|photo © Linnea Papke–Larson|
Pr. Linnea Papke-Larson
First Lutheran Church
ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA. Nineteen people from the Northwest Minnesota Synod of the ELCA recently traveled to our companion synod, the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Andhra Pradesh, India. On November 2, 2012 we flew out of Fargo, North Dakota and many, many hours later landed in a place which felt at once foreign - in landscape and culture - and at the same time familiar - in the faces and greetings of our Indian friends who were awaiting our arrival and who had, the previous year, a similar experience “in our neck of the woods” in northwest Minnesota!
Prior to leaving Minnesota, we prepared a prayer canvas. People from congregations throughout our synod penciled their prayers onto the canvas and then covered them with the acrylic paint provided, in any kind of design desired. Block by block, our prayers were offered in a variety of words, contours, colors and hues, with plenty of blank space left open for the prayers of our companions on the other side of the world.
While in India, we traveled throughout Andhra Pradesh and visited many churches and ministries of the Lutheran church there - including schools for girls, colleges, the Bible women, an orphanage, a leprosy colony, a home for destitute women, a clinic, a school for the blind and their church youth festival! On several occasions we were able to share our prayer canvas and invite people to join their prayers with ours. At the blind school, we invited folks to offer their thumb print along with their prayers, and at the youth festival we were overwhelmed with the joyful responses of the youth and their leaders gathering around the canvas to share their hopes and dreams in Christ. Prayers written in both English and Telugu, they are covered in splashes of color and design that express our common faith.
This particular prayer canvas was designed so that we could cut it in half before we left - right down the middle, lengthwise, so that each half can be finished and hung as banners - one in our companion synod in India and one our Northwest Minnesota Synod, tangible reminders of our common relationship as we travel in our respective areas and tell the story of our partnership!