor, I have never seen one come in while there was still ice on the lake. A “cool” experience! The following day we were at Concordia Lutheran in Superior, although we failed to take any pictures.

A potluck at First English Lutheran in Wausau, WI

A potluck at First English Lutheran in Wausau, WI

Tessa preaching at a Wednesday night worship for Confirmation students and others. At the same service, Sophia joined the praise band.

Tessa preaching at a Wednesday night worship for Confirmation students and others at Grace Lutheran, Tomahawk, WI. At the same service, Sophia joined the praise band.

The River Valley Conference of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin invited us to spend the morning with them. Breakfast included.

The River Valley Conference of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin invited us to spend the morning with them. Breakfast included.

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After a Sunday visit to First English Lutheran in Appleton, we spent a few days with a friend in Chicago. During our time in Chicago, we greatly enjoyed a trip to the Field Museum.

Our first visit to the Northeastern Ohio Synod was to their synod assembly.

Our first visit to the Northeastern Ohio Synod was to their synod assembly.

We spent a Sunday morning with Israel's Lutheran in Paris, OH. Look how they welcomed us!

We spent a Sunday morning with Israel’s Lutheran in Paris, OH. Look how they welcomed us!

At Peace Lutheran in Ashland, OH, we shared a presentation. Here, Jon is talking about the Danger of a Single Story, one o four favorite topics.

At Peace Lutheran in Ashland, OH, we shared a presentation. Here, Jon is talking about the Danger of a Single Story, one of our favorite topics.

 

 

 

 

First Things First

Well, we’ve started our Home Assignment. And what did we start with? Required doctor visits. Now isn’t that fun?

Truth be told, it’s good to visit our regular doctors while we are in the United States. It is something that the ELCA ensures that all missionaries on home assignment take care of. So, we’ve all had our blood checked, immunizations updated, etc. The kids aren’t fond of the needles but it still needs to happen. We also used that time to visit the dentist and eye doctor. We’re getting ourselves all taken care of! Here’s Sophia at the beginning of her physical:

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Young Reader Books, i

I am in the midst of selecting and coordinating some books for the kids’ reading and learning (about the U.S.) while we are on “home assignment.” In the spirit of that, I want to share about some fabulous books about South Africa.

Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom

Here is a young reader version of Nelson Mandela’s, Long Walk to Freedom. It is fabulous. It tells the story and is engaging. Hint: adults who aren’t up for the adult version (it is very long!) will find this to be a wonderful way to also learn about Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s history of Apartheid.

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales. A friend gave this to our kids before we moved to South Africa. They have loved it. We highly recommend it.

God's Dream

God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu. This is a children’s book about God’s dream of diversity. It is simple and moving. It even comes as a board book for young children.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light by Desmond Tutu. Beautifully illustrated, this is Desmond Tutu’s telling of the Genesis creation story.

Children of God Storybook Bible

Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu. This Bible storybook has at least 50 stories from the Bible which share themes of God’s love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. When I saw this in a bookstore, I lamented that it had not been available when my children were little.

Cool Nguni

The Cool Nguni by Maryanne Bester. I picked this up at the library in Pietermartizburg and fell in love. It is a good story and even better, one can learn a bit about the indigenous Nguni cattle breed (which we are great admirers of).

Journey to JoburgJourney to Joburg by Beverley Naidoo. A young reader book which powerfully tells a story of a child’s experiences during Apartheid in South Africa. Our whole family was very moved by this book.

Happy reading!

 

Home Assignment 2014

Every two years, “long-term missionaries” serving with the ELCA take two months to visit sponsoring congregations in the United States. Well, that’s us this year!

As we looked at our schedules and considered many factors, we figured out that post-Easter until late June would be the best time for us. For the kids, this means that they miss a whole term (quarter) of school. And while it is a long time to be gone from school, we are thankful for their helpful teachers and the fact that we’ll be back for them to begin the third term of the school year.

During those two months, we will be mostly on the road, visiting sponsoring congregations. We’ll preach sermons and make presentations. The kids will even be doing a presentation for Sunday School kids. We will also catch up on doctors’ visits and such. Before and after the home assignment time, we will have a little vacation to visit each of our families.

Here’s a basic schedule of where we are currently scheduled. Contact us if you want to know more.

April 26 & 27  –  First Lutheran Church, Morris, MN

April 30 – St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church, Cannon Falls, MN

May 4  –  Concordia Lutheran Church, Superior, WI

May 5    –  First English Lutheran Church, Wausau, WI

May 7   –  Grace Lutheran Church, Tomahawk, WI

May 8   –  Wisconsin River Valley Conference pastors gathering

May 11   –  First English Lutheran Church, Appleton, WI

May 16   –  Northeast Ohio Synod assembly

May 18   –  Israel’s Lutheran Church, Paris, OH

May 19   –  Peace Lutheran Church Church, Ashland, OH

June 1  –  Kviteseid Lutheran Church, Milan, MN

June 3 & 4    –    Baudette Lutheran Parish, Baudette, MN

June 7   –  Bethel Lutheran Church, Willmar, MN

June 8   –  Calvary Lutheran Church, Willmar, MN

June 11 – Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN

June 13 & 14   –   Southwestern Minnesota Synod assembly (including meal with First Lutheran of St. Peter)

June 15    –  American Lutheran Church, Windom, MN

June 17    –  Kerkhoven Lutheran Church, Kerkhoven, MN

June 18    –  Baxter Lutheran Church, Montevideo, MN

June 21 & 22  –  Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Neenah, WI

June 23   –  East Central Wisconsin Synod office

June 23    –  St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Wausau, WI

(This information is now on a new “page” of this blog. To find it, click the red circle towards the upper right-hand corner of the blog. Then, click on “Home Assignment 2014″)

 

 

YAGM Retreats

DSC_0614Well, it has been a long time since we have posted anything. Let’s just say we’re super-busy living life and we haven’t quite found the time to talk about the life we’re living!

We have just returned from a retreat with the young adult volunteers. This year, we had the retreat at the Woody Cape section of the Addo Elephant National Park. We stayed at a backpackers / hostel just a 5-minute walk from the beach. We’ll have to show you pictures later of that. It was amazing. We were right by a large dune field.

At the end of the retreat, we headed up to the main location of Addo Elephant National Park so we could have a day of seeing elephants. On that day, we were considering how nature can be a teacher as well as the amazing intelligence of elephants.

After the retreat was over, three of the YAGM stayed in residence with us at our second backpackers. They spent a day and a half with Jon, reflecting about vocation and their own callings and gifts. We call these “mini-retreats.” Usually, they are at our home but it worked to have one right after a retreat. The kids and I had a free day and so we went back to the National Park. The elephant picture here is a young one we saw drinking at a water hole. We were able to watch via a “hide” in the park. We were behind a fence with only viewing slots to watch through. It was quite cool!

Emily, one of the YAGM volunteers wrote a great blog post about the importance of retreats for YAGM. You might want to check it out here.

Stay tuned. We hope to share more soon!