Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Year in Review...

As we prepare to turn the page on 2008, we figured this would be the best time to offer a "Year in Review"...

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary on September 23rd, and enjoyed an overall exciting year as we were assigned to a new position with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Global Mission. After serving in Guyana over the course of four years, we now reside in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (in the province of KwaZulu-Natal), in order to coordinate a new Young Adults in Global Mission Program, which allows American young adults between the ages of 21-30 to travel to South Africa for a year-long cross cultural experience.

As "Country Coordinators", we oversee and facilitate the Young Adults in Global Mission program in South Africa. We facilitate in-country logistics such as visa procedures, finances and stipends, housing, working out individual placements, arrivals and departures, and evaluation of sites and volunteers. We plan the volunteers' initial orientation program, travel throughout the country in order to conduct site visits and consult with local leaders, develop in-service retreats, and manage the program website (, which includes reflections from volunteers and local hosts, details program goals, and introduces events taking place in South Africa. All in all, the new responsibilities are quite different from what we experienced while in Guyana, but we have found our new roles and environment to be quite exciting and worthwhile. We look forward to serving in this capacity for years to come.

In addition to our "formal" roles with Global Mission, we are involved in a variety of projects and activities in our new community. Kristen assists with the local university soccer team, serves as a consultant with the medical unit of Project Gateway (a local non-governmental organization), facilitates exercise testing and nutrition labs at the Nelson Mandela Medical School in Durban, and is about to begin Ph.D research in the area of Exercise Immunology among South Africa children at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus. Brian is involved with the local university basketball team, assists with the national Young Adults League of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, meets with students and faculty for discussion at the local Lutheran Theological Institute, attends lectures and seminars on theology and development, and guest-preaches at Lutheran congregations around the country. In our free time, we continue to enjoy jogging, hiking, yoga, swimming, reading, and updating our blog.

We will be in the United States in 2009 as we conduct “Global Mission Home Assignment”, where we plan to visit close to thirty Lutheran congregations who financially support our service. We plan to be stateside from mid-March until mid-May, and again during the month of July. We look forward to the opportunity to see family and friends face to face!

Thank you for all the ongoing love and support! God’s blessings to you and your loved one’s during this Christmas Season and beyond.

With peace and love,

Brian and Kristen