A May Day Global Perspective                                                                                      

(May Day aka: May Basket Day) Untitled-design-29

May 1st was a  big deal in the home and community where I grew up. With my mother’s joyful lead we decorated home-made containers, filled them with flowers and goodies, and left them on the porches of neighbors, friends and relatives.

Sadly, I am learning it is a forgotten, or never-heard-of tradition. Historically May Day was a Spring Festival that began in Medieval Europe and included dancing and singing –so, in the midst of this pandemic, I celebrate…  

I celebrate the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA) –your Christ centered leadership, your dedication, perseverance, creativity, collaboration, and your support of one another in these trying times. I have found that the rich connections of ELEA give me perspective and hope; knowing that the current educational challenges are shared by our Lutheran sisters and brothers here in the USA.  

I also celebrate the work of our partners and providers of education within the ELCA here in the USA and around the world – the work of our ELCA Global Mission staff, our Companion Relationship(p.24) across the globe and ELCA’s support for the work of the Lutheran World Federation who serve the most vulnerable on our planet.

Do you ever wonder what teachers in other parts of the world are doing in this time of the pandemic –not that you don’t have enough to think about as educators, administrators and pastors with your own school and role as parents in households! Do you know if your companion synod operates schools? What are the challenges your global teaching companions are facing? How are they being supported? How is their creativity and faith shining through? 

My eldest son is connected to a network of science teachers in the Meru Diocese of Tanzania, where he helped install a telescope on the Ailanga Lutheran Junior Seminary campus, near Arusha, this past year. My son and the Tanzanian Mount Meru Astronomy Organization (MMAO) science ambassadors meet weekly. Their challenges during COVID-19 are similar to what our rural and lessor resourced households in the US face – there is often no Internet provider, or if there is, it is not reliable. Many students may not have computers or smart phones. So what does one do? students_at_home-20200422-300x300

Zacharia Mjungu, a science teacher from Ailanga and an Ambassador for Astronomy with MMAO writes, We are on a frontier of this unique opportunity of creating a distance learning program initiative.”

Do these words sound familiar? Like many of you, the teachers have resorted to some innovative ways (Facebook) to raise funds to replace salaries and resources for teaching. You may read more of his personal story as a teacher during the pandemic. 

If curious, glance at the worldwide statistics on schools closures from the perspective of UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the resources they are providing for remote and distance learning. We are ALL in this together! 

Each of us has a professional role, which now with sheltering in place overlaps more than ever with our personal roles and family responsibilities. I am hyper-focused on the well-being of my immediate family, following the virus statistics (state, county, zip code) for my sons, siblings and 101-year old mother sequestered in place.

My personal and global perspective is also shaped by our extended, adopted family in Kenya that has grown to include 3 adults, a toddler and an infant. They are without jobs due to the pandemic and are sheltering in place in small apartments in Nairobi, often going several days without running water.may-4999078__340

How about you? As we begin another month and once again enter unknown territory as some schools open and others prepare for a restart in the fall…. what gives you perspective? Hope? Inspiration? What states, zip codes or countries do your colleagues and loved ones live?

What do you celebrate this May Day? To whom would you like to give a May Basket? Where do you witness creativity and faith shining through? 

Romans 12:5  That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as a part of one another. (CEV)                                                           

Linda Staats home_grown_faith_favicon

Board Member for the ELCA Evangelical Lutheran Education Association – and a May Day practitioner!