10 December 2010


While in South Africa, I have been receiving letters and cards from my home congregation in the United States.  It is great hearing from my church family at my home in the U.S.  Receiving the precious letters has caused me to reflect on home especially as Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas approaches.

We've probably all heard it said that “home is where your heart is.”  Certainly, by that definition, my home is in Mechanicsburg where I grew up.  I love my family dearly and am indebted to them in many ways for who I am today.  I also love my home congregation dearly as they have been there with me for my spiritual development and nurture.  So clearly, my home is in Mechanicsburg.

However, my home is in more that one location if we are to believe that “home is where your heart is.”  For I also love my friends from college dearly.  There were there as I struggled, as most college students do, to define who I am as a person.  We have shared laughter and tears together as we walked together to discover who we are.  So my home is also at Bucknell with my friends.

My home is also in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, where I accompanied a non-denominational Christian school for two weeks prior to going to college.  My friends from this time helped form both my ecumenical and international awarenesses.  We grew close through the ups and downs such experiences tend to entail.

I also have homes in the UK, Slovakia, Hungary, Jerusalem/West Bank, Argentina, and Mexico, even though I have never been to these places.  A year-long experience such as YAGM inevitably creates bonds that last a lifetime.  The YAGM volunteers in other countries are like family to me.  I will have a home wherever any one of them happen to be.

Kimberly, Bloemfontein, Soweto, Bonaero Park, Masealama, Loskop, Embalenhle, Bishopstowe, Umpamulu, and Carolina also serve has homes for me.  The other ELCA-MUD volunteers have become a family for me as we learn and grow this year alongside God's people in South Africa.  We shared our Thanksgiving together this year along with Brian, Kristen, Khaya, and Brian's parents.  They have helped me learn to expand my support base beyond my nuclear family.

I also have a home in Durban.  Since arriving in Durban almost three months ago, I have experienced wonderful hospitality everywhere I turn.  I am beginning to understand what it means to be a part of God's Family in a whole new way.

The creche has become a home for me in Durban.  The children are as little nieces and nephews to me.  I love them dearly and enjoy learning with them.  Jonathan and Elise, the other volunteers at the creche, are like a brother and sister to me.  We have bonded while working and while experiencing the very rich culture that Durban has to offer.  Sandra, one of the teachers at the creche, is like a mother to me.  She is always looking out for me, whether it making sure I'm being fed physically or spiritually through the many rich cultural offerings available in Durban.  I love those everyone from the creche dearly and know they will remain a part of my family long after this year is over.

The student YMCA where I am staying has become a home for me.  The students are like my brothers and sisters.  We are growing together as we share God's love and our gifts with each other.  The pupils we are tutoring at the Y-Zone recently started in Cato Crest are like cousins.  I enjoy being able to revel in God's love together with them.  Dina, the manager of the student Y, is also like a mother to me.  She makes sure that I have an opportunity to experience all that Durban has to offer.  More importantly, she is helping me to grow spiritually.  I look forward to our conversations together as they always provide me with a new way of looking at things.

I am also feeling at home in ELCSA, my host church.  My first Sunday in Durban, I was invited to join two choirs at church.  Since then, I have participated in conferences, workshops, sports days, and joint services with my siblings in ELCSA.  At these various events, I have grown closer to Children of God of all ages.  The hospitality shown by my hosts, and our plentiful opportunities for growing together have helped me feel like a true part of the family.

In the first half of November, I had to deal with a lot of sickness.  During that time, my family in Durban showed me a lot of support as I fought to get better.  Being forced to rely on them was a humbling experience for me.  But it also made me realize on another level what having a family in Durban truly means.  Thus, my sense of home in Durban was reinforced during this time.

I have experienced a strong sense of ecumenicalism in Durban.  This has provided me with opportunities to walk alongside of members of God's family from many different backgrounds.  This has served as a reminder that we really are just one giant extended family; we may disagree over things from time to time, but ultimately we are all working together as something much bigger than any one of us – God's family.  This brings to mind the analogy that Paul draws of the Kingdom of God being one body with many parts.  Therefore, I can find a home with people of many different beliefs despite our differences.

Ultimately, the reason I have found so many homes is that my heart belongs to God.  Therefore my home is in God.  This means that I have a home anywhere that God is.  Since God resides in all of us through the Holy Spirit, this means that my home is anywhere a Child of God is.  Thus, my home can be anywhere on earth.

16 October 2010

God at Work in Diverse Ways

This post was intended to go up a few days ago, but I've been sick the past few days.  I apologize for the delay.

I've heard it said that God works in many wonderful and diverse ways, but rarely have I been as aware of this fact in such a concentrated period of time as this past weekend (Thursday to Sunday).

God works in diverse ways in the administration of ministries. This weekend alone, I was able to witness this diversity present through parish council meetings, circuit planning meetings, website designs for the circuit and creche, congregation AGMs, and hospital board meetings.

The diverse ways in which we worship God reflect the diversity in God's Works. Whether conducting traditional worship services on Sundays or holding prayer and praise sessions during exam preparations, God is at work whenever we are worshipping.

All of God's Children are vessels for godly works, regardless of their diverse ages. One way in which children are a blessing is through their uninhibited faith in God. One way in which youth are a blessing is through the fearlessness in proclaiming what they believe. One way in which adults are a blessing is through the wisdom that comes through years of experience. God makes use of the blessings of each generation, and I certainly got to experience that this weekend.

Beauty exists in all of God's diverse creation. As I was travelling with my supervisor to a hospital board meeting about 350 km (~220 miles) from Durban, I witnessed the beauty in the diverse landscape along the way. Later that same day, I was blessed to attend a presentation by the first African (South African) to mount the seven summits. He videoed all of his climbs, but this presentation focused specifically on his Mt. Everest expedition. I was reminded again of the majesty and beauty in God's creation.

10 October 2010

First Newsletter is Done

My first newsletter has been sent out.  If you want a copy and have not received one, please email me and I will add you to my mailing list.

03 October 2010

Proactivity and African Time: Two Lessons in Accompaniment

First, let me explain what I mean by “proactivity” and “African time”.

My second day in Durban, I attended a Bible study at the student Y where I will eventually be living.  The theme of the Bible study that day was being proactive – or taking responsibility for your actions rather than blaming them on something else.  So when I talk about “proactivity”, I am talking about living in a state of being where you consciously choose how to respond to various stimuli.

I come from a culture which values punctuality highly.  Events are expected to start when announced and run for the prescribed amount of time.  “African time” is the norm in the culture in which I find myself now.  Meetings typically start 30-45 minutes after the announced time and run until they logically should conclude (rather than at a prescribed time).

At first glance, these two concepts may seem to be unrelated, or even run counter to each other.  Yet, I have found that much can be learned from both when viewed through the lens of accompaniment.

Proactivity applies as much to what we do as to how we choose to interpret the situations we find ourselves in.  Take, for instance, the fact that I will not be moving into my long-term residence until roughly a month after arriving in Durban.  Two possible reactions presented themselves: I could have gotten angry about the situation and blamed nature, nurture, or the environment I am in for my reaction to the situation, or I could go with the flow and look for the positive in the situation.

In the first possible reaction, I would be casting blame for my actions (in this case how I reacted to things not going according to my plans) onto some force outside of myself.  While these outside forces certainly can influence how I react, in the end, it is up to me to decide how I will respond.  Rather than get upset at my plans being cast aside, I choose to trust God look for the positive that has resulted first.

By moving around a bit this first month in Durban, I have gotten to see and learn more of the city.  By having my ideal plans cast aside, I have been forced outside of the shell of individual reliance that I tend to operate inside of.  As a result, I have depended heavily on the community which I have become a part of.  My first weeks, I relied heavily on Jonathan, the German volunteer living with me, to help me around the city.  We have become close friends and I look forward to sharing the rest of this year with him.  I have no doubt that God was at work in countermanding my ideal plans.  I have benefited tremendously from these altered arrangements.  By choosing to trust God and not be upset, I have been able to see God's blessings in the deviations from my plans.

What this means is that proactivity is a change in mindset.  Proactivity is a mindset that acknowledges outside influences in our lives, but does not allow them to rule our lives.

Similarly, accompaniment requires a change in mindset.  Accompaniment seeks to focus on the relationships we have with others.  This requires a change from the individualistic, top-down approach to mission, to a communal, two-way street approach to mission.  How does this affect me?  It changes the questions I ask from “How can I help them?” to “How can we grow together in Christ?”  Accompaniment also requires owning up to the fact that I am an imperfect human being and only through trusting God and being in community with all of God's Children am I made whole.  In other words, accompaniment requires choosing to live in community with God's Children.  That is where proactivity comes into the picture.

I guess what this all comes down to for me is choosing to trust God and allowing God's blessings to overwhelm other outside factors in my outlook on life.  When we take the time to look for the good in any situation, it is amazing how abundant God's blessings truly are.  “Bad” situations become opportunities for growth and “Neutral” situations become opportunities for joy.  In a sense, we can echo Paul's gratitude to God by “Rejoic[ing] in the Lord always!  Again [we will] say Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

I am still learning to see the blessings in each situation, but it becomes easier and more natural each time I do it.  As I mentioned in a previous post, before this year, I never would have imagined that I could work with children easily; however, I find that the days I spend in the crèche are full of blessings.  The international nature of Durban provides blessings in the thriving cultures present in the city.  Various meetings and lectures provide opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth.  I have been blessed to attend various ecumenical gatherings such as the Inner-City Ministry (ICM) meeting I attend a few weeks ago.  God's work shows itself all throughout my experiences in South Africa!

This past weekend (23-26 September), I was blessed to be able to attend the ELCSA church-wide Young Adults League conference held in Durban.  No matter what was on the agenda, various choruses and songs praising God were bound to spring forth.  These spontaneous musical offerings provided an example for me of rejoicing in God's love always!

This coming weekend (1-3 October) I will be travelling with the Durban Circuit Men's League Choir to the South Eastern Diocese (SED) Prayer Men's League (PML) Rally.  I look forward to the fellowship, worship, and praise that this weekend is sure to offer.  I also look forward to joining in song with people from all over SED.

This brings me to my next point which is how African time provides many blessings when seen from the lens of accompaniment.  Coming from a culture which views punctuality highly and appreciates sticking to schedules, it would be very easy to succumb to the influences of my nurture and be frustrated with African time.  However, I see African time differently.  To me, African time is valuing being in the present entirely.  It is a way of saying that whatever I am doing currently is the most important thing for now.  It frees us to be completely focused on here and now so as to not miss out on opportunities for relationship formation and community building.  When you are focused on “Where do I have to been next?” or “How long will this take?”, opportunities to be aware of God's Love are missed. 

For me, African time is an expression of love.  After all, are we not commanded to “Love our neighbors as ourselves?”  And isn't love patient and kind?  (For more on love I recommend the entirety of chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians.)  If we are not devoting all of our attention on where we are in the present, how are truly loving those we are with?

With this understanding of African time, it is easy to see how it fits in with accompaniment.  After all, if we come into an encounter without restrictive presuppositions as to the length, we free ourselves to be in the moment and truly walk alongside the Children of God we are sharing this precious Earth with.  Whether we are practising with a choir, or worshipping God, or sharing tea co-workers, this understanding of African time liberates me to be free to love without artificial, self-imposed restrictions.

Now, as an imperfect being, I am still learning to cope with African time.  However, it is my hope that by understanding African time in this matter, my accompaniment experiences will be continue to be enhanced.  I certainly feel that I have all the time in the world to continue my growth in this manner.

30 September 2010

New Reflections

I have a few reflections in the works which I hope to post soon.  However, I am traveling with the Durban Circuit Men's League choir to the South Eastern Diocese Prayer Men's League Rally this weekend, so they probably won't go up until I return from the rally.

In the meantime, I highly suggest checking out the program facebook page for more news from South Africa.  Also, if you are interesting in learning more about the motivations behind accompaniment, I highly recommend this article written by one of my Country Coordinators, Brian Konkol.

21 September 2010

Two Weeks in Durban

It's hard to believe I have been in Durban almost two weeks already.  With new experiences every day, time really seems to fly by here.  At the same time, life seems to be moving at a slower pace, with every experience an intentional time to be in relationship with people from all walks of life.

I look forward to each day I am in the creche.  Every day, the children greet me with hugs and requests to be lifted up.  Their joy is infectious and lifts me up even when I am feeling under the weather.

I also look forward to my afternoons in the PUSH office where I am helping with some administration tasks.  The ladies in the office are full of joy;  I look forward to the times we have to share stories from our lives with each other.

Every aspect of who I am as a person seems to find room to flourish here in Durban.

When I was at St. Michael's congregation on last Sunday, I was introduced to a man named Tsepo who promptly invited me to sing in a choir.  As a result, I am now singing in two choirs, the Durban Circuit Men's League choir and the Durban Circuit choir.

I am working with children and youth of all ages while here in Durban.  At the creche, I am working with children up to age 7.  Some Saturdays, I work with children who are a little older at an outreach program with the YMCA.  On Thursdays, it is likely that I will be helping youth ages 15-18 with math and other subjects with another program with the YMCA.  Prior to this year, I never would have suspected that I have it in me to work with children and youth like this.  I wonder what other hidden gifts God will help me unlock this year.

My faith is also finding room to flourish here in Durban.  From conversations with Jonathan (the German volunteer staying with me who has been tremendously helpful teaching me how to find my way around Durban), to Bible studies at the Y, to working at the creche and PUSH offices, to attending beautiful worship services on Sunday, everywhere I turn I see faith in action that only serves to strengthen mine.

On Friday, I met Elise, an American volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee temporarily volunteering at the creche.  Talking with her about her background in international development was a fruitful step in my discernment process this year.  As I live in community this year, I putting my faith in God to lead me where I need to go.

08 September 2010

Durban: A Truly International City

On Monday, we dispersed from our in-country orientation in Pietermaritzburg to our host sites.  Now I had heard that Durban was a diverse, international city, but I never truly appreciated that until I arrived in Durban to stay.  One of the sites where I will be working is a creche (pre-school for children aged 0-6) started by refugees and operating for refugees from various conflicted regions in Africa.  Walking down the street, I see people from all over the world mingling with each other, going about their daily business.  The very first night I was in Durban, there was a parents meeting at the creche where one of the sponsoring agencies, the Mennonite Central Committee, brought in speakers from the US and Canada to talk about parental involvement in their child's education.  While at the meeting, I was introduced along with a German volunteer who is also working at the creche.

Being in a very international environment has served as an immediate reminder to me of the many tensions I will be living this year on my journey.  There are dichotomies between serving and being served, learning and teaching, doing and being.  Orientation helped me to cast aside my old way of approaching life and become open to new ways of living.  As I expand the relationships I have already formed and develop new ones this year, I will learn to adjust to these tensions and experience a new way of approaching life.

31 August 2010

Arrival in South Africa

After two days of travel, we safely arrived in South Africa on August 27.

One of the first things that struck me was how hilly the Durban and Pietermaritzburg areas are.  I have no idea why, but I was expecting it to be flat for some reason.  I am looking foward to discovering what other (less superficial) preconceptions I have of South Africa turn out to be false.

Our orientation sessions have been challenging us to disorient ourselves from our preconceptions and learn to challenge ourselves in new ways.  I am already noticing a difference in my outlook on poverty, justice, and our gospel of the cross.

Peace be with you all!

Embarking for South Africa

Note: this post was intended to go up on August 25, but I lost internet access before I could finish it.

Today is the big day.  Today, I begin my two days of travel to South Africa and will see my host country for the first time shortly.  This week of orientation in Chicago has been an uplifting week of preparation for my spiritual journey through life, especially this coming year.

The bonds I have formed with the other YAGM volunteers and alumni have strengthened as we have grow closer to God and each other.  We have learned what it means to be in community with one another even as we prepare to be in community with those partnering with us this year.  We have come to appreciate the wonderous diversity in God's children even while finding common ground.

One commonality in all major religions is a call to be self-less and to be servants to one another.  This foundation is expressed in the holy writings of each of the major religions.  In a later post, I will explain more about this.

25 August 2010


While I am on this year long spiritual journey, I will be sending out a monthly newsletter of my experiences in South Africa.  If you are interested in receiving a copy, please email me at lengel.michael@gmail.com to be added to my mailing list.

21 August 2010

Spiritual Nurture and Communicating Across Cultures

The first two full days of orientation in Chicago have flown by.  There has been a good balance between getting to know our fellow YAGM volunteers and preparing ourselves for our year as servants in multiple ways.

Pastor Jim Gonia has been leading a session on spiritual practices to bring along with us for the journey.  As we look after our souls' health this coming year, he has presented us with new ways of considering our relationship with God and new prayer techniques to consider using.

Learning to communicate despite cultural and language barriers was the theme of today.  Sunitha Mortha guided us through sessions on communication between cultures.  We simulated various language barriers through activities such as a tag game where the instructions were delivered in gibberish, a card game where the rules were taken away and silence strictly enforced, and navigating to a restaurant in groups without being able to talk.

Tomorrow's theme looks to be focusing on the logistics of the program.

19 August 2010

Arrival in Chicago

My year-long journey has begun today with my flight to Chicago for a week-long orientation for YAGM prior to my departure for South Africa.  Thankfully, I did not have any problems with my flight to Chicago, though I had no leg room to speak of.

We took a bus from the airport to the seminary in Chicago.  Now, I'm not sure how long the trip usually takes, but we hit some serious traffic and the drive took an hour and a half.  The traffic served to illustrate two lessons that should serve me well during my journey this year.  First, I will need to learn to go with the flow.  Second, even when I know where I am and how to get to where I want to be, the pace may not always be the speed I want it to be.  Of course, both lessons will serve me well in my spiritual development as well.

I am excited that the first part of my journey is now in full swing.  Being with all of the YAGM volunteers again for the first time since the DIP event in April invigorates me.  The opening worship service this evening was very moving.

15 July 2010

Gratitude 15 July 2010

I am grateful for unexpected connections.  I was at work today, when I met a coworker who found out that I was going to South Africa.  It turns out this coworker had been in the Peace Corps.  We got to talking for a little bit and she made quite a few recommendations for books and movies to watch while I prepare for my journey.

14 July 2010

Gratitude 14 July 2010

I am grateful for freedom.  This applies both to the freedoms I enjoy as a citizen of the United States and as a Christian.  Regarding the former, I am free to express my thoughts in my blog without fear of repercussions of American laws.  Regarding the later, I am free to be in love with my neighbors without fear of repercussions of the Law when I live my life according to the Gospel.

13 July 2010

Gratitude 13 July 2010

I am grateful for God's gift of grace through Jesus' death and resurrection.  God's grace enables us to be free from the constraints of the Law - free to love and serve all of God's creation.  The freedom of grace allows us to shift our focus from the doing constraints of the Law to the being in love that follows from the Gospel.

12 July 2010

Gratitude 12 July 2010

I am grateful for rain, even when it rains so hard that your clothes get soaked all the way through no matter how long you are outside.  Rain brings much need nourishment to the soil.  Rain can also serve as a reminder of my baptism and the redeeming power of God's grace.

10 July 2010

Gratitude 10 July 2010

Since I did not get a chance to post yesterday, today I will focus on two blessings.

First, I am thankful for the strong support of my family and friends in Christ.  Tonight's concert was a huge success and everyone's support encourages me as I prepare for South Africa.

Second, I am grateful for my dad.  I have never heard my dad sing before.  It means a lot to me that he decided to sing a song with my mom, sister, and me tonight at the concert.  God has truly blessed me to have such a wonderful father.

My Concert Tonight

My concert tonight went really well.  Thank you to everyone who came out to join in thanking God for the wonderful gift of music.

A special thanks to my sister and mother who helped me put together an awesome program for the concert.

Thanks to my sister for accompanying me tonight and singing a few songs with me.

Thanks to my mom, dad, and Jim for singing with me as well.

Thank you to Tom for helping set-up the audio equipment tonight.

Thank you to Pastor John and Stacy for handling refreshments.

Finally, thank you Pastor Seiple for the wonderful message at the beginning of the concert.  Your words will be with me along with your prayers as I travel to South Africa.

08 July 2010

Gratitude 8 July 2010

I am grateful for packed lunches.  Not only do packed lunches save time and money, but they provide more time for reflection during lunch breaks.  I highly value time for self-reflection.

07 July 2010

Gratitude 7 July 2010

I am grateful for living within walking distance of a bookstore.  Books are an amazing gift as they inspire creativity, imagination, deep thinking, learning, and in some cases social action.  Reading remains one of my favorite pastimes even in the age of electronic distractions.

06 July 2010

Gratitude 6 July 2010

God grants us many blessings in life.  My goal is to be more conscious of God's blessings in my daily life.  To help with that, I am going to pick at least one thing I am grateful for each day and post it here on my blog.

Today, I am going to start with an easy, yet very important blessing.  I am grateful for my loving family.  They have supported me throughout my entire life - through the good and the bad.  I value their insight as I continually wrestle with God's call.  They have been supportive and tolerant of God's call, even as it leads me to far away places like Haiti and South Africa. I have been extremely blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Summer Songs of Thanksgiving

In response to the musical gifts God has granted me and others at St. Stephen, I will be headlining a concert at the church on Saturday, July 10th at 7PM.  My sister will be playing a piece as well as accompanying our songs.  My mother, sister, and Jim McPherson will also be joining me in singing various pieces.  There will also be a surprise guest appearance; you do not want to miss this concert!

We will also be singing some interactive songs for audience participation.  We hope this concert will be an enjoyable time for all as we give thanks for the gifts God has showered us with at St. Stephen.  There will be a free-will offering with proceeds going to Young Adults in Global Mission to help support my year in South Africa.

Good Works: The Effect, not the Cause, of our salvation

In my travels back and forth between Bucknell and home this summer, I keep passing a sign for a church reading: "Good Works are the effect, not the cause, of our salvation."  I can't help thinking how appropriate this sign is as I prepare to volunteer for a year in Durban, South Africa with YAGM.  It serves as a reminder to me of two of the most important reasons for service.

First, service is a conduit to express my thanksgiving for the gift of grace granted to me through Jesus' death and resurrection.  Second, service helps me become more aware of God's ever-present love.  Those I serve with become more aware of God's love through my actions.  Likewise, as I am serving, I see God's love expressed in ways new to me.

Keeping in mind the uplifting power of service, the apparent contradiction between "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith [...] not by works" (Ephesians 2:8-9) and "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20) is resolved.  The joy of my salvation in Jesus Christ is so great, that it naturally expresses itself through service with others.  If my faith becomes so weak that I stop rejoicing in my salvation through service, then my faith has indeed become dead.

22 June 2010

Thank you St. Stephen Lutheran Church

The council of St. Stephen has approved $1500 disbursed on my behalf to the YAGM fund from established memorials of the church.  Thank you very much for helping me as I pursue my goals.

17 June 2010

July and August Newsletter Article

I posted an article in the July/August newsletter of St. Stephen Lutheran church.  The following is the content of the article as I submitted it:

Dear Friends in Christ:

I have been appointed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to serve as a volunteer in the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. I will serve in Durban, South Africa for one year beginning in August. I will be joining 42 other young adults in the program serving in Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Israel-Palestine, Slovakia, Hungary, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Each participant will serve in a church, school, or social service ministry. In some cases, including mine, our exact work assignments are not known at this time.

For the 11 of us going to South Africa, our work assignments will not be determined until a few weeks into our stay at our placement. The delay allows us to form relationships with people in the community to find the best use of our gifts. So despite the unknowns involved, I am looking forward with excitement to my upcoming year of service in South Africa. Service informs my faith in two ways. First, it is a response to God's gift of grace given to us through Jesus' death and resurrection. Second, service is an opportunity for us to help us see God's ever-present love in our lives. My year in Durban will help me live out faithful service on a daily basis.

While service will play a core role in my year abroad, this year will also serve as an opportunity for education and discernment. I am at a crossroad in my life. I have just received my bachelor's degree in mathematics from Bucknell University and I am trying to discern what is next for me. This year will provide me an opportunity to pause, reflect, and grow closer to God.

As I learn from the South African culture and journey in faith, I invite you to come along with me in spirit. I will be sending back periodic updates in the form of a newsletter. I also will be maintaining a blog of my observations while in South Africa. Additionally, Brenda Sanchez's kindergarten class and I will be pen pals throughout my year abroad. If you have any other suggestions for ways to share in this journey with me, please contact me and I will be happy to discuss them with you.

As you have supported me on my trips to Haiti, I once again ask for your support while out of the country. I especially ask for your prayers as I prepare and ultimately embark on this international journey. I give thanks to God for the support St. Stephen's has always shown me. I will be praying for your continued growth as I am abroad.

I also give thanks for the support that council has shown for my service in Durban, South Africa. Council has approved making my year of service a ministry of our congregation. This is significant because it enables contributions made by individuals towards my service to be tax deductible. Council has also given my fund-raising efforts a jump start by generously authorizing $1500 be dispersed on my behalf from endowments of the church.

If you are interested in contributing towards my year of service, please mark the appropriate amount on your offering envelope on a blank line using “YAGM fund” as the header. Alternatively you can write a check made out to St. Stephen Lutheran Church with “YAGM fund” in the memo line. I thank you in advance if you do decide to contribute.

If you would like more information about the program or how it is funded, I will be writing about it in more detail on my blog at lengelmichael.blogspot.com.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at:
cell:(published in newsletter)

On August 18, I depart for a week-long program orientation in Chicago. I leave for South Africa on August 25th. Once in South Africa, I will have a week-long country-specific orientation before traveling to my permanent location in Durban. While in Durban, my mailing address will be

Michael Lengel
Box 304
South Africa

I look forward to journeying with you in the year ahead.

Mike Lengel

26 May 2010


This blog is intended to chronicle my thoughts as I prepare to travel to South Africa for a year with the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program through the ELCA.  I intend to use this blog as a continued means of communication while I am in South Africa.  I hope that this blog will be helpful in understanding who I am as I attempt to live out God's call in my life.