Christian Aid and Relief | WELS Christian Aid and Relief

Flexibility – Mahahual

Look at all this water! Rest assured, we are all doing well, thanks be to God.

Costa Maya e-newsletter September, 2013

Several events during September kept us on our toes. First, we had extremely heavy rains for a few weeks. This meant the town and surrounding areas flooded. Roads were a challenge to navigate. Stores ran out of certain commodities. Some houses leaked or flooded. Yet, despite the rain, many congregational activities continued as planned. English classes were held, despite lower student attendance. Some new students have been coming to class, both children and adults. Nor did the rain deter many children and adults from attending the weekly soup kitchen and enjoying its nutritious fare.

As soon as the roads were passable, Pastor Briones resumed his weekly visit to Pulticub, north of Mahahual, to worship and study with the remnant there.

The second event was that there was no school in Mahahual for about three weeks due to having teachers on strike in various parts of Mexico. Then, when classes resumed, they took on a longer school day. The children’s Bible class moved to Saturday to accomodate this. The children happily complied, and around twenty showed up this past week.

Please continue to pray for the congregation of Cruz de Cristo, and for the mission work being done in Mahahual.


Fox Valley Tornado Relief Effort

005WELS United, a group of congregations from the Fox Valley Area, has responded to the tornadoes that swept through that area on Tuesday, August 6. The storms that swiftly rolled through spawned 4 – EF1 tornadoes and 1 – EF 2 tornado. Thankfully, the swift moving storms did minimal damage to homes and business. The brunt of the damage was to roofs damaged from downed trees. There was, thanks be to God, no loss of life from these tornadoes.

In a partnership with WELS Christian Aid and Relief, groups in Appleton, WI (WELS United) and Stillwater, MN (Salem Lutheran Church) have organized teams to respond to local disasters. Christian Aid and Relief has supplied funding for the disaster relief trailers and equipment they use in their responses. These teams then are also on call to Christian Aid and Relief in the event of larger disaster relief projects such as Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey and the killer tornado in Moore, OK. It is our hope that these groups will be models for future groups who may also want to form local disaster relief teams.

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Christian Aid and Relief is working with WELS United and the local congregations in this response as well. Whereas WELS United is supplying the volunteers for cleanup and minor repairs, WELS Christian Aid and Relief is in contact with the local congregations (and WELS United) to lend assistance with any critical financial needs that may also present themselves.

Dave Bunnow, Emergency Relief Coordinator for WELS United and the Appleton area disaster relief trailer coordinator for Christian Aid and Relief said, “There is never a good disaster, but instead of traveling 900 miles with the relief trailer it is easier that the travel time is only 10 minutes from home.”

During this project the work of the volunteers has been mostly cutting up fallen trees, some from rooftops, and brush removal. Generators were loaned to those without power.

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Work was completed at Bethany Lutheran Church’s Our Shepherd Childcare where fourteen trees along the fence line had fallen and needed removal. While the group of volunteers were working the neighbors came out and asked why they were helping remove the portion of the trees on their property as well. The volunteers responded with the verses from Matthew 25:35,36 & 40 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “That’s what servants do.” Dave Bunnow also added, “We do all this disaster relief as willing volunteers serving the Lord.”

Once WELS United realized there was a need for help Dave Bunnow put out the word for volunteers at the local churches. Volunteers have been working since the day after the storm and will continue to work until they find no one in need. Since the storm, WELS United has been blessed to serve 11 families with four more families needing assistance and waiting for approval.

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For any disaster victims who would still like help or volunteers who would like to serve, please contact:

Dave Bunnow

Emergency Relief Coordinator

WELS United

Bunnow@sbcglobal.net

920-734-4768

www.welsunited.org


SHELTERED IN GOD’S GRACE

together-ok2When Sheila Taylor and her five children emerged from her neighbor’s over-crowded storm shelter, her neighborhood, including her own home, was gone.

Taylor, her husband, and children, members of Holy Cross, Oklahoma City, lived in the direct path of the May 20 EF5 tornado in Moore, Okla. Her inlaws, only a couple blocks away, lost their home too. She didn’t know where to go, but she wanted to get away from where she was. She walked with her kids for about a mile to escape the shards of wood and downed power lines.

Taylor says, “When I start to think about all the things my children have made for me and the Christmas ornaments I won’t be able to put on the tree— just those little special Mother’s Day gifts with their prints and pictures I’m never going to get to see again— those things start to bother me. The pictures of when my older children were babies, I don’t have those.” But, she says, “The Lord blessed us all because we’re all alive and we’re all together.”

Mike Poulin and his wife, also Holy Cross members, were at work when the sirens started to scream. After taking shelter in the oil change pit at the service center next door, they came out to discover their home totally wrecked. After arriving at his house, Poulin heard that the nearby Plaza Towers school was in trouble. He ran across the now leveled foundations to help. “I wasn’t even thinking; I just started tossing rubble,” he says. He was able to help two small children find their parents.

“If you don’t believe in God,” says Poulin, “after something like this, you will.” He says after knowing how big the tornado was and the path it left, it’s a miracle there wasn’t more loss of life than there was.

In the weeks since the storm, both the Taylor and Poulin families have found housing, albeit temporary. But nearly everything they owned was lost. These are just two of four families from Holy Cross who experienced this kind of devastation, not to mention the countless others in the community.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief already has sent $10,000 to Holy Cross to assist its members with immediate needs, and the congregation has come together to help each other sort through the rubble and begin getting on their feet again. “We’re all God’s family, and we’re there to support each other,” says Poulin.

To help with spiritual care, WLCFS Christian Family Solutions is sending two counselors to the area June 6-9 to offer Christian counseling to Holy Cross members.

Licensed Christian therapist Rev. John Schuetze says, “I see, especially in the early stages, the importance of educating people from a Christian perspective how to make sense of all of this and how to put it in perspective of our Christian faith.”

He continues, “It’s hard for us to feel safe after we’ve been through a traumatic event, whether it’s relational or whether it’s a natural disaster. And we also struggle with hope. I think those are two areas where the Christian faith provides answers that secular counseling can’t offer because we know that we are safe in the Lord. We can’t always see that, especially in the midst of a disaster, but we can go to his Word, and there he assures us he is our refuge and strength and that he is caring for us.”

There’s still a lot to do—not just for the Holy Cross members, but for the community. Christian Aid and Relief is working with WELS Kingdom Workers to organize volunteers who can help with clean-up in Moore and at the same time reach out to community members with Christ’s love and message of salvation.

If you would like volunteer or support Christian Aid and Relief’s work in Moore, visit www.wels.net/relief.


Spring at Cruz de Cristo

Kerry Pamperin -Costa Maya Lutheran Newsletter – April

little-fabi-at-the-children-s-bible-classWith April comes the end of the high season in Mahahual. Many of the expats begin they journeys north for the summer months. The town becomes quiet and business slow. But these are also months with great opportunities for the congregation – getting children involved with various activities at church as the school year winds down, encouraging the parents to come to services along with their kids, reaching out to the hungry and the lonely and the troubled for whom the months ahead seem bleak. For this whole sin-sick, suffering world, there is only one solution. There is only Christ. Our hearts are on these matters as summer approaches.

We continue our weekly rhythm of events. As the week begins, we meet for worship. We study God’s Word together, sing hymns, and pray. Lately, the children attending outnumber the adults! We have also been honored to have several visitors over the past month. It was a blessing to meet you and worship with you.

During the week, the children come back to have Bible class with Pastor Briones. He teaches them a story, and they do projects and learn verses from the Bible. Attendance on average is about 15 children.

As the week comes to an end, we continue to offer meals to the community through the soup kitchen. Again, we have noted more children are attending than adults. It is a joyful time of the week, for both those serving and those being served!

We extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who have volunteered their time and talents over the past month. We thank you for watching children during the service, for painting the doors, for typing out the minutes, for serving soup, for cleaning chairs with zeal, for welcoming guests, for giving generously, and so much more. What an immense privilege to be working in the Lord’s vineyard beside you.


“What We Teach About Jesus’ Love Is True!”

Listviyanskie Schacti 1

Listviyanskie Schachti

By Pastor Luke Wolfgramm (Our missionary to Russia)

Listviyanskie Schachti, also known as “Listviyanka”, is a small mining village about 45 minutes south of Iskitim. In the 1950’s the village reached its peak, and a two-story school was built in 1958. About 10 years ago the mine closed, and the town subsequently has been in decline.

Our Iskitim deaconesses have made monthly trips to the village school in Listviyanka for over 10 years. They arrive at the end of the school day to teach a Sunday school lesson, and any student who desires to stay is welcome. Usually about 60-70 students stay for the lesson. The deaconesses divide the children into two groups, younger and older. They teach a Bible story and do a craft with the children. The children actively participate in the lesson and enjoy doing the crafts.

Listviyanka is a poor village, and it lacks wholesome activities for the children outside of school. But the Bible lesson and craft are much more than just a pleasant distraction from the daily routine. Hearing about a Savior who loves them is especially meaningful to children in a rough neighborhood. Learning about eternal joy in the mansions of heaven provides hope when all around looks bleak. Seeing the love and concern of the deaconesses and mission reinforces that what we teach about Jesus’ love is true!

Outreach to the children of Listviyanka is possible due to humanitarian aid funds. Over the years our mission has provided school uniforms for children who need them, used computers, equipment for gym class, desks and chairs, bulletin boards, repaired their copy machine, and more. The school recognizes that our mission fulfills some of their physical needs. The school also realizes that children who know about Jesus’ love and show love to others in thankfulness to their Savior are a positive influence on the student body. For these reasons, the school welcomes our church body into its midst.

We hope to continue serving the students of Listviyanka as long as the door is open. Right now manpower in Russia is short, but God-willing in a year we will have two national pastors ready to serve the church. At that time, the mission may be able to expand work in Listviyanka to work with the parents as well. The groundwork laid by humanitarian aid funds and the years of positive Bible study by the village’s children will undoubtedly provide a natural bridge to ministering to the families of Listviyanka. Thank God that the children know and love their Savior! May God grant us the means and opportunity to work with their families in the near future!