The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


To Tanzania and back

I can still see and hear them—faces shining, hands clapping, voices full and singing in parts. They are the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania at worship in churches bulging with people.

Seeing their smiles and feeling their love and generosity, I find it sometimes hard to remember that Tanzania is a developing country whose people need and deserve our help. Most homes have no heat or air-conditioning and, once outside the cities, also don’t have indoor stoves (only charcoal on the ground outside), refrigeration, cars, washers and dryers, personal computers or carpets on the floors. The church members and many people I saw on the streets were dressed beautifully. Many sew their clothing on foot-pedaled sewing machines or buy it second-hand.

With 2.5 million members, the ELCT is the second largest Lutheran church in Africa. The pastors, seminarians and evangelists I met and heard were remarkable—intelligent and loving. In the Pare Diocese where I visited, annual income is $150, estimate ELCA volunteer missionaries, Lori and Todd Byerly. One survey puts national per capita income at $850 a year.

I learned of many needs within the ELCT: Lutheran colleges asked for library books. (Note please, retiring pastors!) Expertise of English teachers, nurses and doctors, and nutritionists are welcome. So are people with small business know-how, like Janet Heinicke of the Southeastern Iowa Synod who led the small group I was a part of. She taught a new way of producing batik to 32 women. Ann Thye, another in the group, led a discussion on marketing. The women say they had artistic and eager students.

Other sources of inspiration to me: ELCT congregations and hospitals educating about AIDS and contributing to the national drop from 13 percent to 7 percent of new cases in one year. The peaceful Christian-Muslim relationship, which Tanzanians tell me, is because people of the two faiths are intermarried and celebrate each other’s holidays.

This week's front page features:

Scrapping your prayers: Create a book with images of people you hold before God. (Photo at right.)

From Latvia, with parables: Rubenis uses parables to point the way.

Taking a risk: Self-appointed activist does something big.

Project prom: Youth Gathering plants seed for community service.

Also: Richer brew for growers.

Also: Tutoring is win-win.

Also: Evangelism tips.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about a trend toward mean girls as cyber-bullies.

Amber Leberman (right) wonders whether a key character will be ultimately good, evil or a little of both in the final installment of the Harry Potter series.

Kathy Kastilahn blogs about the "end" of summer and being present in this day.

Sonia Solomonson writes about pastor and revolutionary recruiter Peter Muhlenberg.

Check out our blog > > >

Tell us! Funeral stories:

What’s so funny about a funeral? Usually not much. But sometimes, especially for pastors, something goes terribly wrong and all we can do is laugh.

Send your funeral stories (75 words or fewer) to Julie Sevig for The Lutheran's "Light Side" page. The deadline is September 21.

Members: Respond online > > >

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Norma Shaffer

Norma Shaffer

Posted at 5:17 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/24/2007

As I was reading aboutTaninasia, it reminded me of when I was a young girl.  I learned to sew on a treadle sewing machine.  We lived in the country and had a well to pump water.  My mother had to pump water, then heat it on a wood fire then put it in the wringertype washing machine to wash clothes.  When we first moved there we had an outside privy.  But do you know, all in all we were very happy and we had wonderful neighbors also.  Maybe this is what made us a fun loving family and we loved our neighbors, and they loved us.  we were truly blessed.  Thank you for letting me put my input in your newsletter.  Yours in Christ        Norma Shaffer

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February issue


Embracing diversity