Monday, August 28, 2023

A Triumphant Procession

By the grace of God, Paula and I arrived safely at our home in Arusha, Tanzania on Monday, August 21. It was a long trip! We drove to Chicago for our flight of 14 hours to Ethiopia. After a layover we had a 3-hour flight to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania. Pastor Jeremia picked us up for the last leg, which normally is about a 45-minute drive.

Packed into Pastor Jeremia's little SUV

On this day, though, the journey took much longer. We, along with all the other drivers, were waved to the side of the road by the police. We waited there, on that hot afternoon, for a good long time. The reason was that a motorcade was coming for the president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Tanzanian presidential motorcade on Himo Road

At long last the flashing lead cars flew by, followed by several presidential SUVs and many other staff cars. Finally, after about 90 minutes of roadside waiting, we finished our journey to our Tanzanian home:

Since arriving, we have gotten used to the time change, and have made quite a few improvements to our home. We are within walking distance of most things that we need, and are looking at other transportation options. Meanwhile, classes at the Wittenberg Seminary have resumed:

Seminary teacher Robert Loskira, and student Godfrey, Marko, and Jasper

When I told the seminary students about our experience with the presidential motorcade, it brought to mind the much greater and more glorious procession that Paul described:

Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession! (2 Cor. 2:14)

I told the students that they should expect to be “sidelined,” as far as the world is concerned, as they go forward proclaiming Jesus as the only Savior. That takes nothing away, though, from the true glory of serving people with the Gospel message of the crucified and risen Christ!

It’s perfectly proper for us to wait on the side of the road for the president to pass. After all, the Bible tells us to “Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:9) But even when we’re outwardly on the sidelines, we are always proceeding on the path with Jesus that leads to eternal life, as we gladly point out that path to others.

Paula has received an especially warm welcome from the seminary students, as well as all the members of Ambureni parish, where we attended church yesterday:

View from the front door of the Ambureni church, following worship services

Pastor Jeremia, Bruce and Paula Naumann, 
and seminary student (and preacher) Jasper Musakali

We are looking forward to many more of God's blessings here among the people of the TCLC!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Finale of the First Phase

UPDATE - the video links below didn't work at first, but have now been fixed.

Dear friends - it is the last week of regular classes here at Wittenberg Seminary in Arusha before our break. Final tests for the second semester will be given next week, and then I'll be flying home for furlough on Saturday. I'm looking forward to meeting a new grandson, born on June 24, and the upcoming birth of a granddaughter. I also hope to see many of you all while in the U.S.

We have definitely "hit our stride" as students and faculty in our new situation. The men are making good progress in their studies. At the end of November we expect to graduate 3 students from the 1-year Evangelism program; they will then be eligible to enroll in the 3-year seminary. Although there will be no seminary graduates this year, we hope by God's grace to graduate 4 candidates for the pubic ministry in November of 2024. Photos (click to enlarge):

The Wittenberg Seminary Faculty:
Robert Loskira, Jeremia Issangya, Bruce Naumann, and Nathan Lengutai

Our seven students in the seminary classroom

Along with his work at the seminary, Pastor Robert Loskira serves the congregation in Mbyuni, about an hour away. This past weekend I had the privilege to travel to his home congregation and to be the guest preacher. Mbyuni parish is a small but vibrant group, with many children. Some photos:

Transportation on Pastor Robert's motorcycle

The paved roads gave way to gravel, then a dirt path shortcut
to the Maasai village of Mbyuni

The home where Pastor Robert lives with his wife and 3 small children

Pastor Robert Loskira, his wife Rachel, and their children (left to right): Onesimus, Angel, and Innocent. We give thanks to God that Rachel Loskira has recovered from a recent, severe illness.

The temporary church at Mbyuni is enclosed within the walls of the as-yet unfinished building

The congregation at worship

Mbyuni is also the home of seminary student Phillip Aloyce

A video clip of the Sunday school singing is HERE. An after-church song and prayer is HERE.

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This "Finale of the First Phase" will be my last blog post until later in August when, God willing, Paula and I will arrive safely here in Arusha. It's very encouraging to know that so many of our fellow believers in the CLC-USA are supporting us and praying for the work here!

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you.” (2 Thesslonians 3:1)   

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

"Strengthening the Disciples" in Kenya

Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:21-22) 

The missionary journies of Paul and his companions, as recorded in the book of Acts, show a clear pattern of 1) seeking new contacts with the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ, and 2) continuing to build and maintain the faith of those who had already heard and believed. Our CLC missions program seeks to follow the same pattern, with regular visitations to our outlying sister churches in various countries. This "maintenance and encouraging" work is done primarily by traveling missionary Todd Ohlmann, as well as a number of part-time visiting pastors from the U.S. 

My own call as seminary teacher and missionary is centered in Tanzania, but since I am within driving distance of our sister churches in Kenya I've been asked to visit there from time to time. Pastor Jeremia Issangya and I have just returned from such a trip. We visited our fellow believers in two locations in Kenya; Etago and Moi's Bridge. We had the same purpose as that of Paul and his companions - "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith." Additionally, we assist the Mission Board in ensuring that the limited resources we have to offer from CLC missions are applied in the best possible way.

It was a 6-day trip from June 9-14, with traveling days on either end and lengthy bus rides to and from our destinations. Some photos and descriptions are below (click to enlarge).  

The two travelers: Pastor Jeremia and myself, in front of the newly-completed wing of the school on Etago, Kenya. By the way, many African churches expect any clergyman (not just Catholic priests) to wear a clergy collar. 

St. David's Academy in Etago. There are 120 students in 8 levels. CLC Project Kinship helps to support the school, and provides Bible curriculum for instruction in the Word of God. 

Sunday worship with some of St. David's students, their teachers, and members of the Etago congregation. Pastor Jeremia greeted and encouraged the group.

I preached a children's sermon on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. We are to have "good posture" before God; when we bend low in repentance He lifts us up with His forgiveness in Christ. 

School headmaster Charles is on the left, next to two of St. David's teachers. At the table are Pastor Enosh of the Chotororo congregation, Pastor Fred of Etago, and church member Brian. 

A group photo following the Church service. Pastor Fred has a son, Eubank, who is a student at Wittenberg Seminary in Arusha. 

It was a six-hour shuttle bus ride from Kisii (near Etago) to the Moi's Bridge area. It was a crowded bus, but there was beautiful Kenyan Countryside to enjoy! 

Mary Sagala, left, is the administrator of Holy Cross Lutheran School in Moi's Bridge. Second from right is the elderly (and blind) Pastor Samson, who still preaches regularly for the local congregation, from his extensive memorization of large portions of the Bible. 

The student body gathered to present songs and dancing for their visitors, as well as a reenactment of Jesus' trial, suffering, death, and resurrection.
You may see some video clips of the children HERE

One of the classrooms in the newly-completed wing of the school, made possible through CLC Project Kinship funds. 

Mary and one of the class levels, along with their teacher.  

One of the teachers at Holy Cross School is Dennis, who is the son of Jasper, a Kenya student at the Wittenberg Seminary in Arusha. 

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The book of Acts reports that, while strengthening the new churches of his first missionary journey, Paul and his companions told the believers “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." In our East African work we see a great many earthly hardships among those whom we serve. Thanks be to God that this does not at all diminish the heavenly riches that we share, in Christ!  

We appreciate all the prayers and support from our fellow believers in the CLC-USA. You too are "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith."

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 typical 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!

A Triumphant Procession

By the grace of God, Paula and I arrived safely at our home in Arusha, Tanzania on Monday, August 21. It was a long trip! We drove to Chicag...