Blog Archive

Subscribe to this blog as an RSS feed: http://thetrumps.org/blog/rss.xml

Sunday
Jun052016

Food Aid Brings New Neighbors to Church in Mozambique

Sunday Worship at San Paulo in Villa de Sena (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)Drought had stricken Southeastern Africa. In Mozambique, God’s people in Villa de Sena cried out to their friends and partners with a request for food aid. In compassion, the partners of the Igreja Luterana da Concórdia em Moçambique (Lutheran Church of Concord in Mozambique)(especially the LCMS through a special project sent to Emergency and Relief Fund) responded in February 2016. With the food aid came an acknowledgment that although the provision was meager, the members of the church with whom rice had been shared were requested to also share with those in their communities. Pastor Mateus Sifa and his wife Angelina took up this opportunity to love their neighbor and shared with family of a hard working electrical and motorcycle mechanic, Domingos. Over the years, Domingos and his wife Beauty had a pleasant relationship with Pastor Mateus and Angelina but were not interested in the church. The gift of a bag of rice and 5 liters of cooking oil, though, piqued their interest - why would someone do such a thing, particularly in difficult and hungry times like these? Domingos and BeautyPastor Mateus appreciated the opportunity to talk about the love of Christ and how we are compelled to respond, even in love towards our literal neighbors. Domingos, hard working and well educated did what any reasonable person would do. Domingo searched Google for the Lutheran Church. He read about baptism. He read about the scope of the church - reaching across the world. As is often the case, Domingos’ research on the Lutheran Church raised even more questions. Meanwhile, Beauty had also been doing research of a different kind. As she visited in the home of Pastor Mateus and Angelina she was observing how they interacted with each other and with their children. That love, the living out of the testimony she heard, was compelling to her. But when Pastor Mateus and Angelina invited Domingos and Beauty to church to see for themselves, Domingos declined on behalf of the family.  But the next Sunday, when invited again, Beauty came with Domingos’ approval although he still would not join them for worship. Instead of attending church, though, Domingos is still biding his time but now eagerly and willingly spending time with the pastors and members of the church. The Church Secretary Reviews the Baptism List for Sunday's ServiceDomingos began to repair and provide routine maintenance for Pastor Mateus’ motorcycle. When the monthly church leadership meeting came around at the church office at Pastor Mateus’ home, Domingos brought out his tools and tuned up all their motorcycles. When the leadership of the church gather for a week and a half at Pousada Luterana guesthouse and training center seven kilometers from town, Domingos made himself available to provide on-site support for the electrical, solar, generator, and motorcycle repairs that would be necessary throughout the week. He spent a full week with those pastors, theology students, and visitors from South Africa, Brazil, and the United States. Some sense of fear, though, still keeps Domingos from attending worship - a fear, he thinks, that he might not like it. Domingos is still uncertain about coming to the church and hasn't yet stepped through the doors. But on Sunday, June 5, 2016, I baptized Domingo’s wife, Beauty. That Sunday, Beauty, along with 58 other men, women, and children, celebrated new life in the waters of baptism at São Paulo Lutheran Church in Villa de Sena. Praise the Lord for the faith he has worked in Beauty and the seeds of faith that are planted in the heart of Domingos.

Sunday
Jun052016

Pastor Forcibly taken to Suero, Mozambique to Proclaim the Gospel

Shauen Addresses the Congregation in Chemba with Members from Suero (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)Across Mozambique, villagers gather together in the shade of the thatched roof covering the bicycle repair kiosk, the covered porch of the trading center shop, or each other’s homes to listen. Community radio stations give a lifeline to these remote and rural hard-working farmers and entrepreneurs, connecting them to Mozambique and the rest of the world through FM broadcast. As they all do, community radio station host Sinalo Christiano gave airtime to the local pastors in Chemba, Mozambique. But when Pastor Julio Castomo of the Igreja Luterana da Concórdia em Moçambique (Lutheran Church of Concord in Mozambique) had his first moment on air, the host was intrigued. Here was a message quite different from the other preachers who came for their 5 minutes of proclamation. A little girl looks towards the photographer (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)Sinalo talked to Pastor Julio extensively after the broadcast about the message and about the church. The next day, Sinalo came to Pastor Julio’s home to continue the discussion. On Sunday, the radio host came to church and saw for himself. Immediately, Sinalo traveled to his home village of Suero to tell his extended family about Jesus Christ’s amazing love for us to which the people mandated that Sinalo go back to Chemba, collect Pastor Julio, and bring him to tell them himself. After a few evangelistic visits, the people of Suero organized into a church and invited Pastor Julio to come to their first Sunday morning time together. Sixty people were gathered to hear him. The next week there were 80. Today God’s people in Suero rejoice in Word and Sacrament alongside God’s people around the world. 

Saturday
Jun042016

Tweet

Just me and my goat out for a ride... (Probably a one-way ride for poor Mr. Billy G.)

Saturday
Jun042016

Tweet

Just in case you don't get enough iodine in your diet... Or MSG. You know. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, of course.

Saturday
Jun042016

Lutheran Theology and Practice is Embraced in Cado

Church Members in Cado Sing with Joy to Drum AccompanimentThe Christians of Cado, Mozambique, paid dearly for pastoral services, struggling under the tyranny of a pastor who mandated a substantial cash payment for each visit. Their community was remote, some 45km from the nearest town, and it wasn’t until villagers started going to town to find a market for their goods that they realized that not all churches operate in the same way. When the possibility of life together under a different model came to light, the congregation took action to learn more. Two youth were sent by bicycle the 45km to Villa de Sena to make inquiries of the churches there. In Villa de Sena on the banks of the Zambezi River, those two youths met Pastor Mateus Sifa and Pastor Manuel Jambo and eagerly began to interrogate them about the Lutheran Church’s beliefs and practice. Pastor Jambo hosted them in his home as they continued in discussion. Responding in joy, the Lutheran church in Cado gave us gifts when we visitedOf particular interest to these Cado villagers were the teachings on stewardship, offerings, and the matters of financial administration in the church. Through these avenues, Pastor Jambo shared with them the clear Gospel proclamation and the church’s focus on the Word and Sacraments that convey that Gospel. On Sunday, the youth from Cado attended São Paulo Lutheran Church in Villa de Sena and saw those things of which Pastor Jambo had spoken. By the end of the worship service their path was clear. They stood when invited and introduced themselves as visitors to Villa de Sena who had a single task of finding a parent church body for their congregation. In what they had seen and heard they were convicted that this Lutheran Church is the very church they had come to find. Knowing the challenge of reaching Cado and that for São Paulo to share their pastor would mean they would go without their pastor some Sundays, the Cado representatives requested the blessing of the São Paulo congregation to send a pastor to support a Lutheran Church in Cado. The Christians of São Paulo affirmed the request unequivocally for the sake of God’s people in Cado and the Gospel. A few weeks later, three Lutheran Pastors traveled to Cado. The first Lutheran Service in Cado was attended by 50 villagers meetings under a tree. Within the year the congregation had grown to 80. 

Friday
Jun032016

On a Quest to Find the Pastor to Care for Our Church

A Theology Student Reflects while a Question is Asked (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)A Theology Student Shares during Class (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)During the first week of June, 2016, two leaders from an independent church in Mutarara (Inhangoma region), Mozambique, came the 40km to Villa de Sena in search of a church body with substance. Through relatives, these two leaders from the Christ Forever Church had heard about the Igreja Luterana da Concórdia em Moçambique (Lutheran Church of Concord in Mozambique) and traveled to Sena to learn more. They came to Pastor Mateus Sifa’s home twice in that week looking for someone to tell them about the Lutheran Church to find that only Pastor Mateus’ wife Angelina was home. But, Angelina told them, I know if you go to Pousada Luterana, seven kilometers outside of town, they will receive you well and be happy to visit with you. Much to the joy of those visitors, that week the pastors of the Lutheran Church were engaged in a continuing education course - just the kind of well-trained pastors they were looking for. Pastor Carlos Walter Winterle Teaches a Theology Course (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)After visiting with the pastors and receiving a meal, they asked if the Lutheran Church would please send a pastor to Mutarara to take over responsibility for their congregation. Theology Class at the Posada Luterana (photo by Carlotta Cisternas Tiews)That visit should be made in the weeks ahead with the dedication of yet another Lutheran Congregation to come shortly thereafter.  Praise the Lord for drawing His people to Himself through the church.

Thursday
Jun022016

Tweet

The joy of seeing a pastor from Brazil who you first met in Paraguay, when you arrive in Mozambique. VP Rev. Rony Marquardt! 

Monday
May302016

Tweet

Josiah, age 6, (sitting on the couch listening as adults chat), "Mama? Do you know that I'm starting to do boring things like grown ups?"

Thursday
May192016

Tweet

A little kitty might have adopted us last night. We're all quite content. Hope she stays!

Monday
May162016

Thank you to the Mercy Medical Team

LCMS Mercy Medical Teams (MMTs) serve across the world. This year we added Tanzania as a new MMT location. Here's a letter from the Archbishop of the church we worked with expressing his appreciation. Learn more about MMTs at: http://www.lcms.org/mercyteams 

Tuesday
Apr262016

Missionaries are Feeble Folk

“Missionaries have on the whole been a feeble folk, not very wise, not very holy, not very patient. They have broken most of the commandments and fallen into every conceivable mistake. And yet God has used their weakness to bring into existence a universal church … And there is no reason whatever to suppose that God is incapable of doing today what he has done in the past.” -Stephen Neill

Friday
Apr222016

Mercy Medical Team in Tanzania

Our team in this part of the world does a wonderful job of hosting LCMS Mercy Medical Teams:

MMT - Tanzania

Tuesday
Apr192016

Tweet

I'm from the Pacific Northwest. Rain used to comfort me. Now it wakes me from sleep to check on the flooding.

Friday
Apr152016

Lodwar Mission Station - Land, Land, Land

Lutherans from Lokichar meet with us in Preparation and Support of the Lodwar Mission Station Land SelectionWednesday was a day of heat, dust, fellowship, and excitement. The General Secretary, Rev. Benjamin, had invited five key members of the congregations in Lokichar about six hours south to come up to Lodwar so they could be a part of the process here. To get to Lodwar from Lokichar, you have to catch the buses that pass through the town of Lokichar around 9pm or 10pm on their way from Nairobi to Lodwar, ultimately arriving in Lodwar around 3am or 4am. Those buses are already full but the conductor is always happy to make a few extra bucks and will pick up anyone they can physically fit into the bus, often standing room only at this point in the ride. Those people from those congregations in Lokichar are NOT NORMAL. Instead of five of them coming on that slow and crowded and uncomfortable bus ride, TWELVE of them came! That’s how eager they were to be a part of this mission work in Lodwar. We spent some time with them all being sure they all understood and were supportive of planting a church in Lodwar. They unanimously endorsed the idea and wanted to spend the whole day seeing the land on offer by the Congressman with us before taking an evening/night bus back to Lokichar. 
Minister of Parliament's Pickup Truck Carries Lutherans Around LodwarAfter loading into the Minister of Parliament’s pickup truck with five in the cab and the 12 from Lokichar in the bed of the truck, we set out to pick up the area chief on our way out of town. Just about 3 bumpy and rough miles out of the center of town the area chief directed us to the first plot which was large but in sight of only one homestead. There was no cellular network signal and no power out this side of town. To me the site was less than ideal although I know the town will eventually expand out this far. But for the immediate future, there were just no people to be seen and you have to put a church where there are God’s people!  Well, I wasn’t the only one thinking so.  There was quite a bit of discussion, some in English, most in Swahili. Rev. Benjamin could tell that there was more to be said that was being held back, so us “visitors” walked away and left the area chief and the Turkanas from Lokichar alone. They immediately switched into the Turkana language and those Lutherans from Lokichar expressed their concerns with the site. They didn’t want to plant a church, much less the anchor church for the Turkana people in a place where there weren't any people. They didn’t want the church to be pushed out to some inconvenient place. That was site 1. 
We loaded back into the truck and drove back a half-mile closer to town and the chief directed the driver off the road again. When we stopped, we were immediately adjacent to a village of about 300 homes, an area for internally displaced people where Rev. Benjamin, Rev. Daniel, and I had visited a few months ago. This land, the chief explained, had been allocated for a university of some kind many years ago but they had exceeded the two-year window of development and it should revert to the government. Within sight of so many homes of the most vulnerable kinds of people, a half-mile closer to town, on land with more contour, this was a much, much better place. God’s people were there! Everyone agreed that this is the place for a church. There was still no cellular network signal or power but being closer to town those things would come before too long. This was site 2. 
Camels Roam just West of Lodwar TownIt now being early afternoon, we headed back to Lodwar Town proper and made a few more visits and connections to other ministries and projects in Lodwar. We dropped off the group so they could head back to Lokichar in good time and dropped off the area chief. Then the Congressman’s personal assistant said, “okay, let’s go.” The congressman had one more plot to show us. So we set off the other direction this time, west, between the two rivers that come together in Lodwar. Although the distance was ultimately about the same, about 3 miles from the center of town, the road was much better - sand the whole way instead of old broken pavement and rock. This time when we stopped, the local area elder met us and walked us over past a couple grazing camels to a plot of land. This plot of land was in an area where Lodwar had already begun a rapid expansion. There was land allocated for a university, land allocated for the county government buildings which were under construction just a half-mile away, power lines within sight, and cellular network coverage already in place. Homesteads were already built entirely around the area and more would continue to be constructed as the County Headquarters opens up and the other institutions build up. In short, it is even better than site 2 for planting the mission station. This was site 3. All the land pictures attached are from site 3. 
Lutheran Pastors and Local Officials Look Out Over the PlotIn the evening, after expressing our gratitude to the congressman’s personal assistant and getting some contact information that will help with the medical clinic we’ll host here in June, we said our goodbyes and settled in to discuss. Both General Secretary Benjamin and Pastor Daniel agreed that site 3 was by far the best place to establish the mission station, with people already entirely around the site and the area under construction with the county headquarters buildings and the institutions that had been allocated land. The proximity of power lines and cellular phone network meant that Lodwar would continue to expand in this direction. So that’s the decision of the church. Rev. Benjamin and Rev. Daniel agreed, though, that we would also ask the congressman for a small plot at site 2 to plant a preaching station there by that village of internally displaced people! The Mission Station isn’t even established yet and the church is already planting preaching stations! This is the site of the Lodwar Mission Station as long as the congressman and the area elders can make the land allocation: http://maps.google.com/?q=3.115578,35.552835 
The Land to be Requested for The Lodwar Mission Station
On Thursday I return to Nairobi and Rev. Benjamin will start the formal process of allocating the land with the congressman. He’ll likely return to Lodwar within the next two weeks with the congressman to hold the wider meetings with all the elders of the area. Praise the Lord for a successful trip, a clear way forward, and a church that is eager to see God’s people in TWO sites reached with the Gospel! 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr132016

Lodwar Mission Station - Land, Land

Turkana from the Skyward Express airplaneYesterday we arrived in Lodwar, Turkana County, to dry and hot. I took a picture from the plane as we came in. The climate conditions are only part of the issue here. The land has been consistently overgrazed removing all grasses and vegetation which leads to a cycle of flooding runoff when rains do fall because there's nothing to absorb the rain or slow the water. The topsoil washes away and the rain doesn't sink into the earth. Combine that with years of drought and vegetation just can't survive. After season upon season of this, the earth looks like it does today. As I travel around the area, once in a while I come upon a fenced plot of land, inside of which are grasses, shrubs, and trees. By fencing, the owner has done nothing more than prevent grazing and within a decade or so - provided there is any rain - the land can recover, holding down the soil, retaining moisture, and reducing flooding, while also creating a much more pleasant environment for his homestead. It takes a long-term view and dedication to deny open grazing in your land but the benefits are substantial and visible.
Abandoned Engines at the Lodwar AirportWe arrived at the airport where it was 99 degrees out. The airport runway is paved as is one other road through Lodwar Town. There are busted up and abandoned airplane engines in a outcropping of rocks just off the runway, giving the area the feeling of a conflict zone. 
We spent the evening visiting with the personal assistant to the congressman (minister of parliament), named James, and with a local Pentecostal Pastor, named Joseph, whom the congressman sent to us. Joseph described a little about his own experience as a pastor in the town and about his congregation of about 30 people. The congressman sent him to us as a local church connection and because the pastor is interested in converting to the Lutheran Church and eager to be sent to Seminary if we are willing and find him capable. He has friends in the Lutheran congregations far to the south in Lokichar and has learned from them about our emphasis on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lutheran Church is already gaining recognition in the community and we have only just arrived - God prepares the hearts of His people!
Today (Wednesday) we will visit two different locations here in Lodwar where the congressman is offering us land. The congressman is also giving us free use of one of his cars if we put some gas in it. It's not only an election year (to which some would attribute the congressman's generosity and support) but this congressman is locally known as "The Missionary" because of his work before being elected.  Some things are universal - I'm talking about the amazing transforming love of Jesus Christ who makes even politicians NOT NORMAL as my dear friend Gary Thies would say. We'll spend the balance of the day in visits to the area chief and elders who are part of the land allocation process. Next week, after we have agreed on the site, the congressman himself will come to Lodwar and the General Secretary will return so the congressman, area chief, land officials, and community elders can go to the site and gather the local community to make the public announcement of the land allocation. This public gathering and conversation will take all day and ensures that the community feels involved in the process and feels informed and supported. 
General Secretary Rev. Benjamin Lemosi, Rev. Joseph, James, and Rev. Daniel Mutai meet at Ceamo Prestige Hotel in LodwarPray for us as we visit and see the people who live near the two plots being offered!

 

Tuesday
Apr122016

Lodwar Mission Station - Land

Rev. Mutai waits for the taxi in Shauen's office.In a few hours, I will be traveling by small plane to Lodwar along with Rev. Daniel Mutai who is sitting right across from me here in my office (see picture) as we wait for our taxi to the airport. Rev. Daniel is the local missionary who is assigned to the Lodwar Mission Station and is currently making trips to the area every few months to minister to the congregations in the refugee camp and those about 6 hours south of Lodwar. Rev. Daniel will stay in the area for just over two weeks this time making visits and surveying the people of the area.
Also accompanying us will be Rev. Benjamin Lemosi, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. Rev. Benjamin and I will only be in Lodwar for two days with a very specific task. We are meeting with the personal assistant of the local minister of parliament (congressman) who is ready to identify the piece of land he is allocating to the church at no cost. We’ll meet with him, visit the land, survey the area, and likely also visit with local chief(s) or elders.  The intent is that by the end of the next two days we’ll know which land is set aside for the Lodwar Mission Station and have the process of obtaining the official letter of allocation from the government (which stands in lieu of a title deed in these kinds of areas). 
In the next two weeks, after Rev. Benjamin and I return to Nairobi, our Volunteer Coordinator, Shara Cunningham, will visit the site to begin preparations for an LCMS Mercy Medical Team - a traveling medical clinic - which will be held on the site in June. This way we can immediately show that the church is serious about the business of being the church in this place and show the congressman, area chief, and elders that they will be recognized for allowing the church to receive land here. It is my hope that the local Lutheran Hour Ministries project will also accompany Shara since they play an important part in evangelism during our Mercy Medical Team clinics. If all has gone well, we will already or almost already be starting the construction of the Mission Station by June! 
Please pray for us as we visit with the area chief and local government representatives about the land - that they may give us a favorable and pleasant place where God has prepared the hearts of His people to hear the clear Gospel message of Jesus Christ’s amazing work for us. Happy Easter! He is risen!!!
Monday
Apr112016

Tweet

Josiah asked if he cld do more chores in exchange for money. He wants to save up 700Shillings ($7) for "good cereal" (which is $7-$8 a box)!

Further explanation: Apparently Josiah found his wallet and counted what he had - 270 Shillings - which isn't enough for Fruit Loops or Frosted Flakes unless you go for the brands that taste like stale cardboard. We can get Kellogs and other "American" cereal (what Josiah rightly refers to as "good cereal") in Nairobi from time to time. Prices for actual American cereal (which is usually from the UK) range from $7 a box to $9 a box. We have JUST started getting Malt-o-Meal boxes here at significants savings ($5-$6 a box)! Believe it or not, I actually bring cereal from the United States when I travel for work and we save it for a special occasion! "It's our anniversary! Let's have Honey Bunches of Oats for our special dinner!"

Saturday
Apr022016

Lions Are Wandering Out of Parks and Into Cities

You might think this article by National Geographic which was published on April 1st is an April Fool's Joke, but it's not. We live about one mile from the Nairobi National Park which is a 45 square mile wilderness area that is currently home to about 35 lions. They do, of course, wander...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160401-Kenya-lions-leaving-Nairobi-National-park-conflict/

 

Tuesday
Mar292016

Tweet

"I’m looking for my new, orange sandals. They don’t appear anywhere for me these days." -Josiah, age 6

Tuesday
Mar292016

Tweet

Today's Swahili Proverb (I'm at language school): "A fish can be bent while it is still fresh." (You can't teach an old dog new tricks)

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 24 Next 20 Entries »