Monday, March 14, 2011

Rev. Shauen and Krista Trump in Tanzania.

“Six days after we landed in Nairobi, Shauen was on the road again for a two-week trip into Tanzania. Over the initial days of the journey, short-term agricultural missionaries Delano and Linda Meyer stood in corn fields, looked at cattle in stables, asked questions about plants, fertilizers and land practices and learned everything they could about the farming techniques employed in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. All this was to establish the background for the program they brought to the people of the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA), a small church body currently exploring opportunities for joint mission efforts with LCMS World Mission.

“This amazing team-teaching duo spent decades farming in the United States before ‘retiring’ to mission service in West Africa. There they continued to do what they knew best, infusing instruction on soil conservation, nitrogen fixation and small-business management with solid Law and Gospel proclamation through discussions on Christian stewardship, marital fidelity and the two kingdoms. Years of fine-tuning their two-day program has resulted in a polished presentation of information in an intuitive teaching style.

“Each section begins with questions, ‘Tell me how…’ that are discussed in groups. Well-versed in some of the sweeping generalizations we can make about African culture, the Meyers divide discussion groups by sex and age and solicit responses in this order: young women, old women, young men and old men. Were the old men to speak first (which is the regional social custom), no one else would speak to contradict them. The Meyers know that their class may be the first time some women have ever been publicly asked their opinion and they lavish praise on them.

“After learning from those gathered before them, the Meyers begin pointing out opportunities for improvement. ‘If fast-moving water will carry away the soil, how can we slow it down?’ ‘How can we put more hummus into the soil so we need less fertilizer?’ ‘How can we take advantage of the yearly cycle in the price of maize—is it possible to sell later?’ Together, the class explores ways to improve the life of the soil, the yield of their crops and their quality of life.

“The Meyers masterfully present a compelling and interactive opportunity for these subsistence farmers to give their farms a boost while hearing the Gospel message. Shauen was privileged to travel with the Meyers and Rev. Claude Houge for this program, taking an opportunity to meet the leadership of the LCEA for the first time. He also participated in the program by leading a Bible study called ‘Honor God with Your Body.’ On Sundays, they worshiped with many of the participants attending the agricultural sessions. The first Sunday, Rev. Houge preached and they witnessed the church grow through Baptisms. The second Sunday, Shauen shared the message and witnessed the confirmation of three boys. Praise the Lord for His work in this part of Tanzania!”