Thursday, June 8, 2023

Pre-Kenya Catch-up

Greetings everyone. I wanted to get a few updates out before leaving for Kenya on Friday. Pastor Jeremia and I will be visiting our sister churches in the Kisii area, as well as those in Moi's Bridge. We have one seminary student from each place here at Wittenberg, and others from Kenya who may be interested in attending next year. There are also Christian schools in both places which CLC Project Kinship supports. We'll be traveling as far as Nairobi, Kenya on Friday. We will be visiting the Kisii people on Saturday and Sunday, the Moi's Bridge folks Monday-Tuesday. Then we'll return home on Wednesday, God willing. Pastors Loskira and Lengutai will cover our classes while we are absent. Here are some recent photos and comments:

On Saturday I was invited to attend a traditional family feast, where a cow was presented by a bride's family to the family of the groom as a dowry. Pastor Jeremia presided over the official transfer. The cow had actually been slaughtered earlier, and the group of perhaps 75 people feasted on the beef, along with rice pilau. It was a very interesting cultural experience!

Five of the seminary students also attended the dowry presentation, and we posed for this photo.

This is me waiting by the side of the main road for my Arusha printer to deliver our new textbooks. He was running on "Africa time," so I had to leave and teach class. Later that morning I rode back down to meet him and retrieve the books. They are an introduction to Christian teaching using the adult instruction course "Learn from Me," presented in facing pages with English and computer-generated Swahili. 

Here is a look at our textbook. Getting these is a major development for the seminary students. Up until now their only "textbooks" are the notes that they may take during classes. Providing them with doctrinally-sound materials in their own language not only enhances their own study, but will be a resource for them for years to come in the pastoral ministry. All of this is made possible by the generous contributions of stateside CLC members to the CLC Mission Development Fund (MDF).

It was an exceptionally clear morning yesterday, for which I was thankful. We're supposed to be at the end of the rainy season now, which can't come soon enough for a guy who rides a bicycle to work. The local peak is Mt. Meru, which stood out boldly on the road that leads up the muddy hill to the seminary. Hopefully the rains are behind us now for a while, so it will be just a dry dirt road.

By the time a typically seminary class is done the whiteboard is usually filled. For "New Testament Survey" the students are reading through the entire New Testament between now and the end of November, and we have reached the end of Mark's Gospel. I am routinely peppered with insightful questions - some on-topic and some off. The brief summary of the four Gospels is translated:
    Matthew - Jesus the Promised KING            Mark - Jesus the Powerful SERVANT
    Luke - Jesus the Savior of ALL                     John - Jesus the WORD made FLESH 

Seminary students at lunch. The staple "filler" food is ugali (looks like a cut cake in the picture). It's actually a very thick cornmeal mush, with hardly any flavor. It serves as both staple and utensil - you take a hunk and press it to make sort of a spoon to scoop up the other saucy dish, which in this case is beans. At lunch the students always ask me over and say "karibu" - "welcome!" I'm still bringing my own lunch, but sometimes sample a little of what "Mama Nuele," the seminary house mother, has on the menu.

I'm sure there will be news to share following the Kenya travels. I am closing in on one month to go before returning to the U.S. for furlough. I am thankful for the prayerful support of so many of you CLC members, and I am glad to have the opportunity to train men here for the work of the Gospel, according to all of God's true Word. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Throughout All Generations

Greetings from Wittenberg Seminary in Arusha! With the seminary in the fourth full week of classes, we are getting to know each other better and benefitting from a routine schedule. I am nearing the point where I can move beyond the introductory phase of teaching in Christian Doctrine, Preaching, New Testament Survey and the Gospels. We will then progress to a more advanced level of instruction. That's when the seminary curriculum authored by retired pastor/professor David Lau will be put to good use, as we print textbooks for the students with side-by-side English and Swahili (from a computer translation). The students are already using this material in their Hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation) course. 

During one class I related to the students how, when I was a young man, I learned about the ministry by vicaring under Pastor David Lau at Messiah, Eau Claire. Now it is my turn as an experienced pastor to impart knowledge of God's Word, and ministering with God's Word, to a younger generation. David Lau also continues to teach them through the seminary textbooks he has written. In this way God's Word is being fulfilled here at Wittenberg Seminary:

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts." Psalm 145:3-4

The seminary students, along with Teacher Robert Loskira, expressed their thanks to David Lau for his work in the short video clip HERE (this is followed by a clip of one of the seminary classes in progress).

A video clip from last Sunday's Ascension worship service, including a song by the Sunday school children, is HERE. The printed sermon summary in English is HERE. These were also distributed in Swahili and German versions.

On a personal note, I'm looking forward to moving this Saturday to the rental home that the Board of Missions is providing. My room at the "Christina House" traveler's lodge has served very well, but it will be good to settle into a more permanent location. The commute on my bicycle will be about 3.5 miles one way, which won't do me any harm. 


Here are a few recent pictures (click to enlarge):

Robert Loskira is a fellow teacher at the seminary, and is also the pastor of Mbuyni parish about 45 miles away. He has a wife and three small children. He very recently received a long-needed motorcycle, courtesy of your donations to CLC missions, for travel to and from home and to outlying members. 

My first sight (on this trip) of Mount Kilimanjaro, about 60 miles away. 

The seminary students appreciated receiving multi-pocket file folders for organizing all the handouts and homework that I assign to them.

The students and other faculty members send their greetings to our fellow believers in the CLC-USA, and thank you for your prayers and support! 

God's Word is our great heritage And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way, In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant, while worlds endure We keep its teachings pure.
Throughout all generations! Amen.

Monday, May 8, 2023


Hello everyone - We are now well into our second full week of instruction at Wittenberg Lutheran Theological Seminary. Current enrollment stands at three in the 1-year Evangelism course and four in the 3-year Seminary Course, for a total of seven. They are proving to be able and eager students.

Left to right: Elinaja Bayo, Eubank Elijah, Raphael Kinyaga, B. Naumann,
Jasper Musakali, Marko Sapuro, Godfrey Mzoo, Philip Mollel

In other news - the second session of the Ambureni Sunday School was an uplifting experience for all last Sunday afternoon. The day began with 11 am worship, followed by a charity auction of 2 long stalks of sugar cane. The winning bid from someone else was going to be 10,000 TZ schillings (about $4). I called out "10,000 AND these 2 pieces of candy that I have in my pocket," which won the prize. Sweet!

Winning bidder for sugar cane, next to seminary student Elinaja Bayo

After lunch at Pastor Jeremiah's home nearby, we brought a Land Rover full of kids back to the church for 2 pm Sunday School. By the time some neighborhood kids arrived we had 14 in attendance. Several seminary students were also present for training purposes. The story was "Jesus Raises the Daughter of Jairus," which the kids then reenacted. After coloring pages and review we practiced our song for an upcoming church service, and then went out to play "Bata Bata Goose!" Finally, everyone got some peeled sugar cane as a treat - I just knew that winning bid would come in handy! You chew on the woody pulp for the sweetness and then spit out the remainder. I won't be surprised if the Lord brings us even more children next week, which would be extra sweet!

Reenacting "The daughter of Jairus" 

"Bata Bata GOOSE!"

Another recent blessing our LORD has provided for the work here is a rental home for Paula and I to live in. I'll be moving in on June 1. The owners are a friendly Tanzanian couple who are moving to the U.S. We'll be renting their fully-furnished home for perhaps 1/3 the cost of a similar home in the U.S. It's about 3 miles from the seminary, which is an easy commute by car or bicycle. It is walled and secure, not far from the main road, and within walking distance to various markets. We're very thankful to have found such favorable accommodations for our extended stay here. We'll have plenty of room, and will be looking forward to hosting visitors from the U.S., including Mission Helper team members next summer!

Street and front gate


Living room


Monday, May 1, 2023

Anticipate, Make Allowances, and Adjust


So far my experiences with the local people in and around Arusha, Tanzania have been overwhelmingly positive. Most everyone is genuinely welcoming and deferential to visitors. This is even evident in traffic. After more than a month of living here I have seen only a single traffic accident, and this is on roads that are crowded with cars, land rovers, trucks, motorcycles, and 3-wheeled auto-rickshaws. There is a constant ebb and flow, and the "rules" of the road, including the traffic lights, are taken only as suggestions. 

What makes it all work is that everyone is willing to make allowances for others. This is in contrast to other countries I've visited where a driver has to force himself into a lane, with the implied threat of a crash unless the other guy gives way. Here in Tanzania people are usually willing to make room for someone to merge, or slow down for a pedestrian, or let someone into the roundabout. As long as everyone anticipates the flow of traffic, accommodates others, and makes adjustments as necessary then everyone gets where they're going...eventually.

There is an African life lesson here for yours truly. As an impatient westerner, I'm inclined to 1) make a plan, 2) settle on it with the others involved without too much chit-chat, and 3) implement it sooner instead of later. I'm learning that things simply don't work that way here. There is an ebb and flow, a need to anticipate the expectations of others, accommodate them, and adjust plans accordingly. Everyone does get where they're going...eventually. That's the way it's been with arranging a seminary class schedule, renting a home, and many other lesser tasks. It's a sometimes trying, yet positive experience. It makes a person put into practice the time-tested principles from Scripture such as:

"...Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Col. 3:12) 

After some necessary "ebb and flow," the Wittenberg Lutheran Theological Seminary began its delayed second semester today. With the arrival of a new instructor (namely me) many adjustments have been necessary for the students and other faculty members. Our purpose remains the same: to equip men to be undershepherds for our Lord Jesus, the great Good Shepherd, in caring for His flock. At our first opening devotion I encouraged the men in their studies on the basis of 2 Tim. 2:15: 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Here are some photos of our opening day (click to enlarge):

Arrival - Day 1

Tea and breakfast before class 

6 students were present on the first morning, along with faculty members Nathan Lengutai (left) and Robert Loskira (right). Five more students are due to arrive soon. 

Also - This past Sunday, seminary student Godfrey delivered the sermon at Ambureni Parish. See a brief video clip HERE.

Another bright spot during the past week was the first session of the Ambureni Parish Sunday School, with an enrollment of 6 and a staff of 2 (myself and Lena Issangya, Pastor Jeremia's daughter-in-law). This took place at Pastor Jeremia's home. We plan to move it to the church next Sunday afternoon, so that it will be available to all. Our first lesson was the story of how Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic and then healed him to prove His point. The children are eager to learn!

Monday, April 24, 2023


Hello Everyone - it's been some time since I updated, so here is the news from Arusha. Seminary classes were due to start this morning (4/24), but I am finding out that both the clocks and calendars in Africa run a bit differently than they do in the U.S. Students are actually traveling today, with most of them arriving this evening, so the big start of the semester at the Wittenberg Seminary should actually happen tomorrow. In the meantime, there have been many matters of practical preparation, in addition to getting ready for seminary classes:

  • With Pastor Jeremia's help I have been arranging for the rental of a home about 3 miles from the seminary. It is a lovely and secure place, and fully furnished. The friendly Tanzanian owners are relocating to North Carolina. We are planning to complete the arrangements on Wednesday. The owners depart for the U.S. on May 25, so I can occupy the home on June 1. I'll post a few pictures when the deal is done. Meanwhile I'll continue my stay at the "Christina House" lodge. Here I am at my front door with my current mode of transportation:

Still in the future is the possible purchase of a car. I'm getting along fine so far on foot and bicycle, and with occasional rides.
  • We have weekly worship at the Ambureni Parish, which is the church attached to the seminary. Seminary student Marco preached a sermon last week on the Lord's Prayer. He did a fine job:

  • Yesterday I was invited to preach for the service. The sermon was on the risen Christ and His discussion with Peter over breakfast at the Sea of Galilee. You can see an English summary of the sermon HERE. Pastor Jeremia translated into Swahili as I preached. After the service we handed out a printed sermon summary, as translated into Swahili by Microsoft Word, which you can see HERE. The church members really appreciated that. Also present at each service are the "Germans," mother Tanya, daughter Mila, and grandmother Uma. They have been regulars since moving here and befriending Jeremia's family two years ago. It was an easy matter to give them a German version to follow during the service, HERE

  • Technology has its limits, but is very useful at times! Another example: I am able to use "Google Lens" on my phone to point the camera at the Swahili hymnal, and have it instantly show me an English translation. It's not quite the miracle at Pentecost, but it sure helps!
  • Each week after church I am invited to Jeremia's home to enjoy dinner with his extended family and the Germans. There are always quite a few energetic kids around. I asked them if they would like to have Sunday school, and they said "Yes, yes, YES!" So we plan to have a lesson there next Sunday afternoon. We hope to make that a regular thing at Ambureni parish after that, which will be prior to the 11 am worship service.

  • I have also started an impromptu Bible class here at the Christina House, which has met a few times with an attendance so far of six. We'll have to figure out a regular time to meet, once the seminary schedule is established.

  • I am in regular contact with Paula and the rest of my family with free audio and video calls over the Internet - what a great blessing. Paula is still at the Messiah parsonage, and has other Eau Claire accommodations ready to go when that home will be needed for a new pastor and his family. She has a few weeks yet with her teaching duties at UW-EC. I'll be home during July, then both Paula and I will come to Arusha early in August, God willing.
Please pray for the successful start of the seminary classes, the Sunday school and Bible study, and for all our fellow believers here in Tanzania. Also please remember to our Lord the many other mission fields and their people, as well as Missionary Ohlmann and Pastor Rob Sauers. They are now visiting our contacts in the Philippines. Missionary Ohlmann's latest blog post on this is HERE. God be with you all!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Holy Week in Tanzania


"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:55-57)

Easter blessings in our risen Savior to all! 

The students of the Wittenberg Seminary are on Easter break. I made my way up the muddy road to the seminary on Thursday the 6th to get some things organized. The picture below is of the seminary classroom where Marco, a student who is there during the break, greeted me. You can see the newly-expanded seminary library against the wall, with recent donations from Pastor Paul Nolting, who visited here last November.

[click to enlarge]

I tried out some equipment provided by the CLC Mission Board. It includes a portable, battery-operated projector. This will be helpful both for seminary classes and as an outreach tool. We'll be able to go to isolated villages and view "The Jesus Film," which portrays the life of Christ according to the Gospel of Luke. I have versions of the film which are over-dubbed in both the Swahili and Masai languages. I expect this to be a powerful evangelism tool, opening doors for preaching and teaching the true Word of God.

On Good Friday, Pastor Jeremia and I visited the congregation at Leguruki - about 33 miles away (map HERE).

Easter Sunday worship was a joyous occasion at Ambureni, Pastor Jeremia's church, which is on the same site as the Wittenberg seminary in Arusha.

You may see some video clips of the service, as well as two baptisms and the blessing of a civil marriage HERE

By the way, if you are interested in what Tanzanian cuisine has been like so far, there are some photos HERE.

I am thankful for all of your continued prayers for the work of the Gospel here! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Safari, and Worship in Arusha


I have benefited greatly by having Todd Ohlmann, the CLC traveling missionary, here during my first 10 days in Tanzania. Lydia Ohlmann accompanied her dad for her "senior class trip," and has been a welcome presence during our travels and work. On Saturday we took a day away for a photo safari at Tarangire National Park. The natural wonders of God's creation were breathtaking - you may see some photos HERE.

On Palm Sunday I was privileged to preach the sermon for the Palm Sunday worship service at Ambureni Parish, which is on the same site as the Wittenberg Seminary here in Arusha. You may see a few photos below. Following the service there was a lunch provided for the guests and students from the seminary. 

Missionary Ohlmann and Lydia leave for the U.S. today (the 4th). I'll now have about 3 weeks to prepare for the second semester at the seminary, and will also be visiting TZ-CLC congregations with Pastor Jeremia. I continue to give thanks to our LORD for His blessings on this beginning portion of the work here! 

"Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands." (Ps. 90:16-17)

PHOTOS (click to enlarge)

Preaching at Esilalei Masai congregation, March 28

Worship at Ambureni Parish in Arusha, Palm Sunday, April 2

A video clip of a hymn being sung during the service is HERE.

Fellowship time after church

Pre-Kenya Catch-up

Greetings everyone. I wanted to get a few updates out before leaving for Kenya on Friday. Pastor Jeremia and I will be visiting our sister c...