A Bold Confession

Photo Credit: thejaggedword.com

On this day in the year 1530, the Lutheran princes of the Holy Roman Empire risked everything in order to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ before the Emperor at Augsburg. When the Emperor demanded these men to outlaw the preaching of Lutheran sermons in their lands, to make it illegal to read the Bible in German, and to attend the Corpus Christi festival, Prince George Margrave of Brandenburg stepped forward and said, “we will not, my lord.” “You will!” – the Emperor fires back – “or you will suffer my sword.” 

The Most Beautiful Mask

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. – Isaiah 66:13  

If there´s one thing I´ve learned these past two months of pandemic, it’s that it is virtually impossible to make a mask look good. Unless, of course, you are my beautiful bride.

A Sure and Certain Future

The recent string of earthquakes is just one more reason for Puerto Ricans to pack their bags. Photo: Johanna Heidorn

A couple of days ago Pastors Neuendorf, Maita, and I went to visit a member of la Iglesia Luterana Fuente de Vida in Ponce. Like so many others on the south side of the island, he had been sleeping outside of his home in a cardboard box since the earthquakes began a couple of weeks ago.

Sleeping in Heavenly Peace

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Some members of la Iglesia Luterana Fuente de Vida in Ponce sharing the peace that passes all understanding with the refugees at the biggest camp in Ponce. Photo: LCMS Disaster Response

Just a couple of weeks ago we were singing Silent Night as part of our Christmas celebration. But ever since the Three Kings Day Earthquake, the idea of sleeping in peace in Puerto Rico has become nothing but a daydream.

Ever since that first major quake, the southwest part of Puerto Rico hasn’t really stop shaking, with literally 100s of aftershocks and subsequent earthquakes, some even bigger than the first. Instead of being a source of great joy, the arrival of “the Three Kings” this year has meant nothing but nights of insomnia, worry, fear and anxiety for many, but especially for the thousands of Puerto Ricans who are sleeping in emergency shelters, in their cars, or the driveways of their homes.

Dead Man Standing

The body of Angel Pantoja Medina, “the dead man standing,” being mourned in his mother’s home. Photo: mbcnews.com

There’s a rising trend in Puerto Rico: funeral homes posing the dead like they’re still alive.  In these “outside of the box” funerals, instead of having the deceased lying in a coffin, families are having their loved ones embalmed and then posed to depict scenes from their life. It all started with the now famous case of the “dead man standing” (el muerto para’o), a young man who was mourned by his relatives not laying down in a coffin, but propped upright in his mother’s home, wearing his favorite shirt, sunglasses and cap.

How to Prepare for a Storm

Ready for “Boriquén”.

Yesterday my family celebrated one year of missionary service in Puerto Rico. After five years of service in Peru, and then four years of pastoral formation at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, we considered ourselves relatively prepared for our work here. We were nervous and excited as we hopped on the plane with our one-way ticket to the Island of Enchantment, our ten military-grade duffle bags and our three little ones in tow, but we were ready to weather the storms together, by God’s grace.

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Free Indeed

Today Puerto Rico celebrates the abolition of slavery.  Slavery is a terrible, ugly thing no matter where you go. And here in Puerto Rico was no exception. The slaves were purchased as property and branded on the forehead with a hot iron to mark them as such. They were forced to convert to Catholicism. Forced to learn Spanish. Forced to work long, hard, hot days, doing back breaking work on the sugar cane plantations. 

Monument to the Abolition of Slavery in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Photo: encirclephotos.com
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Our True Father

Puerto Ricans speak a “sancochified” Spanish that reflects the rich cultural and ethnic mixture that makes up their identity (“sancocho” is a thick soup with a lot of yummy things mixed in). Photo: http://www.indicepr.com

It’s been a fun challenge adjusting to Puerto Rican Spanish. One thing that has taken some getting used to is being called “daddy” by a complete stranger. In many Spanish speaking countries, it’s not unusual to hear a wife calling her husband papi (“daddy”), or a husband calling his wife mami (“mommy”). But here in Puerto Rico, these terms of affection are not limited to your significant other. 

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