Recent Blogs

Choirs have begun!

We had an exciting children's choirs first rehearsal and registration last Wednesday, Sept. 12th. With the Sweet Repeat set up going on we had registation in the Open Door. It was fun to see so many faces full of surprise and wonder at our inviting, spacious, modern Open Door. Maybe we should have registration in there every year so we can show off the space available to our future junior high and high school youth!  Seventy-six children have been registered to sing in our choirs! Woo-hoo!

Take a Walk!

When I was young, one of the small pleasures of the school year starting up again was the prospect of daily walks to and from school with friends from my neighborhood.  On these daily walks, understanding of my friends grew, inevitable squabbles were healed, and compassion deepened as we shared, on the way home, what had been that day's biggest challenges. And there was the unbeatable bonding experiences of doubling over with laughter together at some great joke or silly observation.

Choirs are starting up!

It's almost time for the start of choir rehearsals! I hope everyone saw the information in the Tower Bell or picked up a brochure from the kiosk at the entryway. Choir is a fun way for children to get used to coming to church -- and it gets the parents here and involved and getting to know one another too.

Choirs are not limited to children! We have the Chapel Choir for any interested high schoolers -- a wonderful way to get to know other high school youth . They tour every spring and fuse many friendships.

Salt, Sweat & Seeds

Girl in CopacabanaA lot of good work got packed into the past six weeks!

Our son, Sam, 20, helped build adobe greenhouses in nearby Sicuani and Cusijata. The Sicuani greenhouse and another one in Santa Ana have new water lines, and all three have new roofs and newly planted seed starter boxes.

In June and July Allyson Zeedrich, 23, a graduate student in the University of Illinois’ School of Public Health, fulfilled her six-week practicum here. She interviewed Promotores de Buena Salud (volunteer community public health workers) trained by the mission to see how they are using their skills and whether they need more training to maximize their effectiveness. The interviews confirmed that virtually all of the Bolivian Promotores want more regular training; they want to feel more confident; and they need to know more about promoting themselves. Allyson suggested monthly meetings in which they can choose and study specific topics of interest. She facilitated a lively dialogue on how the promotores could advertise their skills. Using Allyson’s computer and advice, every member of the group gleefully designed his or her own professional business card, complete with a logo and a four-color head shot.

Short Days - Big Projects

Team OnalaskaOur hearts are still soaring and our pantry, our stock of public health teaching supplies and first aid materials, as well as my previously meager store of footwear, have grown substantially, thanks to last week’s visit from Team Onalaska (Wisconsin).

Construction workers on the team helped local Aymaran folks build a new greenhouse in Sicuani, and helped reroof an existing greenhouse in Santa Ana, Bolivia. Nurses and public health workers on the team taught basic nutrition and dental hygiene, and gave much-coveted sunglasses, to two groups of school students and adults – more than 100 people.

On our first day of work with the Onalaska folks, we were welcomed with an early, outdoor lunch -- bowls heaped with rice, potatoes, oka (a nutty-tasting local tuber), and fresh, fried trucha (trout from Lake Titicaca). The builders, including my son Sam, stayed at that site, where they laid adobe for the new greenhouse. The health care folks, Jeff and I moved on to a small school in Sampaya -- one teacher, one room, and 11 students, including several orphans or abandoned children; all from very poor families. We taught dental hygiene and distributed much coveted sunglasses, and school and dental-care supplies.

Photos that welcome the world

A woodland scene

Walking in the woods last week after dinner, I noticed the sun cascading through the limbs then someone walking through that light. There, I was reminded of the little worlds we collide with and walk in and out of each day. How do we say hello with a welcoming word?

This summer we invite you to share images with us at church of some of the ways you have, or will have touched the world. It could be a picture of a neighborhood block party or it could be stepping off the plane in Paris or exiting a boat in Thailand. You can pull out your camera phone and catch Mount Rushmore or a conversation over the back fence with a new neighbor. Wherever vacations or business trips or a ride to a relative take us, we hope you take a welcoming spirit along with a picture. Wherever you find yourself saying hello, to different people and places, share these adventures and email the pictures to Bethany. Please include a brief description in terms of people and place.

We want to geotag these photos and catch a glimpse of the worlds we shook hands with over the summer. A summer walk in the woods, depicted above, did I stop and say hi, did we have a conversation? If so, where did the conversation lead us? Let the conversations begin! Maybe we can see the big things we did together that we couldn't have done alone.

A Day of Celebration

We are so looking forward to this Sunday morning's special worship service, and the great "singing and ringing" Sunday evening concert too!

A praise band will be supporting the music for Sunday morning's service, and the message will be shared by JJ Mannschreck, our seminary intern. The design of the service looks refreshing and joyful - I can hardly wait to be there!

Welcoming the World

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself," says Matthew 22:34-46

Welcoming the world seems to take love for granted. Welcoming is inviting -- making the strangers feel they belong. When we welcome the world around us, we love God.

Pastor's Reflection

Oh, these spring mornings! I relish them, as I am sure most of us do. With the early sunlight streaming in through the windows, and the plants outside growing fuller every day, it's a daily treat to just pause and soak it all in -- even when doing so reminds me that one of these days, I'd better wash those panes!

Greenhouse at the Top of the World

Santa Ana, BoliviaIn June, with help from a mission team from Onalaska, WI, and my son Sam, we’ll be building a new adobe greenhouse near Santa Ana, Bolivia. In the photos at right and below, left, note that the lake (12,500 feet elevation), is quite a bit lower than the site. Cerro (peak) Wara Wara, right next to the site, is 4492 meters – about 14,950 feet. Click on the photos to enlarge them and see more in our photo albums.

The new greenhouse will overlook an old stone road that’s still well trafficked by shepherds driving llamas, alpaca, and sheep. The road, made in pre-Columbian days, winds its way from one side of the Copacabana Peninsula to the other, linking Copa to Sampaya, where small boats depart every morning for Isla de la Luna, Island of the Moon.

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