Cindy and the Rev. Sam Wolff have recently retired from 32 years as ELCA missionaries. They served in Tanzania, Germany and twice in Kenya, where they most recently were in parish ministry in Nairobi. They recently talked about their lives as missionaries and what the experience has meant to them. To watch the video, click here. Thank you for supporting Cindy and Sam. To support another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go here.
Hand in Hand Global Mission Support Blog Digest
This "blog digest" is brought to you by the ELCA Global Mission Support team. Here you will find posts and re-posts by ELCA missionaries, ELCA Global Mission churchwide staff, and other friends.
Barbara Robertson recently explained some of the work she does as an ELCA missionary in Tanzania. Much, but certainly not all, of that work is educating people about preventing AIDS. To support Barbara, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
I have lived and worked in Tanzania since 1999. I am at my second work station (Morogoro) and have been here since 2006. These 6½ years have flown by rather quickly.
My official position is HIV and AIDS program officer and I am based at the diocese’s headquarters in Morogoro. Our diocese’s primary HIV focus is prevention through education. I am a department of one and work in cooperation with other members of the diocese — pastors, parish workers, evangelists, etc. Over these past six years, we have educated hundreds and hundreds of people. (Actually, in truth, thousands and thousands have been educated, but I’m not very good at blowing my own horn.)
In the earlier years, the main topic was how one was infected and the way the virus worked. Caring for the sick was always included, as those caring for infected people were scared to death they would be infected. For the first three years, my work focused on educating women, as they are the most infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
In the past 2½ years, we have shifted our focus to youth and young adults. It has been very rewarding work. And I have seen a change in attitude over the years. One of the most apparent is the change of attitude in the area of testing. Far more people know their HIV status now than even five years ago. And young adults are much more willing to know their status.
In Tanzania, HIV is a very cross-cutting issue. One can do just about anything and it touches on the topic of HIV. Knowing that, you will not be surprised then that I have also done a lot of work with one of my colleagues in advocating for the end of female genital mutilation and cutting. There are a number of ethnic groups in the area that still practice this ritual.
Grace and peace be with you!
Nancy Stevenson has concluded her service in Tanzania as an ELCA missionary. While in Tanzania, she taught English and communication skills at Makumira University College, a school of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. She recently reflected on her service in Tanzania, which began in 1979. To watch the video, click here. Thank you for supporting Nancy’s ministry. To support another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go here.
In the summer of 2011, Megan Nuehring, a Wartburg College student, visited ELCA missionaries Steve and Bethany Friberg in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania. To support the Fribergs or any of the other nearly 230 ELCA missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
This past summer I embarked on a journey of a lifetime. This journey led me to Tanzania, where I, along with members of my family and ELCA congregation, joined in to help and support the mission of ELCA missionaries Steve and Bethany Friberg. Being with them for a period of time allowed me to see how they are truly the hands and feet of Christ.
We were able to experience two parts of their ministry, women and medicine.
I was most impacted by the people of Tanzania — specifically the women’s bead project. Bethany started a program that empowers the women in Tanzania — bringing them together. The women make things like necklaces, bracelets, animals and more out of beads. This opportunity has helped the woman raise money and support each other. The community and the love for one another in this village were incredibly powerful and inspiring.
This love was, in part, because of the work of Steve and Bethany. Being able to join with and witness the amazing work of missionaries has offered me a time of reflection and cultural immersion. The work of the almost 230 ELCA missionaries around the world is possible because of the support from people like you. ELCA missionaries are truly the hands and feet of Christ.
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig served in Tanzania from 2004 to 2011, though they both had lived there when they were younger. Kristopher is a palliative care/hospice physician by training and Rebecca is a nurse. They both worked with a palliative care home-health team out of Selian Lutheran Hospital, helping terminally ill people with control of their symptoms, emotional and family support, and spiritual care.
To support any of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Steven and Bethany Friberg are ELCA missionaries in Tanzania. Steven is a physician. They have helped establish rural clinics for the Maasai. Bethany also works with Maasai women in their income-generating projects, which mostly involve beadwork. To support the Fribergs, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Sixty Maasai women in northern Tanzania have a goal — that each one will build a two-room permanent home with a roof of corrugated metal roofing sheets, called “bati” in Swahili. These would replace primitive, thatched-roof huts. Building houses has traditionally been women’s work so this idea came naturally when a supply of beads was donated to Naapok Project. By making and selling extra bracelets, the women have money to put aside for bati and trusses.
With the help of family and friends, the walls are made of termite-resistant cedar poles, horizontal branches, small stones and plaster of ash, dirt, sand and manure. Once the roof is on, the local evangelist is called to dedicate and bless the home.
So far 15 houses have been built. Many of you have been crucial in the process of turning bracelets into bati.
Thank you for buying bracelets!
Mike Amstutz and his mother are both teachers and collectors. Some of their collections include over 500 nativities, 700 Madonnas, nearly 500 crosses, and a combined collection of 400 recipe boxes. Pieces from their recipe box collection date back to 1938 and come from around the world. As Mike approached retirement from teaching after 35 years, his wife proposed a project. She suggested that Mike and his mother put together a book showcasing their varied collection of recipe boxes, since there was no pictorial guide or price list anywhere. Mike agreed. As a labor of love they published a brief history and guide to this “sleeper niche” of collectibles. The book includes over 200 pictures of boxes from their combined collections. Much like the people who have shared recipes and food from these boxes, they wanted to give the profits of their book to help others.
Nancy Stevenson is a missionary working in Tanzania, she also happens to be Mike’s cousin. It was decided that the profits from their book would go to Nancy and the work she has done at Makumira Theological Seminary for nearly 30 years. As Mike says, “We are truly a global community and this is just a small way in which we can reach out and share our blessings with others.”
If you are interested in purchasing the book “Collectible Recipe Tins and Boxes” for $20, please e-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELCA missionary Nancy Stevenson teaches communications skills and study methods to first-year theology, education and music students at Makumira University College, a school of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. To support Nancy, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig, ELCA missionaries, work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania by developing hospice and palliative care teams throughout the country. They will be concluding this service in July. To support the Hartwigs, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Dear friends in Christ,
Please find our letter for this month below.
Rebecca wrote a piece of music of this title, and it somehow expresses our feelings of transition. Looking ahead, there are a host of new possibilities, which we trust in God to be made good, even as we have anxieties and uncertainties. Looking behind, there is gratitude, some sense of relief and more gratitude. It is never easy to leave community and friends, yet now we must.
Crossing over, in Biblical language this mostly refers to the Jordan River. The Israelites could not enter the Promised Land until they had crossed over that river. That a whole generation was denied the crossing (Moses et al), and that Joshua’s leading of the next generation across the river was just as miraculous as crossing the Red Sea, are signs and warnings and wonders in the history of our faith.
In hospice work, crossing over often refers to the passage from life to death. It is a way of expressing that special time as a process, somehow analogous to childbirth in being fraught with anxiety but, inevitably, something which must come. There is mystery here, as we have had cause to contemplate with close proximity to such recent crossings.
Interestingly, in the New Testament the one reference to “crossing over” that I could find was from John 5:24, referring to exactly the reverse of the hospice meaning: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
We depart from the continent July 17, a day after Nathan’s high school graduation, then rushing to Anchorage for Kirsten’s marriage to Ray. From Aug. 1, we will be based at the ELCA Missionary Apartments in St. Paul, Minn. Over the subsequent several months we will look forward to seeing many of you, sharing our stories and the different ways in which all of us have crossed over. Please pray for us that our crossing might be filled with grace, that we might be gracious within the process and eager for the new promises, yet unseen, that lie ahead. And may we never forget the life to which we have come, in Christ, which is, in a mysterious way, our Promised Land.
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig are ELCA missionaries serving in Tanzania. They relay news of finally having access to morphine to help cancer patients:
My colleague, Dr. Paul Mmbando, called it a “morphine boom.”
Since working in Tanzania from 2004, our steady work and advocacy to gain access to oral morphine as a key drug to treat cancer pain has failed to get even one of our rural Lutheran sites to access it.
In late January that all changed. The director of Matema Lutheran Hospital, Dr. Joseph Mwakilulele, called us *to announce that he had just left the capital city with a supply of oral morphine. We were thrilled! It was a huge effort on his part, and seemed to give us a certain window of opportunity.
A carefully worded email from Paul, showering appreciation here and there, got us more response than we had even hoped for. By the next week, the director of the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) was asking for details on what the barriers were to oral morphine in the rural areas. He then requested that Paul and another colleague come to his office with any other applications for morphine that could be mustered.
Miraculously, within three days there were 12 further applications with the requisite photos and signatures, scanned to our emails and presented to the TFDA. By last week, 13 hospitals were given certificates of permission to stock this drug!
In the world of hospice this is a memorable breakthrough. That it would happen with such a collective team effort of Tanzanian professionals is very, impressive. My role as a part of that team, even in the background, is one I treasure greatly.
Speaking of treasures, it is another reminder of a rich verse from Isaiah, 45:3: “I will give you treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
For people suffering great pain, relief from that pain is something that is in a secret and inaccessible place for too many people in this world. That there is the prospect of pain relief, and that it might come in such a way that those same people would indeed know the Lord God, who calls them by name, well, that is a true gift of mercy.
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig
Josh and Sue Magyar recently attended and photographed a funeral in Tanzania, where they are serving as ELCA missionaries. Here are some of their impressions:
As far as I know, it is uncommon in the United States to photograph a funeral. While a few shots of family and friends (the reunion aspect of the funeral) might be discreetly taken at the reception, I am fairly sure it is generally not appreciated to have photographers taking invasive pictures during the funeral procession and ceremony. Yet, continually we are reminded here in Tanzania that cultural stigmas are not universal. What is expected to happen (or to not happen) in various social settings is frequently quite different as one crosses into a different culture.
This has led to many awkward-feeling and sometimes humorous experiences for us as we cannot help but base what is “normal” on the norms of our home culture. Yet, we have learned to take care to listen, to ask many questions and to trust our new Tanzanian friends to tell us what is appropriate… as not to offend.
So, when we were recently asked by a colleague of mine, who is also a Lutheran pastor, to do just that—to photograph the funeral of his sister, we reluctantly accepted. In retrospect, no one seemed to mind in the slightest. Another Tanzanian pastor who was attending the funeral helped us, taking up one of our cameras to get some really close shots (I guess we were too shy). What we came away with was the documentation of a Christian funeral in an authentic Tanzanian village. It is our hope that, using this funeral as a lens, you might be able to see and appreciate the beauty of the Tanzanian culture.
Too see all of the photos taken at the funeral, go to Josh and Sue’s blog at joshandsue.blogspot.com.