“Let the little children come to Me”

January 22, 2010

by Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC Mission Executive

On January 20 we visited the communities of Maranonal, La Caronera and Gracias a Dios, where missionary Maximo and his wife, Deaconess Juri carry on the mission. It has been a blessing to witness the dedication of the deaconesses in the Lutheran education program of our church in Nicaragua. It is now the summer break for school children and the deaconesses are making the best of a little more vacation time to involve children in Bible stories, teaching and learning activities.

There is a powerful message for us as it relates to the twin sisters – Christian mission and education. These children are receiving the valuable treasures of eternal salvation on a regular basis as the Holy Spirit instills in their hearts the love of Jesus for them. As we read in Proverbs 22:6: “Teach the child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” We thank and praise our Lord for such a blessed effort done on behalf of the mission education in Nicaragua.

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Convention service webcast from Nicaragua

January 22, 2010

Plans are in place to webcast the closing service of the first regular convention of ILSN from the Martin Luther Chapel at LCC’s Mission Centre in Chinandega. The service is scheduled for Sunday, January 24 beginning at 11 a.m. CT and will be recorded. Internet service can be unreliable from Nicaragua, so please be patient. Watch the service at www.lutheranchurch.ca/video


At the end of the Global Encounter

January 21, 2010

by Ian Adnams

For the past two days we have been in Geneva meeting with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches. Although Lutheran Church-Canada is not a member of either organization, the presenters brought context to much of the work we saw in Palestine.

We also met with the general secretary of ACTalliance through which CLWR is working in Haiti. The report on that meeting is at www.lccinfodigest.ca.

Throughout this Global Encounter, I have been able to coordinate the news releases to LCC and the national media using my Blackberry. With the time difference, I could be travelling on a bus to a location reading e-mails and working with stories that would appear the next day.
Wireless connectivity is a blessing in times of crisis. The downside is having less time to reflect on immediate experiences because one is also dealing with a different kind of reality half-way around the world.

I hope my reports from Israel and Palestine have shed some new light on the situation there. I know I will bring a broader understanding to the news from the Middle East as we continue to pray for peace.


Visiting churches; meeting Canadians

January 21, 2010

by President Robert Bugbee

I write this on a warm Thursday morning from Chinandega. We spent our first two full days in Nicaragua driving extensively from far in the south (Rivas) near the border to Costa Rica, and then found our way back to Chinandega, fairly far north on the way to Honduras.

Streets are far more alive than in Canada. People are out in large numbers on bicycles, horses, and little taxis that look more like glorified golf carts. They are also there as pedestrians, day and night, which makes driving rather stressful, because there are no broad shoulders near the road, and the driver always has to be alert to make sure to avoid them, especially in the dark.

We visited three isolated congregations during Wednesday’s travels. They meet in very simple chapels constructed from cement blocks. One of them, called “Cristo Rey” (Christ the King) was only accesible by driving on a road which is really a river bed, but which is open to traffic because this is the dry season and there is no water in it!

We were gladdened to meat a team from Epiphany Lutheran Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario, which has taken a “working holiday” to assist with construction on Christo Rey Church. Nearby stands the peasant home where meetings are currently held until the church is ready for occupancy. Impressive work is done in many of these places with school children, who attend public school for half-days, and then come five days a week to Christian instruction in our congregations. I’ll tell more about this later.

Rice, beans, shredded beef or chicken and plaintain chips form the backbone of daily meals. The food is straightforward, sensible, and tastes good. We’re being very kindly hosted. These are busy days as everyone here at the mission centre prepares for the opening of the Nicaraguan synod convention this Saturday and Sunday. So I’ll have to close it off for now. God bless all who read these lines, and who are carrying Dr. Neitzel and me in their prayers.


“Mas alegria en el cielo…” (“More joy in heaven…”).

January 21, 2010

by Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC mission executive

It has been a real joy and blessing to visit the LCC mission fields in Nicaragua with Dr. Ralph Mayan and President Robert Bugbee.

The first day of visit among several activities we joined Missionary Rufino at a mission site in Rivas he has just started. There were about 40 people in the front yard of a house on a street corner. The pastor’s reading was from the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 15. As he was reading and sharing about the text the phrase “there is more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents…” was very touching as the message of the Gospel was being proclaimed.

Try to figure it out! It is impressive, amazing, almost indescribable – the only thing that makes it clear to us is the grace of God shining powerfully through His Son Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. There is joy in heaven and there is joy in the mission fields right now as the message of salvation is being proclaimed joyfully by our missionaries, in faithfulness and commitment and as people are gathered by the Holy Spirit in worshipping Lutheran communities.

We thank and praise the Lord for the seed of His Word which is being sown and for the response He’s raising in peoples’ lives.


LCC executives arrive in Nicaragua

January 19, 2010

by President Robert Bugbee

Friends,

I write these lines on a bright and warm Tuesday morning from Managua, capital city of Nicaragua. Leonardo Neitzel and I arrived here last night after flights from Winnipeg, Chicago and Miami.

It was already dark, and now the morning light shows me I am totally surrounded by palm trees! We have stayed at a very comfortable hotel across from the international airport. Because it is warm, the rooms are really just cottages lined up along “corridors” which are outdoor walkways. Two little cats play together just outside my door.

This morning we will be picked up and taken to the mission centre at Chinandega, several hours west of here. Then we will begin seeing the work of our church “up close”. We will try to write later, but for now, please hold these ten days in your prayers. It is a glad blessing to be “on the ground” in Nicaragua, and to look forward to the encouragement that always comes from seeing how the Word of Christ comes alive!

Robert Bugbee, President


Time in Cambodia

January 17, 2010

by Dr. Edward Kettner

On Friday afternoon, January 8, the group flew from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Siem Reap is the site of the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.  The earliest of these temples were built in the 12th century, during the time Hinduism was the chief religion of Cambodia.  The temples reflect the stories in the Hindu writing known as the Ramayana.  We spent Saturday touring the various temple sites, going from one to another by tuktuk, looking at the unusual buildings and carvings.  This tour helped us to increase our understanding of the religious background of the region, though the current predominant religion in Cambodia is Buddhism.

On Sunday we went by bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, a journey of about six hours.  On Sunday evening we attending worship at a local congregation, with the service being led by an LCMS missionary       stationed in Cambodia, and with Dr. Harms preaching the sermon.  On Monday morning we took a van to a village about 80 kilometers outside of Phom Penh, where we met members of the congregation, particularly the children of the congregation, along with the pastor and deaconess who serve them. The children of the community greeted us with a short play, acting out the story of the Good Samaritan for us.  We were told that because Christianity has come to this village the incidence of alcoholism and domestic violence is far less than it is in other villages.  Though there is a strict male-female hierarchy in the society, it is the women who are strongest in their gospel proclamation.  The deaconesses bring the faith to the women in the villages, and by their influence their husbands also come to know Christ.  In this particular village the pastor has moved to a Lutheran understanding of the faith because of the work of the deaconesses.  Pictures attached show the students in dialogue with the people of the village, and the Pastor, his wife, his daughter, and others.

Seminary classes began Monday afternoon, taking place at a guest house near the Phnom Penh airport.  The class contains both pastors and deaconesses, who are all eager learners.  Once again, the Edmonton students each took part in leading one of the class sessions.  They find in a challenge to work through a translator and to make sure that what they teach can be understood by those coming from a Cambodian culture.  When the class as part of their devotions one day sang “Jesus Loves Me” in the Khmer language, it really brought home the fact that the good news of Jesus is meant for people of all nations.  Attached pictures show some of the deaconesses in classes, students teaching the class, and the entire class along with the Edmonton students.

During the week, the students also had the opportunity to to visit the infamous “Killing Fields,” where many people had been put to death by the followers of Pol Pot, who had attempted to reinstate a completely rural agrarian society in Cambodia through the “re-education” and murder of anyone deemed to be an “intellectual.”  This sobering experience showed them the depths of human corruption that Christ came to redeem us from.  They also visited the church at the city dump, again seeing how people in terrible poverty are nevertheless able to worship God with dignity.


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