Last week we had the privilege of welcoming Deacon April Trout to Minnesota and into her new role as BKB Program Coordinator in Iringa. Beginning in late August, she will spend two years volunteering in Tanzania on our behalf. Recently consecrated in the Lower Susquehanna Synod, she came here to learn about this companion synod relationship, to meet people whose lives have been shaped by our partners in Iringa, and to be commissioned for global service by the people of the Saint Paul Area Synod.
The commissioning service was held at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Roseville. In September they will be sending a travel delegation - one of the first that April will receive - so it was only fitting that they would be involved in sending her off. Swahili tunes were sung and words from Acts 13
While the congregational leaders at Antioch were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
And then the congregation stood up. Children, as well as those who had travelled and will travel to Iringa, laid their hands upon her and prayed for her.
Addressing those assembled, April shared her story of call and gave thanks for the opportunity to accompany us in our journey with our companions in Iringa. Three decades into her nursing career she felt that tug of God's Spirit and said 'Yes' to the call to pursue theological and ministerial studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. She spoke candidly about the uncertainty she faced upon graduation in May 2016 as her plans to move into parish nursing never quite came to fruition. At the same time, God's Spirit was stirring again and fond memories of service with the Peace Corps in Senegal and experience with the Konde Diocese in Tanzania led to an application for Global Service
with the ELCA. That application, in turn, led her to say 'Yes!' to the call to serve with BKB and to be sent to live in a place halfway around the world that she has only heard stories of.
This week April is at the Lutheran Center in Chicago for global orientation with 21 other new missionaries that the ELCA will be sending out into the world. Next week she will participate in the Summer Missionary Conference, where half of the ELCA's deployed mission personnel gather for a time of respite, fellowship, and learning while on home assignment. Following her time in Chicago, April will return home to Pennsylvania to tend to her family, her friends, and to get the 'stuff' of her life (house, car, possessions) in order before she departs - no small task indeed.
On a personal note, as exciting as it has been to get to know April, I have been equally amazed at the extravagant welcome
that the greater BKB family has extended to this new colleague of ours. Having received the gift of hospitality in Tanzania, you are a community that knows how to share it as well. You are also people who know the power of prayer and therefore I ask you to continue to hold her in your prayers. Just as April has said 'Yes' to the call to serve with us, so too we have said 'Yes' to the call to accompany her and to seek in all things to build together the mission that belongs to all of us - by the grace of God, of course.
With joy and gratitude,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop