The Gifts We Share and Show

Date posted: Thursday 15 December 2022

For three weeks we’ve enjoyed the blessing of hosting guests here in Minnesota. First our Tanzanian friends Rev. Askali Mgeyekwa and Rev. Jiskaka Lwila joined us for the BKB Fall Festival, and then Program Coordinators Ryan and Astine Bose spent time with us before their holiday break with family in Kansas.


I had the pleasure of accompanying each set of guests on a number of visits to congregations around the synod. What a great way to get to know the people who love our Bega Kwa Bega companionship. We were welcomed by pastors, staff, travelers, engaged volunteers, council presidents and congregational leaders.


One aspect of the visits that caught my attention was the way that our congregations use and display the gifts they’ve been given by Tanzanian companions:

  • Iringa baskets are all over! We use them for serving food in our kitchens, for collecting offerings in worship, for holding name tags at the end of pews.
  • The bright colors and patterns of kanga and kitenge fabrics enliven our facilities. I’ve seen them serving as tablecloths and bulletin board backgrounds, used to make paraments, and tied as fancy wall hangings.
  • Carvings tend to be given a place of honor on a high shelf or behind a glass display window. Nativities are on display this month, but ebony giraffes and the elaborate carvings of the Lord’s Supper are in many of our churches.
  • Photos of our companions – often the faces of children – are enlarged and hung in many hallways and office spaces. Photo collages from multiple trips line a hallway.
  • Some of our congregations have a room set aside to display the companion collections. A sign hangs above the door announcing the “Idunda” room or the “Tanzania” room.
  • One congregation has a quilted wall hanging in their sanctuary, with bright fabric framing the handprints traced in the center. At another sanctuary’s entrance, a carving says “Karibu.”


Across the synod, our congregations are honoring their companionship by incorporating these gifts into daily use, and in displays of the things we treasure. Take a look at this photo gallery.


So where are the gifts your congregation has been given? In a storage closet, or on display? Look around your own worship and fellowship spaces to see where they might be useful or where they will add beauty, and be a tangible reminder of the relationship we treasure.


Wishing you all a season where we treasure the gifts of companionship, as we celebrate the birth of the One who brings us together.



Kirsten Levorson

Director of Bega Kwa Bega