A Reflection by Marcee Wilkes, Member of the Global Mission Table and Chair of the Suriname Team
Last week the Florida-Bahamas Synod Global Mission Table had the pleasure of hosting Rafael Van Ommeren and his wife Lucille in the Daytona area. Rafael is a seminary student at the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI) in Kingston, Jamaica. He and his wife were in the USA as he was in Chicago this summer, attending Clinical Pastoral Education. We seized this opportunity to invite him to Florida and visit churches. Rafael and Lucille arrived at the Daytona airport on Saturday, August 20 and Marcee (Suriname Team Leader) and Pete Wilkes picked them up.
After staying in a motel in Daytona Beach, Rafael, Lucille, Marcee and Pete were guests for worship at St. Marks by the Sea in Palm Coast on Sunday, August 21. Donna Cobos was the congregation’s hostess. Rafael taught the choir a song in English and Surinamese. It was sung during the sermon and Rafael also delivered the sermon. After church and coffee hour, the group visited a homebound parishioner who is from Suriname.
Monday, August 22 at noon brought the group to a Thai restaurant with Pastor Kari Neidermaier and members of her congregation of All Saints Lutheran in Port Orange. The food and company were excellent. Rafael shared his story. At this point, Marcee and Pete said farewell and Pastor Kari brought the Van Ommerens to Trinity Lutheran in New Smyrna Beach where they were hosted by Rosalie Kalman. They took a tour of the church and met with members of the congregation. Afterwards, the guests were taken to an Orlando-area hotel to await their return to Jamaica.
The ELCA model of mission is one of accompaniment and companionship. Rafael’s visit to the Daytona area was a true example of this—walking together in Christian love and friendship. It was wonderful to see Lutherans from companion churches worshiping together, sharing fellowship and sharing stories. All people involved came away with a better understanding of our fellow Lutherans and the work of the Global Mission Table.