Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Carly Meyer

Well we've been back in the U.S. for almost a week now. The Lord gave us safe travels while we were in London, and on both our flights. It still surprises me that we're back already! I want to go over there again so badly. While I understand that this is unrealistic, at the same time, I will definitely be encouraging others to go. I really hope to see this program continue, and ask that we all keep it in our prayers. There are so many blessings that come from it, for the people that go over, and for our Indian brothers and sisters. I hope that I can share my experiences with my brothers and sisters in Christ here at home in a way that they will benefit from.

I'm kind of struggling with that right now, because people come up to me and ask, "How was your trip to India?" and I just don't know how to answer that question adequately without spending an hour talking! There are just so many things to say about it, I really can't sum it all up in a sentence or two. One thing I try to tell people is how eye-opening it is to see first-hand the culture, and to actually meet the people we are working with. It's encouraging to think that, even though we're on opposite sides of the globe, we are all working together towards one goal!

It was difficult saying goodbye to the pastors, not knowing if we would ever see them again. I miss them all very much! But we can be encouraged knowing that soon we will all be together in heaven! Praise the Lord for this assurance!!! May He keep us all in the faith, regardless of where we may be on this earth, until that blessed day when He comes back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Pictures from the Mission Helpers can be seen here:

and here:

Check back often as more pictures will be posted soon.

From Jackie Schwersinske

It was an awesome trip and I wouldn't trade it for anything it was a pleasure to serve the Lord with you. It was so up lifting to see that I had brothers and sisters that far away from home. I have been so excited to tell any and everyone that I come in contact with that it was the most wonderful and God led mission I have ever been on. Nothing beats spreading and sharing the word of God. Those little faces in India are something I'll never forget. Not to mention that it was wonderful to meet everyone that went with us to serve the Lord. I'll never forget you all.

There was a hymn that I ran across before we left to go to India that I was going to ask Pastor to read it as the trip came to a end but I forgot. This is how it goes:

The time has come, O Lord,
for us to leave this place
Guide us and protect us
and lead us in Thy grace.

Where-ever life may take us
as we go are separate ways
Help us to share with others
the Word we shared today.

May the peace of God the Father
and the love of Christ His Son
Guide us in the days ahead
and strengthen us each one.

May the blessings of the spirit
fill us from within
God bless us and return us
to this fellowship once again. Amen

Your Christian Sister always,
Jackie Schwersinske

Saturday, August 1, 2009

From Joey Reim

I had expected that at some point in the trip I would have had some kind of life changing moment where I felt overwhelmed with the power of the Spirit working, or seeing extreme poverty, or seeing all the evil that sin has caused. I experienced all of this while in India, but it never struck me all at once.

It is easier now that i am home to reflect back on the trip and recognize everything the Lord was revealing to me. I saw the Spirit working in the children as they listened in wonder to the messages we had for them in our stories, and i saw it in the many seminary students who were, out of a deep love for their Savior, preparing to spread His Word throughout their country. I saw it in the leaders of the BELC as they continually thanked us in their words and actions for taking the time to share God's message of salvation with their members. And I saw it in our own group as we worshiped and prayed together daily, and encouraged each other as we taught our lessons. I also saw the poverty of the country when people would beg desperately for food or money. The shabby clothes, tiny huts and churches with no air conditioning or fans that people crowded into to hear the Word of God showed me that most of those people could not possibly imagine the luxury we enjoy and sometimes take for granted. I saw the evil which darkens the country in the huge, elaborate Hindu temples surrounded by people waiting for a chance to enter with gifts for their worthless idols. One of the most frightening places we visited was the town of Tirumala, an entire city dedicated to the Hindu temple built up on a hill. The "Disney Land" of the Hindus. Satan had used the misleading religion to disguise the city to look like fun and excitement, attracting devastating amounts of worshipers and pilgrims. All of these things were not overlooked on the trip, and certainly will not be forgotten.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you." ~ Matthew 28:19-20

These are the words Jesus left His disciples with before He ascended into heaven, one of the greatest of His commandments. I can remember back years ago when I was much younger, memorizing this passage and wondering how I would ever be able to do this. I prayed for the strength to spread His word and not be afraid, and the opportunity came while I was in India. With the support of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we were able to evangelize to hundreds of God's children these past two weeks. It is my prayer that our message not only strengthened the faith of those who are already believers, but that it also reached the ears of many unbelievers for the first time. I pray that those who heard us were moved by the Spirit, that those who lack the comforts and necessities of life find comfort and hope in the news of their salvation, and that those who may be easily lead astray were brought closer to their Savior. I thanks God for the opportunity He gave to me to plant the seed of faith in their hearts and I pray that the Spirit will continue to grow and nourish it.

"And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." ~ Matthew 28:20

The first part of the passage motivated me throughout the trip, but the second part comforts me now that I am home again. I felt the Lord's presence close to me while in India. Being around others with such solid faith helped me to strengthen my own faith during the trip. But now that we've gone our separate ways and another year of college is looming ahead I will be missing the close companionship of those who believe the same things that I do. It is easy to be distracted and lead astray with sinful temptations surrounding me, but this passage reminds me that I am not alone. I am assured that the Lord is on my side and will guide me wherever He wants me to go. I pray that after these weeks in India my faith is strong enough that I can be secure in my beliefs and be open about it with the people I meet this year. I have seen how powerful God's Word is in the Hindu stricken nation of India, and I trust that it will guide my thoughts, words, and actions as I grow spiritually and emotionally in the coming years.

From Stephen Eichstadt

We made it back home! It feels pretty good to be back home, however, I do miss the people that I got to know in India. It was a trip which I will not be forgetting, and very worthwhile. We were blessed to be able to proclaim the Gospel message to many people.

There is a lot of work to be done in India, and the need for people to do this work became very evident in this trip. We all became aware of the need, and I wondered at times if I could do more. It is something which I will be keeping in my prayers, and I ask that everyone else also keep this work, and those who do the work in their prayers.

It took a little time to get used to the culture, and to get into a rhythm. Once this was accomplished, it turned into a very enjoyable trip! It is also amazing to see the contrast between India and the U.S. It was something which was noticeable when we first got to India, but as we stayed there, I became used to it. When we got to London and then back to the U.S. it became very obvious again. We are truly blessed to be living in a wonderful nation, even if at times we don't like the politics that take place. There is never any major problems when it comes to preaching the message of Christ's salvation, this is something which cannot be said about India.

I would like to thank everyone who supported us with their prayers. They were very much appreciated, and the results are evident in that we had a very smooth trip, and God's Word reached many people. I would ask that everyone keep the foreign mission fields in mind, and pray that the work will continue to flourish.

Luke 10:2-"He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.""

In Christ's Saving Grace,

Friday, July 31, 2009

Back in the U.S.

Just wanted to let everyone know that the 2009 Mission Helpers made it safely back to the U.S. on Thursday afternoon.

I have asked everyone to contribute their final thoughts to the check back soon.

Thank you for all your prayers!

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From London

Hello from London,

After an offer from British Airways to receive $500 each to take a later flight to London fell through...we arrived in London, put luggage in storage, exchanged money, took the underground to the station nearest our hostel and checked in.

We plan to take a walk across Green Park to take a quick look at Buckingham palace and then a stroll across Hyde Park for an evening meal of fish and chips. And then a good night of sleep.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

From Pastor Todd Ohlmann

It's almost 1:00 am on Tuesday morning and everyone is packed and ready to head to the airport. We will spend a day and half in London enroute to a Thursday afternoon arrival in Chicago.

The Lord has once again blessed this Mission Helper effort to spread the Gospel as we have given and received even more encouragement in the faith.

Please pray for a safe and un-eventful trip home.

In Christ,
Pastor O.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From Carly Meyer

Wow. . .only 2 more days left in India. It's amazing how quickly time flies! We taught today in the Chennai district, to a very enthusiastic group! They performed a few dances, and a few of the kids recited Bible passages for us. It was one of our smaller groups (I think) but they were definitely one of the noisiest (in a good way)! Every time one of us made a statement about God's love, or what Jesus did for us they would all start clapping. It was really cool to see! As we teach these lessons over and over again, it is tempting to get tired of the message. But these kids really reminded me that this is something to get excited about, no matter how many times you hear it!

As we near the end of the trip, I really feel myself getting more and more anxious to go home and see my family and friends again. I suppose this is only natural. But I am praying that the Lord would help me and all of us helpers stay focused til the end, because who knows if we're going to get an opportunity this incredible again?

While I hope that I can come over here again, I can't count on it, and I really just want to make the most of every moment that I have with my fellow Indian brothers and sisters. They are such incredible people! I pray that this program continues, whether it be trips to India, or to one of the other countries where we have missions developing. It's such an amazing opportunity to see firsthand the work that the Lord is doing!

From Dorena Wiechmann

July 20
I am so behind in writing things down – So much happens every day that it is difficult to keep up : ). Today was our first time of spending all day at the orphanage we had sooo much fun!!We made plaster of Paris figures for the kids to paint, played ball, duck duck goose, musical chairs, sand songs, and ran our little hearts out! The children are so loving and full of energy. Already we love them so much. We also had a very fun visit with Pastor Nireekshana, his wife Anne, and their little girls Prasasthi (Blessy) and Pradeephi (Mahnsy). Then we (Pastor Jyothi, Pastor Nireekshana, Peter, Pastor Matt, Katie + 2 of Pastor J+N’s nephews plus several others including faithful Barnabas – he is a very short slender man who is always doing something for someone) took off for the next village. As usually we were instant celebrities with all the dear little ones, who crowded around as we began the delightfully frustrating and sometimes hilarious task of communicating : ). It took probably an hour or two for the men to get the electrical system working so that we could show our Bible picture slides. One man had to climb up the electrical pole to rearrange the wires – they are so brave! After they got the electricity going it began to rain, so we all went inside and Peter showed the children the pictures that he had taken of them up on the big screen. It was so funny to watch them point each other out and laugh and then giggle in embarrassment when they own picture came up. The service went well except for when during the singing Peter happened to point out an innocent little gecko (hanging from the coiling) to Katie, who screamed. The children quickly caught on to the fun and kept pointing during the service to make sure Katie knew exactly when and where a gecko sighting occurred.

July 21
When the orphanage children returned from school we had lots more fun together. It is wonderful to be with them, but a little bit sad too because each one is so precious, and so in need of individual attention and love and I just wish we could keep them all! But God is doing wonderful things in their little hearts and lives and I am so glad that they are able to be at the orphanage. Several times I would play kick the ball with some of the little boys and a couple of times I accidentally kicked it so hard that it went up on the flat roof of the two story seminary and we all had to go tearing up the steps to retrieve it. One little boy though (he was about my favorite but I never got a handle on his name) would always come dashing up with his highly infectious smile , ball in hand, yelling “Sistah, Sistah!” and make fantastic gyrations with his leg, telling me in as plain of English as I have ever seen to send the ball back to seminary!

We had such a wonderful time at VBS tonight. The children are so energetic and eager to soak everything in especially the psalms. How I wish my own heart was always so open to my heavenly father teaching, and so humbly willing to learn. The service was out in the open air tonight – no geckos on the ceiling! But then during the service it began to rain. It looked as if we were going to have to pack up and leave, and Barnabas and I were trying to dehumidify the projector with an orange towel. The people all began to get up and leave and we were busy praying that the rain would quit. Suddenly Pastor Jyothi thundered, “Sit Down, Sit Down, the rain is going to stop!” and it did. The Lord is good, and we were able to finish the service just fine. After the services the people always come crowding up to us, saying, “Pray, Pray!” And wanting us to lay our hands on them and pray for them. It is such a precious thing to see – the friendly little girls, their dark faces framed by their best hair ribbons, coming first, the bare foot little boys coming shyly after, and finally the gentle and worn faces of the older people. It makes me feel so ashamed because of the elevation they give us, since I know my own heart, but I am honored by their love.

July 22
Another day that we got to spend playing with the children, and also visiting with the ladies. Lakshmi, Suranhukumari and Pastor Jyothi are teaching us a song to sing in Telugu.

Tonight was a very special night. There were many people at the service. And Pastor Jytohi told us there were Hindu people there as well as Christian. We are praying to our Heavenly Father that His word will, according to His promise, not return to Him void of the precious fruit of repentant hearts.

July 23
Right now it is about 5:00pm and we are on our way to Ongole. Sweetie is deriving our vehicle with Pastor Jyothi, Jack, Pastor Matt, Katie and me. Barnabas, Tinto, Tinko, and some others are following in another car with our luggugage. We are stopped at a railroad crossing to wait for a train. Barnabas and Tinto got peanuts at the little stand and our amusing themselves by placing peanut shells on the windshield of the car just out of reach of Tinko’s windshield wipers. They are so funny! We are on our way again now. Pastor Matt is hanging out of the window of our car taking pictures, and Tinto is hanging out the window of their car taking pictures of Pastor Matt : ). We stopped to take some pictures over a bridge and now as we drive there is a mountain looming in front of us. It is very beautiful.
This morning was our last morning at the hotel in Guntur, and our last time with all of our special new friends in Nidubrolu. It is hard to say goodbye to everyone, because I don’t know for sure if I will see them again until heaven. It is amazing how close you can become to people of a different culture, background, and language in just a few short days. The common faith in our Lord Jesus and the love of Christ in our hearts is a very strong tie. We just made it to Ongole, so I will write more later!

From Steve Eichstadt

We are finished up with our teaching. This is something which came to soon! I was just getting into teaching, and was starting to really enjoy presenting the Gospel to the children. Our last day of teaching was pretty neat! We taught two groups of children, and they were enthusiastic! There were shouts for the Lord, and singing His praises! The one thing which was the best was the way that we would stop our story when we came to an especially important part. For example, after proclaiming that Christ was born, everyone clapped and said "Hallelujah!" This made me realize how important these parts really are! Too often we go right past these parts, and just think, "Yeah, that's good..." We should be just as excited at the news of a
Savior!!! This is probably the biggest thing that I will miss. Hearing the "Hallelujahs" and the "Praise the Lord" when telling these wonderful stories.

Today we went and saw another Hindu temple. This is always sad, and makes me realize the incredible need for the Gospel here in India. Seeing these idols which can do absolutely nothing, makes me ready to proclaim the blessed news of our Savior! There are too many people here who have no knowledge of this blessed hope, and need to hear this message. So please pray that God's Word will reach all corners of India, and that more of God's children will come to faith!

From Jackie Schwersinske

This has been a real adventure this week. We have a devotion everyday before we begin our day so we know that the Lord is directing every step. As we walk thru the day I see the Lord at work.

Us girls sat in on one of the teaching session one of the days where all these young Pastors are so eager to be taught. As Pastor was teaching I could feel the Lord's presence very strongly...I know He is here. I look for Him daily and see Him at work every where we preach and teach. I thank the Lord for giving me strength to teach His word.

The children are wonderful to teach. They welcome us where ever we go in Jesus name. The Mission Helpers are covering a lot of places being split up into teams. The days consist of a lot of traveling but it is definitely worth it. His words will definitely not come back void.

Seeing our Indian brothers and sisters is awesome. I would never trade this experience. The pastors of the BELC are so with the Lord they talk enough English so that we can talk quite freely. They make sure we have plenty of bottled water and food and their wives seem eager to cook for us. They give us very large portions more than we can eat.

Well it is time for me to get ready for Pastor Ohlmann to return to pick us up to teach. Keep us in your prayers, they are definitely being heard and are in action.

Your Christain Sister Jackie

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From Pastor Matt Ude

Oh What a Night!

July 21, 2009

And not the late September type, either.

The day started routinely enough. At least routinely enough for a group of American’s in a fairly good hotel in the midst of a relatively normal sized (1,000,000 pop) city in India. We went out to the orphanage where I was teaching on the journeys of Paul, (I made it as far as the stoning of Stephen) and Katie and Dorena played with the kids. Later at night found us sitting in the dark of a remote village as we waited for the villagers to gather so we could begin our VBS program. We had already taught the lessons four or five times and we were starting to feel like we had ironed out all the wrinkles. But there is no place like an Indian village for expecting the unexpected.

About an hour till show time, Pastor Jyothi turned around and motioned for me to move close to where he was banging out Indian beats on a keyboard. This is when he informed me that it would probably be good if my part of the VBS program was more of a sermon. He went on to explain that most of what we were doing was all focused on the kids and many of the adults would feel left out unless there was a sermon for them. I had been teaching on the Incarnation of Christ. So I asked, “You want me to just teach the same thing, say the same things but make it sound like a sermon.” “Yes!” Well okay I thought that’s easy enough.

Half an hour later Jyothi motioned to me to talk to him again. It would be good, he told me, if you would go last, do you think Katie could do your lesson and you could end the program with a sermon. Kudos to Katie she agreed right away without hesitation to take both my lesson and her own (the crucifixion and resurrection) but that left me with about 20 min to get together a sermon that tied together and wrapped up the entire story of man and God, creation, flood, incarnation, crucifixion, repentance, and final judgment. It was at that point where I decided, “Lord, this is one is all you, there is nothing I can do.” It’s kinda of a freeing thought to realize the thing you are about to do is entirely in the Lord’s hand, there was no way of knowing and thus no way of preparing for this task.

The Lord of course came through; I immediately thought of Isaiah 42 and used it to preach “Who is this hero? And what did he do?” The sermon I think was going very well, when about half way through, it started to rain ever so slightly. My laptop was sitting out near the projector and I was a little worried about that but more so about the people who were being distracted by the slight drizzle. Then the rain picked up just a bit more. Still nothing to worry about but the villagers began to look up. Then just as I was explaining a “bruised reed” the rain picked up a bit more. A couple of things happened all at once. Neerickshena, sitting on the sidelines told me to finish up, the villagers began to get up to scatter to dry places, but Jyothi who was translating told the people to sit down God will take care of the rain. The villagers listened, sat down again, and just like that the rain was gone. After that I finished the sermon wrapping things up with verse 6, “as a light to the Gentiles,” as a picture with a cross superimposed over pictures of the villagers we had taken earlier was displayed on the screen, and I told them all this God has done for you.

Later on Peter and the girls told me that as soon as it had started to drizzle they had begun praying that the Lord would hold back the rain till we had finished. There were certainly many mistakes made that night, myself being to blame for switching the slides to quickly for the girls, one time prompting Katie to stare at me with the most severe look of bewildered confusion, but it is also equally certain that the Lord was with us that night as well, giving strength and power and words where we had none. And although I would never contest the moral of the old homiletic story, I for one liked the part the Holy Spirit wrote much better.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

-Pastor Matt Ude

From Carly Meyer

Another exciting day in India! It's been just wonderful getting to know the pastors over here. They are all so energetic for the spreading of the Word! I only hope that we can all bring this energy back home, where the fields are white as well.

We travelled today to the Chittoor district, where Jackie, Joey, and I sat in on Pastor Ohlmann's lesson for the first time. There were about 30 pastors crammed into a pretty small space. But that didn't stop them from diligent study in the Word! It definitely sets an example for us to follow: the message we come to learn is too important to be turned down simply because the building where it's being shared isn't "comfortable" enough~ or any reason for that matter!

We also travelled to a village called Kottravedu (sp?) to teach the children. It was exciting to see how many children filled that building just to hear about their Savior, Jesus! Praise the Lord for moving their hearts to do so! Keep us all in your prayers as we continue to share the Gospel!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From Pastor Todd Ohlmann

Yesterday we met one of the other teams to take a short diversion from the teaching to witness one of the reasons why we come to India. We met in the city of Tirumala which is found at the top of one of the seven holy hills of Hinduism in South India. This temple is home to the idol of Sri Venkateswara also known as Krishna or Ballagi. This idol is one of the three main gods of Hinduism and is worshiped as the god of salvation. The other two gods are Brahma (the god of creation) and Shiva (the god of death and destruction).

I try to make a point of bringing the mission helpers to this site because it shows the utter darkness that hangs over this nation. Literally millions of Hindu devotees and pilgrims make their way to this temple each year. The entire complex of parks, gardens, hotels, shops, and worship points that are dedicated to the worship of these false gods covers several hunderds of acres of land. Every time I come to this place, and especially as I look over the 1,000's of people gathered in the vast court yard in front of the temple, I have a hard time keeping my emotions in check as I realize that these very individuals, who are so dedicated and zealous in their worship, are also the very souls for whom Christ sufferd, died and rose again. God's gracious promise of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life in Christ Jesus is also for them. I am overwhelmed by the grace and love of our Savior that I have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ, and at the same time overwhelmed by the ache that is forever burning within my heart for the masses in India who do not trust in Christ alone for their salvation. There is so much work to be done here and we have only just begun to seize the opportunities and open doors that the Lord has set before us.

What a privilege to be about our Savior's work! I am so thankful for the Mission Helpers along with their families and sponsors who have given of their time, talents, and resources to share in this joyous work of spreading the Gospel here in India.

From Stephen Eichstadt

These last two days have given me plenty of food for thought. Last night, we were teaching at a small church on the second floor of a building. An entire side of the building was open, and it allowed a nice breeze through the area. Mid-way through our lesson, the power went out! We then taught the rest of our lesson in the light of a single candle, and we had to periodically talk over the train as it went by. It brought to mind the story of how God came to Elijah (I think it was him...) on Mt. Sinai with a still, small voice. In this room, with all of the noise outside, and with very little light, the good news of Christ was being taught and learned! It wasn't very loud
or flashy, but it certainly was powerful! We taught in a very small church, which wasn't any bigger then a small bedroom. We packed everyone in there, and there were even people outside of the doors! We taught the stories, and shared the wonderful news.

It is always the case that when I leave after teaching, I have a big smile on my face! To see the children who are so happy to be learning, and to be teaching them the best subject possible is absolutely amazing!

Tomorrow we head out to yet another area, our last before we head back. We will spend 4-5 days teaching in that area, and then we head back to Chennai. The time is really starting to fly by now that we are actually teaching! God-willing, we will be reaching hundreds to thousands of more people in the next days with the Gospel!

In Christ,

From Carly Meyer

What an incredible week so far! I just love teaching the kids over here! They are all so eager to listen and learn about their Jesus! It's so encouraging to see. Our team has been blessed with a wonderful driver, Kumar, who gets us safely through the crazy streets of India. We also have D. Paul as our translator; words cannot describe what a blessing this man is from the Lord! He's so enthusiastic and excited for the spreading of the Gospel~ truly inspiring to be around.
Our days since we've been in Sri Kalahasti have been pretty routine. Pastor Ohlmann teaches in the mornings, and we girls get to do a little sight-seeing. Pastors Rajamani and Basker have been incredibly helpful in showing us around! They are delightful individuals to have with us! Yesterday we went to see a beautiful waterfall, which is also a destination spot for the Hindu pilgrims. We got to see lots of monkeys pretty up close!!! Pastor Rajamani got a kick out of seeing how excited we got over the monkeys. We saw another temple today, as well as a beautiful reservoir/dam. Then in the afternoons we'll teach for about an hour and head back to our hotel (usually about an hour's drive). We've gotten to do a little exploring around our hotel~ tonight we hope to check out a bizarre a few blocks over!
On Sunday night Joey, Jackie, and I bought sarees, which was fun! There were so many beautiful choices~ it took us about 45 minutes to finally decide! Then came the challenge of figuring out how to wear them. . .fortunately, Pastor Rajamani's wife was willing to show us. We'll see if we can actually do it on our own. It turns out we are invited to an Indian wedding on Thursday, so we are going to wear them then!
Thank you all for your prayers back home~ they are much appreciated! The Lord has definitely kept us safe under His watchful eye over here. While it is going to be hard to leave India, I miss everyone at home very much!

From Joey Reim

The last couple days at the Martin Luther Bible School have gone by quickly and eventfully, thanks in part to the secretary of the BELC, Pastor Rajamany, and his wife. Carly, Jackie and I had bought our own sarees Sunday night, the traditional women's clothing here. We brought them with us yesterday to the area where we were teaching and while Pastor Ohlmann was teaching his morning classes Rajamany's wife showed us how to put them on. Then she took us to a taylor to have them make shirts to go under them. Now we have our own sarees to wear later this week!!

Rajamany and his wife, as well as Pastor Bhaskar also took us to a tourist spot up in the hills yesterday with a stream and waterfall. They got a kick out of mine and Carly's excitement when we saw monkeys. They were immitating us and laughing. Rajamany is so much fun to be around! He loves to joke around and tease, and he lets his faith shine!

Today we were visiting the same area and while Pastor Ohlmann was teaching, Rajamany and Bhaskar took us to visit some of the sites in a nearby town. We visited a dam and then climbed up in the hills to a small hindu temple. I am amazed at how beautiful India is, despite the lack of sunlight! It is so green, and hills form a beautiful backdrop for the villages and fertile corn and sugar cane fields. When we thanked Rajamany and Bhaskar for showing us around they said they were happy to do it for us. They told us it is their way of saying thank you for taking the time to visit and share God's Word with them and their congragations.

It is so uplifting to see these people on the other side of the world proclaim their faith, knowing that we not only believe in the same God but also hear the same call from God to spread His word to the nations. Bhaskar, D. Paul, Rajamany, and the others have worked so hard to train pastors to send out and start churches for the thirsty souls in India. The people here are so in need of (and accepting of!) the Word! It is my prayer that God will move the hearts of many to increase support for missions so these pastor can get the resources they need to reach as many souls as they can. Their work is not in vain!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From Pastor Frank Gantt

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This morning we were privileged to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nellore. Since there was no translator present, there was much that we were not able to understand, yet the liturgy wasn’t so much different from ours back in the states. There were some songs of praise, the responsive reading of Psalm 134, also Scripture Lessons (Deuteronomy 6 and Romans 2). Pastor Moses then came forward to preach on several texts which each had to do with the concept of Christian love and bearing one another’s burdens. Following the sermon we had the opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with these fellow Christians. It was a unique experience that only further demonstrated what the Apostle Paul wrote: “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." It wasn't our skin color or language, it wasn't our economic status or caste, it wasn't our form of worship or confessional documentations; it is rather the very word and promise of God Himself that unites us in one body through this holy meal.

Following the worship service, I had the opportunity to conduct Bible Class/Sunday School. It was so telling that not a single individual decided to get up and go home before Bible study. Bible Class attendance was identical to worship attendance. And we are coming to teach them? We would do well to sit up and learn from them, at least in this respect.

After Bible study, we had an opportunity to meet one another. Within this congregation of about 120 Christians, there are four that are “studying the Greek,” which means preparing to enter the seminary. It’s equivalent to our pre-the department at ILC. There are more younger boys who are already expressing a desire for the pastoral ministry. At the capable tutelage of Pastor Moses, and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom from above, this is a good sign for this land in which the fields are indeed white for harvest.

Praise be to God.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

From Joey Reim

Today we traveled to the headquarters of the BELC and Pastor D. Paul's house, and we taught our lessons at both places. This was our second and third time teaching today, and I don't think it will ever get old. I've had to do several edits on my lesson to make it more suitable. Since teaching it the first day I've added some questions for the kids to keep them involved. They are very attentive through all four lessons! They seem to love the songs Pastor Ohlmann has taught them. It's wonderful to watch their smiles and laughter as they learn the motions for "If You're Happy and God Loves You." It seems to be God's way of reassuring us that we are doing His will as we spread His word to these people. Their excitement and interest in what we came to share with them is inspiring. The rooms have been crowded with children each time we taught, and adults crowd around the doors and windows to listen. God has moved these people to show love for His word, and I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to grow the seed of faith that has been planted in their hearts.

From Peter Evensen

Please follow this link for more pictures:

From Mike Naumann

Well I had my first lesson last night. It is very inspiring to see so many people who have such a fervent love for God.

is beautiful, exciting and intimidating all at the same time. The busyness of the streets is unmatched by anything in America. I feel like I am finally getting use to the accents and can understand them I hope to be able to write again soon,


Saturday, July 18, 2009

From Katie Wiechmann

We are in Guntur now, and spent last night in a nice hotel. Then we all ate breakfast together in the little cafĂ© here. We have all been in one group, but today our different little groups of 4 had to split up, so Pastor Ohlmann, Pastor Gantt, Steve, Josh, Mike, Jackie, Joey and Carly took off in the van to go to other spots. It was so sad to see them go, but there are just so many people here to haven’t heard about our Savior, so I guess the more places we can spread out to the better.

Our little group of Pastor Matt, Mr. Peter, Dorena and I just kind of hung out for a while in the hotel, figuring out what we’re doing for lessons, getting picture props ready, and eating lemon and pineapple chicken for lunch :). It’s such a sobering thing to be dealing with the saving words of Jesus, and exactly how to present them to these people who may have never heard and may never have another chance to hear about the God who loves them. We just pray that God will work in their hearts in spite of our failings and mistakes. It’s just so sad to see the thousands and thousands who have been deceived by Satan and are heading for destruction. It feels like there is no way to even make that much difference with so may people who are so poor physically and spiritually, but the Lord promises that His word won’t return to Him void, and also that He loves all people. So all we can do is trust and follow Him, and He will increase the fruit.

Winding through the little country villages, there are so many tall palm trees, and quaint little huts with woven roofs, and water buffalo, and most of all the beautiful brown people who live their lives here in this poor place.

We arrived at a certain spot in amongst a little village, where we were to have our very first VBS. The people warmly welcomed us, and gave us sodas. The little kids started to gather, and it was so cute to watch them wave and giggle and interact with each other. They are so friendly to us, even though we’re strangers. We got to do the song “Our God is so Great” with actions for them, and we also did some hymns. More and more people gathered around us, and then it was finally time to start. We each went through our lessons, and tried our best to help the people understand God’s love for them, but it was a little hard to try it for time, because you feel like you should same more to explain exactly what you’re telling them, since the message is the most important thing they will ever hear. But God helped us through, and Pastor Matt wrapped it up with some questions, and then we handed out gum and crosses.

The people are so hungry for Jesus and to hear what we say. There were many who asked for special prayers, and it’s so sad how they are so needy, but yet so zealous too. Dear Jesus, please help them to feel your love, and give them faith.

We had a rainy drive back to the hotel, and Pastor Matt and Mr. Peter entertained us all with Indian jokes.

Katie Wiechmanns 18 July 2009

From Dorena Wiechmann

We landed in Chennai at about 4:30 in the morning. It took us about an hour to get through customs (they had to take all of our temperatures to see if we had the swine flu!) and then we walked about of the airport for our very first look at India! The one thing that I most noticed is that people were everywhere. Crowds and crowds of people. There was so little room anywhere. It is a little frightening at first. The temperature was really nice because it was so early yet, and there were people asleep everywhere, just lying by the roads! Pastor Ude and his driver, Kumar, came to meet us with a minivan and a small bus, so we piled all of our luggage in, and then we piled all of us in on top! We started off for Pastor Ude’s apartment, and we were in for a big surprise.The driving is like a wild carnival ride. Everywhere you look are motorcycles, rickshaws, buses, cars, bicycles, and carts going at top speed! Several times we would go barreling towards what looked like a bad accident waiting to happen and just as we were clasping our hands over our mouths to hold in the gasps of horror, the cars would part just at the last minute, and we sped safely on the through, honking vigorously! Everyone honks in India. The horn is just as important as the steering wheel (although both of them are on the wrong side of the vehicle : ) ) Gradually we came to realize that everyone really did know what they were doing, accidents rarely happen, it was perfectly acceptable to come within four inches of running over people, and that best of all, our Heavenly Father can protect us just as easily on the roads of Chennai as on the untraveled SD back roads : )I love India driving now! It is so exciting. Almost like taking part in a fast paced video game that came to life!

Anyway we made it safely to Pastor Ude’s house, (his apartment is on the 3rd floor!) and took a wonderful shower. It felt wonderful to be clean. Then we all went for a walk around Pastor Ude’s par t of the neighborhood. (Oh!!! I just say my 1st monkey! It is July 16th we are all in the bus together heading for the orphanage at Guntur : ) ) In some ways our walk was so so sad. The people seem very poor and many will try to get you to buy from them, or give them something. It is just so heartbreaking to see human beings in such physical poverty. Sometimes it is hard to remember that their true poverty is in their hearts not their bodies. We are so rich to have our Savior! Sometimes you just feel like running up and trying to give them money, food, or anything to make their lives better, when what they really need is the Bread of Life, and the precious living Water. Once, when we were walking past a shop I saw a tiny black kitten. It was so skinny and almost dead from starving but it could still cry. I felt like crying too, it was just so sad. But if we only thought about the sad things and the insurmountably things yet to do, we would never have Joy. Our Lord is working in India, and all things are in His hands. It is He that is doing the work not us. We have our Treasures in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

From Jackie Schwersinske

Hi everyone,

We made it!

I'm trying to make sense of a lot of this culture. The more we are here the easier it gets. Pastor Ohlmann is doing a wonderful job of explaining things as we go along. We travel a lot somedays it is a 9 hr. drive or more at a time. Our bodies are trying to a adjust to the time and all of our feet are swollen. We have some type of edema in the feet and ankles. But the Lord keeps us looking at the real reason for coming and that is to preach the Gospel. The first time will be today. We met many christian brother they treat us very well and are very happy we are here to support and encourage them. They love their Lord and Savior that is for sure.

We will talk to you soon and let you know how are first teaching lesson goes. We were told to expect 150 children.

In Christ,
Jackie Schwersinske

From Stephen Eichstadt

Well, after getting over the intial shock of being in a different part of the world, I am actually starting to enjoy it more! Last night we had a welcoming ceremony at the CLCI orphanage. This was quite the event! We were honored, but more importantly, our Lord was
praised. These praises took the form of singing, dancing, Bible readings, and sermons. While I could not understand all of the events since they were in Telegu, it was still obvious that we were all praising God. We were actually late for this event, it ended up starting at around 8:30, and it lasted 3 hours! Once we were done with that, we made it back to the hotel. At this time it was close to 1 AM!

Even though it had been another full day, it was difficult to get to sleep! The songs were going through my head all night, and I even woke up in the morning with one them still going through my head!

We drove back to Nellore, another 4 hour drive, and checked into our motel. We actually have the evening to rest, before we start teaching tomorrow. We'll end up spending two nights here before moving on.

Through all of our travels, it is not hard to see how blessed we are to be living in a wonderful country! The condition which so many people here live in is sometimes hard to believe. However, the one good side to this is that it is very easy to see the stark contrast that those who have the blessed hope of Christ display. They don't seem to take for granted the blessing of having a Savior.

Thanks for all of you who are praying for us, and for the furthering of the Gospel here.
In Christ,

From Joey Reim

This is our third day in India. Right now we are in the city Gunter, near the CLCI headquarters and orphanage.

I love everything about India! Despite the garbage and waste that lines the streets, and the stench that often accompanies it, this place is beautiful. Everything is colorful: the shops with clothes, fruit, flowers, and jewelry, the women's clothes, the billboards, the trees, and the buildings. I love how, in some ways, the people are so different! For example, we nod our heads up and down to say "yes" but they shake theirs side to side. And the traffic is crazy, they can get away with things that would get us a pretty hefty fine in the US. They signal with their horns, so there is a constant honking and beeping noise on the streets as cars swerve around each other on every side of the street. The people are so much like us in some ways too. The little boys flirt with and tease the girls, and they have stores like Levi's, Baskin Robbins, Pizza Hut, etc. here. These people love to smile, too. Smiling at them and waving seems to make their day.

We visited the orphanage last night. Their welcome was quite impressive! They had the area outside the orphanage covered in lights, and they welcomed us with banners, gifts, songs and dances by the Sunday school children. It's wonderful to see them praise the same God that we do in their own way, a reminder of how God's Word has been spread across the world. We are all His children and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today we are splitting into smaller groups to travel to the different churches. I am excited to feel the people's enthusiasm for God's Word as we share it with them in the coming weeks!

From Carly Meyer

It has been an overwhelming, exciting, crazy couple of days over here in India so far! I absolutely LOVE the big cities! It's just so exciting to have so much going on, so many people around, and just to take in all the scenery! I'll admit, the drivers over here are a little bit scary, but the Lord has definitely has had His guarding hand over us in that area! Last night the CLCI church welcomed us with a beautiful ceremony, including lots of music, dancing, and of course, the Word of God. Today we break out into our groups, and I believe even teach our first lessons! I'm very excited to see what the Lord has in store for us.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Four Days of Travel

All is well in has been a very busy four days of traveling. We made it to the CLCI orphanage where they had a big welcome celebration for us last night.

Today the 12 of us will split into three teams. We leave one team here at the CLCI orphanage. I will accompany the 2nd team to a location about 3 hours south of where we are at now. And my team will travel 6-7 hours to the location where we will begin our work.

Everyone is healthy and safe.

The blog will be updated with journal entries from some of the Mission Helpers soon.

In Christ,
Pastor O.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Helpers Arrived in Chennai

Greetings from Chennai!

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the 2009 Mission Helpers to India have arrived. The Lord blessed us with an un-eventful trip from Chicago to Chennai via a 2 hour layover in London. We arrived at 4:30 am.

Right now we are at Missionary Ude's apartment. We will spend some time touring his neighborhood this morning and then exchange our money later in the day. Tomorrow we head to the CLCI seminary and orphanage.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

Monday, July 6, 2009

One Week Until We Leave -- Steve Eichstadt

1 week until we leave...It is hard to believe that after all of this planning and anticipation, that we are that close to the trip! This trip has made me nervous, especially when I start thinking about all of the new things that I will be doing. However, I then start focusing on the reason for the trip, sharing the blessed news of our Savior, and I get very excited! This is something that puts a smile on my face. I am blessed with the great privilege of sharing this wonderful news, and the privilege of seeing the Gospel at work in this field.

This is something which I am greatly anticipating.

Currently, I am in the process of preparing the lesson which I will be teaching. This has proved to be a more difficult task then I had first thought. The idea of teaching through a translator, and teaching in a culture which I am not real familiar with can be a daunting task. But after I think about that, I remember the words that God said the Moses when God was giving him the task of leading the children of Israel.

"The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus 4:11-12)

After reading this, it is hard to be nervous about teaching. Through preparation and prayer, God will make the words which I speak, sound beautiful and do the work which He intends.

I have a feeling that the next week will go very fast. Before I know it, we will be teaching the blessed news of our Savior, and seeing His Word at work in lives on the other side of the world!

Ready for this Important Trip - Mike Naumann

About a year ago my dad asked if I'd like to give the Mission Helper Trip a try. I think my response was "Sure". To my shame, not the most zealous of utterances. I guess back then it just didn't seem real to me. It was too far off and I had my first year of college on my mind. Being only a couple of days from departure makes the whole thing seem a bit more important. But another thing has changed: my enthusiasm and strong belief in the importance of going on this trip. This is truly something to be zealous about.

Being a bit of a History nerd, I decided to read a history of India before going on the trip. Ever since the Indo-Europeans entered India (scholars think around 1700 B.C.), Hinduism and to a lesser degree, Buddhism have dominated the country. This trip is an opportunity from God to help bring the light to a country that sat in darkness for a long time.

Some Christian traditions say that Thomas was martyred in what is now an suburb of Chennai while trying to bring the gospel to the people of India, and it is to this very city we will fly in a week to help spread his word. God give us strength and wisdom.

Mike Naumann

In the Lord's Hand....we are ready to go!

From Jackie Schwersinske
Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Lord has not let me get too many jitters as of now. Getting ready for the trip and working at the Lutheran Home has kept me busy enough to prevent to many jitters. The lord reaches out to most of my jitters by strong daily devotions. Here is one to share. He tells me repeatly that I am going to use His strength and that He will be holding my right hand. That He will be leading--not me. He says Jackie trust and thankfulness will get you through this trip one step at a time. Thankfulness keeps you from critizing and complaining those "sister sins" that so easily entangle you. You need Me every moment. Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength. Pray continually short prayers. When ever you find yourself worrying about the furture, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward. That is the the best advice that I will ever have.

Looks like I will be taking Mike Naumann to the airport with me. I just got a call from Pastor Bruce Naumann just as I was typing this. So that will be our pleasure. We can take this as another step in the Lords plan.

I start taking my Malaria tablets Tommorrow that will be interesting. And I will be meeting for coffee in the next couple of days with Candy Olhmann so she can give me pointers and advice. I have 4 days off before I leave to India to finish preparing for my trip. I can hug my children and husband before I go and know that the Lord holds them in the palm of His hand. Thank you Lord. I'm sure you will here from us soon.

Your Christian sister Jackie Schwersinske

2009 Mission Helper Trip to India

My name is Todd Ohlmann. I am blessed to serve as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church of West St. Louis County in Missouri. I also have the privilege of serving my Lord as a part-time foreign missionary to India and Nepal.

On Monday, July 13th, I will be accompanied by one other pastor and nine other men and women from several congregations of the CLC, who have volunteered to serve as Mission Helpers to India. We will depart on an evening flight from Chicago O'Hare airport to Chennai in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

When we arrive in India we will be met by Missionary Matthew Ude. After touring the CLCI seminary and orphanage, we will divide into three teams to teach and proclaim God's saving word through pastoral training seminars and child evangelism programs. If past trips are any indication, and the Lord continues to bless this effort, the Mission Helpers will have the opportunity to reach upwards of 3,000 children with God's saving Word. Some of these children are members of our sister congregations in India, but many have never heard the truth of God's word concerning the forgiveness and salvation that has been won for them through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Please come back often to see pictures and read reports from myself and the other Mission Helpers.
Please remember the 2009 Mission Helpers to India in your prayers.

In Christ,
Pastor Todd Ohlmann