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Essential Reading: End of this Blog!

Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me over the past days.  As many of you have already heard through facebook or other media, I had an emergency appendectomy last week in Kisumu.  I’m happy to report that by God’s grace the surgery was successful, I am back at Matongo resting and recovering, and I hope to rejoin my family in Moshi, Tanzania this weekend.  I’ll provide more details in our next newsletter.

The main purpose of this blog post is something even more important, however.  Now that I am about to move permanently to Tanzania, I have decided to discontinue using this blog as a means of communication in conformity with Tanzania’s Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018.  Although I could pay the $900 licensing fee to continue operating this blog in Tanzania, I do not think that the blog is so essential a means of communication as to justify my spending that much of your (my supporters’) money.  I’ll leave the website up as a record of the past three years, but I will post no further content after this post.

If your only means of receiving communication from our family has been this blog, don’t worry.  Just send me an email (jonathan.clausing@lcms.org), and I’ll add you to our monthly email list.  You’ll still get monthly news from us as before, just via email instead of via blog site.

It’s a bittersweet moment as I complete this post.  One era is ending and another is beginning.  Please pray for the spread of the Gospel in Tanzania as I begin my new work!

Community

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Students and faculty at Matongo gather daily for Sala ya Asubuhi (Matins) and Sala ya Jioni (Vespers), plus the divine service with Holy Communion on Wednesday mornings (pictured above).

 

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The Clausing ladies (and friend Gabby Perez) pose in their new dresses made by deaconess students Atugonza Pross and Jane Prossy.

“There is always something new to learn,” remarked Abraham Thiong, a seminary student from South Sudan, as he eagerly settled in last week for another class in the Gospel of Luke.  I told him that I couldn’t agree more.  There is no end to the edification and insight the Spirit provides as we mine His Holy Scriptures.  Even as an instructor, I’m relishing my opportunity this term to teach two parallel courses in both Matthew and Luke, giving me an opportunity to notice connections and complementarities that I’ve not had before, and I’m delighted that my students are taking this good news of Jesus to the people in their parishes.

My family and I have been at Matongo for over a month and a half now, and if I had to choose a single word to capture our experience in these past weeks, it would be community.  It’s nice to live on the same campus as all the students and faculty, to worship together in chapel every day, and to go to the same local congregation on Sunday.  Anita has been enjoying the company of the deaconess students, and our kids enjoy walks on the paths winding among the farms neighboring the seminary.  It’s been a happy change from the constant commuting of last year.

Of course, that’s not to say everything has been easy.  Since we arrived at the seminary almost a month late, I’ve been holding extra classes every week to make up those I missed at the beginning, making my schedule very full.  Living a 90-minute drive from the nearest big town has also been a bit of a challenge, especially when kids get sick or hit their heads on a chair and need stiches. (Thankfully, the latter only happened one time!)  On the whole, though, I count these weeks as the best I’ve spent in Africa.  I really believe in the work being carried out here.

Regarding our move to Tanzania, it’s going to be a race to the finish line. We’d run into a dead end in getting students passes for our kids since the Tanzanian government apparently doesn’t recognize homeschooling or online classes based in other countries. However, we’ve discovered a local school in Moshi that allows homeschool students to attend for a short time in the afternoons, sort of like the homeschool co-ops Anita and the kids used to attend in the U.S. and Nairobi.  The school looks like a really promising avenue toward getting the student passes, so it looks like it’s going to come down to a race to get the passes and move all our personal property moved into Tanzania by November 29, which marks the end of the 90-day window allowed by the Tanzanian government since the initial issuing of my personal work permit.  (Yes, it’s complicated.)

Fortunately, all this will be accomplished with the help of other LCMS missionaries, since I’ll also simultaneously continue teaching full-time at Matongo, whose final exams don’t end until December 7!  Needless to say, it’s going to be a stressful month, and your prayers are appreciated. As always, thank you for your support. A blessed Reformation Day to you from all the Clausings!

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Pray that God’s will be done, and that He would give us peace, contentment, and endurance with regard to our uncertain situation in the month ahead.

Thank God for the opportunity to teach His word at Matongo.

Pray for the men in training to be pastors and the women in training to be deaconesses, that God’s word would shape them for ministry.

Pray for our son Emil as he studies in the United States.

Praise God for Anita’s continued good health.

Pray for God’s blessing upon the homeschool studies of all the Clausing kids.

 

The 12 Newsletter Senders

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Each month with the click of a few computer keys I’m able to send out hundreds of digital newsletters to folks in the U.S. who have access to the internet.  For those who support my family but don’t use the internet, however, the task is a little more labor-intensive.

Special thanks goes to the women of the LWML at Faith Lutheran Church in Warsaw, Missouri, who spend a few hours every three months mailing out paper copies of the newsletter.  There are 12 senders altogether – the 11 pictured, plus Roberta Schnakenberg, who is taking the photo.

Likewise, thanks to all the women at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere, Illinois, who mailed out all the paper letters in 2017.  We couldn’t do it without you!

A Semester at Matongo

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On Sunday mornings, students and faculty from the boys’ secondary school, the teachers’ training college, and the school of theology gather for the divine service at Matongo. All three schools are on adjacent campuses.

Dear Friends in Christ,

By the grace of God Anita’s health has been stable and we have returned safely to Kenya, where I have begun teaching another semester in the school of theology at Neema Lutheran College at Matongo.  Unlike previous semesters, Anita and the kids are living with me in the faculty housing right here on campus, so all the time I used to spend commuting back and forth to and from Nairobi can now be spent teaching. Praise God for this!

Since our last newsletter we’ve also learned that my Tanzanian work permit has been issued along with my residence permit and several dependent passes, so we are only waiting to acquire a few more student/dependent passes before we are all able to move to Tanzania.  Even if those passes are issued soon, I’m committed to finishing teaching classes at Matongo this fall, so I won’t actually begin teaching in Tanzania until the current semester is over.

I do want to offer a special thanks and note of explanation to all of you who have contributed to the Tanzanian digital books project over the past year.  Thanks be to God, the project is fully funded.  I am, however, going to wait until I actually arrive in Tanzania to begin purchasing tablets and installing books for the students.  The reason is simply that I’ll be able to use the funds much more effectively and responsibly if I, as a classroom teacher, know exactly what books are needed and being used in the classroom, as well as any “bugs” that arise with the technology and need to be worked out.  To all who have made contributions in months past, thank you for your ongoing patience!

At Matongo I’m teaching four courses this semester.  Two of them are in Synoptic Gospels, with one section focusing on Matthew and the other focusing on Luke.  My third course is in the Small Catechism.  Special thanks goes to Rev. Peter Bender and the Lutheran Heritage Foundation for providing two different sets of excellent resources for the students taking this course.  Finally, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little by teaching a course entitled Advanced Reading.  Although not a theology course per se, it’s a necessary prerequisite to theological study at Matongo, especially since virtually all our students don’t speak English as their mother tongue.  Our main textbook for that course is Adler and Van Doren’s classic How to Read a Book.

Besides the seminary, classes are also well underway within the Clausing household.  Anita and the kids got off to a late start in their homeschool coursework due to our delayed return, but they’ve been putting in long hours and are well on their way to making up the missed time.  Even though we are in a relatively remote place, the internet here is good enough that Ernie and Ellie have also been able to continue their online courses at Wittenberg Academy and Concordia, Wisconsin, respectively.

Our oldest son Emil continues to do well at Concordia, Chicago and is finding himself quite busy as he spends evenings rehearsing for two plays to be performed on campus this fall.  We were happy to have the opportunity to eat lunch with him on campus on the same day that we later departed from O’Hare airport in Chicago.

Thank you for your ongoing support. It was a joy to visit many of you this summer, but we are also glad to be back where we can live in one place and I can do the work God has called me to do.

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Thank God for our safe return to Africa and Anita’s good health.

Pray that all the students at Neema Lutheran College would continue to be shaped by God’s word and equipped to share it as they serve in their parishes.

Pray for the Clausing kids and their teacher, Anita, as they work hard at school to catch up on lessons missed due to our delayed return to Kenya.

Ask God’s blessing upon our son Emil as he studies at Concordia, Chicago.

Ask that God’s will be done with regard to the final papers we need in order to move to Tanzania.

Patience

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Although grandma and grandpa Clausing helped Emil move into his dorm room, Ellie, Eileen, Eunice, Elijah, and I were able to visit him a few days later.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” begins the letter of James.  Those last three words of various kindshave been on my mind recently.  Going overseas, we expect of course to face trials of a certain kind – things like communication challenges, resistance to the Gospel, culture shock, etc. – and we brace ourselves against them, but then God sometimes permits trials to come that are of a different kind than what we were expecting.  That’s been our case this summer, as some unexpected medical problems have caused us to delay our return to Africa by a few weeks. Nevertheless, James continues for our benefit, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” We trust that God is working patience and endurance in us even through this delay.

Here’s a quick summary of this past month’s rather complicated story.  In July’s newsletter I’d included a prayer request for the resolution of a couple of Anita’s health issues.  Specifically, these were complications due to an ongoing eye infection and a miscarriage (the two problems are unrelated).  On July 19 Anita had to split off from the rest of the family, and while most of us visited congregations in Nebraska and Colorado, she received medical treatment in St. Louis.  All appeared to be going well until some final test results showed that she needed to have an unexpected surgery on August 16.  When I heard about this, I canceled our last two presentations in Colorado and the kids and I immediately got on the road to St. Louis to be with Anita for her recovery.  Now, after nearly a month of being separated, Anita, the kids, and I are all back together. She is doing very well, and it appears that both medical issues are under control.  Thank you for your prayers.  Since our original flight back to Kenya was supposed to be just three days after the surgery, however, Anita’s physician requested that we delay our return to allow for follow-up examinations and the return of lab results. Our new plane tickets for Kenya are booked for September 6-7.  In addition to allowing Anita to rest, these extra days in the U.S. will also allow me to catch up on some long-neglected correspondence and to do a little refreshing of my Swahili, of which I haven’t heard a word spoken all summer.

We don’t have much news regarding my Tanzanian work permit other than that everything has been properly submitted.  Last week the Tanzanian immigration office instructed our agent to contact them again this week, so we are awaiting their next response.  In the meantime, the faculty at Matongo has a heavy course load this term and needs help, so it appears that I will be assisting there for at least another semester.

Emil moved in to his dorm room at Concordia, Chicago on the day of Anita’s surgery, and I and some of the kids were able to visit him a few days later. This week he’s training for his campus job in tech support, and his classes begin next week.

In the midst of all the crazy turns of events, we did also have a chance for some relaxation earlier this month. Ernie, my brother Ben, my friend Chad, and I accomplished our planned hike on a section of the continental divide trail in Colorado, while grandpa and grandma Shields took their grandkids on a series of rides on their UTV in the nearby mountains.

It was wonderful to meet many of you, our supporters, face-to-face this summer.  God bless you, and thank you for your support.

 

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Pray for Anita’s good health.

Ask God’s blessing upon Emil as he begins studies at Concordia, Chicago.

Ask God’s blessing upon the studies of the rest of the Clausing kids as they begin their homeschool and online classes this week and next.  Pray that the transition to Africa would cause minimal disruption.

Ask that God would open doors for ministry by allowing me to receive the necessary foreign work and residence permits.

Pray for patience for me, Anita, and our kids as we navigate many uncertainties in the weeks ahead.

Canceled Presentations

For those of you who were planning to see my family at our presentations in Pagosa Springs, Colorado on August 15 or Broomfield, Colorado on August 16, we’re sorry to let you know that they have been canceled.  My wife Anita is in St. Louis and suddenly has had surgery scheduled there tomorrow, so my family and I need to be there.  Please keep Anita in your prayers.

A Step Closer to Tanzania

IMG_0014 copyDear Friends in Christ,

If you’ve seen the RV pictured above in your church parking lot, then you’ve known that the Clausings have arrived!  Over the past two months our family has spent some nights in buildings attached to the ground, but most of the time we’ve traveled the mid-west visiting congregations with Anita’s parents, Glenn and Marcia Shields, in their RV. With 12 of us sleeping inside, space has been a little tight, but that slight inconvenience has been far outweighed by the benefit of having a single place to call home even as we travel. We’re grateful that Glenn and Marcia have opened their home on wheels to us.

We also have some encouraging news regarding our Tanzanian visa and permits. While we’ve been in the U.S. our faithful friend and co-worker Shara Osiro made a special trip on our behalf from Nairobi to Tanzania to help the local church in the complex task of completing their half of the application paperwork.  At this point, all our paperwork and the accompanying application fee have been submitted to our agent in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Although the government still hasn’t issued the visa and permits, we’re definitely a step closer to that goal.  We’ve heard that it can sometimes take only a few weeks for the paperwork to be processed, so we may still receive them before returning to Africa in mid-August.

Our son Emil has also taken a couple big steps toward college this fall. For most of the summer he’s been living and working on my brother Ben’s farm, saving up some money for college. Earlier this month Anita, he, and I also attended one of Concordia Chicago’s “jump start” days, where we all received a thorough orientation to campus life and academics.  We’re proud of Emil and excited for the new experiences and opportunities that await him.

Although these newsletters are usually about men training to be pastors in Africa, in this one I also want to mention my delight in reconnecting with four of my former Lutheran High students this summer who are now studying to be pastors in the U.S.  Both Devin Burmeister (just married this summer!) and Mason Vieth are studying at St. Louis, Zach Burgdorf is studying at Fort Wayne, and Trey Dille is pre-sem at Concordia, Chicago.  Since I use mostly digital books now in Africa, I was happy to distribute most of my old paper library to these young men, and I’m sure they’ll put them to good use in their ministries.

Finally, as we near the end of our summer furlough, we have only a few speaking engagements remaining.  If you are in the area of one of the following, we’d love to meet you!

7-24 Zion, Kearney, NE 6:00pm

7-25 Trinity, Blue Hill, NE 6:00pm

7-29 Faith, Woodland Park, CO 9:00am

8-15 Our Svr, Pagosa Springs CO 6:00pm

8-16 Risen Savior Broomfield CO 7:00pm

8-18 Cross, Yorkville, IL 5:00pm

8-19 Cross, Yorkville, IL 7:45am

As always, please know that we are very grateful for your support.  Thank you.

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All the descendants of my grandparents Emil & Floretta Clausing gathered for this photo at the July 14 family reunion on the Clausing farm in Illinois.

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Thank God for our opportunity to spend time with family and friends in the United States this summer.

For our son Emil as he gets ready to begin college this fall.

Pray for Anita’s good health, that under the care of her doctors she would resolve a couple of health issues that have troubled her this summer.

Pray that God would bring the work visa and residence permit process to a swift conclusion so that our family can once again settle into a more stable daily routine in a single home.

Pray that all the seminaries in east Africa would have sufficient instructors and funding for the fall semester.

In the USA

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The Clausings Visiting Family in Kansas – Top row, left to right: Anita, Glenn (Anita’s dad), Jon, Aunt Shaila, Marcia (Anita’s mom), Uncle Jess

Earlier this month we were sitting in Chick-fil-A in Manhattan, Kansas with Anita’s Aunt Shaila and Uncle Jess.  It was the first time we’d seen them in two and a half years, so I was giving my quick summary of life both in Africa and in the U.S.  I concluded by mentioning my anxiety over whether my Tanzanian work visa would be granted in time for our return in August and my powerlessness to push the paperwork through while in the U.S.  I said, “I just don’t know how I’m going to make it happen from here.”  Without a moment’s hesitation, Shaila replied, “First of all, you’re not the one who’s going to make it happen.”

That’s all she needed to say.  She’s right, of course, and I was immediately humbled and encouraged, especially in light of what Shaila herself has been through.  Due to a series of medical complications, Shaila was unconscious for many weeks this spring, and based on the doctors’ prognosis we did not expect to see her again in this life.  Nevertheless, God has graciously extended her life and allowed us to meet again, and she has even returned to playing the organ at church. She knows and reminded us that all our days are in the hand of God; He is the one who makes things happen.

My brief conversation with Aunt Shaila provides a snapshot of our experience in the U.S. this summer.  On the one hand, there is stress and anxiety from our constant travel and uncertain future.  On the other hand, we’ve been tremendously encouraged by everyone we’ve met – by family and friends, both old and new.  Many of you have been supporting us over the past three years and we’ve known your names from our donor reports, yet it was not until this summer that we were privileged to learn the face that goes with the name!  Thanks to all for your ongoing prayers and support, and thanks to all of you who have already welcomed us so warmly during our travels.  Our remaining visits scheduled for the summer are listed below.  If you are in the area of one of these, please come and say hello!

7-1 Zion, Crosstown, MO 7:30am

7-1 Salem, Farrar, MO 9:00am

7-5 Peace, Sussex, WI 9:00am

7-7 St. Paul, Hamel, IL 6:00pm

7-8 St. Paul, Hamel, IL 7:45am

7-14 Immanuel, Belvidere, IL 6:00pm

7-15 Immanuel, Belvidere, IL  8:00am

7-18 Memorial, Ames, IA 6:00pm

7-21 Redeemer, Lincoln, NE 6:00pm

7-22 Redeemer, Lincoln, NE 8:30am

7-23 St. Johns, Ord, NE 6:00pm

7-24 Zion, Kearney, NE TBD

7-25 Trinity, Blue Hill, NE evening

7-29 Faith, Woodland Park, CO 9:00am

8-15 Our Svr, Pagosa Springs CO evening

8-16 Risen Savior Broomfield CO 7:00pm

8-18 Cross, Yorkville, IL 5:00pm

8-19 Cross, Yorkville, IL 7:45am

TBD: exact time to be determined

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Just before leaving Africa, we met one last time with our friends Linda and Dorcas at Linda’s shop at the Galleria Mall in Nairobi.

 

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Thank God that we have returned safely to the U.S. to be reunited with family and friends.

Pray that the paperwork for our Tanzanian work visa and residence permit would be completed and approved so that I can serve at St. Peters Seminary in Himo this fall.

Pray for our oldest son Emil as he works his first summer job away from the family and prepares for college in Chicago this fall.

Pray that Anita and I would have stamina and wisdom in balancing the many demands placed upon our time this summer.

 

 

 

Digital Books for Pastors

As I’ve been traveling the midwest, quite a number of folks have asked me about the digital book project for Tanzania.  To make it convenient for everybody to find it, here’s a copy of the project flyer that includes information on how to make a donation (in the lower left-hand corner).  Thanks for your interest and support!Digital Books for Tanzania copy

Closing a Chapter

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During final exams week, pastoral and deaconess students at Matongo continue their practice of daily morning prayer in the chapel using the Swahili hymnal, Ibada Takatifu.

God-willing, we’ll see many of you face-to-face before our next newsletter, since we’re about to begin our first 3-month visit back to the United States!  Earlier this week I finished administering and grading my final exams at Matongo, and now I am back in Nairobi helping my family take inventory and pack up our belongings.  While we’re in the U.S., our things will wait for us in a storage container in Nairobi. Then, upon our return in August, we’ll be ready to move immediately to Tanzania if my work visa has been issued. Or, if the Tanzanian paperwork is still being processed, the whole family will move to Matongo in Kenya, where I’ll teach another semester while we wait.  Either way, we’re leaving Nairobi and I’ll be teaching this fall in the same location as my family lives.  I’ll be happy to bid farewell to my weekly long-distance commute!

We’re also bracing ourselves mentally for our first experience of reverse culture shock as we return to the states.  The past two-and-a-half years have certainly changed us, and no doubt many once-familiar things in America have also changed during that time.  My older kids are looking forward to eating at McDonald’s again, while the youngest two are wondering what it is. (Emmanuel recently identified the golden arches as swings!)

On the second page of this newsletter you’ll again find our summer travel schedule printed with some minor updates.  Please come and see us if we’re in your area!

A special thanks to all who are helping us in various ways this summer – to my parents for arranging vehicles for us, to the Burmeisters for letting us stay at their cabin, to Anita’s parents for the use of their RV, to the LWML of Faith, Warsaw for mailing my newsletters, and to all the congregations who are welcoming us into their midst this summer.  We are grateful to be partners with you in the Gospel!

Summer Schedule 2018

Prayer Requests, Praises, and Thanks

Praise God for the successful conclusion of another semester at Matongo.

Ask God’s blessing upon the students and faculty as they return home to their families for the summer months.

Pray especially for those students who have completed their studies and will now begin service in the church.

Pray for our son Emil as he prepares for his first semester at Concordia University, Chicago this fall.

Ask God’s blessing upon our whole family as we transition to life on the road this summer and then life in a new community this fall.