Saturday, November 15, 2014

50 Years in Puerto Rico

Retired Missionary Ralph and Roxanne served souls in Latin America for the majority of their ministry. Recently, they joined other missionaries who served in Puerto Rico to celebrate 50 years of ministry in Puerto Rico. They gathered together with local congregation members and pastors in Guayama, Puerto Rico to celebrate the 50th anniverary and participate in the annual Reformation retreat full of Bible studies, devotions, and fellowship.


More than once during the celebration the sentiment was expressed as in the Sunday worship text, "Not to us, oh Lord, not to us be the glory, but to your name, for your mercy and truth" - Ps.115:1.
The Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Confesional (the Puerto Rican national church) and particularly Christ Lutheran Congregation in Guayama had worked hard to put the property in optimum condition: the grass was cut, new paint everywhere, and Rafi (one of the members)  had installed a one-step concrete and tile riser for the chancel/altar area. The choir was impressively organized (burgundy colored tops for all nine members) directed by Mary. They sang for both the Saturday evening tribute to national Pastors Sergio and Manuel and for the worship service on Sunday. The music was generally praise songs sung to prerecorded sound tracks, but we did get a pretty rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" on Sunday. We were some 90-100 people on Sunday with members from the San Juan, Humacao and Guayama congregations participating in Holy Communion.
Traditional foods (rice and gandules/chick peas, roast pork and chicken, fruit, ham & cheese sandwiches on criollo bread, and more) were served both for breakfast, lunch and suppers. The ladies of the IELC had organized the Saturday tribute and awarded plaques of recognition not only to their pastors, but also to faithful laborers who had and have served over the past 50 years--people like Kelly and Miguel, Rafi and a number of young men--and gifts for the expats.

Former Missionary Paul & Carol

Retired Missionary Ralph & Roxanne

Retired Missionary Ron & Karen

 Former Missionary John & Barb

Former Missionary Tim & Lorna

Former Missionary Steve & Brenda

CELC President - Dan Koelpin

WELS WM Administrator- Larry M. Schlomer
WELS World Missions Administrator Larry M. Schlomer, Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference President Dan Koelpin and Multi-Language Publications Coordinator Paul Hartman greeted and reported to the people for WELS, CELC and MLP respectively. Pastor Roger Sprain of the original Missioner Corps who came to the island in 1964 sent his greetings by mail which were read to the assembly on Saturaday when each of the expats were given an opportunity to share an update on their life and family.
The expats were housed at Pastor Sergio's house bringing the total occupancy to some 27. Those who arrived on Thursday were greeted by a torrential downpour and the remainder of the weekend was beautiful tropical weather: clear skies, heat and humidity. 

The Lord's mercy and truth have preserved a little flock in Puerto Rico for 50 years, and we pray they will continue to preach the good news wherever they may be.

Photo Credit: Former Missionary Steve & Brenda

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Faithful Servant Retires


Missionaries Mark, Lorenzo, Larry, Roger, & Ernie (1977)

Professor Larry and his wife Marlene began serving souls in world mission fields in 1977. Prof. Larry, Marlene, and their three children moved to Colombia where Larry led theological education and evangelism/church planting in the formative years of the mission work until 1983.

The family relocated to El Paso, Texas to train ministry leaders in Mexico from 1983 to 1990, with seminary students studying there as well as traveling into Mexico approximately ten days out of every month.

In 1990, Professor Larry accepted a call to Nigeria help establish a seminary for the national church, teach nine students, and train a national pastor to take over the direction of the seminary. He and Marlene served in Africa for three years.

Preaching in Mexico (2011)

They moved back to Latin America in 1993, when Prof. Larry accepted a call to train seminary students and assist with local ministries in Mexico until 2004. In 1995, he was additionally called to serve as field counselor for Mexico.

Mexico (2009)

Mission Team (2010)


Mission Team with Seminary Students (Christmas - 2010)

Mission Team (2012)


Serving Together (always)

For the past 11 years, Prof. Larry served as coordinator of LATTE, Latin American Traveling Theological Educators, based out of Mexico. He trained students in Bolivia, the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Some of the training took place during onsite teaching trips, while others were taught through online courses through the Internet. Prof. Larry also participated in several exploratory trips to visit contacts and research new mission starts.

Professor Lorenzo shares, "Larry has been zealous to train our national workers to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' -- 2 Timothy 2:15."

Seminary Students from the Dominican Republic and Haiti (2008)

Pastoral Workshop in Mexico (2011)

Fellowship at a Pastoral Retreat in Mexico (2012)

Teaching in Colombia (2014)

We thank our gracious God for allowing Missionary Larry and Marlene to serve him faithfully in world missions for 37 years and wish them the Lord's richest blessings in retirement.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Latin America Mission Team


Missionary Wagenknecht & Pastor Jorge

WELS World Missions is announcing changes to its work in Latin America. All WELS missionaries serving in Latin America, including those who are members of the Latin American Traveling Theological Educators, will now be part of one Latin America mission team.

As Rev. Larry Schlomer, administrator of WELS World Missions, explains, “The flexibility this group will have allows our missionaries to be deployed where they are needed most and to be redeployed when the assigned tasks are done. This one Latin America mission team can provide exploration of areas and contacts, church planting, an evangelism push, evangelism training, lay leader training, pre-seminary and seminary education, and whatever else can be useful and effective for each unique situation. Missionaries can be deployed for years at a time or serve a country with short visits and encouragement.”

Several factors contributed to this change in mission planning, including the growing maturity of national church leaders in WELS missions in Latin America, fluctuating security concerns in certain areas, and a reduction in missionary manpower.

Schlomer notes, “For several years WELS mission work in Latin America has covered the training and support of national workers in many different countries. Our Latin American Traveling Theological Educators have traveled to Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and there are now 24 national pastors and seven evangelists serving in these Latin American countries. There are also 18 more seminarians who are being trained with the current program in conjunction with the national churches. These leaders form a small army of confessional, Lutheran, Hispanic ambassadors of Christ serving in local congregations and reaching out into their communities. The growth of these national churches allows them to stand on their own with occasional visits and support from WELS.”

Missionary Nate Wagenknecht, who had served as a Latin American Traveling Theological Educator, is the first called worker to be redeployed since the inception of this new strategy for serving Latin America. Wagenknecht, who had been based in Puebla, Mexico, has relocated to Houston, Texas, to help Hispanic members of WELS reach back into their home countries with the gospel. It is estimated that as many as 2,000 WELS members are immigrants from a Latin American country.

“The friends and family members of these brothers and sisters can be the starting point for mission work in many areas of the Americas that desperately need the saving truth,” says Schlomer.

Wagenknecht adds, “We want to network better with stateside Hispanic ministries and tap into the relationships our stateside members have with their family and friends back in their home country. We also want to maintain a healthy balance between outreach—sharing the gospel with new contacts—and discipleship—helping Christians mature in their faith and service in God's kingdoms.”

If you know of a contact in Latin America who needs to hear the gospel and you would like to work with the Latin America mission team to reach them, contact Wagenknecht at 1LA@wels.net.

Source: http://www.wels.net/news-events/new-latin-america-mission-team

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Mexican Seminary Moved!



Professor Natán, Victor, Jaime, Luis, Dan, & Professor Larry

The Confesional Lutheran Seminary of the IELC in Mexico has prepared men for the public ministry of the gospel in various locations in its 20-plus year history - Torreón, Monterrey, Mexico City, Puebla, back to Torreón, then León. This summer it returned to Puebla.

Two professors from the LATTE team, together with two men who are studying full-time, moved from León to Puebla in August. The IELC decided to relocate its seminary in order to accept two more full-time students, better train a part-time student, and combine efforts with the local ministries.

By God's grace, the seminary now has four full-time students plus three men in the Certified Pastor program. One man should be ready to start his vicar year in January. We ask the Lord of the Harvest to bless the preparation of his workers. We also encourage you, God's people, to think about where our future pastors will come from. Look for children and youth who have the gifts to serve. Speak well of your pastor and the ministry to them. Encourage them to consider serving God in the gospel ministry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Conference in Colombia

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Back in April, I had the opportunity to be one of two presenters for a Pastors Conference in Medellín, Colombia. Since this was my first time ever to go to Colombia, I went a few days early in order to spend time with some of the pastors and congregation members and attend Sunday Bible class and worship. What a blessing!

Pastors Elkin, Henry, Jairo and Tonny, and the members of Holy Trinity congregation were excellent hosts. Ten pastors--eight from Colombia, one from Bolivia, and one from the Dominican Republic--together with 23 members participated in three, six-hour days of Bible study and discussion. Professor Lorenzo led a study on the Church's Concern for Marriage, and I facilitated a study on Christian Stewardship.


One of many highlights was joining together on Wednesday evening for a service with the Lord's Supper. In this service, we also formally recognized Pastor Henry's graduation from the LATTE seminary program.

Another highlight was watching the pastors--many of whom had never met before--network with each other, sharing struggles, joys and encouragement.

If God allows, we hope to conduct similar conferences regularly to strength the bonds of fellowship for our sister churches in Latin America.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Global Networking


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Missionaries: Rob, Mike, Jon, Ben, Mark (back row)
Nate, Phil, Joel, & Larry (front row) & Paul-not pictured (photographer)
Previously, I've (Nate) written about a Greek instructors workshop that I was blessed to attend back in February. Improving our personal understanding of Greek and, hopefully, our teaching of Greek was only one benefit of this ten-day workshop. The other benefit was talking with brother missionaries about their fields and sharing ideas. Even though all ten of us are WELS missionaries, many of us had never met before. From the first day of planning last summer, we wanted networking to be one of the two main goals of our time together.
Since there were ten of us, we spent five evenings with two of us on the "hot seat" each night. But instead of just offering reports from each field, we started with the rest of the group telling what they knew (or thought they knew) of the field being talked about. Only after the group had exhausted its knowledge did the missionary from that field have a chance to confirm, correct, or clarify what the others had said. It was a good way to find out if accurate information is out there, and possibly what misconceptions exist between the fields.
After hearing from each field those first five evenings, we looked for themes and issues that kept coming up in the discussion. Some of the issues I expected: training nationals for ministry, trying to avoid creating dependency, telling the story of missions back home. Other themes surprised me: using volunteers to help the mission, continuing education and professional development for missionaries, and improving communication.


Whether walking in the Judean hills during our free time or sitting in one of the hotel rooms for some directed discussion together, we had the chance to discover common themes -- and share experiences of how we have dealt with them. That was powerful networking.
Go to http://greekworkshop2013.shutterfly.com to view the complete itinerary (February-March, 2013), photos, a photo book, and video of this event.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Living Greek



Back in February, nine fellow WELS missionaries and I participated in a Greek instructors workshop conducted by Dr. Randall Buth and his daughter Sharon of the Biblical Language Center. They showed us the potential benefits of teaching Biblical Greek as a living language (not just a "book language") through the TPR and TPRS techniques.

TPR stands for "Total Physical Response" where students respond to commands that require physical movement. For example, the instructor says, "κάθισον," and you sit down. The instructor says, "τι ποιεις?" (What are you doing?) and you respond "κάθημαι" (I'm sitting). You learn words by doing them rather than simply learning a vocabulary list.



TPRS stands for "Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling" where students read and tell stories--using props (a.k.a. toys) to help the hearers visualize the story--and then ask each other questions about the story. "τι εποιησεν η γυνη?" (What did the woman do?) "η γυνη εφαγεν την σταφυλην" (The woman ate the grapes).

Both of these techniques make learning fun and natural--the same way we learned our first language from our parents when we were kids! And it was all done in Greek without the need of translating into English. After just a few days, I found myself actually thinking in Greek. Now my goal is to pursue this approach further and incorporate it into my seminary classes so that Greek comes alive for our future pastors in Latin America.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Journey to Jerusalem

Exactly five weeks ago today, I was in Jerusalem.  I'll share why I was in Israel next time. In this post, I want to share pictures and some thoughts on Holy Week after actually being there. 

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (a possible and even probable site of Christ's crucifixion and burial). The tomb is still empty. Christ is risen!



Church of the Holy Sepulcher - He is not here; He is risen! 

Since Jerusalem is surrounded by valleys, you always travel *up* to Jerusalem, but that doesn't mean Jerusalem is the highest point. The Mount of Olives is actually higher, which means as Jesus approached Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday and wept over the city (Luke 19:41) he was looking down across the Kidron valley and could see the whole city in front of him. Jesus didn't cry over buildings and walls, but over the people in the city who had rejected him.  It's about people.


Mount of Olives - Overlooking Jerusalem

Jerusalem in Jesus' time really wasn't that big. You can walk from one section to another in a matter of minutes. All of the events from the Last Supper to Gethsemane to the high priest's house to Pilate's Praetorium to Golgotha happened in a relatively small area.


Close Proximity  
Gray Dome (Left) - Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Gold Dome (Right) - Temple Mount 

My faith is based purely on God's Word, and I don't need archeology to prove the validity of God's Word for me. Yet being on site and seeing archeological discoveries helped me visualize, understand and appreciate God's Word even more.
Wishing you a joyous Easter celebration. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. He is risen indeed!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Worship Workshop


DSCN7984
The agenda for the third weekend of January included a joint workshop in México for Mexican pastors and seminary students from Mexico and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS). Worship was the theme of the workshop. Professor Natán led a Bible Study on the elements of worship. Mexican Missionary Mike continued the workshop in a review and discussion of a new Lutheran hymnal in Spanish.
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Two of the WLS seminary students, Ryan and Tim, previously served as English teachers in Mexico. It was a special treat for Mexican seminarista (seminarian) Dan to spend time with them.
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The Mexican pastors enjoy coming together every two years for a workshop to assist their current ministries. Many of them travel long distances for this study and fellowship, and return to their congregations full of new ideas and encouragement.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gracias - Obrigado - Merci - Thank You


Professor Natán & Julia

It has been a privilege to serve as coordinator of this informative blog and share the mission work taking place in Latin America through the LATTE team and their students. I thank each LATTE member for this opportunity!

My first blog entry was New Start  posted in November - 2010.

We hope to continue this blog with occasional posts directly from each professor.  

You can also follow us on Twitter (@latteontheroad) or through our Facebook Page (Latin American Traveling Educators) for brief updates and activities.

Please keep the LATTE professors, students, and their families in your prayer in 2013 and beyond!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

LATTE Meets


Professors Natán, Philip, Larry, & Lorenzo

This month, members of the LATTE team met after a Latin American Missions Conference.  The four professors discussed their 2013 teaching schedules, on-site and online courses, and students.

Two workshops are scheduled this spring for current seminary students and graduated pastors. In April, the professors plan to lead sessions on "Marriage" and "Stewardship" in Colombia.  In May, they plan to present "Pastors Care for Straying Sheep" and "Stewardship" in Mexico.

Please keep all professors, students, and their families in your prayers during this 2013 school year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Update from Mexico



In spite of ongoing uncertainty and insecurity in portions of Mexico, God continues to bless His church in this country. An increase in national church independence and maturity can be witnessed alongside an increase in WELS volunteer activity. WELS Kingdom Workers now has a full-time volunteer coordinator, Howard, in Mexico for the purpose of organizing WELS lay member ministry opportunities.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

More Christmas Greetings from Colombia



Hello, brothers, sisters and friends in Christ,

Your brother and servant Raul, Colombian seminary student, greets you with deep affection in Christ Jesus. For many people, Christmas is a time of joy because they find themselves with family whom they haven't seen for a long time, or for similar reasons. By the saving grace of God, for believers, this is one of the most important dates, not for such reasons, but rather because we remember that on a day like this, the most important person of all, Jesus, was born. Being God, he came from heaven and became man in order to save us from the dominion of the devil and from the terrible punishment that we deserved to pay in hell for our sins. We remember how Mary praised God for such great grace that he granted her:

Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
-- Luke 1:46-50

May the marvelous news of the birth of the Savior, and of the marvelous and perfect saving work which he accomplished for all humanity, continue to overfill us with joy and gratitude to God. May he keep us strong, correctly using the means of grace, while we wait for the second coming of the Savior. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in Christ Jesus. Amen.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hola hermanos, hermanas y amigos en Cristo, 


Les saluda con entrañable afecto en Cristo Jesús  su hermano y servidor Raul, Colombiano,  para muchos las navidad es una fecha de regocijo, porque se encontraran con familiares que hace mucho tiempo no veían  o por motivos similares a ese,  Por la gracia salvadora de Dios, para los creyentes, esta es una de las fechas mas importantes, no por tales motivos, si no porque recordamos  que en una fecha como esta  nació el ser   más importante de todos, Jesús, el cual siendo Dios  vino desde el cielo haciéndose hombre , para salvarnos, del  dominio  del diablo, y del terrible castigo que merecíamos pagar en el infierno por nuestros pecados. Recordamos la alabanza de Maria a Dios, por tan grande gracia que le concedió:


Entonces María dijo:
Engrandece mi alma al Señor;
Y mi espíritu se regocija en Dios mi Salvador.
Porque ha mirado la bajeza de su sierva; 
Pues he aquí, desde ahora me dirán bienaventurada todas las generaciones. 
Porque me ha hecho grandes cosas el Poderoso; 
Santo es su nombre, 
Y su misericordia es de generación en generación 
A los que le temen. 
-- Lucas 1.46-50

Que la maravillosa noticia del nacimiento del salvador y de la maravillosa y perfecta obra salvadora que realizo por la humanidad, nos siga colmando de gozo, y de gratitud, para con Dios, y nos mantenga firmes y haciendo uso correcto de los medios de gracias mientras esperamos la segunda venida del salvador. Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo en Cristo Jesús. Amen.

Photo Credit

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christmas Greetings from Haiti



My family and I wish you peace, comfort and 
eternal hope in our Savior. Merry Christmas!

************************************************
Mi familia y yo les deseamos paz, consuelo, y 
siempre esperanza en nuestro Salvador. 
¡Feliz Navidad!
-- Pastor Rona

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Christmas Greetings from Mexico



From Mexico:

Pastor Alejandro sends greetings and a strong hug to all of the brothers and sisters in the USA. In these days, may the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus, be born and grow in your hearts. In the company of your loved ones, may you receive all the blessings of love and mercy from our Lord.

In Christ, Pastor Alejandro,

<><><><><><><><<><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Desde Mexico:

Pastor Alejandro envia un saludo y fuerte abrazo a todos los hermanos en EEUU. que en estos dias tambien nazca y crezca en sus corazones el Salvador del mundo, nuestro Señor Jesus, en compañia de sus seres queridos reciban todas las bendiciones de amor y misericordia de parte de nuestro Señor. 

En Cristo, Alejandro 

Photo Credit

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Greetings from Bolivia



To all our brothers and sisters who confess their faith in Christ:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
-- Luke 2:10-12

Christmas, understood correctly, is a sign of joy for us sinners and sad mortals who,  deserving of no other destiny than eternal condemnation, today can jump for joy because of this great salvation which has been put before us -- a child wrapped in swaddling clothes who will finish everything we could not finish and will pay for our guilt: the Lamb who was slain from the beginning of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Let us celebrate together such great and wonderful news! Our salvation has been paid! Let us celebrate in Christ, God, the Son, our Redeemer!

With high regards,
Your confessional brothers and sisters from Bolivia

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A todos lo hermanos confesantes de la fe de Cristo: 

"Pero el ángel les dijo: No temáis; porque he aquí os doy nuevas de gran gozo, que será para todo el pueblo: que os ha nacido hoy, en la ciudad de David, un Salvador, que es CRISTO el Señor. Esto os servirá de señal: Hallaréis al niño envuelto en pañales, acostado en un pesebre." 
-- Lucas 2:10-12

La navidad bien entendida es una señal de gozo para nosotros pecadores y tristes mortales que sin más destino que la condenación eterna hoy podemos saltar de gozo ante tan gran salvación puesta delante de nosotros, un niño envuelto en pañales que cumplirá todo lo que no cumplimos y pagará por nuestras culpas: el Cordero que fue inmolado desde el principio del mundo (Apocalipsis 13:8) ¡Celebremos juntos tan grandes y buenas noticias! ¡Nuestra salvación ya fue pagada, regocijemonos en Cristo, Dios, El hijo, nuestro Redentor.

Con aprecio,
Los hermanos confesionales de Bolivia 

Photo Credit

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Greetings from Mexico


video

Greetings, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. With all my heart I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of many blessings. We will be praying for you that God continue to use you in the expansion of his work and that you may be a blessing for other brothers and sisters. May the peace of God be with you.

Saludos mis hermanos en Cristo, les deseo de todo corazón que pasen una feliz Navidad y un año nuevo lleno de muchas bendiciones, estaremos orando por ustedes para que Dios los siga utilizando en el crecimiento de su obra y sean de bendición para otros hermanos. Que la paz de Dios sea con ustedes. 
 -- Seminarian Dan

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Greetings from Colombia


 
Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.  
                                            -- Isaiah 40:1–2

Sus hermanos desde Colombia los animan en esta Navidad para que tengamos vivo este sentimiento de consuelo, de alegría por el perdón de los pecados que nuestro Redentor nos ha dado y además porque pronto vendrá nuestro Señor Jesucristo por segunda vez. 

FELIZ NAVIDAD LES DESEA 
LA IGLESIA LUTERANA CONFESIONAL DE COLOMBIA.WELS

Your brothers and sisters from Colombia encourage you this Christmas to keep this sentiment of comfort alive, this sentiment of joy for the forgiveness of sins that our Redeemer has given us, and also because soon our Lord Jesus Christ will come again.

THE CONFESSIONAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLOMBIA-WELS 
WISHES YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
-- Pastor Henry