Giving thanks: Kathryn Lawler and David Wunsch

Posted on November 26, 2009 by

This is the next in a series of “Give thanks!” moments offered by ELCA missionaries and sponsors. Learn more about Operation Thanks-Giving at –Pr. Twila Schock.

Kathryn Lawler and David Wunsch write, Our Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program in Argentina and Uruguay has the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at an ecumenical retreat center on an ecological farm in rural Uruguay.  Growing up in a northern climate, I always associated Thanksgiving with the end-of-harvest cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and prosperity.  Here Thanksgiving comes in late Spring and at a time, just three months into the YAGM volunteers’ year of service, when they are grappling with themes of abundance and scarcity.  During our Thanksgiving time together we often reflect with new eyes on the abundance that we could not see when we were in the midst of it.  We also reflect on the abundance in the midst of scarcity that we experience in our new host communities.  In addition to the cornucopia, our lives become enriched with new symbols of abundance, even in the midst of scarcity and poverty:  for example the abundance of hospitality you experience when you are greeted with a kiss on the cheek when you walk into a room or when the communal maté (traditional tea) gourd is passed to you, a silent gesture letting you know that you belong.”

LawlerWunschELCA missionaries Kathryn Lawler and David Wunsch serve as the ELCA’s regional representatives in South America.  The Lutheran churches of Latin America have heard the cry of the poor.   In response, they provide a holistic ministry that serves the community and blends Word and Sacrament, advocacy, and diaconal ministries in human rights, gender and economic justice, education and health.  ELCA missionaries supply ministry-building skills as requested by companion churches and grants support projects that address social and economic issues, as well as leadership development.