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.

Getting healthy for Senegal

Posted on February 26, 2013 by Hand In Hand

When parents make a decision to serve as missionaries, it becomes a family affair and the children join in the new adventure. Luke Rimmer, “almost 7,” is the son of Chad and Natalie Rimmer. He has an older brother, Paul Michael. In this entry from the Rimmer’s family blog, Luke writes about something all children love — getting shots. His parents have recently begun their work in Senegal as missionaries. To support the Rimmers, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries in the global church, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship

Luke Rimmer’s drawing of getting his vaccinations.

Luke Rimmer’s drawing of getting his vaccinations.

I’m going to tell you about one thing I have to do to get ready to go to Senegal. One of the things that I have to do is get my vaccinations. I have to get my vaccinations so that I don’t have to get different germs when I move to a different country.

To get our vaccinations, I have to take a bus to the hospital. Then you have to sign a lot of papers. Then we took a long time to talk to the doctor to see what kinds of medicines we needed. Then I sat on a bed, like a couch, and then you have to hold somebody’s hand. Then you relax. Then she puts something cold on my shoulder where I got the shot. Then it hurts just a little bit bad, but then you can’t even see it at the end. Then the doctor gave me a little Band-Aid. The doctor is always nice and calm so that you can get your vaccine very well, and so it doesn’t hurt.

Even though it hurts a little bit, I’m thankful to get it because then in Senegal, you don’t get big bad colds or things from mosquitoes. We are lucky because some other children in the world who don’t get it can get very sick. So I’m very thankful that I am in a place that has the medicine, and I can get it. It makes me very happy to get them. But it’s sad that not all the children can, so I can pray to God that all the children can get the shots, too.

 

Crucial aid in Senegal

Posted on August 14, 2012 by Hand In Hand

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.

 

The ELCA is helping provide emergency feed and food to over 1,000 families in Senegal.

The ELCA is helping provide emergency feed and food to over 1,000 families in Senegal.

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.

 

Women for Christ

Posted on July 7, 2012 by Hand In Hand

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 225 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

 

The rainy season has arrived in the Djolof! The Stadtlander girls and their friends danced in the first big rain.

I (Sarah) recently drove down to Fatick for a weekend with two other women from our parish. We attended the annual meeting of Femmes Pour Christ (Women for Christ). I was a little apprehensive about going, because the meetings happen mostly in the local languages of Serer and Wolof. In spite of getting sick the first morning, I had a great time. The meeting part wasn’t exactly fun, but hanging out with the women was fantastic.

The women who lived farther away came Friday evening, the rest showed up Saturday morning, and we all went to church together Sunday morning before lunch and departure. These women love to laugh. They were constantly singing praise songs and dancing, drumming on whatever was nearby. Both nights we sang and clapped and danced and laughed at each other until midnight, sleeping babies strapped to backs. I danced, but not very well — more reason for a good laugh.

I have to admit, “regular” Sunday church with the whole community was a bit anticlimactic after all that uninhibited celebration. What I took from the weekend was a great sense of joy. As I studied the women, it was obvious that they came from different places in life. Some of them had really nice clothes and fancy (read expensive)  hairstyles. Some of them looked like they had spent most of their life just scraping by. All of them took joy in being together and praising God. They were all very welcoming to me, and I felt privileged to be a part of the group for the weekend.

Femmes Pour Christ pools its annual dues and parish contributions to support projects and microloans that help women improve their lives. In the finance meeting, it was proposed that an enterprise be started to bring in revenue to increase the funds available for lending. I pray for continued success for this organization, and especially for continued joy in the process.

Your faithful and continuing support of our family through prayerful, financial and emotional means allows us to be in ministry. Thank you for all that you do for us!

An update from Senegal

Posted on May 22, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Linguere, Senegal, serving in parish ministry. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

 

Parishioners pose in front of a new church sign. This is a new level of “visibility” for the parish in Linguere, and we are thankful to be in a country where a minority religion can express itself without fear.

Parishioners pose in front of a new church sign. This is a new level of “visibility” for the parish in Linguere, and we are thankful to be in a country where a minority religion can express itself without fear.

The Linguere parish of the Lutheran Church of Senegal had a happy Easter, though we’re still missing the presence of our two Bible translators who are studying in Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services culminated in an Easter service with an extra car full of people from the neighboring town of Dahra. A dinner followed, to which Muslim neighbors and others connected with the church’s work were invited. Before the meal was served, evangelist Oumar Diallo shared briefly the story of Easter and what it means to us as Christians.

The Lutheran Church of Senegal does literacy work in various languages, including Pulaar. The Linguere parish has requested a Pulaar course, which is just beginning classes. The church sent literacy workers here to determine what would be necessary to begin a course. They interviewed and hired a teacher. Classes started last week, with about 10 people enrolled, mostly women. Class scheduling revolves around a woman’s workday, with the most free time between 4 and 6 p.m.

At the end of March, Dirk and two delegates from Linguere (Soule Ba and Oumar Diallo) traveled to church headquarters in Fatick to attend the annual churchwide meeting, which brings together pastors and delegates from all 13 parishes of the Lutheran Church of Senegal.

We should add that in light of current problems in neighboring countries, we are especially thankful for the recent fair, non-violent, quickly decided, democratic presidential election. We are proud of Senegal and invite your prayers for its new president, Macky Sall. Pulling Senegal out of its current economic problems will not be an easy job. We hope that President Sall will be a fair and just leader for this country.

Helping Bible translators

Posted on March 17, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Linguere, Senegal, serving in parish ministry. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

Malick Sy

Malick Sy

Samba Coulibaly

Samba Coulibaly

 

We took these photos of Samba Coulibaly and Malick Sy to help them get visas for Israel. Samba and Malick are Bible translators, currently working on translating the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, into Pulaar.

The opportunity arose for them to enter the Study Program for Translators of the Hebrew Bible at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Though it came down to the wire in getting visas approved by Israel, everything came together just in time for them to leave Senegal at the end of January. At the end of their six months (January — June), they will return with a Certificate in the Translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Though the parish (and especially Dirk as pastor) misses having these gifted translators around, we are excited that they have this opportunity for travel and study. We pray that their studies will be fruitful and allow for a wonderful, authentic and “dancing” Pulaar translation. We also pray for their families during this long absence as well as all who are surrounding their family with care and support during these months of geographical separation.

Most of the funding for these scholarships is from you through ELCA — Global Mission. Thank you!

A time for celebration and reconnection

Posted on March 6, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Linguere, Senegal, serving in parish ministry. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

The Annual Harvest Festival of the Lutheran Church of Senegal is a time of celebration.

The Annual Harvest Festival of the Lutheran Church of Senegal is a time of celebration.


In February our family attended the Lutheran Church of Senegal Annual Harvest Festival in the town of Fatick. Hundreds of members from all 13 parishes of the Lutheran Church of Senegal made their way to the Sunday morning service at a new women’s empowerment center built by the church.

Two exuberant choirs provided music for the event. In addition to a regular Sunday morning service, a special offering procession followed Holy Communion. Each parish danced its way down the center aisle to its respective pastor, carrying its annual monetary offering, as well as bags of flour or peanuts. They were followed by the pastors, lay workers and the women’s movement, Femmes Pour Christ (Women For Christ).

This year, the Linguere parish sent four of its women to the festival. (A delegation of women from Femmes Pour Christ visited Linguere in November to encourage and help the women here start their own chapter of the movement.) This trip allowed Linguere’s women to reconnect with the delegation and make their presence known in the greater church. It also gave the recently baptized Fatimata the chance to experience the larger church body and meet other Senegalese Christians outside of Linguere’s small parish.

We pray for the continued strengthening of the relationship of Linguere’s parish within the Lutheran Church of Senegal.

 

Missionaries reflecting on mission service – Peter Hanson and Sarah Grow

Posted on August 13, 2011 by Franklin Ishida

Sarah and Peter Grow-Hanson’s international service began with Peter’s seminary internship and Sarah’s volunteer service in Morogoro, Tanzania. This experience eventually led them to Senegal in 2001, where Peter was called to serve as the director of the Cultural Center Galle Nanondiral (House of Mutual Understanding), an ELCA-founded center providing a wide variety of community programs to a mostly Muslim population in Dakar. In 2008, Peter began serving directly with the Lutheran Church of Senega as theological advisor for leadership development. Sarah has served as academic coordinator for the School for International Training’s (Vermont) study abroad program in Dakar.

To support any of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

Letting the light shine in Linguere

Posted on July 12, 2011 by Hand In Hand

Dirk and Sarah Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Senegal. To support the Stadtlanders, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.

Fatimata Ba, Aminata Ba, and Dirk at the Pentecost worship. Afterwards, as  we welcomed Fatimata with song, Aminata danced with the wooden bowl,  which is a Fulani “milk pail” now being used as a baptismal font.

Fatimata Ba, Aminata Ba, and Dirk at the Pentecost worship. Afterwards, as we welcomed Fatimata with song, Aminata danced with the wooden bowl, which is a Fulani “milk pail” now being used as a baptismal font.

Easter and Pentecost celebrations have been particularly exciting this year in the Linguere parish. At Easter, four young boys were baptized during the service. Three of them were the sons of a Christian man who is part of a team translating the Hebrew Bible into Pulaar. Preparation for baptism involved an open and frank conversation between Dirk, the ELS evangelist based in Linguere, Oumar Diallo, and the boys’ mother, a practicing Muslim. She agreed to the baptism but said she wasn’t ready for her baptism because of familial pressure. The fourth boy was Oumar Diallo’s grandson, who is being raised by Oumar and his wife.

A young woman named Fatimata had shown interest in Christianity after working for a Christian couple. She came to church, Bible study and prayer regularly. Oumar Diallo led her through baptismal classes. Oumar made contact with her family, helping them understand the new faith Fatimata was living. Some of the family even came on Easter to witness the baptism service. Fatimata was baptized seven weeks later, during the Pentecost service.

It is exciting and uplifting to see the people of the Linguere parish reaching out and living as witnesses to their Muslim neighbors, friends and family. We pray that events like Fatimata’s baptism will encourage them to continue to let their light shine in Linguere. We also pray for new Christians like Fatimata, that they will be strengthened in their faith and encouraged by the community into which they have entered.

Missionary kids: Making the most of the dry season

Posted on April 16, 2011 by Hand In Hand

Sarah and Dirk Stadtlander are ELCA missionaries in Senegal.

From left to right, Tall, Ellen, Eva, Soxna, Ndeye Fal and Ramata take a break to pose in front of their garden artwork.

From left to right, Tall, Ellen, Eva, Soxna, Ndeye Fall and Ramata take a break to pose in front of their garden artwork.

“We are currently in hot season.   For us, that means dry, dust-laden winds and daily temperature highs of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit,” says ELCA missionary Sarah Stadtlander.  “It hasn’t rained since October and won’t again until mid- to late June.”

What do missionary children do during the dry season?  They beautify their yard!  Eva Stadtlander, age 7, and Ellen Stadtlander, age 3, invited their Senegalese friends to help with the project.  Their friends Soxna, Tall,  Ndeye Fall and Ramata joined them in designing and coloring an Easter-colored chalk mural for their garden wall.

“It should last until sometime in June, when the first rain falls,” says Stadtlander.

The Stadtlander family lives in northern Senegal, accompanying an emerging worship community of Fulani people, semi-nomadic shepherds and farmers.  Dirk Stadtlander serves as a pastor to this Pulaar-speaking congregation of the Lutheran Church of Senegal.  He also works with Senegalese who are translating the Old Testament into Pulaar as well as the evangelism committee of the Lutheran Church of Senegal.

To sponsor the Stadtlander family or another ELCA missionary, contact globalmissionsupport@elca.org or 800-638-3522, ext. 2657.  Give on-line at www.elca.org/4missionaries.