Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hatari!

We apologize that you haven't heard from us in sometime, but now that we have "gotten our feet on the ground" here in Tanzania, we hope to be writing more often to let you know about what we are doing here, and, more importantly, what the church is doing in East Africa. Recently we saw the 1962 movie Hatari! starring John Wayne as the safari leader on the northern Tanzanian plains capturing animals to send to zoos. I saw this film when I was a kid, and I still remember the exciting rhinoceros chase sequences.

 

Part of the film takes place in the town of Arusha, our new home in Tanzania. If you are not sure where Arusha is located, the famous clock tower (in the middle of the photo above) is located half-way on the road from Cairo to Cape Town. It is amazing how we can recognize certain local landmarks in the film more than fifty years later: the clock tower, just 50 yards from our office in the Lutheran Center, and, a few blocks from there, the Lutheran Cathedral, which looks brand-new in the film, but hasn't substantially changed since that time.

 

Our new calling as East Africa Regional Representatives involves a lot more than water projects and theological schools, which were our main focus in the Central African Republic. We still miss the CAR and the students, friends and colleagues we left behind there—but we are happy to be serving in a different role here in Arusha, and throughout the region. We are responsible for representing the ELCA in four countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan, although we haven't yet had the chance to visit South Sudan due to the conflict that has been ravaging the country for almost a year.

 

So what do Regional Representatives do? We visit projects supported by the ELCA, read reports, proposals and budgets from these projects, visit with local church leaders, encourage our local ELCA missionaries and volunteers, and represent the ELCA at local and regional church meetings. Often I hear someone from one of our partner churches say, "We know that the ELCA cares about what is happening here because you always send someone to our meetings!" Perhaps letting people in East Africa know that the ELCA cares about what is happening here—in their country, in their church—is the most important thing that we do.

 

And, of course, we want all of you to know what the ELCA is doing in East Africa—a huge area with well over 6 million Lutherans just in the four countries Joe and I work in. That's twice the number of Lutherans in the ELCA! So there is a lot going on here and we hope to share some of it on this blog.

 

Joe and Deborah Troester

East Africa Regional Representatives for the ELCA

P.O. Box 1770, Arusha, Tanzania

 

Photo Credit: Clip from the movie Hatari! The movie starred John Wayne and filmed in Tanzania. The shot is taken looking south on Boma Road toward the clock tower. Our office is behind the tree. The baby elephant is headed for the Safari Hotel, which has now been replaced by the New Safari Hotel.

 

Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Arusha, Tanzania, where they are the East Africa Regional Representatives for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Their daughter, Christa, is a senior at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The search for water near Dodoma, Tanzania

"We need water for cooking, for drinking, for washing the children, for vegetables. We can't grow vegetables without water. So we can't eat healthy. The people need water. The cows need water. People don't come to church because they are fetching water. Children don't go to school, because they are fetching water." Pastor Edda Mbwambo of Iringa Road Lutheran Parish in central Tanzania vented her frustration to me. We were in Mzogole, a small village that is part of her parish. The villagers here do not have adequate water. Scrawny cattle grazed on sparse, brown grass. Everything was dry and dusty. There was an old well with a windmill that was constructed about 40 years ago. Unfortunately, the pump has broken repeatedly and can no longer be repaired. The people of Mzogole have resorted to digging holes in the sand of a nearby dry river bed. As the water slowly seeps into the hole, they dip it out to fill buckets and jerry cans, which they carry home balanced on their heads. Fortunately the companion ELCA synod, Northwestern Ohio, is raising money to rehabilitate the well and install an electric submersible pump powered by either a generator or solar panels. Maybe Mzogole will have water again soon.

The people living in the semi-arid central plains of Tanzania, near the capital Dodoma, suffer from chronic water shortages. Average annual rainfall here is only about 570mm (22 inches), about 85 percent of which falls between December and April. Near the end of the dry season there is no grass, just trees, thorns, and scrub brush. Yet in the short rainy season, this area produces corn, sunflowers, and sorghum. Many people also have cows, goats, and donkeys. Recently I visited three villages near Dodoma, Tanzania (Mzogole, Mlenga, and Chilungulu) to learn about their water problems.

In the second village, Mlenga, the villagers send donkeys five kilometers (about three miles) to a river, to bring back jerry cans of water (see photo). In Mlenga, the five gallons of water in the jerry can are sold for 1000 Tanzanian Shillings (or about $0.60). That may not sound like much, but the average person earns less than $2 a day here (according to the World Bank). The St. Peter Lutheran Church, Blackberry in the Northwestern Ohio Synod has spearheaded an effort to raise money to drill a test well for their sister congregation in Mlenga. There is hope that drilling might begin before the end of the year.

The last village I visited, Chilungulu, was a different story. There they were inaugurating a rehabilitated village water system. The ELCA World Hunger Fund provided the money, and the work was done by government water engineers and the villagers. It was a grand celebration, complete with speeches, a brass band, and two traditional dance groups. One dance group put on a funny skit pointing out that earlier they did not have water, but now they have food and clean water. One dancer joked, "What next? Peace?" Thanks to ELCA congregations, synods, and the World Hunger Fund, many people in this dry and dusty part of the world may be able to have water to drink, water for crops and animals, water that gives life.

Joe and Deborah Troester
ELCA Missionaries to East Africa
P.O. Box 1770, Arusha, Tanzania

Photo Credit: Donkeys carrying water to the village of Mlenga, near Dodoma, Tanzania.

Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Arusha, Tanzania, where they are the East Africa Regional Representatives for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Their daughter, Christa, is a junior at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our New Job in East Africa

The purple blossoms of the jacaranda tree are everywhere this time of year in Arusha, Tanzania. It made us feel right at home, since there was a jacaranda tree right outside our house in the Central African Republic (CAR) and there are jacaranda trees in Puerto Rico, too (where we lived before coming to Africa seven years ago). After a sad farewell to CAR this past summer, we have re-located in Tanzania, and are beginning our work as the East Africa Regional Representatives for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

 

Our job is to accompany the national Lutheran Churches and assist them with projects in Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. These projects include agriculture, education, health care, theological education, development (including providing safe water), and much more. The areas where we will be working include everything from desert to tropical rainforest, from coastal to inland plains, lakes and mountains. We look forward to getting to know this part of the world and to making new friends. We will share our adventures with you on this blog, and highlight the work of some people who are really making a difference in East Africa.

 

This is an exciting time to be working in Africa. Churches here are growing faster than in almost any other part of the world; there are even more Lutherans in Tanzania than in the ELCA! Working through churches is also one of the best ways to make lasting changes, since the church will still be here long after we are gone—and the people who have been trained will train others.

 

We look forward to writing more blogs from the East Africa Region, so stay tuned!

 

Joe and Deborah Troester

ELCA Missionaries to East Africa

P.O. Box 1770, Arusha, Tanzania

 

Photo Credit: Jacaranda trees with Mt. Meru in the distance. Photo by John Schwegman.

 

Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Arusha, Tanzania, where they are the East Africa Regional Representatives for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Their daughter, Christa, is a junior at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Troesters Moving to Tanzania

We're moving! Because of the continued insecurity in the Central African Republic, Deborah and I have accepted a new assignment in Arusha, Tanzania. We will be the East Africa Regional Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) helping to oversee projects in Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

 

While we miss CAR, and especially our friends and colleagues in the Lutheran Church there, we look forward to establishing relationships with new friends and colleagues in the East Africa region. This is an exciting time to be working in Africa. Churches here are growing faster than in almost any other part of the world; there are even more Lutherans in Tanzania than in the ELCA!

 

We are grateful to those of you who have continued to support us throughout this transition by your prayers, gifts, and words of encouragement. Due to the uncertainty of our plans this summer, we were unable to visit many of our supporting congregations. We hope to make up for this on our next visit to the U.S. and thank you for your understanding.

 

We welcome your continued support through ELCA Global Mission. However, if you prefer to support another missionary working in the Central African Republic, or with another project, we certainly understand. For more information on sponsoring us, or other missionaries in the ELCA, contact Rev. Lanny Westphal at Lanny.Westphal@elca.org. Rev. Westphal can also give you information about specific projects supported by the ELCA in Africa, and around the world.

 

We look forward to writing more blogs from the East Africa Region, so stay tuned!

 

Joe and Deborah Troester

ELCA Missionaries to East Africa

 

Photo Credit: Edited map of Africa.

 

Joe and Deborah will soon be ELCA missionaries in Arusha, Tanzania, where they will be the East Africa Regional Representatives for the ELCA. Their daughter, Christa, is a junior at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Troesters Departing the Central African Republic

As most of you know, the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be plagued by violence and instability caused by the coup in March. Due to the continuing insecurity, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has decided not to send us back to the CAR, for our own safety.

The three of us will return to Cameroon this month to gather our belongings, some of which are stored there. Christa will still begin her junior year at the Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon, while we discuss future employment possibilities.

This summer, we had planned to visit our supporting congregations scattered across the United States (California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Puerto Rico). We were able to visit congregations in Puerto Rico, and some in Illinois, but the rest of our plans are now on hold. We hope to reschedule these visits in September and October, but it all depends on our future employment.

Most ELCA projects in the CAR will continue under local leadership, as conditions permit. For more information, or to find out how you can support these projects, please contact Rev. Lanny Westphal at globalmissionsupport@elca.org or Lanny.Westphal@elca.org. The people of CAR need our help now more than ever.

We greatly enjoyed the opportunity we had to work for the ELCA in the Central African Republic in water resource development and theological education. We will miss all our friends and colleagues in the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the CAR, and elsewhere in both Cameroon and CAR. Please continue to pray for peace in the CAR. Click here for details on an interfaith day of prayer for peace on August 12.

Thank you again for your support of our work in the Central African Republic!

Joe and Deborah Troester
Former ELCA Missionaries to the Central African Republic

Photo Credit: Edited map of the Central African Republic.

Joe and Deborah were ELCA missionaries in Baboua, CAR. Joe is a water resources specialist and Deborah is a pastor ordained by the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). Their daughter, Christa, is a junior at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Troesters to Visit Supporters this Summer

This summer Deborah, Christa, and Joe will be visiting our supporting congregations in the United States and sharing some of the exciting things God has been doing in the Central African Republic. We have over 40 possible visits spread across California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Puerto Rico. You are invited to attend any of the events below. Some dates may be subject to change. For schedule updates and details, contact us at josephtroester@gmail.com. We are looking forward to visiting with many of you.

 

Thank you again for your support of our work in the Central African Republic!

 

Joe and Deborah Troester

ELCA Missionaries to the Central African Republic

Temporarily relocated to Yaoundé, Cameroon

 

Puerto Rico     June 29 to July 3

            Union Church of San Juan      June 30

 

Illinois             July 5 to August 3

            Salem Lutheran Church in Jonesboro              July 7

            First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale          July 14

            First Presbyterian Church Dinner Group          July 18

            Our Savior Lutheran Church in Bradley          July 28

 

Florida                        August 6 to 8

            Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Venice, Florida           August 7

 

Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod    August 8 to 15

 

North Dakota             August 16 to 28

            Olivet Lutheran in Fargo          August 18

            First Lutheran in Williston       August 25

 

South Dakota              August 28 to 30

            Scandia Lutheran Church in Centerville          August 29

 

California       September

            Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto    September 4

 

Photo Credit: Outline map of the United States showing States where we plan to visit this summer.

 

Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, CAR. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides safe drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation for villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Their daughter, Christa, is a sophomore at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Central African Republic: What About the Future?

Two months ago, on March 24, 2013, the government of the Central African Republic was overthrown by a coup. All the Lutheran missionaries evacuated to neighboring Cameroon. We left, but the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR is still there. Western CAR (where the Lutheran Church is most active) has been spared the worst effects of the coup, but still there has been some looting of both personal and church property. The former German Station in Bouar, now used as rental property by the church, was looted. A pickup truck used for vaccination campaigns and a computer were taken from the Lutheran Health Center at Gallo. Homes of personnel and guest housing at the Bohong and Gallo Health Centers were looted.

 

Because of fear and the insecurity, people have fled to their home villages and often stay in their fields at night, instead of in their houses. Fuel is difficult to find. The banks are closed, so money cannot be transferred into the country and salaries cannot be paid. Without much of a functioning government, there are bandits on the road, just like in the Old West. Consequently travel is both difficult and dangerous.

 

Still the Evangelical Lutheran Church of CAR continues to work. Students and professors of the Bible School and Seminary are continuing classes. The Catholic girl's school at Maigaro, where ELCA sponsors over a dozen scholarships, has moved into Bouar for security; their classes are continuing at a youth center there. Some of the Lutheran Village Schools are in operation but without transportation, no one can actually check on them. The health programs continue, but people have great difficulty getting to the clinics. Other projects, such as the Water Management Project, that rely more on fuel for transportation, are having difficulty accomplishing some of their objectives.

 

Today, the church in the Central African Republic needs our prayers and support more than ever. One of their biggest fears is being abandoned: by their church partners and friends in the West. We ELCA missionaries have reassured them that we will be back as soon as it is safe, and that ELCA stands ready to help them in any way possible. Please pray for the church in the Central African Republic. Pray for the government of CAR. Pray for peace and stability, so that the work of the church can continue and grow there. Thanks!

 

Joe and Deborah Troester

ELCA Missionaries to the Central African Republic

Temporarily relocated to Yaoundé, Cameroon

 

Photo Credit: Map showing the location of the Central African Republic in Africa.

 

Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, CAR. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides safe drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation for villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Their daughter, Christa, is a sophomore at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.