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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Welcome Home to Mama Africa

Ann Sponberg Peterson writes:  

Upon arriving in the North, our first morning was spent visiting the ELCIN (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia) Head Office.  Gregory and I always enjoy this visit since it means attending morning worship with the synod staff and, if we’re lucky, a meeting with the Presiding Bishop of the ELCIN.  We were lucky this time and Bishop Nambala was in and he was most generous with is time. 

Following worship, we moved into the Board Room and sat around the enormous conference table and also along the outer wall.  The Bishop invited each person present to speak and introduce themselves. 

It becomes very clear that the Bishop is also a Professor.   

The Bishop began to make the many connections between us.  He suggested that Americans were linear thinkers – straight forward, straight ahead, and forward moving despite all.  He elaborated that Africans are circular thinkers – always seeing around them looking for the wholeness of things, and coming back around again and again. 

“It’s why your houses use straight walls and corners,” he said.  “And our houses are round.”   

The Bishop remarked about the US and our role and responsibility as a super power in the world.  He tread gently near the tone and tenor of the current words from our country’s leadership.  And he reminded us all of our genetic makeup … that we are all brothers and sisters of Africa, that we owe our very existence to Mother Africa, as she is the birthplace of human kind. 

“So, welcome home my brothers and sisters,” said the Bishop, “welcome home.”  Thank you, Bishop.  We feel generously welcomed and at home and blessed to be with our ELCIN friends and family.   

During our visit, I was delighted to meet the Rev. Efraim Iyongo, the (Interim) Director of Education for the ELCIN.  We’re now connected by email and mobile, which I am most thankful for.  As we were walking together later in the day, he explained to me that he was a graduate of Paulinum Seminary in Windhoek, but that he knew of the NE Iowa Synod of the ELCA.  How I asked, even though we are companion synods.  His answer charmed me beyond measure, “I worked for a summer at EWALU Summer Camp in Strawberry Point.”  Of course, I thought, insert it’s-a-small-world-doubly-so-if-you’re-Lutheran comment here!

He added that having been at EWALU, allowed him visits to Decorah.  I did not ask if he had ridden on the EWALU float in our Nordic Fest Parade!  There’s a limit after all.  Eating lefsa, counting tractors in the parade, comparing meatball recipes – it just all seemed too far away at the moment.

It feels like home more than we could imagine as we acknowledge the round abouts of our connectedness.  We’re headed to Etosha National Park for two days of safari life, so this blog will be off the grid for a while.  Plenty of writing, just no posting.

Thank you readers. 

Empowering Learners. 

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