The Northeastern Iowa Synod is hosting two young people from our Companion Synod in Namibia, Vaino Junias Kambungu and Hileni Nagula Nuuyuni. Both are from the northern part of the country. Hileni lives in a town about the size of Mason City near the Angolan border. Vaino is from a smaller rural town.
They arrived last week after a 24-hour flight for an orientation in Chicago. They were picked up Saturday at the Rochester airport by Pastor Elaine Siemsen of Immanuel Lutheran in Cresco.
Vaino spent the first part of the week with Pastor Elaine and the youth at Cresco. While in Cresco, Vaino has picked raspberries at the farm of John Vobr, watched a fireworks display at Spillville, toured Luther College, saw the Decorah trout farm, had pizza with the Cresco youth and even experienced the Whippy Dip in Decorah. He expressed his delight with seeing pigs in Iowa as he is familiar with them from his home.
Hileni has been spending her time with Pastor Steve and Amy Winsor and the youth of St. Paul, Hampton. Part of that time was spent at the Van Wert family farm. She has fit right in with the 4 girls in the Winsor home, so much that we fear they may be unwilling to let her go home!
Wednesday night the two came together to tour Wartburg College and speak at a synod-wide potluck hosted by St. Paul in Hampton. When asked what they liked about the US, they said they liked the buildings, pizza and American cars.
Tomorrow night they will join the youth at Zion St. John in Sheffield for a pool party.
Sunday, Hileni will be at St. Peter in Rockwell for a 10:30 am outdoor worship, followed by a picnic meal while Vaino will be at Zion Lutheran in West Union for their 9 am worship.
Vaino will remain at Zion to be with their youth group and then he will travel with the Shechem Conference to Detroit for the Youth Gathering. Hileni will be traveling with St. Paul, Hampton to the Gathering.
Although the international students are all housed together at the Gathering, Vaino and Hileni will have an opportunity to spend the days with youth from our synod.
This visit from these two charming and intelligent young people has been a blessing to this Synod. A special thanks to Pastor Elaine and Dennis Siemsen, Pastor Steve and Amy Winsor, Pastor Rhea Evanson, Pastor Pat Shaw, and Pam & Craig Moss for hosting; all the youth who have been so welcoming; and all who have contributed to the Namibian Travel Fund to make this possible.
This has been a wonderful opportunity not only for these young people from Namibia but also for us to get to know them and learn more about life for young people in our Companion Synod.
If you would like to donate to the Namibian Travel Fund so that we may do this again, you can send a check to the Northeastern Iowa Synod and designate it to the “Namibian Travel Fund”.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA