Easter Greetings from Young Adults in Global Mission

Date posted: Thursday 29 March 2018

Rachel Mann and Sarah Peterson are serving our global church through ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. Today, they share Easter greetings from their placements in Madagascar and England. Learn more about our YAGMs here.


Rachel Mann, serving in Madagascar

“The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” –Malachi 4:2


Sunrise in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, where Rachel Mann serves

My favorite church holiday is Good Friday, strange (and morbid) as that may seem. Why would Good Friday be anyone’s favorite church celebration? Why would anyone choose the day Jesus died over the day he rose or the day he was born? For me, the answer is simple: without Good Friday, there would be no Easter.


I’m an optimist. I’m quick to point out the bright side of any situation, and I’m definitely not one to wallow in negative emotions. In fact, I usually do everything I can to avoid feeling anything close to sadness, anxiety, and fear. In the U.S., avoiding those feelings was easy because American culture thrives on distraction. There are endless stimulants available. All of the technology, sporting events, amusement parks, outdoor recreation areas, and malls make it possible for people to ignore and escape reality. Bored? Turn on the TV. Lonely? Talk to someone online. Stressed? Work out at the gym. Whenever I started to feel on edge, I would read, write, watch Netflix, hang out with friends, go for a bike ride, take a hike, surf social media, go to the movie theater, swim, play piano, go out to eat, wander around Target, drive, and more. Here in Madagascar, that inexhaustible range of distractions isn’t available. Of course, I can still read, write, watch movies, and walk around my city, but that’s about it. I live alone, so there’s not a roommate on hand to hang out with. I don’t have a consistent internet connection, so social media, Netflix, and the internet aren’t constantly available at my fingertips. There aren’t gyms, theaters, or department stores. I don’t have a car. Here, it is much more difficult to run away from reality. And for that, I am grateful.


There have definitely been times in my seven months as a YAGM when I’ve felt anxious, stressed, lonely, bored, and upset. Instead of shirking away from those feelings, I’ve been trying to live into them. Leaning in, not leaning away. Being willing to experience the not-so-great emotions continues to challenge me, but I’ve noticed that being open to the reality of my feelings has made me appreciate life’s joys even more. I’ve been able to be more authentically present in community because I’m starting to be authentically present with myself. I’ve learned that I can feel negative things and still remain optimistic—because I have faith that the darkness won’t last.


We have to live into the hard times if we want to fully experience the beauty of the good times. And I think that’s what Good Friday is all about. We can’t just skip over the crucifixion and fast forward to Easter. If Jesus hadn’t died, he couldn’t have risen. And it’s because of the pain, the sorrow, the fear, and the despair, that Easter Sunday is so miraculously wonderful. Good Friday serves as a reminder that life isn’t always full of sunshine. Sometimes, life can get pretty dark. Yet through the dark night, God promises that “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” The dark won’t last because the sun always rises again. Wherever you are, whatever “Good Friday” you are going through, I pray that the healing sun rises for you this Easter. I pray that God resurrects you in the light of His hope. I pray that God gives you the strength to be present through the hard times and to keep your face turned to the rising sun.


As this Lenten season draws to a close, I ask for prayers for the emotional and physical health of my fellow Madagascar YAGMs, our country coordinator, and myself. I pray for the people of Madagascar affected by the two cyclones that have hit the country so far this year. I also pray for the safe return of my students and community members from their Easter vacations. Tratry ny paka! Happy Easter!


Sarah Peterson, serving in England

Sarah Peterson with the Rev. John Witts, pastor of Milton Baptist Church, after Friday Morning Cafe

Easter is coming early this year. On April 1st, you can find me working with Milton Baptist Church. There, I will be helping with their Easter service and community lunch, including an Easter egg hunt and many more fun activities. But leading up to Easter, I have been working not only with Milton Baptist Church, but also with the many other churches throughout nearby villages. They are coming together, creating stations that mark the points of Jesus' life leading up to Easter. It's great to see all of these village churches making the journey to Easter together.


On Sunday March 18th, I helped lead a service in Milton Anglican Church, then later that night we brought youth from Milton Baptist Church to the Encounter service at St. Mary's Church in Chipping Norton. The service was focused towards bringing young people together. There were youth from the surrounding villages and many young people who came from all around to worship together...also for the tea and cake - after all, this is England!


It seems as though the theme for this season of Lent has been to come together. Earlier this March, the U.K. YAGMs met up for a conference at the High Leigh conference center. At the conference, we were able to come together and talk about our years thus far, the ups and downs, anything that we needed help with, and just support for each other during our YAGM year.