Poster - Worship Slides

Poster - Front-and-Center Slides

Poster - Event Slides

The Puerto Rico Plan

I must admit, I was more than a little bummed out this past spring when we had to put our plans aside for going to Puerto Rico to help with relief from hurricanes Irma and Maria. But I had to step back and realize these were our plans … not God’s plans! After a bit of prayer and time, the Heseders made new plans to go in the fall. At first there were only two of us going, but the number gradually increased to seven—four of them going on their first mission trip! Now two more have joined the group, growing our number to nine!

As promised in the last newsletter, I would like to share with you a few of the details around our journey. We will be leaving Denver on a very early 1:30 AM flight on Saturday October 13, and arriving in the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan, around noon.

Puerto Rico is the eastern-most island of the Greater Antilles. Is is also the smallest, being only 100 miles from east-to-west and 35 miles from north-to-south. We will be serving toward the center of the island, in the central mountain region. Our most likely area will be near the city of Cayey, but there’s a chance we could be in Guaynabo (between San Juan and Bayamón) or Salinas instead.

So, once we arrive at the airport we will rent a car and drive south, likely stopping for supplies on the way (see how you can help with that, below). Saturday evening we will meet up with the rest of the thirty-person (or so) team from Group Missions. As of this writing, we don’t know what our accommodations will be … but know that God has His plans! Sunday we will worship with the community we will be serving and enjoy a tour of the area. This will also give us a day to acclimate to the tropical humidity before starting our work week!

Speaking of work, we don’t know exactly what we will be working on during our week in Puerto Rico, but here are the projects Group has done so far in 2018:

  • Replaced twenty wood roofs.
  • Sealed twelve concrete roofs.
  • Entirely rebuilt one home.
  • Removed debris from 52 homes.
  • Cleared twelve community areas (parks, town squares, etc …) of debris.
  • Demolished two homes.
  • Participated in three community painting projects.
  • Worked on five municipal department buildings,
  • Remodeled two churches.

A total of 225 families have been helped so far in 2018!

After our week of serving, we will return to San Juan on Saturday (October 20) for the flight back to Colorado. We will be exhausted but rejuvenated, weary but anxious to go again, and grateful to have been able to share whatever we could offer.

Even if you’re not on the plane with us October 13, you can help, too! We will be collecting donations of cash and gift cards (Home Depot, Walmart) through October 7. Drop off your offering, marked PR MIssion, into the offering plate or at the church office.

Thank you for your support! It’s wonderful what happens when you put things in God’s hands.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Puerto Rico Preparations

It has been a year since the small island of Puerto Rico was hit not once, but twice, by major hurricanes just days apart. Winds over 150 miles per hour and heavy rain left most of the island in the dark, with isolated or impassable roads, without drinking water and many residents without homes.

Today, several remote areas are still without reliable power. Many people are living in homes still heavily damaged. Leaking roofs, windows without or screens or even glass to keep out weather and bugs, debris and trash scattered about are all common sights. To compound the problem, many businesses closed their doors after the storm and jobs were lost. No income … no money for repairs.

On October 13, seven Heseders, members of Saint John’s mission team, will be arriving in San Juan to spend the week working in a needed area in any way we can. We will share our time and talents and show the love of Jesus by rebuilding homes, cleaning up debris and help residents get back some of what they lost … especially hope!

Eric Gardner, Sue Gardner, Don Gibbons, Jill Hudak, Doug Robertson, Cindy Robertson and Nelly Sanford are very excited to see what God has in store. Would you like to help, too? We are not taking donated items with us, as purchasing needed items in Puerto Rico will help rebuild the economy and make travel lighter. So we are seeking cash (checks made out to Saint John’s Lutheran with “PR Supplies” in the memo line) and gift cards pack nicely! Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, they have many of the same stores we have on the mainland. Walmart, Home Depot and Walgreens are all in the area we will be visiting. Donations can be dropped into the offering tray on Sunday morning and dropped off at the office any time before October 12.

Watch next month for a more in-depth look at our journey. Also, keep an eye on the Hesed Journal at StJohnsFC.org while we are gone. If we get in an area with internet, there will be daily updates, as usual!

Thank you for your support!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Tanzania Medical Mission Follow-Up

Shara Osiro, a missionary in Eastern and Southern Africa who serves as the area volunteer coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa, just sent out a newsletter focused on the work of the Tanzania Medical Mission Team in Uchira. She shared some great photos as well as an interview with several participants, including our own Kimberly Pepmiller.

Kimberly Pepmiller is from Colorado and has been a nurse for ten years. She has served on eight MMTs to Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and has been a team leader three times to include this recent trip.

I asked Kimberly why she keeps serving on MMTs? It makes her appreciate why she became a nurse. She finds it fulfilling to help those in need and who appreciate it. MMTs help her to tie together her faith and vocation.

Why would you encourage someone to participate on a MMT? “To open your world view, to tie the Christian and cultural worldview together. It gives one the opportunity to use the gifts that God has given you. A MMT is a profound way to discover your gifts.”

What are your three favorite things about serving on a MMT? “The relationships that you build with the team and the locals, serving with fellow Lutherans who share the same faith and getting to interact with the locals and providing good healthcare.”

You can Shara’s complete newsletter (and more photos) here.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Tanzania Medical Mission, Clinic Day 5

Today brought the conclusion of our medical clinic. We began the day in normal fashion with worship, prayer and praise with the local church partners, our Tanzanian health care workers, the patients waiting and our team. The patients seemed a bit more feisty waiting in line today. It seems they wanted to make sure they were seen on the last day.

Today Sarah was able to travel to a local hospital to follow up on care for a patient and make some connections for future treatment needs. The woman with the severe infection who was sent to the hospital for had a great night and was able to discharge in much better health and go home. Sarah was able to connect an ophthalmologist with one of the local pastors who can assist his ten-year-old daughter with cataract surgery and help connect their other children with resources for glasses. Another patient presented today with inability to eat or drink for close to one year. The probable diagnosis for the patient is esophageal cancer. The woman has been connected to the local pastors who will help her navigate the next steps of this healthcare journey, which may include further testing, treatment or hospice care. The woman's son is also very ill and needs to seek further care elsewhere. Sarah and the health care team were able to share stories of success and needs for continued prayer and guidance.

Our team saw 340 patients today. Overall for the week we were able to provide both spiritual and physical care to just over 1300 patients. Common diagnoses and healthcare concerns remained the same for the patients today. Bacterial and fungal infections remain the more prevalent of the issues.

Julian and Pastor Massawe

At the end of the day we gathered together as a full team to say our goodbyes. It is always challenging to develop relationships and then at the end of the week to say farewell. However, relationships are the lasting imprint of our trip and will serve as excellent memories for all. The local pastors are hopeful to have a few extra parishioners in church as a result of the efforts this week as people heard the Gospel and received health care. The patients were connected to their health care personnel and will hopefully seek future follow-up care from them. The week was a success in terms of accomplishing these two main goals.

Our full spiritual and health care team.
Our amazing missionary leaders: Sarah, Shara, Krista
Our American MMT team members

The final highlight at the end of the day was the appearance of Mount Kilimanjaro in its great majesty. We played tourists and pulled off to the side of the road to await the final clearing of the clouds as it appeared for the close of the day. Our evening was spent reflecting and enjoying some final times together as a team as we begin to prepare for final adventures and travel home. We have completed our service, impacted those here in our care, and created a lasting influence in each one of us.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Tanzania Medical Mission, Clinic Day 4

The fourth day of clinic brought another day of moments of joy and gifts. One of the Tanzanian nurses working alongside our team began the day by giving those working together to obtain health histories fresh avocados to enjoy. Her thoughtfulness and efforts are greatly appreciated. Later in the morning a woman seen at the clinic earlier in the week returned and gifted Krista with ears of corn as a symbol of thanksgiving. The woman walked far with the heavy load just to share her gratitude.

The relationships developing between the Tanzanian and American teams are another reason for joy. We are sharing our cultures with each other, learning Swahili and laughing together. The children really enjoy interacting with members of the American team at the vital sign area. Play is a universal language that allows relationships to build without being able to directly speak. It is great to watch the enjoyment from the children and team members and to hear about the creativity in the play.

Many people came to the clinic again today. The tent of waiting people seemed to always be full. Amazingly, the people created a line system to stay in order for registration and treatment. Historically, lines are difficult to create and maintain in Africa. Crowding is often the normal. Therefore, the line that formed, seemingly without instruction, is very impressive.

Today we provided care and treatment for 370 people. The day flowed a bit smoother as we had the full team working all day. The day prior, one of the doctors had to leave for a large portion of the day to attend to a family emergency. The clinic set up was the same, and each team member maintained their same role in clinic. We saw similar diagnoses as the beginning of the week with infections, fungal infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint pain (presumably some arthritis). Each patient does receive an oral medication to treat for any worms they may have.

The Muslim population is prevalent in Tanzania, and currently they are celebrating Ramadan, which means fasting during the day. This is contributing to the worsening of some medical conditions as the patients are more prone to being dehydrated, light headed and dizzy. One boy came through today who was quite sick with a gastrointestinal illness. He stayed with us for the afternoon to receive rehydration and medications. The woman who has been coming all week for IV antibiotics for a severe infection was taken to the hospital today for further treatment and ongoing support.

Lisa and Miriam obtaining weights
Maddie and Valeria with a patient
Rose and Tess working together
Tanzanian doctors treating patients
Megan and the pharmacy crew working together

Krista shared a positive story from evangelism and individual prayer with patients today. A young family came through that has come upon terrible economic conditions for their family. This has led to them making very tough choices for how to earn funds for their family. Through the clinic, the family is now in contact with the local church. The family plans to attend church this coming Sunday, where there will be a special offering to support the family. Hopefully the family will stay connected with the church for support and continued growth of their faith.

Tomorrow is already the final day of the clinic. We look forward to another opportunity to work together to help and serve this Tanzanian community.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

More Articles ...