I am writing this newsletter from the United States of America, where Luz Maria and I have spent the last two weeks visiting my family and two of the churches that have supported me as a volunteer missionary. This has been Luz Maria´s first trip outside of her native country and the first time that she has seen snow and trees without leaves. Tomorrow we return to Venezuela.
The first thing we did after arriving at my mother's house was give a presentation on our work at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Freeburg, Illinois. We were overwhelmed by the response and are very grateful to Pastor Bruce Keseman and the people of that congregation.
Then we journeyed to South Dakota to visit my grandmother, who celebrated her 88th birthday in January. We also got to see my mother's two surviving brothers and most of their families. Luz Maria was suitably impressed by the faces of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore. I already knew that Abraham Lincoln is greatly admired in Venezuela and that there is a Lincoln Plaza in Caracas with a statue of the Civil War president. Luz Maria told me that there in Barinas there is a Roosevelt Plaza with a statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That I didn't know and plan to make a point of seeing once we return.
We also visited the site of the Black Hills Passion Play where, long before Mel Gibson's movie, the family of Josef Meier brought the European tradition of passion plays to the U.S. Although the play is not in production right now, we were given a tour of the museum by Guido Dellavecchia, MeierÂŽs son-in-law. Guido spoke to Luz Maria in Italian and they had some success in communicating that way. For more information about the Black Hills Passion Play, see this Web site.
From there we traveled to Bloomington, Minnesota, and gave a presentation to St. MichaelÂŽs Lutheran Church. Once again we were overwhelmed by everyone's support. Luz Maria taught some of the Sunday school children some Spanish songs and enjoyed a tour of St. Michael's preschool. We especially thank Pastor Phil Bickel and Sue Timmerman for organizing everything.
We returned to St. Louis where Pastor Keseman gave us a tour of Concordia Seminary. The Lutheran Church of Venezuela has no seminary and Luz Maria was very interested in all aspects of Concordia, including the deaconess program.
God willing, the next time you hear from us we will be back in Barinas, Venezuela.