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Still joyful

Ministerial education graduates reflect on their unique final semester.

As I consider the impact that COVID-19 made on the WLS class of 2020, I recognize that the losses we experienced are relatively small compared to the suffering that the pandemic has inflicted upon many in our country and across the world. Missing out on our last few months of in-person classes and our graduation ceremony is disappointing, but it does not compare to the pain and worry experienced by those who lost income or watched loved ones suffer or die.

But there is disappointment. For years, my classmates and I had the spring of 2020 on our radar. It would be a time of thanksgiving and joyful praise to God! We would encourage each other during the final weeks of our formal education. We would enjoy the friendship that we had formed over the previous eight years. We would celebrate with one another as we received calls into the public ministry.

But instead of enjoying these blessings face-to-face, our final weeks together have consisted of interactions via laptop or cell phone. While technology allows us to stay connected, it is no substitute for being with each other in person.

Despite the disappointment, we continue to trust that God is working all things for our good. We are confident that he will strengthen our faith as he has always done and even use these experiences to prepare us for our future work. God is equipping our class to bring the message of Christ’s love into a world that is desperate for good news. Because of this, the spring of 2020 is still a time of thanksgiving and joyful praise to God!

James Hemmelman, WLS class of 2020, is a member at Risen Savior, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was assigned to serve as the associate for the Dakota-Montana District president, St. Paul, Rapid City, South Dakota.

This is not how I envisioned my senior year at Martin Luther College. I had all these great plans to spend the final semester with friends, take my finals in person, and study for them with my roommates. At commencement, I imagined hearing my name called, walking across the stage to get my diploma, and then receiving my call. But God had other plans.

This makes me think of Abraham and God’s plan for his life. God told Abraham to get up and go to a land that he would show him. I don’t think this was part of Abraham’s plan for his own life. This is similar to what I, and many other seniors, are feeling. We don’t know what God has in mind for us, but we do know that no matter where God sends us, he will always be with us. As he reminds us in Hebrews: “ ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ ” (13:5,6).

Thank you, MLC, for giving me a truly wonderful experience filled with memories and friendships to last me a lifetime. I love and miss you all.

Hannah Stegman, MLC class of 2020, is a member at Holy Trinity, New Hope, Minnesota. She was assigned to teach grades 3 to 5 at St. Mark, Citrus Heights, California.

Authors: Multiple authors
Volume 107, Number 7
Issue: July 2020

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