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With Fresh Eyes

In 2012, 118 adults answered God’s call to serve as new ELCA missionaries, joining those already in service for a total of over 240 ELCA missionaries around the globe! We can never send as many missionaries as our global companions want, but we made a step forward in faith.


by Megan Ross

At that point, I had only been in Indonesia for two months, so we both had fresh eyes to look upon each other. I struggled to answer. My attention was elsewhere—at my feet as I looked for potholes, trash, and other obstacles—and beside me, careful of the cars, motorbikes, and people. We passed piles of dried fish next to a seller of toiletries next to a table of fruit.

Apriliza enthusiastically took my arm to guide me across the busy streets through the market. She asked, “Sister, is the market in your country like this?”

Amidst the cacophony, I answered, “Yes … but no.” My hometown of Seattle has Pike Place Market and other farmers’ markets in the neighborhoods, but the bustling activities around me were very different than anything I could’ve encountered there.

While the other students in our group stopped to sort through a pile of used clothes, I described life in North America to Apriliza. I told her that most people in the United States buy their food in supermarkets with special sections of produce, aisles of pre-packaged goods, and instant food, all lined in neat rows.

Here in rural Sumatra, the outdoor traditional market is the lifeblood of the people. There are sell- ers every day, but the traditional market occurs once a week, spilling out into the streets where, among an assortment of items used for daily life, one can buy rice, fish, fruit, vegetables, and meat.

As we walked along together, arm-in-arm through the bustling streets, Apriliza shifted our conversation. She said, “So many poor people in Indonesia.” Then she asked, “How about in your country, Sister?”

This question was difficult to answer. Where should I start? Briefly, I acknowledged the rising number of poor people and reflected on a few of the services from the government, non-profit organizations, and churches that provide for the poor. There were too many distractions in the market to carry on an in-depth conversation about culture—we would have more time for that later—but the brief exchange at the market was an important step in learning about culture for us both.

Megan Ross is an ELCA missionary serving as an English teacher at the HKBP Deaconess School of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP), the Batak Christian Protestant Church of Indonesia. HKBP is a member church of the Lutheran World Federation. The church has 4.1 million members and it just celebrated its 150th anniversary. The deaconess school is located in the city of Balige, at the southern end of the great Lake Toba in a valley created by an ancient volcano, on the island of North Sumatra. As a deaconess herself, Megan is an inspiration as she walks with other young women committing their lives to faith and service in Christ.

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You and your congregation can make a direct connection with Megan Ross or another missionary. Create a covenant commitment of mutual prayer, communication, and financial gifts. Write missionarysponsorship@elca.org for a list of missionaries needing sponsors. Get a sponsors guide and covenant form at www.elca.org/mis-sionarysponsorship. Or call 800-638-3522, ext. 2657, with questions.