Stories from the Global Church

Here you will find stories from the global church by ELCA global missionaries, scholars, and churchwide staff, brought to you by the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship team.

New YAGMs to begin service in Mexico

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Andrea and the Rev. Luke Roske-Metcalfe are ELCA missionaries in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Andrea is a regional coordinator for the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program and Luke serves in parish ministry. To support Andrea and Luke, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

The new Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers in Mexico are, top row, from left: Colleen, Alicia, Casey, Blake, Aaron, Catie, Andrea, Meghan, Kristen and Sarah.

The new Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers in Mexico are, top row, from left: Colleen, Alicia, Casey, Blake, Aaron, Catie, Andrea, Meghan, Kristen and Sarah.

Andrea, Olivia and I hope this finds you well as summer quickly draws to a close. The three of us have been busy.  We remember you often for the support that you and your communities of faith have given us. In very real ways – phone calls, conversations over coffee, emails, financial gifts and prayers, you help us do our work here in Mexico, and we thank you for all your support.

In early July, Olivia finished her first year of Montessori school, where she has picked up lots of Spanish and met lots of friends.  She enjoyed it so much that we only waited a few weeks before bumping her up from three days a week to five!  She finished the regular school year and returned a week later for a two-week summer program.

In mid-July, Andrea was busy with the closing retreat for the 2011-2012 Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers. After a wonderful year of learning and growing both as a group and as individuals, she and the seven volunteers spent five days together to reflect and to celebrate.

Having said our final goodbyes to this group of volunteers, Andrea and I now eagerly await a new group of nine volunteers who are expected to arrive in late August. Needless to say, Andrea has been busy preparing for their arrival. Over the past couple months, she has been identifying and confirming work site placement and host families for the volunteers. She’s also preparing an in-country orientation that will help prepare these new volunteers for their year in Mexico.

As many of you know from previous communications, Andrea and I have decided to return to the U.S. in July of 2013, at the end of our current contract, which means that we have just under a year left in Mexico. My congregation, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd,  has decided to use this time to discern how God is calling them to live into the future. Without making any assumptions, the congregation bravely asked itself the question, “Are we sustainable?” This is clearly a challenging question, but thus far I’ve experienced Good Shepherd facing it head-on and seeking to answer it as honestly as possible.

Coming – and going – in Mexico

Posted on June 5, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Andrea and the Rev. Luke Roske-Metcalfe are ELCA missionaries in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Andrea is a regional coordinator for the Young Adults in Global Mission program and Luke serves in parish ministry. To support Andrea and Luke, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

Luke and Andrea Roske-Metcalfe

Luke and Andrea Roske-Metcalfe

Greetings to you from Cuernavaca!

The last few months have been full of travel and big decisions. Andrea was in Chicago for the annual meetings of all the country coordinators of the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program, followed by the YAGM Discernment-Interview-Placement Event in Williams Bay, Wis.  This is the time during which placements for the new YAGM candidates are assigned.  Interest in the YAGM program has never been higher – a record 111 young people applied this year.  Sixty-two (the highest number ever invited) came to the Williams Bay event, and all of them were offered a placement.  Nine volunteers will be coming to Mexico next year.  Your prayers – for their preparation, for patience as they wait to hear news of their host families and volunteer work assignments, and for the communities that currently support them and that await their arrival in August – are much appreciated.

In a similar vein, the current YAGM volunteers have just over two months before their term of service comes to an end.  It’s a difficult time, when they struggle with how to stay present and engaged with their communities here, even as they look forward with both anticipation and trepidation to what awaits them back in the U.S.  Your prayers for us during this time would also be appreciated!

We’ve discerned, as a family, that our season of serving in Mexico through Global Mission is coming to an end.  We will stay through July 2013, which is still more than a year away.  This timetable will allow Luke to accompany his congregation, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, through the process of determining their future, which may include calling a new pastor.  The congregation’s finances continue to be a constant struggle. It will also allow Andrea to accompany the next group of volunteers through their entire year of service. 

We want to communicate, very clearly, that there are no problems in our current work, nor has anything happened to make us want to leave.  We simply feel that God is calling us elsewhere.  We believe (we hope, anyway!) that we have done good work here, and that we will be able to “leave well” from our communities and our respective ministries.

We’re abundantly aware of the support that each and every one of you has provided (and continue to provide) and of the ways that that support has impacted our lives and the lives of those we accompany in this work.  Words truly cannot express the gratitude we have for what you’ve made possible.

With gratitude,

Andrea, Luke and Olivia Roske-Metcalfe

 

Young adults in service in Mexico

Posted on January 10, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program is reliant on coordinators who facilitate the young adults’ ministry and provide mentoring and spiritual guidance.  To support a YAGM coordinator,  go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship. Andrea and Luke Roske-Metcalfe are YAGM coordinators in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Here Andrea provides a snapshot of some of the young adults’ work.

Looking for a lost dog and learning responsibility.

Looking for a lost dog and learning responsibility.

During November and December, I visited all my Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers at their work sites.  Before they arrive (and even sometimes after they’ve been here for awhile), these volunteers often have very romanticized notions about what it means to be a missionary of the ELCA. This is often also true of their friends, families and supporting congregations.

We don’t tend to imagine that they spend their days carrying large quantities of condoms from place to place on the subway, or setting fires in dry, open fields or pushing wheelbarrows full of small children around the streets, shouting over and over the name of a lost dog.

But, indeed, that is what they do, at least here in Mexico. Let me explain.  Kyle works for Casa de la Sal, an HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and educational organization in Mexico City.  He spends his days giving workshops to people of all ages, dispelling myths about HIV and AIDS (both of which are much more prevalent here than they are in the U.S.), and teaching the basics of safer sex.

Ian works on Rancho La Troje, an organic farm and permaculture education center. The day I visited, he and the other farm hands were doing controlled burns to prevent wildfires from sweeping across the hillside.

And Kent works for Caminando Unidos, an alternative education center in Cuernavaca.  The center’s dog had run away the day before I visited, and the curriculum there is very hands-on.  The staff wanted to teach the children responsibility and the value of looking out for one another.  So half the school, everyone from babies to staff in their mid-20s, went on a dog-hunt!  Kent piled the four youngest in a wheelbarrow, and we were off.  We didn’t find the dog that day, but those kids took care of one another, and they took care of their dog in the only way they knew how.

These are only three of my volunteers this year, but suffice it to say that all seven of them are serving their communities in ways that they, their supporting communities, and even I could never have imagined. They are living and learning and loving alongside God’s people here.

Andrea Roske-Metcalfe

 

 

Renewing worship after 20 years

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. David and Alicia Brondos are ELCA missionaries in Mexico. David is a professor at the Theological Community of Mexico, an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City, which includes Augsburg Lutheran Seminary.  His work involves training pastors and leaders for churches throughout Mexico.  Alicia teaches English in Mexico City. To support the Brondos, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

The new liturgy includes new music.

The new liturgy includes new music.

In addition to my teaching activities at the Theological Community and Lutheran Seminary, since May I have been helping out at one of the Lutheran churches here in Mexico City, San Pedro, working with the congregation in the renewal of its worship services. One of our seminary students, Benjamín Quezada, is from San Pedro, and after taking a liturgy course with me at the seminary, Benjamín invited the liturgy class to do a special service at San Pedro in May. The congregation liked the service so well that they expressed interest in renewing their entire service, since they had been using the same liturgy for over 20 years.

Based on some of the liturgies I had helped develop at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd here in Mexico City, we developed four new liturgies for San Pedro, and the congregation has been learning them over the past five months. This has included some new texts for Confession and Absolution and for the creeds, as well as liturgical music. I have also worked with them in teaching them new hymns.

In August, they also decided to train new liturgical assistants and asked me to give a short training course over a few Sundays. Fifteen members of the congregation attended the course — the problem now is how to give all 15 a chance to assist with the liturgy!

Fortunately, the congregation already had some good musicians and a good worship team. They have worked hard together with their pastor, the Rev. Esther León, and the changes have been very well-received.

Yes, I can do this job!

Posted on October 8, 2011 by Hand In Hand

Kyle Larson is working in Mexico as an ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. He writes in this excerpt from his blog about his assignment, which is not what he had expected. To support YAGM coordinators, or any of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

In July, I got an email detailing what my job would be for the next year. As I read, I had overwhelming thoughts of whether I could actually step up to the plate and do this job. Instead of working in a school as I had planned, I was going to be working at an HIV and AIDS organization. Wow. I thought to myself, “What business do I have working with HIV/AIDS patients?”

After talking to some people at camp and my parents, I emailed  back and gave the go ahead.

The organization is called La Casa de La Sal. They are involved in all aspects of HIV and AIDS, ranging from prevention to terminal care. It’s worth checking out the website even though it’s all in Spanish. Hit up Google translate. You can at least get the just of what the organization is about.

My job is in the prevention area. I have a team of five other volunteers that I work with. We go to schools, usually in teams of two or three and do workshops — very frank and honest workshops —  about HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention.  Education like this isn’t prevalent in the school system, and without this workshop the kids would never be exposed the concepts we talk about.

I love what I’m doing and I really feel like it’s making an impact, however minimal it may be, in the community.

To read more from Kyle, go to his blog, “The Mexico Chronicle.”

Angela Trejo to lead Mexican seminary

Posted on September 17, 2011 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. David and Alicia Brondos are ELCA missionaries in Mexico. David is a professor at the Theological Community of Mexico, an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City, which includes Augsburg Lutheran Seminary.  His work involves training pastors and leaders for churches throughout Mexico.  Alicia teaches English in Mexico City. To support the Brondos, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

David Brondos and Angela Trejo

David Brondos and Angela Trejo

On August 20, at the meeting of the Board of Augsburg Lutheran Seminary where I serve as professor, the Rev. Angela Trejo was chosen to be the new coordinator for the seminary.  Angela succeeds her husband, the Rev. Dr. Moisés Pérez, who is now the dean (academic vice-rector) at the Theological Community of Mexico, the consortium of seminaries of which Augsburg Lutheran Seminary is a part. Angela is the first woman to lead  any of the seminaries that make up the Theological Community.

She was also one of the first three women ordained as pastors by the Mexican Lutheran Church in April of 2009. Following her ordination, she became co-pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Mexico City with her husband.

Among the things Angela hopes to promote as seminary coordinator is a greater participation of women in the programs and activities of the seminary and Theological Community. For example, Angela has been very active in the Mexican Lutheran Church Women’s organization and recently helped start an online magazine for Lutheran women called “Xaris” (from the Greek charis, “Grace”).

Besides continuing to do research on women in the ministry and helping teach and develop the seminary’s new online course program, Angela hopes to help the seminary become more involved in ecological issues from a theological and pastoral perspective.

Please keep Angela in your prayers as she begins her new responsibilities. I thank God for the many gifts she brings to the position and the passion she has displayed for the work of the church, especially promoting ministry by and among women.

David Brondos

Online courses to break new ground in Mexico

Posted on May 17, 2011 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. David and Alicia Brondos are ELCA missionaries in Mexico. David is a professor at the Theological Community of Mexico, an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City, which includes Augsburg Lutheran Seminary.  His work involves training pastors and leaders for churches throughout Mexico.  Alicia teaches English in Mexico City.

Alicia and David Brondos

Alicia and David Brondos

David writes:

This past January, at the request of the seminary, I was asked to develop the new online course program for the seminary and serve as its coordinator during its initial stages. This has been a tremendous challenge for me and a great learning experience, since I had never taken or even seen an online course previously. During the last four months, this has occupied a great deal of my time.

We will begin in June, offering two shorter free courses: “Introduction to the Bible” and “Martin Luther and the Reformation.” These free courses will hopefully draw a large number of students and enable people to become acquainted with the courses. For most people this is something totally new, since the area of online courses has not been developed nearly as much in Mexico as in the U.S.

Because the greatest need is for courses at the congregational level, in the initial stage of our program, our focus is on lay information. We will be recording videos for the classes, and that will be our biggest task during the month of May. One of our graduating students, Karina García, will be helping me quite a bit with the courses.

Please remember this new program in your prayers!

To learn more about David and his work, please visit his website.

New partnership in Mexico

Posted on October 9, 2009 by Timothy Fries

This message is taken from David Brondos’ most recent newsletter. He is a missionary serving as a faculty member at the El Seminario Luterano Augsburgo, or Augsburg Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Iglesia Luterana Mexicana (ILM) which is a member school of the Theological Community of Mexico.

The Theological Community of Mexico is a consortium of seminaries which will now be incorporating some new partners. One of these partners is AMEXTRA, the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation which works on projects in the areas of health and education programs, emergency relief, income generation, and care for the environment. AMEXTRA has historic ties with the Lutheran Church here in Mexico and has worked for many years with the ELCA. AMEXTRA seeks to develop partnerships with local churches in order to implement programs. According to Eugenio Araiza, the General Director of AMEXTRA, their vision is to have churches become involved in community activities aimed at holistic transformation.

AMEXTRA wanted to strengthen its biblical and theological base for its programs, while the Theological Community looks to relate Christian theology more with practical aspects of social transformation. Social issues such as poverty, injustice, violence, and discrimination must be challenged by religious communities. And the reality in which people live cannot be transformed without transforming the way they see themselves, other people, and the world around them.  From the perspective of the Theological Community, any leadership training that divorces theology from the work of transforming communities, society, and the world should be regarded as inadequate.

Through this new partnership AMEXTRA will be able to draw on the resources and network of relationships developed through the Theological Community to expand its mission of helping local church leaders acquire the vision and knowledge necessary to promote holistic transformation in their communities. At the same time, the Theological Community will gain from AMEXTRA’s resources, expertise, and network of relationships. Students at the Theological Community will have opportunities to learn more about holistic transformation and be involved in related programs. This new partnership will help the students and churches gain a new vision for integrating community service into their mission and ministry.

YAGM scales Stuff Mountain

Posted on September 4, 2009 by Hand In Hand

Kaitlin Nelson, a new ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission serving in Mexico, writes of her recent transition from college graduation to ELCA missionary in the latest edition of Cafe, Women of the ELCA’s e-newsletter.  Below, find brief excerpt from her article.   After reading the excerpt, consider these two questions (and share any thoughts they spark as a comment).
1.  When have you faced the need to “let go” to go?
2. 
After a major sort of stuff, what are you glad to have shed, grateful to have kept or sorry to have tossed?
–Sue Edison-Swift
Mountain of stuff
Since I can take very little with me, I am going to have to get rid of stuff.  Sorting through items from my apartment at college (that now line the walls of my parents’ basement), I realize that the objects are valuable because of the memories they bring. They are reminders of gifts received from family and friends, quirky purchases, and hand-me-downs.  The items that I have to donate will go into one bin, things that will be discarded will go into another, and those that I will save are going into a third container.  Even though I will not bring this collection of stuff along, it has been a part of me and discarding it is not easy.
 As I wrestle with questions about what it means to be transformed by the new realities I will face, I trust that my faith journey could not be whole without doing this.  –Kaitlin Nelson

Influenza doesn’t stop ordination celebration in Mexico

Posted on May 6, 2009 by admin

ordination-765153Thanks to the Rev. David Brandos, ELCA missionary in Mexico, for sharing this update.

During the past couple of weeks we here in Mexico have been living with the restrictions established by the Mexican government over the influenza outbreak. We were caught by surprise on Thursday night, April 23, when we learned that classes at all levels would be cancelled on the following day because of concerns about so-called “swine flu.”

We had big plans for Saturday, April 25, since the first three woman graduates of our Lutheran Seminary were going to be ordained together in a special service here at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd as the first Lutheran woman pastors in Mexico. Because of the flu situation, there were questions as to whether to proceed or not, but we did. The attendance was much lower than we originally expected, since the government was heavily discouraging any type of large public gathering like a church service. You can see in the photo of the ordination how a number of people were wearing surgical masks.

After almost two weeks of no school, no religious services, no restaurant service, and no other activities involving large numbers of people, things are now returning to normal. However, what has been most difficult for the majority of people is not so much dealing with health issues but with the disastrous effects that all of this has had on the Mexican economy. Many people here have been without work. Foreigners are now afraid to come to Mexico or to have any contact at all with Mexicans, even when they are perfectly healthy. For a good article on these problems, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8035802.stm

Please continue to remember all of us in your prayers, including especially those who have been hit hardest by this crisis.

David Brondos, ELCA Missionary in Mexico