Three international students, two from Namibia and one from Hungary, have been invited to travel with Northeastern Iowa Synod youth to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas this summer.

Marian Torodis will be coming from the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Republic of Namibia (ELCRN). Bishop Ernst GAMXAMUB from ELCRN was a guest of the Northeastern Iowa Synod in 2016.  Marian will be traveling the Youth Gathering with the youth from St. Paul in Hampton.

Lidwine Ndeshipewa Mukulu, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN-GELCEL) will be attending the Youth Gathering with the youth from Grace Lutheran in Tripoli.

Áron Czapek comes from the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, and he will be traveling with the youth from Trinity Lutheran in Mason City.

There will be opportunities to meet and even host these young people in our synod both before and the week after the Youth Gathering.  The program is different this year.  In the past, youth would stay with families in the synod before the gathering, then fly to the gathering on their own and were housed with other international students at the Gathering.   In 2015 our host congregations became so close to their guests that we asked for permission to allow them to travel with our youth groups to Detroit.  Although they stayed in different housing, they met up with our youth groups and participated in the Gathering activities.

This year the international youth will be with our youth groups the entire time.

They will arrive June 17 and attend a brief orientation in Chicago.  Each host congregation is invited to send a youth to attend the orientation with their guest.   Then they will be hosted by different congregations in our synod until they are ready to depart with our youth to the Gathering in Houston.  The congregations they will travel with are Grace in Tripoli, St. Paul in Hampton and Trinity in Mason City.  This year they will be housed with our youth, so they will spend all their time at the gathering with synod youth.

We also have arranged for them to return to Iowa with their host congregation and spend a few more days in our synod so they have more time to get to know our synod and congregations.

It was a great blessing to get to know our Namibian guests Vaino Junias Kambungu and Hileni Nagula Nuuyuni in 2015, and we are looking forward to getting to know our new guests from Namibia and Hungary this summer.

In the current political climate, it can be a challenge for people from Namibia and other African nations to get Visas to come to the USA, so we ask your prayers not only for our guests but all the international students who have been invited to join our youth at the ELCA Youth Gathering.

Please pray for a smooth process and safe travels.

We have also been asked to pray for Namibia as it is still experiencing a seven-year drought.

Stay tuned for more information about our international visitors and where you can meet them.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


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