The Rev. Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Linguere, Senegal, serving in parish ministry and education. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
As ELCA missionaries, we are sometimes called upon to accompany ELCA-related programs that aren’t necessarily part of our “central call.” This time, ELCA’s International Disaster Response is at work on “our turf.” As many of you are aware, the lack of adequate rains during last year’s rainy season (July-September) has led to a crisis situation throughout the region with food supplies diminishing for many households. Getting adequate feed for livestock has been a worry for many as well, especially for those who have benefited from the EELS/Senegal Lutheran Development Services (SLDS) dairy crossbreeding program.
The SLDS leaders have proactively set up a food/feed distribution project funded by ELCA International Disaster Response. They are doing a wonderful job, but although 1,000 families are being aided in the period before this year’s harvest, there are another 30 to 50 people who arrive daily at Mariam’s (Primary Health Care) and Soulé’s offices and homes asking to be added to the program. Please keep them, and all of the people who are receiving a distribution of hope, in your prayers.
It is a joy for us to see ELCA dollars at work in such a wonderful, culturally appropriate way. We are so grateful to be a part of this particular expression of the Body of Christ!
On another topic, the past several days have been very challenging for us as we have shared with local colleagues, friends and the Linguere Parish of the Lutheran Church of Senegal our decision to end service in Senegal next February. This has been a long process, but we are at peace with our decision to move on to new callings with the probability that we’ll be on the same continent as our children’s grandparents!
Though it isn’t time to say “goodbye” yet, we have already begun the process as we announce our departure. Through the tears, Sarah realized with joy that this painful process is to be lived with thanksgiving, because if it weren’t such a wonderful time of our lives, it wouldn’t be so hard to leave!
Please pray for us, the Linguere Parish and our friends and colleagues during this time of leave-taking and transition.