Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mission Director Traveling to Mexico

Dear Friends,

clip_image001In the past you have offered to pray for me as I travel for missions. I will be traveling to Mexico the first of this week and would ask that you pray for me again.

As many of you know I have felt a sense of spiritual oppression as I travel usually seen in physical illness.  Closely associated with these trips I have experienced kidney stones, fractured vertebrae, dengue fever and a host of minor illnesses or injurys.  Please pray for my health.

The good news is that God has worked through each trip bringing about a greater exposure for His Gospel and a spreading of His Kingdom.

The first week I will be visiting the Schierkolks and the Giles in Jerez.  Following that I will travel to the work in Leon and Celaya.  I will be accompanying two MTI students as they travel to Jerez.  Please pray for me during this time.  In the past many of you have emailed me while I traveled to let me know you were praying.  I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated you emails.

This trip I will be using a new way of communicating with you.  I will be making regular posts to the AFLC World Missions Facebook.  You can access it at anytime even if you don’t use Facebook by clicking on the button below.  If you have a Facebook account you can become a fan from that page and  my prayer requests will automatically show up on your page.

Del Palmer,  AFLC World Missions Director


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haiti – World Relief

World Relief Haiti

Dear Association of Free Lutheran Congregation Members,

"Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." - 2 Corinthians 8:2

The Global Church is welling up in rich generosity - often out of extreme poverty - on behalf of those suffering after the earthquake in Haiti.

A church of recently arrived Burmese refugees in High Point, North Carolina took up a special offering for the people of Haiti.  The congregation - often struggling to meet their own personal and church budgets - presented a check to World Relief's Affiliate Director for more than $500.

In Cambodia, a country where most people live on less than $2 a day, one cell church was touched by the suffering in Haiti and took up a special collection for the people there.

As churches from around the world stand with Haiti, they empower the Haitian Church to serve the most vulnerable.

The Haitian Church

Pastor Jean Bathard Anthony, whose church has partnered with World Relief for years to combat HIV/AIDS, stepped out in faith after the earthquake to feed his community with the little food and water he had.

World Relief came alongside Pastor Anthony with additional supplies to continue serving both the congregation and the surrounding community - nearly 6,000 people in all - taking refuge at the church.

There are many churches in Haiti like Pastor Anthony's - churches that have been ministering for years in the face of complex issues such as HIV/AIDS.  In the midst of their own pain, they now minister to others suffering from the earthquake.

As one Haitian pastor observed, "When you provide for someone it will touch their heart.  Then they will see the love of God in you."

In response to this great love, Haitians living in dire conditions are singing "Hallelujah!  The battle belongs to the Lord."  Read more about why the people of Haiti are singing praises to the Maker of heaven and earth.

The Impact

  • In partnership with a network of local churches, World Relief is serving nearly 10,000 people daily with food and water.  There are plans to launch additional feeding centers in hard hit and underserved areas.
  • In the first two weeks after the quake, World Relief and Medical Teams International worked to ensure hundreds of patients were served by doctors who set bones, cleaned wounds and performed surgeries at King's Hospital.
  • World Relief sent a plane full of medical supplies and equipment to serve urgent needs.

Drilling has begun at King's Hospital to install the first of six submersible pumps provided by World Relief - each one is able to pump 12 gallons of water a minute.  

Throughout America - even in the face of the most serious economic downturn since the recession - churches have given generously and sacrificially.  Thank you for sharing the love of Christ with Haiti.  Thank you for being the Church.

Craig Pixley

Senior Church Engagement Director

(952) 956-2678


Please join the Church around the world in praying for Haiti every Tuesday at 4:53 PM -the moment when the earthquake struck on January 12th.
Click here for praises and prayer requests.
Sign up to receive Haiti prayer updates from World Relief every Tuesday afternoon.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

AFLBS – Ministry Training Students Commissioned


The 2009-2010 MTI students were commissioned on Thursday, January 28.  They will be going out to minister until May.  They have been assigned to the following places.

Mexico: Hannah Swansen, Amanda Bellefy

Alaska: Jacob O’Flannagan, Jordan Rumohr

Arizona (Meza): Rachel Johnson, Abigail LaPlant

Washington (Lake Stevens): Matt Rieniets

Please pray for these students as they put their schooling into action.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

AFLBS Missions Conference

Jeff Swanson The AFLC schools are hosting their annual mission conference January 24-26, 28. Our feature speaker for the event is Rev. Jeff Swanson from Naknek, Alaska. Pastor Swanson has been speaking on Jonah. The conference is having a special mission focus for each night with guest presenters. The “mission focus” starts at 6:30pm ...and will be followed by the regular service at 7:30pm.

You can watch the messages by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chmiel’s in Ukraine

Welcome to the new year 2010.  We started our new year with the visit of Pastor Alexander Gross, a pastor from the Odesa region who is also responsible for youth ministry in the whole German Lutheran denomination (DELKU) in Ukraine. Pastor Gross came to Lviv with his family — his wife and two daughters. We spent time discussing ministry, planning year 2010 and also in fellowship. On January 6th we celebrated Ukrainian Christmas together.
clip_image001In this picture you see us tasting kutia three times (Ukrainian tradition)

Kutia is a typical Ukrainian Christmas food. Kutia is often the first dish in the traditional twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper (we did not make twelve dishes with the Gross’s).

clip_image002It is rarely served at other times of the year but everybody is making it for Christmas. Kutia is sweet -- traditionally made of wheat berries, honey, various nuts, raisins, milk  or cream, etc.

clip_image003Anna-Maria is wishing you a Merry Christmas, which in Ukrainian literally says “With the Birth of Christ”

One of our greatest joys this year is seeing our students growing in the Lord. It’s hard to describe in words. We wish you too could experience it with us. But one of the areas where we see a huge change is prayer. When we first started working with this group (September 2008) it was hard to even have a student pray. When I would give the opportunity for anyone to pray, everybody was usually just quiet and then in the end I prayed. Or when I asked someone to pray, they all usually said something like, “Thank you God for bringing us here, let us learn something, bring more people next time.” How different it was this year when we spoke about the three magi and their gifts and about how we should be living our lives for God. After that we stood in a circle for our prayer time and all students except for one prayed out loud. And how different their prayers were compared to how they used to be about a year and a half ago!!! The students prayed that God would use them to tell others about Him, one of the boys prayed that he would not be doing what he wants but what God wants, one of the little girls thanked God for making her His child... Yes, we are working with teenagers and their spiritual lives and behavior have their ups and downs (as ours do too) but listening to them pray like this brings tears of joy! We love these students and our prayer for them is the same as we pray for our little Hannah -- above everything else we would like to see them become adults who love God with all their hearts, who serve Him in any way possible, who make life choices that honor Him, who find spouses and raise children in a way that brings glory to their Savior... Oh, what a joy it would be to watch that happen!

One of our students who seems to be the most responsive is Kostya (picture below). You remember Kostya, right? He is the boy who was trying to get into the art college in the summer and many of you were praying for him. Many of you wrote your prayers and you were praying clip_image006not that he would make it into that college, but that God’s will would be done in his life and that Kostya would grow in getting to know God more. We believe your prayers are being answered. It is again hard to describe in words what we see in Kostya but we were for example really excited about how he lead devotions for our youth group recently. Or after my challenging the students to be bolder about their faith, he listed the Bible among his favorite books on his Facebook. Those might seem like little things, but we rejoice over each of them as we know it’s God working in the lives of these students!

Recently there have also been some new opportunities for ministry. We would very much appreciate your prayers for these areas:
1) Pastor Bendus asked me to be in charge of confirmation preparation this year. In the past I was in charge of the Sunday service for youth and children and the teaching for the Youth Bible Study during the week while Pastor Bendus still taught the confirmation class. Now he wants me to also do the confirmation preparation with those who should be confirmed soon. I will also be working with some of the students who will soon be 18 years old and will be preparing to become voting members of the congregation (here you do not become a voting church member through confirmation but only after you are 18 and you apply for membership).
2) We are preparing for a Day camp here in Lviv in July (July 19-23). There will be an AFLC Student missions team coming to help with the camp. We are praying that it would be a good outreach opportunity as well as a time for our church youth and children to grow. Since I do not have any teammates or volunteers to help with all the preparations, I talked to the youth a while ago and told them that we can either do the camp, in which case I will need THEIR help, or we can cancel the camp. They decided to have the camp but so far it feels like I am spending more time reminding them of what they should be doing than I would spend if I did those things myself. People not being very dependable has always been a problem in our youth group (and church) but I wanted to give our students a chance to take ownership of this camp (plus I need their help). So please pray that God would watch over the preparations. You can also pray for the US students that God would call those He wants in Ukraine this summer.
3) As we told you in our December update, we did a collection for two blind orphans who go to a Boarding School for the Blind here in Lviv. The thought behind this project was mainly to help our youth learn not only to receive but also to give. But when we visited the school last week it now looks like the door is wide open to a lot more ministry than just the Christmas gifts. The teachers were saying that if we have for example a program, we are welcome to come share it with the students, etc. Right now it seems impossible for me to take up another ministry when I am already in need of a helper. But at the same time it’s hard for me to see all these students who could hear the Gospel and not doing anything about it. So please pray that God would guide us in this.
In the picture you see some of our youth group students trying to read a history textbook written in Braille (Braille is a series of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or whose eyesight is not sufficient for reading printed material).

clip_image007As we have shared above, God has recently blessed us with a lot of joy in our ministry. But there has also been some hard and sad things going on. A boy from our church, who has always been a little bit of a troublemaker, has recently got a lot worse. Ever since the fall, he has been talking about bad things, including Satanism, saying that he was reading the Satanic bible, he posted the Book of Lucifer on his Facebook, etc. Things got pretty bad and I (Tomasz) had to tell him and his mother -- who studies at a theological seminary in Russia :(  -- that these are serious and dangerous things that I cannot take lightly. I told them that I still want to meet with this boy one-on-one but I do not want him coming to our youth group meetings until things change. So far there has not really been a change and he does not even want to meet with me. Please pray for this boy that God would take hold of him. And for his mom and for us... to have wisdom in a bad situation like this.

Another prayer request... You know that when we told you that our furlough was postponed we were in a way excited because it looked like we would now have some undisturbed time in Lviv with very little traveling. But our joy did not last very long. Last week we learned that Tomasz is expected to go to Odesa (12 hours on a train to get there and 12 hours to get back) almost every month this year. The thing is that Odesa is the headquarters of the German Lutheran Church in Ukraine and even though Tomasz does not have his own church, the German Lutheran church leadership requires him to go to all the Pastors’ meetings (yes, DELKU pastors from all over Ukraine travel to Odesa for their meetings). The trips to those Pastors’ meetings come on top of our traveling to some DELKU youth ministry conferences that we were already planning to go to and on top of the four border crossings, trips to Poland, that we, as foreigners, are required to make (every three months). So looking at the calendar, we are sad to see that we (or at least Tomasz) will be gone from Lviv so much this year. Right now it looks like there is nothing we can do about this but we would still very much appreciate your prayers for this area of our lives and ministry. All together it’s something like 13-15 trips away from Lviv not counting our furlough and our vacation time.

And one last prayer request... The Ukrainian Presidential Elections. The first round of the Ukrainian election, which was held on the 17th of January, was inconclusive making a runoff, scheduled for February 7th, necessary. Please pray that whoever is the winner would guide Ukraine in the right direction. If you’d like to read more, go to,_2010

Thank you SO MUCH for standing behind us in prayer!

Tomasz, Miriam and Hannah Chmiel

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nathan Olson & Jon Nelson

Nate & Jon Low Res Nathan and I are hoping everything has been going well for you in the first month of this New Year!

The latest update from our visa runner came today telling us the reason for the hold up in us getting our visas since the actual approval. Unfortunately one of our authorization letters was lost in the mail coming back from Brazil. The consulate realized the mistake and had a new one sent which arrived on this last Friday. The visa need ten business days to process and after receiving the remainder of our documentation from our visa runner, it looks as though they will be approved Monday Feb. 8th and mailed on Tuesday Feb. 9th. Please be in prayer for the situation since we have had so many difficulties.

We will certainly be keeping you all posted as we hear more information and eventually make our way to Brazil! Thank you all for your continued prayers! God Bless!

Jon Nelson and Nathan Olson

"He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you." - Deuteronomy 8:15-16

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jesse Long - Tanzania

Greetings once again from East Africa!!

TeFT group small As I write this letter, second semester here at Waama Bible School is well underway.  Since my last update, God has continued to guide and protect Ben and me.  I returned here to the school campus on the 2nd of January.  Ben returned safely from his time in the States later the following week and joined me here at Waama on the 9th.  Classes started on schedule (Tuesday, January 5th) despite the fact that only about half of the students had actually reported back by that time.

Classes have been going well, though.  This semester I am responsible to teach Minor Prophets, Evangelism, 1-3 John, and English.  Ben has an equal load with three different Bible History classes and English.

Weather wise, this year has been a year of extraordinary blessing, especially in comparison to the lack of rain we experienced last year.  In fact, the rain has been excessive in many areas (including here at Waama) to the point that the students had to spend the entire second week of this semester out in the fields trying to reduce the weeds that were threatening to overcome the corn harvest.

This work that came up for the Waama students ended up being a blessing for Ben and me since, that same week, Waama  received 10 exchange students from a Bible school in Norway.  In large part, Ben and I were responsible to host, oversee and even teach these guest students (6 boys and 4 girls) during their stay.  As you can imagine, it was very beneficial to not need to teach the Waama students that week and be able to focus all our energy on hosting.  It was a great week of blessing and both Ben and I very much enjoyed the opportunity to teach some of our favorite classes…and even in English!!  Attached with this email is a picture of us with the Norwegian group.

Since our guests left, it has been a little quieter around here.  We certainly miss them but it is nice, too, to be back to our normal routine and making some progress in our various classes with our regular students.  Another aspect of getting back to our normal routine is going to be beginning our weekend village ministry schedule.  We anticipate that our first weekend of Jesus film showings for this year will be this coming weekend (January 29-31) as we go to a region known as Tomati.  We covet your prayers as we once again go to visit an area totally new to us.  Pray that unbelievers would especially be drawn to this special event and that many who may even be hearing the Gospel for the first time would come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Thank you once again for your prayers and support in various ways.  Ben and I feel blessed to be the ones that have been sent to this place and we realize none of what we do would be possible without people like you.  God bless you for your part.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  I look forward to sending another update once we have completed our first couple weekends of village ministry for the year.

God bless you all!

In Christ,

Jesse Long

Mbulu, Tanzania

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Update – Paul Abels


Happy New Year 2010 to our great friends and supporters!

I realize that almost two months have raced by since I last was in touch with you by e-mail.  The days have been full and memorable. However, sometimes I’m not so great at remembering anymore, so it is good to write a few things down.  Every day is packed with people and responsibilities, blessings and challenges.  Let me share a few of the blessings with you –

1.  A wonderful time of celebrating Christmas

  • Christmas programs at both churches with adult and children’s choirs
  • gatherings galore, including a Friendship Tea for women
  • Christmas present preparation and visits to deliver them all
  • decorating the house with family and welcoming Andrew and Matthew home again
  • Christmas Eve dinner at our house with church friends (25) and Christmas Day celebration at our place with family (31)
  • a special night out with the girls to watch the Nutcracker Suite and another night with the youth group to watch a Christmas extravaganza put on by the huge Baptist church in Curitiba
  • music filling the air and real candles on the real Christmas tree which did not wilt this year
  • and best of all the certainty that we know and have experienced the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ

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2.  Special Family time with our whole family

  • Everyone slept overnight at our house on Christmas Eve (my big Christmas wish)
  • We spent four days together at the beach (it was really hot, but we had fun)
  • Special times with the boys making our home a happy place
  • Rejoicing in Joanna’s announcement that Baby #3 is on the way

clip_image004 clip_image005

3.  Children’s Camp at the ARCA

  • Ninety-two campers and staff spent four fun-filled days together
  • God did not listen to the weather report and blessed us with good weather
  • Many kids expressed their desire to live for Jesus, listen to God’s voice and obey their parents
  • It was tremendous to have Andrew and Matthew as counselors along with other great youth
  • The children did an enthusiastic cantata about Samuel and hearing the voice of God
  • I (Becky) am exhausted but thankful for God’s faithfulness in using camp to bless lives

clip_image006 clip_image007 clip_image008

4.  Wonderful People coming and going

  • clip_image010Edival and Karla’s wedding in Campo Mourão (Paul did the ceremony, I did the music and Andrew did the filming)
  • Visits from people who have lived with us in the past – Neusa and Marcelo
  • Arrival of short-term missionary Karyn Ballmann from Texas – she fits right in with the family! (pictured far right)

(If you want to see photos and hear her impression of life here go to )

  • Neighborhood kids working to receive camp scholarships or hanging around to play


5. Church events

  • Paul is extra-busy covering for pastors on vacation in the month of January
  • He has devotions with the kids every morning in our porch
  • He also has been mediating relationships in the churches where there have been some difficulties
  • Counseling opportunities are ever-present in our hurting world.  We both have spent hours listening and praying and counseling with those in need.
  • Preparation for our Youth Camp in February (please pray for this big event as we seek to influence lives for the Kingdom)

We thank you for your prayers on our behalf and realize how much we need your support as we begin another year. We are not getting any younger.  The demands on us keep growing.  We have lots of experience, yet we sense our own inadequacy to meet all the challenges.  We are ever-grateful for God’s grace poured out upon us and through us to bless others. We send our thanks to those of you who sent Christmas greetings our way – it is always fun to find out what is happening in your lives.  We pray that our readers will heed the words of the prophet Amos – “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you.” Amos 5:14  

Praying for His power and presence in your lives, Paul and Becky

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti – World Relief

World Relief Haiti

On behalf of World Relief's staff and the people of Haiti, I want to say thank you.

So many of you are standing with the Haitians during their darkest hour.  Your partnership is truly a picture of Christ standing with His people and coming to dwell among them.

Haitian Boys Getting Food

Your generosity has enabled us to serve thousands with critical medical care, emergency food, water and shelter. Your gifts have ensured church-based feeding centers are reaching over 8,000 people with two hot meals a day.

Building on deep partnerships with hundreds of local churches in Haiti, we will continue to scale up our response in the coming weeks to new under-served areas.  In the coming months and years, World Relief will continue to empower these local churches-committed to their communities for the long haul-to be at the forefront of the rehabilitation efforts. 

As you continue to share the story of Haiti with your congregation this weekend, we would like to offer the following resources:

The AFLC stands with thousands of churches across the United States and Haiti united to respond generously with the love and compassion of Christ to the suffering.

Thank you,

Craig signature

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reaching People in Jerez

quilts1 We were excited to have around 250 people come to our Christmas outreach service!.  The kids put on their play and the two Kid's Clubs and the Sunday School all joined together to make for a wonderful kids choir.  We were a little worried because Barb lost her voice that day and couldn't sing out to lead the kids but the kids sang so wonderfully that it didn't really matter.  Christmas bag6 Pastor Ricardo came up from Aguascalientes to share the Good News in the message and we gave away about 60 quilts and another 30 lap quilts to the moms that were present.  We actually ran out of quilts for the first time.  The kids in the clubs all received a very specially made bag with an Arch Book story, school supplies, toothpaste and a toothbrush along with some other small toys and a small gift-wrapped toilet paper roll stuffed with little goodies inside.  The kids were thrilled.  Thanks to all who were praying for us in those days of Christmas.

Christmas bag1 We know that having a bunch of people show up doesn't mean that they are going to start following Christ but we're grateful for the opportunity that God has given us to share His Gospel through the Christmas program and the preaching of His Word and to share His love through the presents and the quilts that are given away.  Each year it seems we gain a little more ground with families in the neighborhoods of our Kid's Clubs.  Some seem softer, a little a more open, a little more confident of having their kids coming to the clubs.  Please continue to pray with us for these walls to come down.

God's richest blessings to all of you,

Todd and Barb Schierkolk

Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chmiel’s Furlough

Capture Just a quick message to tell you that our furlough was postponed -- it is still going to happen, but not in the spring, probably in the fall.
The plan is still for our furlough to be about 6 weeks during which we will visit churches in East Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula. So those of you who contacted us to come to your church in the spring, we will still be tentatively planning to come to your church whenever our furlough happens.

On the one hand it is disappointing that we will not be with many of you this spring. On the other hand, we are really excited to spend the rest of the school year in Lviv without any big trips planned. Since there is no one to work with the youth when we are gone, it is always really hard for us to leave. So not being gone a lot this spring is one thing we are really looking forward to.

We will send our January prayer update later this month, we just wanted you to know that our furlough plans changed unexpectedly and we will not be coming to the States this spring.

Tomasz, Miriam and Hannah Chmiel

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Made It - Jores

Blessed Sabbath to each of you.

It is so good to be back in Jinja! We arrived late Thursday night after a long, but uneventful trip. The kids did fine (Judah had no problems though he had a cough/cold) and even slept a bit, and all of our luggage arrived with us. Thank you so much for your prayers.

We spent the night near the airport before traveling on to Jinja (3 hours away) the next morning. The kids were quite excited to be here and had a difficult time settling down and going to bed that first night. They finally fell asleep at around 2am and slept soundly 'til morning. I awoke before sunrise and listened to the chorus of birds outside welcome the new day. I had forgotten how much I loved being awoken by their singing. After a few moments a rumble of thunder in the distance accompanied the chorus. We were told that it is still the rainy season here, but we haven't seen any rain since we arrived and it has been quite hot (mid-80's) and humid.

A few minutes after we reached our new home in Jinja, there was a honk at the gate. Some friends of ours had unloaded all of our furniture and items in storage for us and hired a truck to deliver it to us. What a gift that was! We had anticipated spending the afternoon unloading our storage and attempting to get everything inside before evening. They saved us so much time. Another friend had come to clean our home that morning, and then she stayed to help dust off all of our furniture and boxes before they was brought inside. Our friends have continued to amaze us these last few days - bringing meals/groceries and helping us unpack and set up our home. We are so thankful.

We're all still jet lagging quite a bit, especially the kids. They wake up frequently at night and then want to sleep late into the morning. Hopefully we'll catch up in a few days.

Currently Nate and the kids are out exploring our yard and garden. The boys ran in excitedly a few minutes ago with a plant and asked me what it was. Celery! What a great surprise that the former residents of this home left behind for us. It's the first time we've ever seen celery growing here. We've discovered more fruit trees growing in our yard than we had anticipated - banana, papaya, jack fruit, guava, mango and some kind of citrus. We also have an avocado tree. We're looking forward to getting our goat, cow and chickens back from our friend in the village so they can start grazing and cleaning up the place.

This week we anticipate most of our time spent catching up on rest, setting up our home, and visiting friends and neighbors. Next Saturday Nate hopes to be ready to join one of the Bible classes in the village.

The photo above was taken outside of our back door. We will try to get pictures up on our blog at some point this week, so keep checking back! (

We are grateful for your prayers!

Rhoda, Nate, Elijah, Jude, Hannah and Baby

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January in Jerez – Ingrid Giles

Ingrid GilesIt’s cold here  in Jerez, and it’s going to get colder.  On Friday night it’s supposed to get down to 21 degrees!  (Imagine that with no central heating.)  Am I ever thankful for my electric blanket -- and hot water! 

I am continuing to be grateful for God’s provision and protection.  On Saturday I went into the city to watch a movie, and I got on the wrong bus to come home.  (I was told to take a number 17 bus... so I got on a white 17 bus when I should have gotten on a yellow 17.)  It took me to a different town in the opposite direction.  Of course I turned around and went right back in the direction I needed to go, but because of that mistake I no longer had enough money to make it all the way home.  I prayed about it and God gave me peace that He would work it out, and that I just needed to keep moving in the direction of home.  I didn’t know how He would do it -- I thought maybe he’d send some friends along who could offer me a ride or something.  When I finally got on the bus that would take me to Jerez and the cost was almost twice what I had on me, God moved the driver to tell me, “Just give me what you have, and I’ll take you to Jerez.”  I was very grateful!  There’s more.  I could have walked home from the bus station, but it was getting dark and I didn’t feel safe... so I went back to the Schierkolk’s house which was nearby, and it turned out that my brother was bringing their two oldest girls home from Youth Group -- all I had to do was wait for him to bring them and then hop in the van and go home with him!

Here is my prayer list:

Please (requests):

  • Pray for my health and that of my brother and his family. 
  • Ask God to continue to provide Dan and Marcela’s financial needs and also mine. 
  • Please continue to pray for Claudia Gamboa and her kids, especially Karen, the oldest.
  • Pray for Nena and Fernando and their family, especially for full forgiveness and restoration.
  • Pray for Omar’s family.  They haven’t come to church for a while.
  • Pray that God would give me the words and phrases necessary to do the best possible job of translating this Sunday School material so that it will be clear to children from all over the Spanish-speaking world.  Also pray that God would use these lessons to speak to the children and teachers who use them.
  • Pray that God would use me as a Sunday School teacher to guide my students into a closer, stronger relationship with Him.
  • Ask God to guide me in small and large decisions, and to help me to work diligently and spend my time wisely.

Thank you (praise):

  • Abril and Cesar (the young couple who lost a baby girl one year ago) had another baby girl the other day.  She and her mom are both healthy.
  • I have wonderful loving friends and family and I get to spend time with my nieces and nephew every day!
  • God is continuing to provide for our needs.
  • God has continued to protect us all from the “bad guys.”


Ingrid Giles

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti – World Relief Responds


Many churches have compassionately planned to take offerings this weekend. We hope these materials support your effort on behalf of World Relief and the people of Haiti. We appreciate all your prayers and financial support!

World Relief Church Resources

A Hope for Haiti bulletin insert can be downloaded here and a traditional Haiti bulletin insert can be downloaded here.

Find prayer requests to share with your congregation by clicking here.

To learn more about the current situation, listen to an NPR interview with World Relief's SVP of Programs, Stephan Bauman, as he reports from Haiti. Or watch the WJZ video titled Local Woman Reconnects with Husband in Haiti.

Look for more resources and updates at By Saturday, a video of World Relief president Sammy Mah, speaking on behalf of Haiti, will be available as well.

Ben Jore – January Update

clip_image001I hope you had a very blessed Christmas Season and have been having a happy 2010! As I mentioned in my last update, I had the opportunity to return to the States for almost a month over Christmas and New Year's. It was a very blessed time. I was able to spend a lot of time with Adela as we even traveled to Texas to meet her family. I was also blessed to be able to celebrate New Year's with my whole family - the first time we've all been in the same place in about 5 years! Though all of that was wonderful, the best part of the whole break was that I got engaged to Adela on Christmas day! We are very thankful for the Lord's clear leading in our relationship and we are very excited for what the Lord has in store for us. We are planning on getting married on July 31 in Minneapolis. In the fall, Adela plans to continue studying at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School and I hope to study at the Association Free Lutheran Theological Seminary (I'm presently in the application process). Your prayers on our behalf are coveted.

Christmas Break was wonderful, but now I'm back in Tanzania and work continues with a vengeance. This week (Jan 11-15) we have the privilege of having a group of 10 Norwegian Bible School/Missionary Students come and visit Waama! We are looking forward to spending time with them and sharing with them about the work here at Waama. Jesse and I have been asked to teach them 7 class periods each in addition to our regular load, so this week will be very busy for us. At the same time, it is always a privilege to have guests and it will be a treat to teach in English for a change!

Waama is continuing as normal and our responsibilities here have not diminished any. My teaching responsibilities this semester include Intro to Biblical History, Biblical History 1 and 2, and English. On top of this, we are looking to start traveling on the weekends again to show the Jesus Film in the surrounding villages. Please pray for us as we take advantage of these ministry opportunities yet spread ourselves pretty thin to do so.

The rains in Tanzania started early this year and they definitely have not let up. Drought has been a huge problem in East Africa in the past couple years, so having plenty of rain is a huge blessing. In fact, we have had so much rain that people are afraid the crops might get damaged if it doesn't let up a bit! Praise God for His abundant provision.

Thanks to all of you who make this ministry a reality!

Jores Arrive in Uganda

Jore KidsWe received a text message from Jores this morning that they have arrived in Uganda and are starting to get their things out of storage.  Continue to pray for them and our other missionaries.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Commitment to Serve

image It’s January 2, 2010 at 7:30 am in Nisswa Minnesota. The temperature outside is 29 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. I am sitting at our lake cabin waiting for the coffee to get done and for my brother to get out of bed. After breakfast we are planning to head out on the lake to do some ice fishing. Many might ask how we dare head out on the lake when the temperature is over 60 degrees below the freezing mark. My answer is that we have sufficient protection in our clothing and our fishing shelters such that the experience can be quite bearable. This afternoon we plan to enjoy the fruits of our efforts with a nice dinner of fresh fish.

Tomorrow morning (Sunday) I have the opportunity to lead a Bible study on the book of John. Many might ask how I can lead a Bible study when I have not received seminary training. My answer is that God provides wisdom (James 1:5) and protection (Ecclesiastes 7:12) to those that ask Him. Seminary type training is something we should all take advantage of when the opportunity affords itself. In the mean time we cannot stop doing the work God has set before us and doing so He can help reap a harvest 100 fold.

If I would just wait 6 more months to go out fishing the temperature would be over 100 degrees warmer and the experience might be very different. But then we would miss out on the blessing of our fish dinner this afternoon.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”. The ability to keep a commitment is understanding that the strength to do so is rooted in your life’s purpose being committed to something greater that yourself. Lives of others can be changed eternally because of your commitment to serve the Lord. Succeed not for yourselves but for others.

In His Name,

Tom Caouette

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jores Leave for Uganda


Nate and Rhoda Jore left this morning, January 13.  They are traveling back to Uganda where they will be returning to the work of training pastors.  Please pray for them as they travel and return to their work.Jore 2

Haiti Earthquake

 image image

A massive 7.0 magnitude quake struck Haiti on Tuesday.

World Relief is assessing the situation and will be responding with assistance to the victims.

Early reports indicate that damage is widespread in the capital Port-au-Prince – and casualties could be severe.

Two strong aftershocks sparked fear and panic, and a tsunami alert was issued.

There were reports of extensive damage to buildings in the capital, including a hospital that reportedly collapsed.

An eyewitness at the scene reported that the city was “just gray with dust.”

Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, has suffered from several major disasters in recent years, including deadly hurricanes and floods.

World Relief works alongside local churches in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area to combat AIDS, provide basic healthcare for mothers and infants, protect orphans and at-risk children and improve financial security for vulnerable households.

You can help Haiti now. Please give generously. Click here to donate.

Breaking News: Click here for BBC coverage of the quake.

Note:  The AFLC works through World Relief.  Donations for Haiti can be given to World Relief through AFLC World Missions or directly to World Relief.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leaving for Uganda

The time has come for us to return to Uganda! Our flight leaves on Wednesday, the 13th, at 11:30am, and we will make 2 stops (Chicago and London) before arriving in Uganda about 26 hours later. We are all so excited and have been counting the days now for weeks. There are so many things we are looking forward to: being reunited with our dear friends, picking up on the teaching of the 2 Bible classes in the village, eating chapatti (flat, chewy, tortilla-like bread) and fresh pineapple, checking on our animals (cow, goat, chickens) that a friend of ours has been caring for, shedding our boots and coats in exchange for sandals and T-shirts, soaking in the tropical sunshine, and stepping back into Uganda's wonderfully slow and relaxed pace of life.

Our kids have all been battling sickness for the past few weeks and are just about back to full health, except for Judah. His cough and cold are lingering. Would you pray for his healing before we fly? Flying with a cold can be miserable and painful, and we would love to see him healthy and able to enjoy the flight. Please pray as well for our kids to be content on the flights, and for all of us to be able to get some rest as we travel.

We are bringing back 2 years' worth of school books for our boys, which includes a small library for them as books are difficult to come by there. Please pray that all of our luggage makes it okay without any damage.

As the Ugandans would say, we are "shifting" (moving) to a different home when we return. Some of our wonderful friends have been storing our things for us, so our first day back we will be busy unloading it and setting up our new home. We will arrive in Jinja midday and hope to at least have our beds and mosquito nets set up before nightfall so we can sleep there right away. We will have friends helping us, so we should have no problem.

We are blessed with many wonderful friends and neighbors in Uganda, many becoming like family to us during our few years with them. Would you pray for a good re-entry period for our family, with opportunities to visit these friends and enter back into relationship with them?

We thank God that we are able to return to Uganda and continue to join what He is doing there. There are so many opportunities and possibilities in front of us, which we are excited about. Nate will continue to teach the two Bible classes meeting in the village on Saturdays and Mondays. He will also be jumping back into language lessons, working with his tutor on translating Bible stories, mentoring a few of his students who are interested in teaching/starting their own classes, and going out visiting students, neighbors, friends, etc. in their homes (a major part of life and ministry in Uganda). Please pray for strength, wisdom and humility for him as he continues in each of these tasks. After setting up our home, I look forward to beginning a new school year with the boys in February (Elijah in K, Judah in Pre-K). I also am excited about rekindling my relationships with a few dear Ugandan women, getting to know our new neighbors, joining a Bible study with other missionary women, preparing for our new little one to join us in July, and keeping busy with normal, daily life in the home. Please pray for a good start to our new school year, and that I can stay joyful, creative, disciplined and patient as a mom and teacher. Please pray too for our new little one as he/she is developing and growing and getting ready to join us. We praise God for this new life!

It has been a wonderful 6 months for our family here in the U.S. and it will be difficult to say good-bye yet again. We feel as if we have 2 homes now, so this transition of leaving the one and returning to the other is bittersweet. We are grateful for relationships that are so precious to us that they are painful to leave.

Thank you for joining with us in prayer. You are a great source of encouragement and strength for us. We pray that this new year will be for each of you a year of drawing nearer to the Lord and taking great joy in His presence.

You will hear from us next from Uganda!

Nate, Rhoda, Elijah, Judah, Hannah and Baby

Our blogsite:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kevin Olsen – India Update


The trip was long, but it went well and we praise the Lord for that.

What is ministry like in India? There are at least five parts to that answer.

  1. Visiting the churches in the evening has gone well. We have been able to divide up and hit more churches than if we only traveled together.
    1. We have been to six congregations over the past four days.
    2. We have shared three sermons in a couple of the places, two in two other places and occasionally just one.
    3. Three churches in Chiralla, which is easy because they are close. One was an open air gospel meeting and one was at the remote Fisherman’s Village that is about 4 hours away. At the fisherman’s village, they have started two elementary schools by faith that they can grow and become strong. One meets in the storm shelter and the other meets in the church. Raju, the son of the pastor is overseeing both schools, preaching on Sundays, going to school for his masters and working as a Chemical Engineer. He was also just married in September, so his life is VERY full. There were 7 adult baptisms and one infant. Of the adults two couples were newly married and the child was a child of one of the couples. The Lord is at work! This congregation was started by a blind woman who went to this village as a missionary. The first convert from the blind woman’s work had children and Raju married one of her grandchildren. It is awesome to see the Lord take the simple things of this world to grow his kingdom.
  1. The contacts have been great.
    1. Raju is a great guy and it is fun to get to know him. Pray for him and his crazy schedule, his schools, the church.
    2. Rafael is a man from Hydrabad who is working with a Mobile Bible College. He travels to 4 towns each month and conducts 3 day training seminars which cover some Bible basics for pastors. The work he is doing is similar to what we are doing in the sense of training pastors in a mobile type of way, but our methods are different. He will be with us this week and taking in the training that we are offering. He is interested in using some of our curriculum in his training. Who knows where this will lead?


  1. The encouragement and discussion with friends is amazing in so many ways.
    1. Luther and Vardini are a great couple and continue to work VERY hard. I worry about them for that, but it is great to get together again and laugh and talk about the ministry. Luther and I play cricket or volleyball with the boys who stay at the school every day at 4:30 for an hour. It is a highlight for all of us.
    2. Devasahaym – or D.D. as he often goes buy is always a delight. He told me that in 2011 he will only speak English and no Telugu. I told him that I would be speaking Telugu by that time so it wouldn’t matter. J
      We joke about the many hats that he wears. He is Luther’s right hand man with the ministry. He preaches, plays piano and drum, teaches the Orality curriculum, publishes a 1000 piece brochure, does video, and everything with complete joy.
    3. Samuel – Neither of us can understand each other at all, but he is one of the pastors that is working with the new mission congregation in Pedepe. His wife has been our cook now for this our second time. (She is a great cook.) His 8 year old son is attending St. Paul’s school as a boarding student. He has a sweet motorcycle that he loves to give me rides on. He got it from his mother-in-law.
    4. The 18 girls that stay at the hostel or the 12 boys who stay at the chapel building are a huge delight. They love talking with us even though our conversations are very limited. Mark and I played hide and seek with the girls tonight. We are quite large and easy to see in the dark with white skin.
  1. The training
    1. Our short course classes start tomorrow morning. Pray for us as you go to bed. I think it is going to go well although I am personally nervous.
      1. Dr. Monseth starts at 9:00 with Doctrine of the Means of Grace
      2. Mark Antal is at 11:00 with Discipleship
      3. I am at 2:00 with Congregational Life
    2. Oral Training will be in the evenings with Devasahaym. They are significantly behind where I was hoping they would be. It will not be possible to test them for their 2nd Term, so they will need to do that later.
  1. clip_image006The mission work from Indians to other Indians.
    1. Pedepe – I mentioned Samuel up above. He and Isaac are possibly going to move there this next month to start services in two towns. We will see how it goes. I was hoping and expecting to visit there on this trip, but it will not work out for various reasons.

Thanks World Missions!

Looking forward to serve you on this half of the world.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Karyn Ballman Travels to Brazil

imageNote:  Karyn is an AFLC member and her father is Pastor Ray Ballman.

I want to send few details about my upcoming mission trip. Prayer support cannot be underestimated and I greatly covet it. Stay tuned to my blog  ('ll continue to post updates throughout my trip and include specific prayer requests.

The Lord has graciously pulled together all the details for me to take a 6 week trip to Brazil. Departure date is quickly approaching--January 11th! I'm am full of excitement and anticipation over all the Lord has in store for this trip.

During my visit, I will be staying with a Paul and Becky Abel, a family who has been missionaries in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil since 1985. The Abels have established several churches in the area and developed the ARCA Bible Camp. Their current ministry includes much of what you would expect of a US pastor's family--Bibles studies, counseling, training, etc. They have a blog that provides greater detail and displays beautiful pictures. The supporting church body for the Abels is the AFLC--the church I was raised in/my dad pastors.

Other than helping with two youth camps, I'm not exactly sure what the Lord has planned for me while in Brazil. Although I'm sure myplans differ from His, I do have a few personal 'goals' for the trip.

I desire to:

1) Grow deeper in my relationship with the Father and in my dependence on Him--to love and to know Him more

2) Tap into His heart for the nations and have my heart beat with His

3) Refocus my life on eternity; allow the things of this world to fade

4) Bring Him glory through serving--whether that be washing dishes, playing with children, or teaching ESL

Please pray with me as I beg the Lord to fulfill these desires. In addition,

please pray for:

1) Spiritual, physical, and emotional protection and wisdom

2) Ease of transportation, baggage arrival, etc.

3) Sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit

4) A heart of compassion and service

5) A language bridge--being unable speak Portuguese could easily be a hindrance and frustration.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Please pray as the Spirit guides you. Thank you for being a vital part of this trip through intercession. Please don't underestimate the power of your prayers! And, pray specifically! It is always so fun to watch the Lord answer or detailed requests!

May the Lord watch between us while we are away from each other. (Gen 31:49)

His Bride,

Karyn Ballmann

"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." I Samuel 12:23-24

Thursday, January 07, 2010

India Pastoral Teaching Team

MonsethPlease pray for the teaching team in India.   They left for India on Monday, January 4th and will return on January 14.  The team consists of Dr. Francis Monseth, Rev. Mark Antel and Rev. Kevin Olson.

Pastor Olson, Department Head of Ambassador Institute is leading the group.  He is teaching on “Congregational Life.”  Dr. Monseth is teaching “The Doctrine of the Means of Grace.”  Pastor Mark Antel is teaching “Discipleship.”

Pray for their health, safety and especially that the Lord would use them in the lives of many.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dan and Marcela Giles

DSCN3757We are very grateful to the Lord for this last year!!! We celebrated the baptism of our son Robert last year in October, and we got to spend Thanksgiving with our family in Phoenix. We had a wonderful time and we praise the Lord for it.   Christmas was also a wonderful time, because we were surrounded by family and friends.

Our family appreciates completely your prayer and financial support.  Thank you so very much!!!  We have said it many times:If it wasn't for you we wouldn't be here.

God has been teaching us to trust Him.  For His Grace and Mercy, He spared us from having a car accident coming back from Phoenix.  On our way back to Mexico, we encountered snow and ice on I-10 going through Texas.  We crossed a patch of black ice, and the van swerved out of control. Praise be to God that nothing happened to us, it was only scary kinda fun...  We did see a few accidents, but we arrived back home to Mexico with no problems.

The youth group is doing good, growing slowly but surely, we have 15 kids in the group.  Please pray for all of them, their families are not Christians and most of them have a very troubled life and broken families. Their names are Paty, Jessica Ibañez, Jessica Martinez, Rocio, Sol, Janeth, Rachel, Megan, Karen, Lizeth, Omar, Oscar, Panchito, Jacob, Jonathan. 

I, Danny, have many plans for the youth group for this year. Especially helping them to develop their relationship with Christ.  I ask for your prayer support.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to HIs purpose."   Romans 8:28

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Greetings from Darwin Jackson

"When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy." Corrie Ten Boom

2008-10 cropped low res A big Merry Christmas to all of you from the all the Jackson family. Laura, our 15 year old is now in Indiana with her new adoptive family. Pray that she draw near to the Lord Jesus and that He strengthen her when... if she suffers more culture shock. It was pretty difficult for her to adjust from Nogales Mexico to Nogales Arizona.

Edgar has been taking over leading the worship services in Buenos Aires the last couple of weeks, and doing very well. Pray for encouragement, and that the Spirit would lead him in this step of faith.

Gracie and I are leaving for Mazatlan Sinaloa tomorrow morning for a week or so. We will be meeting with the Anderson's, the Jacobson's and Juan Fernandez who is the WMPL representative for all of Latin America. The Anderson's and the Jacobson's have now completed a year in Mexico so we'll talk about future plans etc. The Jacobson's are planing to moving to Huahuaxtla Puebla where we used to live when we adopted Gracie. Gracie is coming with me to visit friends and see her old stomping grounds, as well as keep dad company. Mary Ann would appreciate pray for our safety as we drive. I ask for prayer for her and the two boys (Cesar who we are adopting, and Sykari) while we're gone.

Please pray for Alfonso, Pastor Antonio and Edgar while I'm gone as they conduct the services in Mascarenas and Buenos Aires and make visitations.

Happy New Year to you all, God's richest blessings on you and yours, and thank you for joining us in giving the devil... you know, a bad day. Your fellow workers,

Darwin, Mary Ann, Gracie, Sykari and Cesar

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8