Eric Jurmu | The Voice of Zion September 2020 - News and Notes --
Due to the worldwide pandemic, many things will be different than normal as we begin a new school year. Typically, as fall approaches, students excitedly anticipate and prepare for their upcoming studies. Some this year still feel that excitement, yet others facing a mix of in-school learning and online or distance learning might be wondering how this year will go.
Studying at home or online is suitable to some – perhaps they already study this way. For others, however, this can cause worry for students and add challenges for families learning to navigate through schedules, resources and home instruction. May God give each of us patience and wisdom to accept this situation which God has allowed. Let us also be thankful for God’s guidance and care.
We are thankful that despite the shortened schedule at confirmation schools this summer, God granted abundant blessings for those that attended. We remember these young ones as they return to their families and home congregations, with the prayer that God will bless the instruction and encouragement in faith they received.
There has been a significant impact to LLC work due to COVID-19. Yet we have seen God’s blessings during this time as well, blessings which are so often tucked neatly alongside the trials. I have thought of how Paul wrote: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
Updates on LLC Activities
Sandra Pylvainen has been hired as LLC Editor, replacing Lori Loukusa, who retires in late-September. Sandra and her husband Marty had planned to travel to Finland for the 2020–21 school year, where Sandra was to teach English at Jämsä Opisto. However, due to the pandemic, plans changed and they were unable to go. Sandra has committed to one year at the office with a wait-and-see approach for the future. We wish her God’s blessings as she begins work at the LLC office.
Foreign mission trips remain on hold and will resume only when it is deemed safe to do so. Despite trip cancelations, online services are broadcast regularly into many foreign mission fields. For example, online video devotions take place weekly for listeners in Ecuador. Although this is not in-person and also doesn’t replace the need for in-person fellowship and soul care, the connection has allowed the congregations to gather and meet more often than they normally would. The online services have been seen as a blessing during these times.
Similarly, weekly WhatsApp sermons are recorded in North America and Finland for the believers in Kenya. The sermons are then translated into various languages and distributed throughout many villages. One Kenyan believer mentioned how the sermons were listened to at a family gathering, and in this way, God’s Word was heard by some for the first time.
Even though travel can be challenging due to the pandemic, 14 North American Opisto students left for their year of study in Finland. The students were required to quarantine for two weeks before beginning the school year. We continue to recognize the importance of this program and wish the students God’s abundant blessings.
After discussion with camp directors, it was agreed to cancel all remaining 2020 camps at HLC and SLC. We had hoped that this wouldn’t be the case, but restrictions have not eased so this was deemed to be the safest decision. It also means that the SLC Ministers and Wives camp is canceled as well. There has been discussion around the possibility of an online Bible course to replace the annual Bible camp, so stay tuned! Kamp Kipa will continue with the fall schedule as planned following Arizona guidelines.
The need to cancel 2020 Peace Garden Youth Days – the first time after 48 consecutive years – was a big disappointment. God willing, the event will take place again in 2021.
We continue to monitor any financial impact to LLC work from COVID-19 and will be prepared to make budget recommendations if and when needs arise.
The LLC office remains open, with current mask requirements based on Minnesota law. We have updated the LLC-preparedness plan which also outlines proper social distancing measures, hygiene requirements and office cleaning protocol to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees.
Interviews to fill the new LLC Facilities Manager position have taken place. We expect to announce the results by the end of August, with a September 14 start date. This position will oversee all LLC-owned and operated facilities, including the development of Silver Springs. The Facilities Manager will also work closely with LLC staff and area camp boards.
The 2021 LLC Summer Services planning committee remains hopeful that we will be able to gather in-person for the July 1–4 services, in Marquette, Mich.
May God continue to guide and bless the work of His kingdom.