Monday, May 20, 2013


Pentecost is a three day weekend here in Hungary.

On Saturday we went out to a small village called Mende.  The Lutheran congregation there is of Slovak descent and has maintained an old Slovak tradition.  On the Saturday before Pentecost, the young men of the congregation cut 8 poplar trees and bring them into the church.  The women of the congregation then decorate the trees with needlework and with lace.

They invited us to a marvelous congregational dinner after the service -- very much like a congregational dinner in one of our rural Iowa congregations, except for all the toasts with apricot brandy.  :-)

On Pentecost Sunday, we worshiped with a small Anglican congregation in Budapest.  It was amazing to see how the light reflected in this small, half-underground space.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Random things

Almost three weeks into the trip, Krista finally discovers a wine she doesn't mind:

Jamie and Jacque head off for a swim at the spa:

Dr. Kleinhans and her husband Pastor Alan Schulz play role reversal with Martin and Katie Luther cut-outs:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

St. Elizabeth of Hungary - St. Elizabeth of Thueringia - St. Elizabeth of May Term

As of today, we have visited all four of the three places where St. Elizabeth lived.  Yes, you read that right.

We've followed Elizabeth's life backwards.  Elizabeth stop #1 was Marburg, where St. E died and is buried.  Elizabeth stop #2 was Eisenach and the Wartburg Castle, where St. E lived most of her life and developed her reputation for charity work, feeding the hungry and building a hospital to tend to the sick.  Elizabeth stops #3 and #4 were Bratislava (yesterday) and Sarospatak (today), where St. E was born (depending on whether you believe the Slovaks or the Hungarians - so take your pick).

I love this statue of St. Elizabeth near the castle in Bratislava.  One of the best known legends associated with Elizabeth is "the miracle of the roses."  According to legend, Elizabeth was taking bread from the castle kitchen to distribute to the poor and, when confronted about what she had in her basket, she said, "Roses," and when she uncovered her basket, God had turned the bread into roses.  St. Elizabeth is often depicted with an armful or a basketful for roses.  What's so cool about this statue, though, is that you can see those miraculous roses in her arm and you can also see a small loaf of bread in her right hand as she offers it to the poor, hungry man lying at her feet.  Both/and!  I love the fact that the roses don't replace the real gift of bread.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Wartburg May Term Class "Reformation Then & Now" has been joined by a group from the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In the ELCA, each Synod has one or more "companion synods" so that our synodical expressions can relate more closely to the global Lutheran community. For example, the Northeastern Iowa Synod is "companions" with the Lutheran denominations in Namibia and with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary. Already, a Bishop from Hungary has come to visit us in Iowa and a young adult has come to spend the summer to work at Ewalu Camp and Retreat Center in Strawberry Point. If our relationship is to grow any deeper, it is time for some of us to visit.

Our group is being led by Bishop Steven L. Ullestad '75. He is accompanied by Ruth Ullestad '75, myself, and my wife Beverly. Pr. Harold McMillan '72 serves Saint John Lutheran Church in Luanna where the congregation has already voted to be in a church-to-church relationship, so he is participating seeking to establish that kind of tie. Pr. Phil Olson serving Calmar Lutheran Church is also with us. Tanner C. Howard, a third year seminarian from Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, is attending after being sponsored by his congregation, First Lutheran Church in Dows, and some extremely generous friends of the synod.

When we get to Hungary, we will meet with church and government officials to discuss ways we can work together over the next several years. We will also be getting to know our Hungarian companions better by touring a school, college, social ministry sites and, of course, many congregations. On Pentecost Monday, Bishop Ullestad will be offering the sermon at a local congregation.

We are excited by all the opportunities this trip offers both our Synod and the Hungarian Lutheran Church. We are grateful to be able to spend time with these exceptional young people from Wartburg College. They are a joy to be around and excellent representatives of their college.

Pastor Mark A. Anderson, Assistant to the Bishop

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Wartburg College was founded by missionaries sent from this small town in Bavaria in 1852. Yesterday we were given a tour of the local museum by Dr. Horst Becker, retired head of the mission society here in Neuendettelsau.


Later in the day, archivist Matthias Honold showed us some of the treasured documents and realia he works with.  Graduating history major Krista Sellers got to look at one of Wilhelm Loehe's journals!

We ended the day with an evening Service of Blessing at St. Laurentius Church, where the Wartburg Choir plans to sing in 2014.  It will be the 160th anniversary of the founding of the deaconess community, and they are very excited about having the Choir help them celebrate.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another point of view

Pastor Alan Schulz isn't blogging here, but he's sending daily updates back to his congregation.  You can read his take on the May Term adventures on the webpage of St. John Lutheran Church, Nashua, Iowa at

Monday, May 6, 2013

1/3 of the way already

Hard to believe, but exactly one week ago we were in Detroit waiting for our flight to Frankfurt.  Since then we've visited Worms, Marburg (where St Elizabeth is buried), our sister city Eisenach, Erfurt (where Luther became a monk), Eisleben (where Luther was born and died), and now Wittenberg.  We've visited churches, museums, and a concentration camp, and we've heard from local pastors and scholars.

We picked up an extra traveler in Eisenach, Hendrikje Doebert, who guided us through the Wartburg Castle one day and joined us on the bus the next, visiting Erfurt, Eisleben, and Wittenberg with us before heading back home on the train this afternoon.

Here's a picture of Frau Doebert, Katharina von Bora Luther, and Dr. Kleinhans, three rockin' women.