July 2020 Mission Update – Online Teaching Continues

GREETINGS from HOT and HUMID Columbus Ohio!

 TEACHING UPDATE

Our lives got much busier as Tanzania opened all universities on June 1. We are now teaching online—pioneering a way of teaching not attempted before at Tumaini University Makumira. We have learned a lot! And we and our students continue to learn how to make this way of teaching and learning work. We are teaching three days a week and spending other times meeting online with students, supervising student research at all three levels (bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD—see more about this below), and communicating with our university and mission colleagues.

Zoom class
Cynthia’s online missiology Masters class

The good news: IT IS GOING WELL! After a number of bumps and stumbles in the first couple weeks, we can now say that this form of teaching and learning works for university students in Tanzania. The possibilities this could open in terms of bringing scholars and scholarship into conversation with our students really excite us. We’re grateful for the support of the University and ELCA Global Mission for us to continue to be a part of the University teaching community while we are in the US.

CONGREGATIONAL VISITS

THANK YOU to all congregations, church staff members, and pastors who have invited us to present since we have been in the US! Thanks for the invitations from Arusha Community Church, Arusha TZ; Holmen Lutheran. Holmen WI, and Pastor Allison Cobb; Bethlehem Lutheran, Granada Hills CA and Pastor Megan Hunt Fryling; St. John’s Lutheran, Sterling IL and Pastor Jacob Gawlik (along with cooperating congregations St. Paul Lutheran, Sterling and Immanuel Lutheran, Rock Falls IL); and Olivet Lutheran, Sylvania OH, and Pastor Melissa Micham and Director of Faith Formation Donna Mens.

WE WOULD LOVE TO VISIT WITH YOU! If you would like us to preach—present on our mission—teach a class—or if you have another thought—BE IN TOUCH! We are available. AND WE HAVE AN IDEA FOR YOU!

Jesus Sees Women

Together, we authored Jesus Sees Women: a six-session downloadable Bible study, offered for Lent but appropriate for other times as well. Olivet Lutheran, Sylvania OH, used this study during Lent. As happened to other congregations, some ministry plans at Olivet got disrupted by the pandemic. Recently, we took part online with the faithful Bible study members as they completed the study, having a wonderful conversation about the relationship of women and men to Jesus and with each other, in Tanzania, in the US, and around the world.

Bible study with Olivet
Olivet Lutheran Bible study members

We would very much enjoy leading this study with people from your congregation! If a congregation or group of congregations are interested in offering a late summer or early fall study—OR if we could gather a group of people interested in taking part in this online study with us—PLEASE BE IN TOUCH! You can find out more information about this study and arrange to download it for use at https://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/Products/TC0615/jesus-sees-women-an-adult-lenten-study.aspx

We are also ready to preach and present on mission in Tanzania—let us know how we can be in ministry with you and your congregation.

STUDENT RESEARCH

Among the parts of our work which we find really fulfilling is the supervision of student research. This year, we are supervising students exploring + how very few men are involved in the life and lay leadership of the church, and what to do about this state of affairs; + the role of the church in women’s economic empowerment; + how people with disabilities can engage in ministry leadership; + ways that Lutheran pastors and congregations can work effectively with Muslim congregations and faith leaders to build up communities; + the Jacob stories in Genesis; + Maasai understandings of the church; and + the meaning and understanding of Lutheran identity in Tanzania. We learn so much from our students every year. This is such a blessing!

CONVERSATIONS ON RACE AND CORONAVIRUS—let us know what you are thinking, saying, and doing

In every class and conversation we have with students and colleagues, two topics come up: racial relations and coronavirus. Sometimes, the conversation mixes the two. We are interested in what conversations you are having in your congregations about these two topics, and what it means to be in the church in this time. Many of you know that there are at least two ways to understand time: chronos, which involves calendars and clocks; and kairos, an understanding of how God uses time. How is God using this time in your place? What are you being moved to think, to be, to do? We will reflect more on these next month. ANY REFLECTIONS YOU CAN SEND OUR WAY WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATED.

GOD MAKES OUR GARDEN GROW

We are enjoying tomatoes from one potted plant. We’ve eaten a number and there are more coming! Here are some views of what God is bringing forth. (And for a musical take on Make our Garden Grow, check out this video of Bernstein’s piece from Candide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DROkQJc_F0)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

We have received word that many of our sponsoring congregations are continuing to faithfully fulfill their covenants of support. THANK YOU. We know that many congregations, and many faithful members within congregations, are really struggling in this season of job loss—and for some, the loss of homes, health, and loved ones. Our ministry is made possible by your support. We know that for some, these are sacrificial gifts of love. We are so grateful.

GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU ALL—CYNTHIA AND MARK

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