By Megan K. Mertz
ST. LOUIS — Thirty-five new LCMS career and GEO (Globally Engaged in Outreach, serving two- to three-year terms) missionaries began a two-week orientation at the Synod’s International Center here June 16, to help them prepare for their service abroad.
They will serve in 15 countries, including Kenya, Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Papua New Guinea and the Cayman Islands. Some of them also will be sent to Spain, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Mexico — areas where the LCMS does not currently have a presence.
The group includes laypeople and teachers, as well as pastors and deaconesses.
Gail Greiser of Fort Wayne, Ind., recently retired from teaching. She is now preparing to head to Indonesia to teach English as a Second Language.
After 30 years teaching at a Lutheran school and later at a community college that had many international students, Grieser said she feels prepared to teach English to non-native speakers and is ready for a new challenge.
“I just can’t wait to meet all the different people. I’ve always been interested in cultural diversity, and I’m just so excited,” she said.
Rachel Powell of Bryant, Ind., also is attending new-missionary orientation this summer. Powell is about to embark upon her first call as a deaconess after completing her two-year deaconess internship in Peru in May. Next, she will be serving as a career missionary in the Dominican Republic.
Of orientation, Powell said, “I’m excited to get to know the new personnel and also to learn the ins and outs of what has changed from being a GEO to a career missionary.”
New-missionary orientation is organized by the LCMS Office of International Mission. For the first time, two gatherings for new missionaries were held this year. The first was in February.
During the June orientation, the group is hearing presentations on theology, communicating from the field, fundraising, insurance and all the other details necessary for the transition to their new locations. They also will have time to meet with the director of the LCMS region to which they will be sent.
On the first morning of orientation, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison welcomed the Synod’s newest group of missionaries, who will be joining approximately 140 others around the world.
“The Lord is already there working, getting things ready for you,” he said.
“You will make mistakes along the way. It is endemic to being a missionary that you will at times feel alone. You will feel challenged. There will be all kinds of curve balls thrown at you,” he continued. “That’s all normal. Given that, we will do everything we can to love you, support you and make sure that we serve you in the field. It’s great to see you.”
The orientation will culminate with a special “sending service” at 2 p.m. Friday, June 27, in the International Center chapel. The special Divine Service with Holy Communion, followed by a reception, is open to the public.
Megan K. Mertz is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.
Posted June 18, 2014 / Updated June 27, 2014