Monday, November 3, 2008

At St. Peter's Lutheran Seminary, Himo

Mt. Kilimanjaro, from our lodgings in Moshi

Hello to All from Moshi, Tanzania,

I awoke this morning to the sound of chanting, at 4 a.m. A large crowd has gathered here in the city center of Moshi, Tanzania, and they are celebrating. This is my first indication of the outcome of yesterday's election in the U.S. Everywhere we have gone, people have asked us about our opinion on the U.S. election. We speak to them about our concern for the unborn, finally committing the election and all things into the hands of our Lord, who reigns over all.

This is the day that I will begin my trip home. Pastor Mayhew and R. Schmitt will remain here in Tanzania for another week. Here are some of the features of our trip over the last 4-5 days:

Over the weekend we made the 5-hour drive to the coast, to visit our stations in the Tanga area. We met with some of the pastors and representatives of the 5 congregations on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, we visited the church at Mkinga, where Pastor Gondwe serves. It is a very poor village, with mud houses and mostly thatched roofs. During the service, an infant boy was baptized, and one adult man was received as a member of the congregation. Pastor Mayhew preached on Rom. 1, the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation, for a Reformation theme. I gave a children's explanation of the meaning of baptism. We had to eat the stewed chicken and rice they had prepared quickly, so as to make it back to Moshi during daylight hours.

Monday was our first visit to St. Peter's Lutheran Seminary in Himo. We presented seminar topics to the students, and met with Pastor Jesse Angowi.

On Tuesday a pre-graduation service was held for the first graduating class of the seminary. The actual graduation is scheduled for Nov. 14, after we are gone.

The singing was truly impressive. Pastor Mayhew and I both delivered addresses to the graduates and students. We presented the grads with a small monetary gift from Project Kinship. Kinship sponsors have made it possible for these men to enter the pastoral ministry. Each of them will now have the opportunity to apply for an MDF "self-help" loan, so that they can arrange for some kind of additional occupation to support their families, as the congregations they will serve are too poor to sustain a pastor's family. One man plans to operate a tailor shop; others will raise chickens.

After another session with the seminary students today, I will be on my way to Nairobi. My flight home leaves tomorrow evening. The trip has involved quite a bit of hard work, but we can plainly see how the Lord is at work among the people of our East African affliate churches. Thank you for following our progress and keeping these efforts in your prayers. In Christ, Pastors B, N, and R. Schmitt

PS -- You can follow the remainder of the visitation by checking Pastor Mayhew's trip journal, at:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arrival in Moshi

We've had some adventures since I last wrote, mostly having to do with car trouble. In Nairobi it was necessary to replace some front-end parts, and apparently the mechanic didn't do a great job of reassembly. On Wednesday we were in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles from the Tanzania border, when one of the front driveshafts disconnected from the transmission. We spent about 3 hours trying for a roadside fix.

Finally, the 3 of us left Charles with the car and hired a ride to the border. After visa and customs we got a different driver to take us to Arusha. That was when I realized that I had left my cell phone/PDA in the first car. Whoops.

The intrepid Charles was able to recover my phone from our first hired driver, with the help of the local police. At first, the scoundrel denied that he had it, but they later caught him trying to "unlock" it for use in Africa (which, by the way, is can‘t be done here anyway). All’s well that ends well.

View of Mt. Neru from our hotel window in Arusha, Tanzania
The following day (Thursday) was spent conferencing with pastors, evangelists, and a few Sunday school teachers of the CLCEA, which is led by Pastor Jeremiah Issangya. Unfortunately, transport problems kept some of the men from attending.

That evening, Pastor N., Russ and I set out on foot to find our evening meal. We were hoping to find a pizza joint (not unheard of in a larger city). No such luck. We stepped into several places, only to find that the menu had only local dishes on it. We finally found a place that had some food that was recognizable to us. No sooner had we ordered than the power went out. It didn’t slow down the chef too much, though. We soon had our vegetable curry with rice, and two orders of beef bites in sauce. We have been blessed so far in not suffering from TDDS -- travelers’ digestive distress syndrome.

The next day we left Arusah for Moshi. On the way, we stopped at the home of Pastor Jeremiah and his wife, Judith.

The road to his home was so rough that it was necessary for us to ride up in his old Datsun pickup. Russ and I rode standing in the pickup bed, “Daktari” style.

Pastor and Mrs. Jeremiah live in humble but charming style, with a few cows and chickens in the back yard.

After a brief tea, we were back on the road. Two hours later found us in Moshi, which is nearby to the Himo parish where St. Peter‘ seminary is found. Over the years, all the CLC visitors to the area have spent time at the YMCA youth hostel in Moshi, which is cheap and comfortable. After settling in, we were met there by Pastors Gondwe, Simon, and Ibrahim of the CLCEA. Pastor Simon’s wife had had surgery only two days before; thankfully she is recovering.

Pastor Gondwe also stayed at the “Y” on Friday night, so that we could accompany him to his church in Tanga on Saturday. Tanga is very near the coast of the Indian ocean, about 5 hours drive from Moshi. We will meet there with another area pastor, then participate in Sunday worship at the church in Tanga, before returning to Moshi.

Early this coming week, we will begin our visits with Pastor Angowi of the LCEA, and the students of St. Peter’s Seminary in Himo. We will hold a graduation ceremony for the 8 seminary seniors on Tuesday the 4th.
Everywhere we travel we are impressed with the zeal that these people have for the Word of God. They are eager for better pastoral and teacher training, as well as for Bibles in the local languages, as well as Luther’s catechism. In many ways these churches are becoming more mature. In their infancy, they are led and managed by a single man whom we of the CLC know and trust. As they grow and develop, more structure and the participation of other leaders is needed. While it is not our place to impose rules on them, they do look to the CLC-USA for guidance and direction. So we strive for a good balance of advice and direction, so that God’s kingdom will grow among them, in a way that the Bible describes as “decently and in order.”

We appreciate the prayers of the CLC folks at home. God willing, I will be back in the States on Friday the 7th; Pastor N. and Russ will remain for another week beyond that. In Christ, Pastors B., N., and R. Schmitt

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Goodbye to Etago; on to Arusha

Hello to Family and Friends,

We are now on our way from Kisii back to Nairobi. It's two days of travel, so that we arrive to meet Pastor Jeremiah and the people of the CLCEA on Wednesday evening in Arusha, Tanzania.

Our recent schedule had to be rearranged because of car problems. We stayed in Kisii on Sunday, rather than going into Etago, because the rough roads had been too hard on the car's muffler. We had some shopping to do, as well as some intensive work on customized constitutions for the Etago group as a whole, as well as the individual parishes. 4 of the Etago men took the Matatu in to meet us also. The "Matatu" is a private bus. They jam about 16 narrow seats into a minivan-type of vehicle, and run between towns, at an economical price.

On Monday we made the trip into Etago, and spent a few minutes saying goodbye to the 136 children in the AIDS orphan school.

Then it was on to Pastor Enosh's second congregation, at Ometembe. They had expected us on Sunday, but of course we couldn't come. It was a smaller group that was able to meet with us midday on Monday. They were very friendly and had a good choir. Don't mess with Texas, though...
We probably could have walked to the next destination and gotten there sooner, as the roads were so rutted and pockmarked. It was worth the ride, though to meet the small church at Misesi. The pastor is an older man named Joseph. He had left a larger Lutheran church body in Kenya for doctrinal reasons, and is in the process of affiliating with the Etago group. He is a well-trained and level-headed man. He met us on the road, and offered me a ride on his motorcycle for the remainder of the trip. The people on the roadside thought that was a very unusual sight:

The people at Misesi told us about the history of their group, and their hopes for the future. They have a long-range vision of providing an orphanage and health clinic. We explained to them that we have compassion for peoples bodily needs, but oiur emphasis must be on the Means of Grace, providing training, Bibles, catechisms, etc.

So today we are just traveling, as we count on the steady services of our intrepid driver, Charles, who is a lay leader in the Nairobi CLC congregations:

While in Kisii, Charles gathered a group of about 14 men whom he knew, some of whom had been Muslim. We were also able to meet a few of them. We may have the beginnings of a new congregation in Kisii from these men. They are in contact now with Pastor Joseph, who is the Etago pastoral contact who is nearest to Kisii.

We'll be writing next from Arusha, following the pastoral conference that we plan to have there on Thursday. God bless, Pastors B., N., and R. Schmitt.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hello to all from Etago, Kenya,

Oct. 24: Actually, I'm using the thumb board on my cell phone to write the first part of this while on the way to Etago, from our hotel in Kisii. It's quite muddy and bumpy. There has been a lot of rain lately. Our driver, the intrepid Charles, tells us that it isn't close enough to an election for there to be much work on the roads.

This will be our second day in Etago, among the 136 children in the AIDS orphan school. At our arrival, the children lined the entrance to the schoolyard, singing "Welcome, welcome to our visitors!" During the opening service, they songs, dances, and recitations for us. Russ Schmitt handed each of them a homemade card from the children of Immanuel Lutheran School, Mankato. They also each received a toothbrush and toothpaste, courtesy of CLC Project Kinship. We then spent the afternoon with the pastors of the 5 area churches, and some elders, in Bible study.

That evening, Russ and I returned to the hotel in Kisii with Charles, while Pastor Mayhew stayed at the home of Pastor Enosh, who lives near the school.

The next two days were very busy, with pastoral seminars conducted by Pastor Mayhew and me. The schoolchildren each received a Tshirt as a gift. A donated volleyball net was set up, to the delight of all. We visitors played a game too, along with the local pastors and school teachers.

It was back to work that afternoon, with further seminar instruction. Here is the group in Etago whom we addressed:

One of the things that this young church needs is a constitution that fits the way that they operate here in Kenya. Pastor Mayhew and I put together an outline of such a document, for the sake of "decency and order" in serving the churches here. Our draft will be submitted to a constitution committee, which has been chosen from the leaders of these churches. The revised constitution will be considered for adoption by the voters in January.

I had the privilege of staying at the home of Pastor Enosh and his family on Thursday night. He has a wife and four children, and they all live together in two buildings, each about the size of a garage. There is no running water or electricity, though they run a few lights and small appliances from a 12-volt battery, which they recharge during the day with a rooftop solar panel. It's actually a beautiful, pastoral place. Once off to bed, it was a wonderment to be practically out in the open countryside, and to hear...absolutely nothing! Nothing, that is, until about 5:30 a.m., when local roosters and cows competed with each other to welcome the rising sun.

Enoshes wife, Elizabeth, waves from their home

As we drive slowly over the poor roads, we often pass by groups of children who yell "M'zungu, m'zungu!" (white man!) Russ has taken to rolling down his window and yelling back "M'toto M'dogo!" -- "little kid!" This is greeted with peals of laughter.

Tomorrow (Sat.) we visit two congregations -- Kinnuchi and Chotororo. One more on Sunday, another on Monday, then we head back to Nairobi and on south to Tanzania. In Christ, Pastor BN

Writing now on Saturday night -- It was a great day of fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Kennuchi and Chotororo congregations. As usual, our schedule had to be adjusted. Our vehicle needed a weld on the exhaust system, so we had a late start. We went first to Kinnuchi congregation, where we first visited the home of elder Alex and his family.

After the service, we moved on to Chotororo congregation, which is led by Pastor Fred. We walked the final half mile to reach the church, which was completed with metal roofing about two years ago, courtesy of your contributions to the MDF.

On the way back from the service, the children took a great liking to Russ Schmitt, who entertained them with German songs as they walked.

We will be sad to say goodbye to the people of the Etago CLC. We finish our visits Monday, and will have a travel day back to Nairobi on Tuesday. From that point on there will be good roads, which we have learned by experience to appreciate! We hope you are all well in the Lord's care -- Pastors B.N., N.M., and Mr. R.S.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Leaving Nairobi, on to Kisii, Etago

"Where's triple-A when you need them?"

Hello from the road to Etago,

Yesterday was to have been an "off" day in Nairobi. We don't like off days when there is so much that needs doing, so we were happy to arrange a visit to an area congregation on short notice. Paul Njihia, a lay leader of his congregation in Kangari, drove us there and back in order to meet with the people there. It was great to leave the bustle and dirt of the city behind, and to head north into the rural tea growing country. It is high, green country, with valleys and hills that are all stepped for growing tea leaves.

Beautiful Tea-growing country

About 75 people were gathered together, singing as we entered. Russ gave his children's presentation, and Pastor Mayhew preached. Then the leader looked to me -- I guess they wanted TWO sermons. After my talk and a hymn, it looked like they wanted more yet, but we drew it to close. We the met with the church elders to talk about teachings that are distinctly Lutheran. They readily receive whatever is shown to them from the Bible, though some things are new to some of them. They then treated us to a fine dinner of chicken, rice, cabbage and other veg, local fruits, and chapati, which is sort of a wheat tortilla (or, you could say it was like wheat lefse, if you prefer).

Karangi Congregation

We have packed various books along, including some used catechisms. We gave one to Shadrach, the young waiter at our hotel in Nairobi. We had gotten to know him because we compelled him to play the 4th hand for our game of hearts one evening. By the next morning, we found that he was sharing it with some of the other staff.

While on our 6-hour trip to Etago, our car (a Toyota Corolla) suffered a flat tire. The spare got us into town for lunch, while our intrepid driver, Charles, went to get the tube fixed. Yes, the tube -- which most cars use because of poor road conditions here.

The next post will feature news of the AIDS orphan school in Etago. In Christ, Pastors B. & N., and Russ

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The congregation at Mariakani

Hello All,

Greetings from a sunny Sunday morning in Mombasa, Keyna. It is pre-church time at our hotel. Yesterday we met with some local pastors in the morning, then had a pastoral training seminar in the afternoon. Pastor Mayhew presented an overview of the Old Testament books, and I spoke on Jeremiah 31:31 ff., and the idea of Old Covenant (testament) vs. New Covenant (testament).
Pastor Mayhew presenting at Mombosa conference

We had some time between the conference and a church gathering, so we took a short drive down to a public ocean beach to take a break. The Indian Ocean, from the east Africa coast, is a beautiful sight. Local boys followed us around, begging for change so they could buy ice cream from the vendor. One of them, with one hand out, held the other behind his back with an ice cream cone in it. "Hapana!" -- NO!

At the Ocean, with trusted Driver and all-around helper, Charles Wamithi

We drove back east somewhat, gaining altitude, in order to reach the very friendly congregation at Mariakani. Pastor Simon, who was at the big Naibrobi pastoral conference, leads this group. About half the congregation showed up, it being a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend (Monday will be "Hero's Day," akin to our Presidents' Day). There were still 60-70 present. Russ Schmitt asked for a volunteer, and dressed a small boy up with the "whole armor of God," explaining the attributes we need to do successful battle with sin.

"Put on the full armor of God"

We have been eating whatever is put in front of us. Usually this is chicken or beef in a kind of gravy, with rice. Pastor N. & Russ are fond of "samosas," which are like egg rolls, except they are triangular and have a beef mixture in them. Also, the spices are different. Other than that, just like egg rolls.

Last night we spotted a "Pizza Inn" in Mombasa, and treated ourselves to some excellent slices.

[Later]...Today [Sunday] church was at 10 a.m., at Samburu Parish. This is the smaller of the two churches served by Pastor Simon Muriuki. It took about an hour to reach it -- fortunately, it was on our way back to Nairobi.
The Congregation at Sambruru
In each place we visit, it is a joy to see the recognition in the people's faces when they hear the Word of God's grace -- salvation by faith in Christ, apart from works. Our efforts to provide better training for pastors, as well as Bibles and catechisms for the members, is well worth the time, effort, and expense that is contributed by the CLC-USA.

After a day in Nairobi, we leave for rural Etago, and the AIDS orphan school. Email access may be infrequent from there. In Christ -- B. Naumann, N. Mayhew, and R. Schmitt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Post From East Africa

The three Amigos (Pastors Bruce and Nathanael, Russ), outside our hotel in Nairobi.

Hello All from Mombasa, Kenya,

We have just finished the 2008 East Africa CLC Pastoral Conference in Nairobi. The conference was a great success. We had representatives from two Tanzanian church bodies, from Kenyan churches in the Nairobi and Etago areas, as well as visitors from Uganda and the Congo. Papers were presented, which included:

Group photo of the East Africa CLC Pastoral Conference

* An Introduction to the Gospel of Mark, by Pastor Fred of Etago, Kenya,

* "Faith and the Ethical Decision," by Pastor Jesse Angowi of St. Peter's Seminary in Himo, Tanzania,

* "An Overview of the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, during the Divided Kingdom," by Pastor Enosh of Etago, Kenya,

* "Principals of Pastoral Theology," by Michael Gondwe of Tanga, Tanzania.

* "What Will Happen in the Last Times?" by CLC Mission Board Chairman Bruce Naumann,

* "A Study of the Bible's Use of the Term 'Foundation of the World,'" by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew of the CLC-USA.

Pastors Naumann and Mayhew, with the delegation from the LCEA

Good fellowship, study,and discussion was enjoyed by all.

Pastor Jesse Angowi of the LCEA, presenting his paper. Pastor Gondwe served as translators, for those who only understood Swahili

Friday morning was to be a travel day, from Nairobi to Mombasa, on the Atlantic coast. It is about a seven hour journey by car. Tomorrow we will have a teaching conference with 7 of the Mombosa area pastors. We will also visit one of the area chyrches for a service. Sunday morning will find us at the largest of the Mombasa churches. Then it's back to Nairobi. Next week we visit the Etago churches, and the AIDS orphan school.

I am writing this during the car ride. It is a dry scrub area between these large cities. Huts, small villages, bicycles. and occasional vendors line the narrow highway. I only thought "we're all gonna die!" a couple of times on the road, before getting used to Africa traffic once again. I will send another update within a few days. Thank you for your prayers. -- Bruce Naumann, Nathanael Mayhew, and Russ Schmitt

The congregation at Nyahururu, north of Nairobi

Nyahururu is very close to the famous equator!