Josh and Ruthie Update


Josh and Ruthie in SL







Here we were in our backyard in Makeni, in the shade of our summer hut.  That building just beyond our back wall is ABD clinic. Our home is now closed, still set up and waiting for our return. Chloe and Nala (dog & cat) are also there, all under the care of our watchman and friend–Elijah’s “Uncle Foday.” Our vehicle is secured with several others of another organization. And Dr. ABD Clinic? Sadly, it too is now closed.

“One of the most outstanding clinics in Makeni city, the City Garden Clinic commonly called ABD Clinic, has closed down operations to the public after three of his staff, a Community Health Officer (CHO) and two female nurses were tested positive of Ebola.”
- Awoko (Article Here)

The Ebola Virus Disease continues to spread throughout Sierra Leone and our city. Read it’s start, spread, and impact here. Please cry out for mercy with us to the One who hears. To contribute to our recent and ongoing evacuation costs:

What a team you are! In the past three weeks of being back in the US, you’ve offered your homes, your cars, your cares, your gifts. We love you.


Peace to you in Jesus,

Josh & Ruthie (Elijah & Isaiah)

Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone


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Many Members, One Body

By Jonni Sliver

Last month I turned a year older. All of us know that when you get older different body part start to go. I have arthritis in one knee and have had for some time now. Over the last couple of years I have found that several other joints have joined in the rebellion – the other knee, my ankles, my feet – basically I seem to be going bad from the bottom up! And then, two months ago the top half turned against me! Well, just my right shoulder, but the almost constant muscle ache would have made me crazy if not for an ointment Ruthie Grove shared with me.

A few weeks ago I was at the house of some friends, when Emerson asked me if my left foot had always turned in. I hadn’t noticed it did. Before I left the house his wife had called and made an appointment for me to see their doctor to have orthotics made. Two weeks ago I saw the doctor, discovered that I am basically a very crooked person (physically, not morally!), and received my first set of orthotics (little skinny things- the doctor called them training wheels). It seems my left leg has been trying to compensate for my right knee, but in fact, favoring the left side was throwing my whole body out of balance.  Within the first week that I used the insoles I had less pain everywhere except my right knee (arthr is still a pest), but most amazing to me is that the muscle ache in my shoulder is gone!

All of that brought to mind Paul’s illustration in 1 Corinthian 12, of the Church being a body, each of us not just friends and neighbors, not even just members of the same family; each of us are actually part of the very same body! In your life right now, who is the crooked left foot? Who is trying to carry heart aches and sorrows on their own? Their hurt is really our hurt, and as we come along side we can help the foot come back in line. That doesn’t just make for a stronger foot, it brings health to the whole body!

I have been blessed by more Ruthie’s and Emerson’s than I can count – precious members of the body who have held me up and made me stronger. And I pray that day by day I am building others up too!



by Esther Hylden

Esther photo2webEarlier this summer, during the fresh, rainy days of June…it had been a beautiful Petunia…lush…with bright flowers spilling down the sides of the pot.  I had lovingly watered it each day, taking time to pull off the dead flowers…so new ones would bloom.  I would sit in my favorite chair in the living room, drinking my morning coffee and look at the gold finches and sometimes hummingbirds, as they lit upon my beautiful Petunia.  Then…my job duties doubled, we went on vacation…when I returned a myriad of responsibilities were waiting.  I forgot about my Petunia…neglected it…until one day last week, I looked out my window…and saw that it was dry…the flowers were no more, the leaves were brown.  I rushed to water it… “I promise to water you every day…I won’t forget you…just come back to life,” I pleaded with my dead Petunia.

Isn’t that how it is sometimes with our walk with the Lord?  During the first excitement of our new found faith in God, we rise early, eagerly open our Bible to drink in the wonder of his Word.  Then, one morning we sleep in, we rush off to our daily tasks…with only a brief prayer on the run.  One day turns to two, three…then a week as passed…and we have not taken time to read His Word…not taken time to pray.  And then…our leaves shrivel up…our flowers die… our Faith becomes cold, lifeless.  James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  So…as we travel through this life, as we make decisions regarding how to spend our time…let us remember the Petunia…lush, green, flowering…and then, with neglect, dry, brown, without flowers.  In Isaiah 58:5 we find the source of our water:  “And the Lord will guide you continually…you shall be like a watered garden…”

Today, let us drink in God’s Word…let us pray to our Lord…and together let us be like a Watered Garden.

Esther photowebPS  My Petunia is recovering…no flowers yet…but the leaves are green and growing again!

WMF Day Choir

Anne Presteng choir director


A volunteer choir directed by Anne Presteng from Grafton, ND sang “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”.




choir practice


The ladies practiced twice before they gave their performance. Here they are at one of the practice sessions.




choir performance


The WMF Day Choir performance later in the day!  Beautiful job ladies! Thank you!





WMF Day Workshops

There were 4 workshops at WMF Day 2014.


katelyn gudimKatelyn Gudim shared on her work and experiences as a short term assistant in Uganda.


Katelyn Gudim, a graduate of the Association Free Lutheran Bible School, has longed to go to Africa from a very young age, as her grandparents were missionaries in Madagascar. When the opportunity arose last summer, she extended her 3 month visit to a year and has quickly made Jinja, Uganda her home. She will be returning in the fall as a short-term missionary with the AFLC for an unknown extended period of time.


Marian ChristophersonMarian Christopherson shared on the materials that are available through Ambassador Publications and the work of the Parish Ed Board in preparing solid Lutheran material.


Marian has served as Director of Publications and Parish Education since 1997. Her desire is to encourage congregations in their vital responsibility and privilege of faithfully teaching the Word of God to all ages.


Esther web2Esther Hylden presented a  workshop on Hospitality…without grumbling. Along with her presentation she prepared a Lasagna which the ladies were able to have a little taste of.

Esther serves as our WMF National 1st Vice President.
The Hylden’s are a Farm Family, and together they run Golden Valley Flax.
Esther  was Farm Woman of the Year in 2004 and Ag Woman of the year in 2008.


Lori Willard Lori Willard held a workshop on Prayer and Journaling.

Lori serves as our WMF National 2nd Vice President.
Most recently, the Lord has impressed on her the importance of examining her heart before Him.  We need to have a heart of humility so we can be emptied of ourselves.  The Lord will fill us during and in our rich (quality and quantity) time with Him. 

Josh and Ruthie Wagner Update


Josh and Ruthis saying goodbye







WE MADE IT! After three planes, four countries, and many instances of God’s hand of protection and leading, we’ve arrived safely in Chicagoland! My favorite example was when we stood at immigration on our way out of Sierra Leone. The man said Isaiah (3wks old) couldn’t leave Sierra Leone because there was no visa in his emergency passport (remember: the passport that came in one day instead of three weeks!). With some timely Isaiah screams and nudging from his coworkers (and maybe from the Lord?), the immigration officer grudgingly signed the passport and mercifully growled us on our way.

NOW WHAT? We’re back from Sierra Leone temporarily as we wait for the Ebola epidemic to be controlled in West Africa. Discussions for what we’ll do in the meantime with LBT are underway. In the midst of crazy packing and goodbyes, Josh was able to meet with the Themne translation coordinator, install Skype on his computer, and teach him how to use it. Having already received two calls from him since we left, we feel hopeful to keep in close contact with our team and get firsthand updates on the situation there! Please pray for all these details, for the translation work to continue, and for the epidemic to end quickly!

HUGS. Though many have expressed relief that we’re back in the USA, our hearts are very much tied to our work and life in Sierra Leone. As a precaution we couldn’t even shake hands or hug our closest friends. We’ve left almost everything for our return. We are thankful that we didn’t have exposure to any ebola victims, but we ask you to pray for those in Sierra Leone who are helping and those who cannot leave.

Thank you, Team, for standing with us. ((Hug))

Many have asked how to help cover costs of evacuation (significant!) and unexpected living costs for this year. You can send a check made out to LBT and designated “Wagner Ministry.” Or even easier… hit the “Contribute Now” here:


Photos: Saying Goodbyes & Layover in London

Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (2 yrs), & Isaiah (4 wks)

Josh and Ruthie layoverweb






Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone

Weekly Texts for Prayer: Text “BIBLES” and your name(s) to 612-208-7680
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Amanda Bellefy in Ecuador

Amanda Bellefyweb 7-2014

Please continue to pray:
*For my English class, that God would be glorified
*For my visa, that God’s will would be done
*For the incoming students, that they would grow in their faith and character
*That I would continue to build relationships and not be afraid to speak Spanish

Thank you again for all of your prayers.  I think of you often and miss you all.

In Christ, Amanda Bellefy