The Dog Days of Summer

Hi friends!

Many odds and ends have happened since the last newsletter! Andrew and I recently celebrated our second anniversary as well as his birthday a few days later. We are thankful for the gift of life together and are hoping for many more years to come! We didn’t do anything specific to celebrate our anniversary (but I did make a pot roast for the first time – it was great!). The following weekend, though, we had the chance to go camping in the nearby Hualapai Mountains. It was a great time in the cooler air! Andrew took the opportunity to begin scouting for his upcoming deer hunt in October. It promises to be a challenging hunt over some steep terrain. We will see how it goes.

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Our new dog Chloe when we first brought her home.

In June we went to the Humane Society and adopted our dog, Chloe. Our best guess is that she is part Border collie and part English pointer. She seems to have attributes of both breeds. She caught and killed a Eurasian collared dove in our backyard (which we ate – waste not, want not). She also loves to go to the dog park, makes weird howl/growl noises in an attempt to talk to us, and recently has taken to trying to convince us that she really doesn’t need to be put on a leash for her morning walk. No such luck there. We have loved having her as a part of the household because she is a very friendly and playful dog.

 

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Our beautiful front door!

We have continued our work on our new house. We now have a new fire door between the garage and the house as well as a beautiful new front door, both gifts from the men’s group at church as well as other church members. We are so thankful for all of the support that we have been given in our projects here! We also remodeled the master bathroom shower, which was leaking. We have traded out a few pieces of furniture for things that fit better. We’re also thankful for church members who are good yard sale scouts and alert us to good deals! Andrew and I have been making an attempt lately to organize and simplify a bit.

At the end of May the church officially commissioned me as their deaconess. It feels good to have a culmination to my studies over the past few years as well as an opportunity to put my training to good use. Recently I have been leading a women’s Bible study, with our latest study being on several selected psalms. It has been enjoyable! I have been also been enjoying my volunteer work at the hospital. If all goes well there may be more of an opportunity for a paid position at the hospital at the beginning of the New Year. I will keep you informed about that as it comes closer.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Be sure to keep in touch – I like correspondence.

Peace in Christ,

Emily

The Blessing of a Tree

At the beginning of my first year in seminary, the chapel did a “liturgical tree planting,” during which we gathered around a tree being planted while reading portions of the Bible. Admittedly, it was an odd sort of ceremony, probably mostly because none of us had ever done it before, and many of my classmates still remember it as just plain weird! As odd as it seemed, the positive aspect that I took away from the tree planting was its focus on our integral part in creation, and our hope in looking towards the future as we see it through what Jesus has done for us.

There is something about planting a tree which is innately hopeful; trees are fairly slow growing, and so the tree planter plants the tree for the benefit of the future. Some tree planters may not experience the beauty and benefit that a tree provides in their own lifetime. It is a gift for future generations.

Andrew and I recently bought a house here in Lake Havasu City! It has been an exciting and busy time of paperwork, packing, painting, moving, unpacking, and repairs. One of my favorite parts of the house that we bought is the backyard. For anyone from other parts of the country our backyard looks pretty bleak and barren. The weather is hot and dry here, so very little grows without additional irrigation. Most empty lots have little more than leathery shrubs amidst gravel. Yards in front of houses have a few watered desert specimens or, in some instances, not a sprig of plant life at all! So, when we discovered that our backyard has three small trees, it was a big deal! The largest tree, a Palo Verde, tops out at about twenty feet in height. It is small compared to many of its fellow trees around the world, but it provides many benefits in our hot desert climate. As the weather warmed this spring, the tree was covered in small yellow blossoms which attracted honey bees and hummingbirds. A dove nested in the branches. As the blossoms have fallen, birds like quail have come to forage on the ground. A small rabbit spent an hour or so sprawled out in the shade. Also, having some green to look at in our backyard has helped Andrew and I get used to our new surroundings.

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The palo verde tree in our backyard

Our new house in Lake Havasu

Adjusting to Lake Havasu has opened up opportunities and allowed us to have some new experiences. We have had a busy time since moving here! Andrew has gotten into the routine at church. The winter was an especially busy time as winter residents arrived. Now that the weather has warmed up things around town have started to quiet down again. The church decided to call me as their deaconess, and so I will be commissioned and installed into that position on May 21st. I am excited to be able to put my education to work! As part of this position, I will be working in the chaplaincy department at the local hospital. I’ve already been volunteering there in order to get more familiar with the hospital, and I have been enjoying the work. Although there have been many changes this year, I would say that altogether things have settled down considerably compared to when I was going to school and on internship. I am very grateful for the new more relaxed pace of life! One of the highlights of this winter was a trip with Mom, Dad, and Dollie to Hawaii to belatedly celebrate Dollie’s graduation.

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The family explores Waimea Falls in Hawaii

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A picture from one of our hikes overlooking Lake Havasu

Returning to thinking of the many blessings that a tree provides – shade, food, beauty, and a hope for the future – I must, of course, look back at the Easter season, which we are now completing. Jesus was hung on a tree of sorts. The tree of the cross is ugly, full of death and darkness. But, in light of what Jesus has done, the tree of the cross points us toward life, forgiveness, and hope for the future. The blessing of that tree has not just future, but eternal benefits.

Peace in Christ,

Emily

A Year in the Mirror

Dear friends,

As the year comes to a close once again, it is a good time to reflect on the past year. God has been at work in all things, giving blessings during both hard and easy circumstances. As I’m sitting down to write this newsletter, the Pandora station is playing a Piano Guys song which, among other things, features Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter” from his larger composition “The Planets.” Lutherans may also know it as the tune to “We Praise You and Acknowledge You.” It seems an appropriate focus as I write this end of the year letter.

A friend sent a Christmas letter in which she reported her family’s activities month by month. I thought I might borrow the format for this post as a way to reflect on the past year, so here goes:

January: Andrew and I returned from a great visit to Tucson to visit with my side of the family for Christmas. Not knowing what the future would hold, we wanted to be sure to take as many opportunities as we could to visit with my family in Arizona before we would be placed for Andrew’s first call in parts unknown. I continued my work on internship, during that month beginning the process of teaching congregation members at Immanuel Lutheran Church about the concept of a Life Team. A Life Team is a group focused on the value of life at all stages. I helped members begin the process of starting a Life Team of their own.

February: As more friends had placement interviews and Andrew continued to have none, we realized that he would most likely be a sole pastor. But, we still had no idea of where that might be. Toward the end of February we went to Andrew’s grandparents’ farm for the annual hog butchering. We left with enough meat to fill our deep freezer. While the others were finishing rendering the fat on the last day, Sheila, Amy, and I enjoyed a day in Columbia together.

March: Winter finally began to give way to spring in Missouri. Bulbs began coming up and flowering and birds began laying claim to nesting spots. The pace of my internship continued to accelerate along with the activities at the church and school. I continued helping teach confirmation along with making visits to homebound members. Andrew helped at the church’s Easter services. We both got up well before light to attend the sunrise service. The weather was still very chilly. We realized toward the end of the month that there was only a month left until Call Day!

April:  The annual women’s retreat occupied much time and energy toward the beginning of the month. I spoke on the topic “Abiding in Him While Facing Trials” and led a group in decorating and planting flowers in pots. Later I took the flowers and gave them to homebound members. After the retreat, attention focused on the ever-approaching Call Day. Yikes! It is a strange feeling to realize that one’s future is entirely unknown and out of one’s hands. We just had to wait and learn along with everyone else where we would be moving in the coming months. In hindsight it was one of those sorts of experiences that builds character. At the time, though, it was mostly just terrifying! We survived the Call Day service and learned that Andrew would be the sole pastor at Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I was excited for the chance to live closer to my side of the family than I had been able to for a number of years.

May: Although Call Day was at the end of April, the academic year continued until the end of May. Andrew and I graduated together, which was a neat experience. We continued to live in Washington, Missouri and make preparations to move to Lake Havasu as I continued the last few months of internship. The end of the school year meant a temporary break in the busy schedules.

June: The activities quickly picked up again. Rather than helping with religion classes and confirmation in the school, my time was spent on other projects. Andrew and I both participated in Vacation Bible School as “Farmer Joe” and “Farmer Ellie.” The VBS had a farm theme and we decorated our classroom as a barnyard. We were in charge of the story telling portion of VBS, and it was a lot of fun! At the end of the month we traveled to Ohio for the annual deaconess conference.

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Farmer Joe and Farmer Ellie get ready for Vacation Bible School.

July: We spent the Fourth of July with Andrew’s family. The following week the church hosted a basketball camp which I had organized. The camp progressed without any major problems and the campers all seemed to have a good time. By the end, though, I was pretty exhausted. We continued making plans for moving and began to pack up the house.

August: We celebrated our first anniversary by moving! August 8th was spent finishing packing and loading the trailer with help from church members. Dollie had arrived a couple days ahead of time to help with packing and driving to Arizona. We hit the road on the morning of August 9th. That night was spent in a KOA in Oklahoma. The fact that we were hauling our deep freezer with meat in the back of Andrew’s truck meant that we needed to stop in a campground each night to plug it in. The first night in Oklahoma was, to put it briefly, hot and humid! The second night, which was spent near Albuquerque, was much more pleasant. We arrived in Pinetop for a few days and then traveled to Lake Havasu to get moved in. Andrew’s ordination was on August 28th. Both of our families arrived as well as Andrew’s home congregation pastor, my home pastor, and Andrew’s vicarage supervisor. It was a big event!

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The house we are renting in Lake Havasu

September: Andrew and I began the process of getting to know the church and the surrounding area. The biggest adjustment has been to the climate and the desert environment. September was still very much a summer month. We traveled to La Quinta, California for a conference.

October:  We began to wonder when the summer temperatures would end! (It would be a while yet.) I began the process of becoming a volunteer chaplain at the local hospital. The hope is that I will be able to work my way into a paid position eventually. Andrew and I traveled to Irvine, California for a new pastor orientation. I enjoyed visiting the campus of Concordia Irvine and getting to spend a little time at the beach. We were not fans of the traffic.

November: Our church began the process of calling me to be their deaconess! I would work primarily at the hospital in this position. I continued to be involved in various church activities such as Bible study, choir, handbell choir, and Piecemakers (a sewing group). Andrew and I traveled to Livermore, California for another conference and then winged our way across the US to North Carolina to attend the wedding of Andrew’s brother Matt and his soon-to-be wife Aranday. We enjoyed the chance to catch up with family. My side of the family came out to visit us in Lake Havasu after Thanksgiving.

December: Life has gotten very busy with Christmas preparations and activities as well as Advent services and dinners at church. I am looking forward to another visit from family after Christmas. Also, I will soon start playing my viola with the local symphony orchestra.

There is so much to reflect upon and be thankful for as this year comes to a close! Praise God! Happy Advent and Merry Christmas where you are!

Peace in Christ,

Emily

 

Rain, Rain,[Don’t] Go Away

Dear friends,

Andrew and I are comfortably settled into our rental house in Lake Havasu City, Arizona! It has taken me a while to write this newsletter because there has been so much to do and to organize. Moving is a lot of work, especially when it means a multi day trek across the country in multiple vehicles. I am very glad that is all finished!

Andrew’s ordination and installation service went very well! We had quite a few pastors and deacons there to participate in the service, as well as the congregation and some of our family members. Andrew’s home congregation pastor, his vicarage supervisor, and my home congregation pastor were among those participating. The church also put on a great reception dinner afterwards. Food is always good. 🙂 The church here has been very welcoming! Andrew and I are very happy to be here.

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Andrew, me, and our parents inside the church

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Most of the family in front of the church (minus Sheila who took the photo)

Today we woke up to some drizzly weather. While this may seem dreary to many of our friends across the country, for us it is a welcome treat! Lake Havasu City only receives an average of a little over three inches of rain annually, so we are excited when it comes. Another benefit is that the temperature has stayed in the 70’s today rather than around 100, where it has been hovering for a while. The harsh environment tends to make a person even more aware of God’s care of His creation. Knowing how infrequent rain is here, one is much more amazed at the hardy desert plants which can grow without any assistance from people. Also, the creosote smells best after a good rain!

One of the aspects of living in the desert that I enjoy is being able to add onto my cactus garden. Some of my cactuses are ones that my grandma planted during the time that she volunteered at a botanical garden in Tucson. Those are very special plants to me. Recently some of these cactuses needed to be repotted, and so I took the opportunity to add some new additions as well. We’ll see how they like their new environment. This afternoon I took them out from under the cover of the porch into the rain to take advantage of the moisture. They always seem to prefer rain over tap water.

Another hobby has been hiking and running. This morning we got up while it was still dark to go running out on the island which is in the lake. There is a running and biking trail there. It was refreshing to get out and enjoy the cool rainy weather. We have also done a bit of exploring in the surrounding desert. A couple weeks ago we went hiking in a slot canyon, but had to turn back because there was a flooded section where some tadpoles were swimming. One of the interesting aspects of that hike was running into another hiker who had her pet goat along with her. It really seemed to take to rock hopping naturally.

I will write more again soon. I am planning to take some pictures to give everyone an idea of where we are now living. As always, prayers are appreciated!

With love in Christ,

Emily

May Transitions

Hi friends,

Much has happened since the last newsletter! The last time I wrote, spring was springing and the plants and animals were just getting started on their warmer weather activities. Andrew was in the midst of school, and I was planning some activities for the women’s retreat, among other things here at Immanuel. Now, the schedule has changed a little bit. School has finished here at Immanuel Lutheran School, and so I have finished teaching confirmation for the summer. Andrew is all done with his classes and is now pondering what life is like post-seminary (or at least what the summer will be like). I am continuing on internship here at Immanuel and will be finishing about the first week of August. It really is amazing how time can go quickly. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that we moved here and I started my internship!

Call Day has come and gone. On April 26th Andrew and I, as well as the rest of the concluding student class gathered in the undercroft of the chapel as we awaited the time when we would process into the chapel for the Call Day service. Nerves and excitement were high! One by one the students were called to the front alphabetically to receive their placements. Because the pastoral candidates went before the deaconess candidates, I watched as Andrew got closer and closer to his turn. When he went up front the announcement was: “Andrew Cave; Lamb of God Lutheran Church; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Pacific Southwest District.” We were very surprised to be going back to Arizona! While we had requested, if possible, to be close to family, we assumed that more churches are located in the Missouri area, and so that would be the most likely region where we would go. We also were open to most other regions of the country, and so knew that we could go just about anywhere. I have never been to Lake Havasu, and so had no idea that there was a church there which was calling a pastor. We are excited to start our next adventure there beginning in August. (And, yes, I expect it will be hot there at that time!) I am still awaiting direction as to what I will be doing for a deaconess placement, but time will tell. I am content to wait a little bit on that while settling in to Lake Havasu.

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Pastor Mueller from Andrew’s home congregation catches up with us before the Call Day service.

Another milestone took place this past Friday, May 20th when Andrew and I received our masters degrees! The theological diploma service took place in the morning inside the chapel. In this service we received our certification from the seminary, indicating that we have passed all of the theological requirements and examinations by the seminary. Earlier this year Andrew and I wrote papers demonstrating this which were then examined by the faculty. The evening academic commencement took place outside. We were blessed by wonderful weather!

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A picture after the evening commencement ceremony. Brandon Larson, who is a pastor in our future circuit is on the right.

Those are only a couple of the activities these past two months. We have been busy! Other activities included a trip to New York to attend Dollie’s graduation from Concordia College (Yes, Andrew survived New York City!), and a week long visit from my parents to Missouri. We enjoyed showing them around the Washington, Missouri area. To look forward to in the coming months: Vacation Bible School, Basketball Camp, another women’s Bible study, and my regular visits and activities. Oh, and packing….eventually.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Peace in Christ,

Emily

Time Marches On

Dear friends,

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Happy Easter from mid-Missouri! The past few months have been a frenzy of activities, and it looks as though the trend will continue over the next couple of months as well. I think that as soon as the school year ends in May my schedule will settle down (at least it will change in what is creating the busyness.) Since the last newsletter I have completed my Bible study incorporating biology with the study sessions. I really enjoyed it and am planning on making a few adjustments and using the studies again in the future. Maybe sometime I will look into whether they can be published, as I have had a couple inquiries from people who would like to use them. It’s very exciting! My writing project now is a Bible study that focuses on six different psalms over a period of six weeks. That study will begin in the middle of April.

I have been helping to teach the seventh grade confirmation class as well. This has been a busy but enjoyable experience! I really like my class – they are good kids for the most part. My teaching schedule will pick up in the next couple months as I will be filling in a few more class periods for their regular confirmation teacher. We have been going through Luther’s Small Catechism and are now working our way through the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Last week’s lesson was on the fourth petition – “Give us this day our daily bread.” The kids enjoyed thinking about how we are given so many blessings that we often take for granted, and then considering how we are called to share our blessings with others.

Yesterday after getting through three Easter Sunday services, including the sunrise service which required getting up at four in the morning (three, if daylight savings time isn’t considered), Andrew went into a comatose state for a couple of hours. I enjoyed some rest too, to make up for that hour or so of sleep that we missed in the morning. But, today we are all recovered. We both have the day off, and so we are catching up on some odds and ends. Andrew is busy with his schoolwork. I am in the midst of sewing stoles for Andrew. I’m at the stage right now of adding the decorative designs to the bottoms of the stoles.

It is now less than a month until Call Day, the day on which we will learn where we are going to be placed next year. For those who are not familiar with it, we have little say in where we will be going, and the church where we are placed could be anywhere in the United States. There are no hints given of where we will be going until everyone hears during the big ceremony on Call Day. There is a lot up in the air until then. For instance, Andrew and I pondered one day what interstate highway and which direction we would be traveling on. We can’t make any real travel plans for the summer until we have a better idea of where we’re going next year. It really is that unknown! In some ways, though, it is nice to not have to stress over it. All we need to do is wait, as there isn’t anything that we are supposed to be doing to help the process at this point. It’s good to just leave things up to God, and this is one of those areas that we have to leave up to God. Still, as Call Day approaches we are feeling more nervous and anticipatory!

Spring has arrived here! This is my favorite season of the year, as the plants and trees begin to wake up again after their long winter dormancy. We have a surprise patch of daffodils in our back yard, and the small redbud tree that we planted last fall is surprising us with a few of its name-sake pink flowers. Andrew had previously thought that it would still be recovering from being transplanted and would not produce flowers this year. Our crabapple trees in the front yard are just on the brink of blooming as well.  A pair of red shouldered hawks has built a nest in a tree on our street. There is a robin currently building a nest on our back porch, and all of our birdhouses are occupied. More rabbits are grazing in our backyard, and as far as I know, our opossum is still taking up residency under our back porch. And, no, we do not specifically have intentions of running an animal sanctuary, but it does seem to be working out that way!

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Surprise daffodils!

 

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Andrew practices archery in the backyard.

Thank you for your continued prayers as I continue through my internship and as Call Day quickly approaches. I will keep you updated when we learn where we will be going next year!

With Easter joy,

Emily

New Things in November

Dear friends,

I know it’s been quite a while since my last newsletter, but as you might imagine, I have been busy! Here’s a brief overview of my activities over the last few months.

First, I enjoyed a great summer with my family in Pinetop. It was wonderful to have this time to relax and have some free time to dedicate to wedding planning. That time was definitely needed, and it’s hard for me to imagine planning a wedding while still in school or with a full time job. I know that a lot of people are able to do that, nonetheless. I love spending time with my family, and having over two months to do so was a gift from God.

Then, the big day arrived! The few days before the wedding passed by in a blur of activities. I would not have been able to manage without the help of many people, including my mom and sister who helped with pretty much every aspect of the wedding, my Aunt Melissa who made the wedding dress, my Aunt Lyn who made the wedding cake, my cousin Edie who took pictures, and Team Taiwan friends Amanda, Rachel, and Zach who stepped in at the last minute to help with reception pictures and decorating. It surely takes a village to put on a wedding… The day went beautifully and we enjoyed great weather for the outdoor brunch reception. It was amazing to see family as well as friends from all across the country (and globe). I only wish I could have spent more time catching up!untitled-7542

Andrew and I went on a honeymoon right after the wedding. We camped out and hiked up Mt. Baldy, and had a wonderful time even with the persistent monsoon rain that will always be present at Mt. Baldy at that time of year. We then visited the Petrified Forest and (after escaping a torrential desert rainstorm) were able to stay in the Wigwam Motel, a historic Route 66 attraction, in Holbrook. We traveled from there to the Grand Canyon where we enjoyed mostly sunny weather(!) and (of course) breathtaking views on the North Rim. We also enjoyed hiking partially into the canyon and a mule ride one morning.

The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

Andrew on his mule at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Andrew on his mule at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

We returned to Pinetop for a couple of days while packing up furniture for our move to Washington, Missouri where I would be starting deaconess internship. The long drive took about two and a quarter days, and some members from the church helped us to unload the trailer when we arrived. The next few days were spent getting acquainted with the surrounding area and unpacking. I am happy to report that the house is entirely set up, and all of the boxes are now in the basement where they will be spending the coming year before our next move. We are living in a two bedroom house that the church provides for vicars or interns who are working at the church. We are grateful to have a house provided for us so that we were able to move in without needing to search out a place to live. It really has been a blessing.

Our house in Washington, Missouri

Our house in Washington, Missouri

Deaconess internship is off to a good start. It’s amazing to think that I have already been here for over two months! I am learning from Deaconess Kelly, who is the deaconess here at Immanuel Lutheran Church. She is helping me to learn about the deaconess ministry in a church setting. So far I have been helping with visiting people who are home-bound, teaching 7th grade confirmation, leading devotions and activities for our Older Wiser Lutherans (OWLs) group, helping out with Sunday School, and leading a women’s Bible study on the interrelationship with the biological sciences and Scripture. The Bible study is one which I am in the process of writing, and which is near and dear to me because of my background in biology. This past week we learned about the chemical attributes of water and how they enrich our understanding of water in baptism. It seems to be well received so far. Later this month I will be speaking at an OWL luncheon about my experiences in Taiwan, and then leading a book club the following week. There is always plenty to do. Andrew is also keeping very busy commuting to St. Louis for his final year of classes, also helping with home-bound visits, leading liturgy most Sundays, and preaching every month. I am not exactly sure how he does it all, but we still get to take walks and go running together regularly enough, for which I am grateful.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us! Continued prayers are always welcome!

Peace in Christ,

Emily

Thanksgiving in May

Dear friends,

I’m sitting here amidst a bunch of boxes that are in partial stages of being packed. It’s amazing how fast this year has gone by! Tomorrow is my last day of classes before summer break. I am busy this week packing and wrapping up final projects and any last errands that need to be done. I will soon be enjoying a bit of a break (although the wedding planning will continue). This summer I will have a little over two months to spend in Pinetop with my family. I am really looking forward to seeing them! I am also looking forward to getting back to Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church.

I have many things to be thankful for as I close out this academic year. First, I am thankful for the many wonderful classes in which I was able to learn more about Scriptures and what it means to be a Lutheran Christian in today’s world. My professors have all been fantastic, although each very different from one another. I am thankful for the many different perspectives and teaching styles that I have experienced this year. This past quarter I took three classes: Systematics 3 (a continued class on Lutheran doctrine), Theology of Compassion and Human Care (a class on charity and mercy work in the Church throughout history and today), and Exodus and the Torah (the title explains it well!). It felt like a very well rounded schedule, and I was able to exercise different parts of my brain. It also happened to be the busiest quarter that I have had here at the Seminary.

Another part of my time here that I have to be thankful for is my resident field education. Every seminary student is assigned to a congregation or institution where they attend on Sunday and where they help out during the week. This is a small opportunity to gain a few practical skills before setting out on vicarage or internship. I have already written a good amount in previous newsletters about my activities at St. Trinity, but I’ll offer a recap here.  I was able to help out the Saturday before Easter with our community breakfast and Easter celebration. I helped out with the kids’ crafts. On Sunday I played my viola during the service, and then we had an Easter egg hunt afterwards outside of the church. The past two quarters I have also been leading a women’s Bible study. This past week we finished When Helping Hurts which was good food for thought and discussion. The group has decided to continue to meet in the future after I leave. This quarter I also had the privilege of going on home visits with our parish nurse Jane. During these visits I was able to get to know several of the people from St. Trinity better and learn some practical skills for the visits that I will be doing this coming year on internship. Finally, I was blessed to feel included in the church by an amazingly welcoming congregation. St. Trinity has a special gift in this area. These and more are many reasons why I am thankful for being a part of St. Trinity this year.

House 13

House 13

I have enjoyed living on the Concordia Seminary campus in House #13 this year. I am thankful for housemates who are both easy and fun to live with! Earlier this afternoon we all went to get ice cream and reflected on the blessings that we experienced this year together. There are many memories that we have shared! I am also thankful for the campus of the seminary. It’s a peaceful escape from the busy surrounding city. Every year there are vegetables that are grown in the flower beds around campus. Right now the radishes and lettuce are ready for eating near House #13. Elsewhere on campus there is an herb and greens garden that is flourishing with the warmer weather. Later in the summer the tomatoes will grow and ripen. I have also been enjoying the animals that are living around us. I occasionally hear owls in the very early morning. I have been enjoying watching the birds nesting and raising fledglings. This morning I looked out the window and noticed a tiny rabbit outside munching on the grass.

I am thankful for the many things that will happen this next year. On August 8th there is the wedding, of course! I will be planning for that much of the summer. Family and friends will be coming in from all over the country. Even some of Andrew’s and my friends who live outside the country are coming! At the end of August I will begin my year-long internship. This internship is the final portion of my deaconess training. Call Day here at Concordia Seminary was on April 29th, and I learned that I will be serving this coming year at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Washington, Missouri. Andrew and I will be moving there at the end of the summer. My duties there will include women’s ministry, home visits, helping with confirmation classes, evangelism and outreach, and helping with children’s education. I am sure that I will have plenty to do! Andrew will be doing his field work there and commuting back to Concordia Seminary for his fourth year of classes. We are both excited for the new experiences!

Call Day on April 29th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Concordia Seminary

Call Day on April 29th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Concordia Seminary

I hope that all is well wherever you are! Thank you so much for the continued prayers!

Peace in Christ,

Emily

Marching into April

Dear friends,

As I’m getting ready to write this post, the tornado sirens are doing their monthly test outside. This is the one aspect of spring that I very much dislike. I could do without the threat of tornadoes! The rest of spring here at Concordia Seminary is very beautiful though! The flowers are blooming and the weather is starting to get warmer. The rain showers are becoming more frequent, so we will see if April showers do indeed bring May flowers. There are some pretty April flowers already!

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At the beginning of March it just so happened that my quarter break and Dollie’s spring break matched up. When she learned that, she decided to come out and spend her spring break in St. Louis with me. Mom heard this and decided that she wanted to come too, so we had an impromptu sort of trip. It was wonderful having Mom and Dollie out to visit! We missed having Dad along, but I guess someone had to stay home and hold down the fort.  During our visit the weather transitioned from winter into spring. That transition tends to be pretty dramatic in this part of the world. When Dollie and Mom arrived, the high temperatures were below twenty degrees for the day. By the time they left, the high temperatures were in the mid sixties! This change occurred in the space of about one week! We arranged our activities accordingly. We did our indoor activities during the first part of the week, and the outdoor ones toward the end. Dollie came out a few days before Mom, and so she and I drove down to Cape Girardeau to visit Andrew for the weekend. We were able to see him preach, as it was his turn. We also looked around Cape Girardeau, Andrew treated us to frozen yogurt, and we went to a kettle beef and fried chicken dinner at his vicarage congregation. After Mom arrived, we went to the art museum, the zoo, and then Andrew came up for a couple days. He gave us a tour of Concordia Seminary’s campus. We heard some of the history of the buildings on campus and went up into the bell tower to see the carillon. Mom and Dollie were also able to come with me to church at St. Trinity. Altogether, the week went by way too quickly, but it was a wonderful time!

Holy Week and Easter were full of activities as well. On Wednesday a group from St. Trinity went to nearby Epiphany Lutheran Church were the pastor was going to be reciting the Gospel of Mark entirely from memory! He gave a dramatic reading of the book that gave new insight into the text and kept everyone’s interest. It took about two and a half hours for him to recite the book from memory, and it was very amazing to see! St. Trinity had a Tenebrae service (service of darkness) for Good Friday. On Easter Sunday we had a lot of people at church! I was asked to play my viola during the service, and that was a lot of fun. We planned to have an Easter egg hunt after church, and there were about nineteen kids there to participate. According to Pastor Dave, that was more than double the amount of kids from last year. St. Trinity has been a very exciting place to be this past year, watching God at work in an inner city congregation. One of the women at church yesterday brought her granddaughter. She has come to a few events throughout the past year, but she told me yesterday that this was the very first time her granddaughter had ever been to a church service, and it was the first one she herself has been to since she was about eleven years old! Tuesday evening Bible studies are also going well, and are in full swing. I have been blessed to get to know this small group of women from St. Trinity better over the past several months!

St. Trinity Easter

The children’s sermon on Easter morning at St. Trinity

At this point in the year, the students here at Concordia Seminary are anxiously anticipating Call Day, which will take place on April 29th. This is the day when everyone learns where they will go on vicarage or internship, or, for concluding students, where they will go for their first call. I have received some hints from the placement director about where I will likely be going for internship. I know that I will be within an hour of the St. Louis area, since Andrew will be completing his final year at the Seminary and needs to be within commuting distance. Deaconess students often know where they are going before the official Call Day announcement. There are fewer of us, and the placements often have details that need to be ironed out beforehand, so we’re a little more involved in the process than many of the guys. It isn’t official until I get the paperwork though! It’s an exciting time!

Thank you so much for your prayers! Please pray for me as I continue my studies here at the Seminary. Also pray for the people at St. Trinity, that they would bring in people from the neighborhood, the surrounding area, and the rest of St. Louis to hear the good news about Jesus. Finally, please pray for Call Day, and that God would place me and the others receiving placements and calls where He wants us to be.

Peace in Christ,

Emily

February Facts

Dear Friends,

I’m sitting here in the living room of House #13 enjoying the calm and quiet of the first days of the quarter break and reflecting on the past few months. I can’t help but thank God for all that He has given me!

During Christmas break our family was able to host two special guests. Dollie’s fiancé came from Georgia, and Andrew came in on a Christmas evening flight. We spent some great time together as a slightly-larger-than-before family!

Kitt Peak

A visit to Kitt Peak during Christmas break.

This past quarter I enjoyed my classes. I had Theology of Mission with Dr. Hank Rowold. I first met Dr. Rowold while I was in my first few weeks in Taiwan. He has been a good friend to have back here in the United States as I have adjusted to life post-Taiwan. Another class that I took was Psalms and Writings with Dr. Saleska. This class helped us to analyze the psalms and apply their meaning within their original context as well as for today. The class assignments were helpful because the deaconess students were able to write devotions on some of the psalms that we covered in class. I am interested in writing in the future, and so devotion writing is something that I want to learn more about. The last class that I took was called Genetics and the Christian Perspective, taught by Dr. Weise. This class was mostly discussion-based, and helped us to explore some of the new biotechnologies that we are encountering today. Learning how to look at new technologies through a Biblical perspective is helpful, as many biotechnologies are not specifically addressed in the Bible. Instead, we learned to look at the larger implications of biotechnology, and how they do or do not glorify God.

The Tuesday evening women’s Bible study has gotten off the ground. I am hosting and leading Bible study here at the deaconess house for some of the women from St. Trinity Lutheran Church. These women are mostly from around the same part of St. Louis as the seminary, and so it is easier for us to meet here on campus rather than drive down to the church. We are studying a book called When Helping Hurts. It’s a study that looks at poverty and helps direct Christians to use their efforts to alleviate poverty in the most effective ways. The book was written because the author recognized that many times Christians mean well, but end up making the situation worse through their efforts. It has been a good study so far, and has sparked some interesting discussions when we meet.

In recent news, I spent this past weekend out at Andrew’s grandparents’ farm in central Missouri. This is the weekend when the family had their annual pig butchering. That was an all day activity, and plenty of work, but we’re well stocked with pork for the year! I helped out with the packaging and labeling.

I have been busy with school work, certainly, but there is also a wedding to plan! I am thankful that my mom has been so helpful in getting things organized. I’m not sure what I’d do without her help! Things are coming along, and August 8th will be here before we know it! Andrew and I will be getting married in Pinetop, Arizona.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Peace in Christ,

Emily

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