Celebrate and share God's GRACE

Sharing Our Stories of God’s GRACE

Community First! Village Serve Event - April 2019
By Janis Coltin

Community First! Village is a 51-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. Over 200 neighbors currently live in tents, trailers, and tiny houses at CF!V. Phase II construction is underway and will house an additional 350 men and women.

At our April 12th Serve Event, TLLC members cleaned out a portable trailer that’s used to store kitchen supplies for new residents. We also packed up breakables in preparation for moving the trailer to lay new utility lines. Afterwards, our CF!V leader Robin took us on a walking tour. We visited with some of the neighbors and ate lunch at the onsite Community Grille. See this link for ongoing volunteer opportunities.

TLLC Hosts The Red Bench - February 2019
By Janis Coltin

In February, Triumphant Love hosted The Red Bench, a monthly dialogue program led by Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT). The program's purpose is to improve interfaith dialogue and civil discourse in our community. iACT sponsors The Red Bench once a quarter in the Cedar Park/Leander area and once a month in Austin. About 70 people from various Austin faith communities participated in the discussion. As hosts, we also provided a light vegetarian supper. The discussion topic of ”Humor" was introduced by TLLC’s Visitation Pastor, Armin Steege.

Here's some feedback from our members:

"My table was a spirit-filled discussion without anyone feeling hesitant to participate. We had three Lutherans, three members of The Jewish faith, Reverend Rainbow, and a yoga meditationalist. Just great views shared on how humor can lighten the load of life. I enjoyed the evening very much!! Common ground was found so easily, and Pastor Armin could not have given a better introduction! \”

“At our table, we all felt humor, joy and love were absolutely vital to well being!! As we shared, we decided we could be best friends because of our like feelings. A truly enjoyable evening!”

“The participants at our table talked about the light-hearted aspects of our faith traditions and how we can use humor to encourage and support each other.”

Austin CROP Hunger Walk - February 2019

Thank you, walkers and sponsors for the 2019 Austin CROP Hunger Walk! We walked in memory of TLLC member and long-time CROP walker Kris Carlson, while raising over $2000 to help the following organizations end hunger in Austin and around the world: Church World Service international relief agency, Central Texas Food Bank, Micah 6, iACT for Refugees, Casa Mariannella, Urban Roots, Bethany Food Pantry, and Faith Food Pantry.

Upbring Christmas Party - December 2018

On a December Saturday evening, TLLC hosted the annual Upbring Christmas Party for Foster Families. Over 60 parents and children enjoyed crafts, an Italian supper, and a visit from Santa. Thank you to our members who assisted the Upbring staff with this fun evening.

Agua Viva School Supplies - August 2018
By Jon Martin

The school supply collection for Agua Viva was a HUGE success! We asked for 120 backpacks and TLLC donated 170 BACKPACKS!!!! Our members donated over our target for every item on the school supply list. Jon Martin, Josh Martin and Pedro Barreda delivered the supplies before the first day of school. Extra supplies were taken to neighboring colonias which are poorer and in even more need than Agua Viva. Thank you so much for your generosity!

Bread for the World Offering of Letters - July 2018

Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent Bread for the World  Offering of Letters. Special thanks to Jan Vardaman and Mary Halaney for their leadership. We wrote and mailed 17 letters and 79 postcards to our elected officials---our US Representatives, Senators, and President---encouraging their support for resolving hunger and poverty in our country. See the Bread for the World website for information on how to  continue this important advocacy work by sending letters or emails.

Water to Thrive Celebrates 10 Years - April 2018

Water to Thrive, as well as TLLC members Dick Moeller and Ed Scharlau, were featured in this April 23rd article in the Austin American-Statesman: Austin’s Water to Thrive changing lives one well at a time.

Shared Voices Interpreter Training - February 2018
By Janis Coltin

Triumphant Love is now hosting Shared Voices, an interpreter training program sponsored by the Multicultural Refugee Coalition (MRC). Here is a description of the program from MRC's February 2018 newsletter:

First 2018 Interpreter Training in Full Swing
Did you know that, on average, one world language disappears every two weeks? UNESCO celebrates February 21st as International Mother Language Day, reminding us that linguistic diversity and multilingualism are integral to sustainable development. If you can't understand the world, how can you learn, work or participate in your community?

We're proud of the part our Shared Voices Interpreter Training plays in local language access and linguistic diversity. Three times per year we offer a 40-hour Introduction to Community & Medical Interpreting Training for both refugees and other community members intending to use their multilingual skills as professional interpreters. The first course of the year is currently meeting on Saturdays under the guidance of our Lead Interpreter Trainer, Esther Diaz, pictured above right, and our new Shared Voices Coordinator, Flor Castellanos, left, engaged in an interpreting role-play with a student. Languages represented in this course are Dari, Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, Turkish, Nepali, Uzbek, French and Spanish. Someday, one of them might be helping you connect to someone with a different mother language.

TLLC Hosts The Red Bench - January 2018
By Janis Coltin

In January our congregation hosted The Red Bench, a monthly dialogue program led by Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT). The program's purpose is to improve interfaith dialogue and civil discourse in our community. iACT sponsors The Red Bench once a quarter in the Cedar Park/Leander area and once a month in Austin.

Over 90 people from various Austin faith communities participated. As hosts, we also provided a light, vegetarian supper. The discussion topic was "Tribe." Here's some feedback from TLLC members:

"Our table decided that "Community" was a better word to use than "Tribe." We had an interesting discussion about inclusivity and exclusivity issues that happen with communities."

"We talked about being open to others, making our tribe the whole human race. Fear makes us draw dividing lines between ourselves and others and tends to turn our focus inward."

"Our group was very much together on the aspect of being respectful of one another in all our dealings. We had a former Icelander, now a US citizen; someone from Turkey, a Christian Science Monitor member, so we were all over the place with backgrounds. Right at the very end, the CSM lady used two of my favorite words. She said you bring in people that aren’t good in giving respect by showing them love and respect. I told her we need add the "trust" word."

"I hope to go again in the future. The conversation was hopeful."

Agua Viva Christmas Thanks - December 2017
By Jon and Josh Martin

Many thanks to all the TLLC members who provided Christmas presents for 122 children, 40 mothers, and 26 elders at the Agua Viva Lutheran Mission church in the colonia of El Cenizo in TX near Laredo. Also thanks to Laura Mumme and the children at the CDC who gave 8 large boxes of toys and stuffed animals. Pastor Mariana will be giving the CDC toys to children in other colonias along the border and to children in Mexico. Also, thanks to Pat DiSanza, Russ and Carol Miller, Rick Steans, and Bob Stern for helping to sort the presents by families and to Carl Teinert who helped Jon and Josh take the presents to Agua Viva. The presents were handed out to the families and others after the Sunday church service Dec. 17th. The children were very excited to receive their gifts---for some it could be their only Christmas gifts. Pastor Mariana and members of Agua Viva expressed their gratitude for all that Triumphant Love members have done for them over the years.

Community First! Village - October 2017
By Gene Richards

This month Triumphant Love members visited Community First! Village. This was but one of the service projects made available to us during the TLLC 1010 Faith in Action series, God’s Work. Our Hands. Six Weeks of Service. Community First! Village is managed by Mobile Loaves and Fishes and we were told that the founder of CF!V called it an RV park on steroids! The idea was launched in 2009, the land was procured in 2014, and it began to come to life in 2015. Steven Hebbard came to TLLC on Sunday, October 22nd and told us that Mobile Loaves sees that homelessness does not go away. Their approach is to become part of the solution, to be transformers, and address homelessness with community.

CF!V is 27 acres of pure community. The team lives up to its philosophy of creating community and relationships. That is the healing that they see needs to be done. From the moment of our arrival, we could see action and engagement, the village was alive! Every volunteer unit that comes to work at CF!V is led in work by staff members, sometimes residents. Today our group was split into 2 and were led by Charles and Robin. Each had chores for us, but Charles and Robin did plenty of educating us about the village and how it works as we went about the chores.

We were all impressed, in awe, and totally caught up in the magic of the village. On our way back to TLLC we took time to reflect and shared our thoughts with each other. What follows is a steady stream of commentary from the TLLC team…

“What a perfect name, Community First! Village, with the exclamation mark in the name, it is emphasized and they live it.”
“It’s not just rows of houses and RVs, its set up to promote community, with houses facing one another and winding roads. Talented engineers and architects donated time in creating the structural atmosphere.”
“Everything seems ideally situated.”
“There is no “they”, it is only “we”. Staff and community members live together, work together, and play together.”
“It is hard to tell who is homeless and who isn’t. Some have lived on the streets and are now staff.”
“There is a concerted effort that goes into the furnishings, they are nice, no cast off items, no leftovers going here. The staff and management look for good deals on new and lightly used product. For example, they just brought brand new mobile homes from out of state for an extremely low cost.”
“What they don't buy, they make. There is a metal shop, a workshop, a 7 acre garden, chickens and livestock, and it can be geared towards creating jobs within the community.”
“Everything is clean, clutter not allowed, and maintenance of all aspects of the community is ongoing.”
“There is a city bus stop in the center of the village. Open space is plentiful, and there is another 25 acres for future expansion, there is an Alamo Drafthouse outdoor theater, a farmers market, and, a columbarium. Thursday nights are for everyone to eat together at the Community Table building, and Fridays are free lunches at the food trailer.”
“Everyone pays rent, but there are multiple living options and price levels. There are RVs, tiny houses, cloth structures, and tee-pees. The community includes missional residents, people who are not homeless, but choose to live in the village, some with families.”
“CF!V borders another Austin subdivision. There were tensions at first, but that is history and there are no tensions now, only harmony, as they interact with one another for certain activities.”
“There is still addiction. It is hard to get off addiction sleeping under a bridge, but at the village there is help for them to break the addiction. There are rules and if broken, you can be asked to leave. But each individual always has the opportunity to return.”

As was mentioned about furnishings, CF!V is often looking for new or gently-used armchairs, ottomans, end tables, lamps, home decor, and art.  If you have an item to donate, please send a description and photo to Janis Coltin. Please do not bring your donation to the church until you receive confirmation that it is still needed.

We found Steven Hebbard to be accurate, and passionate, in his comments to us at the 1010 class. Community fills that vast relationship void that is what puts many homeless people on the streets in the first place. Community First! Village welcomes others into the community, they have a bed and breakfast. You might want to consider going!

Hurricane Harvey Clean-up - October 2017
By Russ Miller

On October 7th, we were blessed to have 21 members of our congregation travel down to La Grange to help with disaster recovery. The La Grange area lost over 300 homes due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

We participated in nail-pulling and general clean-up. We were able to meet with one of the home owners who was very grateful, because she has no insurance and depends on volunteer help. We were advised this is a two-year process so there will be future opportunities to help. They need help every Saturday, anyone wishing to help can email directly to volunteercityoflg@gmail.com

TLLC members also packed 11 disaster clean up kits for Austin Disaster Relief Network. Thanks to everyone whom helped on both of these activities!

God's work. Our hands. - October 2017
By Janis Coltin

Here's a few of the ways that our congregation has given back to our local community, just in the past two weeks. Thanks, y'all!

- 16 volunteers at the Micah 6 food pantry in West Campus.
- Cleaning supplies, face masks, and 11 Clean Up Kits for Austin Disaster Recovery Network.
- A trunk-load of diapers, toys, children's clothes, and healthy snacks for Florence's Comfort House.
- Two Sunday afternoon worship services at the Pavilion and Atria retirement homes.
- 131 pounds of food for the Bread for All food pantry on South Oltorf.
- Several large boxes of socks, shoes, and clothing for the Fig Leaf clothes closet.

An Agua Viva Story - August 2017
By Jon and Josh Martin

We have known Angel for 14 years as he recently graduated from high school with honors (straight As) and got a full scholarship to Duke University where he will be in pre-med. Angel wants to be a doctor and return to the area here in south Texas and serve the people who live in some of the poorest areas in the U.S. Angel has five younger brothers and sisters who all grew up at Agua Viva Lutheran Church. A girl, from another family, who just graduated is going to Texas A&M (Laredo) with a scholarship and wants to be a nurse. A boy will be going to Laredo Community College (South Campus) which is about ten miles from the colonia of El Cenizo.

Agua Viva School Supplies - August 2017
By Jon Martin

Many thanks to everyone at TLLC who donated school supplies and backpacks to Agua Viva Lutheran Mission Church for the 130 school children from pre-school to college. The supplies and backpacks, to the delight of the children and teens, were handed out after Sunday service Aug. 13th with school starting in the United ISD (Laredo area) Monday Aug. 21th. Pastor Mariana took the left over supplies to other colonias she serves, which are poorer than El Cenizo. Many thanks to Reenie and Don Visnees, Carol and Russ Miller, and Pat DiSanza for helping to sort all the supplies and backpacks, to Carl Teinert for helping to take everything down to El Cenizo, and to Josh for organizing the project every year.

Meals on Wheels Recognizes Triumphant Love - April 2017
By Janis Coltin

Our congregation has been recognized by Meals on Wheels Central Texas for our commitment and contributions to their mission. On behalf of Triumphant Love, Mary Halaney accepted this honor at their Annual Board Get-Together meeting.

Jennifer McGaffeny, Volunteer Management Coordinator for Meals on Wheels, visited our 1010 Faith in Action class to personally thank our congregation. For over seven years, TLLC has staffed two weekly meal delivery routes: Mondays in the Braker/Lamar area and Thursdays near Anderson Mill/Balcones. Other members have also volunteered as individuals, families, or substitutes. At Sunday's class, TLLC members Casey Burns and Keith Kreager also shared their personal stories of volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

Jennifer noted that TLLC has generously donated more than $25,000 to Meals on Wheels over the years. These donations were made possible from our Endowment Fund, Special Offerings distributions, general budget funds, and designated contributions.

Thank you to our faithful volunteers and especially our TLLC Meals on Wheels coordinator, Pat DiSanza. Contact Pat if you would like to join our delivery team. Also, Meals on Wheels always needs substitute drivers during the holidays and summertime; volunteer training sessions are held on Thursdays.

Austin CROP Hunger Walk - February 2017
By Janis Coltin

Thank you, walkers and sponsors for your support of the 2017 Austin CROP Hunger Walk! Together we raised over $2300 that will be distributed to the following organizations...and help to end hunger in Austin and around the world:
- Church World Service international relief agency
- Central Texas Food Bank
- Refugee Services of Texas
- Sustainable Food Center
- Casa Mariannella
- Austin Baptist Chapel Angel House

Lutheran Legislative Event - February 2017
By Janis Coltin

Several Triumphant Love members attended the 2017 Lutheran Legislative Event held at Gethsemane Lutheran from February 12-14. The event was sponsored by Texas Impact and the Poverty & Justice Task Force of our Southwestern Texas Synod. About 100 Lutherans (including two bishops) attended from the three Texas synods: Southwestern Texas, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana, and Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast.

A variety of speakers explained the state legislative process, budget trade-offs, and key issues facing this year's legislative session. Topics included Payday Lending, Children's Health Coverage and Protection, State/Local Environment, and Displaced Persons. With assistance from Texas Impact's staff, the attendees developed a 2017 Lutheran Legislative Agenda, which documented our Christian/Lutheran perspectives in four areas: Caring for God's Creation, Showing Hospitality to All People, Safeguarding Child and Family Well-Being, and Ensuring Justice and Peace for All People.

The event culminated with "Lutheran Lobby Day" at the Texas State Capitol. Attendees visited their state representatives and senators (and their staff) to review and discuss the 2017 Agenda.

Read more about the event, including the 2017 Lutheran Legislative Agenda and ways to get involved in this year's session, at the Texas Impact website.

Triumphant Love Stories Archives (2016 and earlier)

Agua Viva Christmas Thanks - December 2016
By Jon and Josh Martin

Many thanks to all who provided Christmas presents to 126 children and 26 elders at the Agua Viva Lutheran Mission Church in the colonia of El Cenizo, in TX near Laredo, and to Laura Mumme and the children at the CDC who gave 8 large boxes of toys and stuffed animals. Pastor Mariana took the toys from the CDC to other colonias along the border where she provides ministry. Also, thanks to Janis Coltin, Pat DiSanza, Carol and Russ Miller, and Marilyn and Bob Stern who helped organize all the presents before delivery.and to Carl Teinert and Bob Kohls who helped take the presents to Agua Viva Friday. Pr. Mariana had a Christmas Eve service 10:00 Sat. morning and Josh and I helped hand out the presents after the service to the delight of all the children and their parents. Pr. Mariana expressed her thankfulness to the members of Triumphant Love for all they have done over the years and continue to do for the ministry of Agua Viva.

Sew Much to Share: Second Graduating Class - November 2016
By Reenie Visness

For the second time, our Triumphant Love Sew Much to Share campaign has provided an opportunity for eight refugee women to receive new sewing machines at a graduation ceremony for the Open Arms sewing training program. These women have left homelands in Kurdistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Republic of Congo to find safety and opportunity here in the Austin area. The women had been learning on the practice machines how to complete seams and hems, fill bobbins, create bags, understand measurements that were not in the metric system, and use the different attachments that came with the Babyloc machine. They were so pleased and proud to be using their own machine for the first time and expressed their gratitude to Triumphant Love members.

Sarah Stranahan, the director of the sewing training program, explained that these machines will help refugee women eventually become part of Open Arms, a non-profit that manufactures apparel and products and empowers women though fair-wage employment. We hope to have another Sew Much to Share campaign in May, but there is an account open at all times for donations. Some members were interested in donating memorials to Sew Much to Share in memory of those who would support the mission of this project.

Triumphant Love Celebrates 5th Annual Trunk or Treat - October 2016
By Rachel Nevergall

God calls us all as important members of the body of Christ, with each part working together and relying on one another. This is especially true in a growing and faithful congregation like Triumphant Love. The recent Trunk or Treat event held at the church last weekend was a fantastic example of this great work.

Hundreds of families paraded into the church parking lot in their finest costumed apparel anticipating the festivities for the Fifth Annual Trunk or Treat. Cars lined up with their trunks donning festive attire as well, where members passed out candy and prizes to excited visitors. Each trunk shared its own diverse personality, from spooky to sporty, from large to quite small. Guests had the opportunity to vote on their favorite trunk and this year's winner went to a fairy and her fairy garden. Costumed guests were awarded as well. This year's winners were chosen for Scariest, Funniest, Best Handmade, Best Group, Most Original, and Most Biblical. With all the talented costumers, choosing the finals winners was not an easy task!

Yet the true honor was awarded to the many members of our congregation that came together to make this event a success. Each ministry offered their time and talents. The Witness team welcomed and guided visitors to the event. The Outreach team collected a great many donations for the Comfort House Organization. Nurture committee prepared and served food. The Youth organized fun and games. A neighborhood band Electric Inferno led by talented youth kept the crowd entertained. Worship gathered prayer requests and MCed the event. The Child Development Center provided refreshments and necessary marketing. Children's Ministry orchestrated the planning and organization. Many, many offered hands and feet to set it all up. And neighborhood families brought their enthusiastic children disguised as princesses and monsters and superheroes and the like to all come together for festive fun and fellowship!

All thanks to each important member of this Body of Christ at Triumphant Love, the Fifth Annual Trunk or Treat was a great success, an effort worth Celebrating and Sharing!

8,208 Meals Packed! - October 2016
By Janis Coltin

Last Saturday morning, members of Triumphant Love and local Kiwanis Clubs joined together with a non-profit food-aid organization, Kids Against Hunger, for a meal packing event. Two assembly lines were set up in our Fellowship Hall where we measured and combined rice, vitamins, and dried vegetables into plastic pouches. Jeff Pedigo, director of Kids Against Hunger of Central Texas, explained that the pouches are emptied into boiling water and cooked for 20 minutes to create a nourishing meal.

In less than three hours, about 20 volunteers assembled and boxed 8,208 meals. Most of these meals (90%) will be sent to Haiti, with the rest going to the Central Texas Food Bank. Thank you to the Kiwanis Club for sponsoring this worthwhile service project!

"God's work. Our hands." Service Sunday - September 2016
By Janis Coltin

Triumphant Love members accomplished an amazing amount of work with our hands…in just one day of service on Sunday, September 11th:

  • Anointed and blessed over 300 hands to do God’s work!
  • Shared crafts and music with residents at 2 local nursing homes: Arden Courts of Austin and Windsor Nursing Center.
  • Delivered 10 boxes of children’s books, prepared soil for a vegetable/herb garden, and did general yard cleanup at Florence’s Comfort House.
  • Checked expiration dates and delivered 240 pounds of donations to the Bread for All food pantry in southeast Austin.
  • Delivered “We Thank You For Your Service” posters to 3 local fire stations.
  • Wrapped over 400 sheet bandages for Global Health Ministries.
  • Wrote 24 Bread for the World letters to send to our elected officials.
  • Colored 70 bookmarks and assembled 70 goody bags for New Life Children’s Center.
  • Created 105 handmade Stampin’ Up care cards to be distributed by pastors and staff.
  • Worked on cancer caps for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
  • Polished 36 handbells and cleaned many, many candleholders.
  • Made progress on knitting and crocheting prayer shawls.
  • Dusted and straightened 26 library shelves in our building.
  • Transported 15 boxes of books to Half-Price Books to benefit TLLC Youth.
  • Cleaned out a storage closet in the Youth Room and moved seldom-used items to the attic.
  • Poured 4 cement pedestals, cut back branches, and repaired pathway borders for the Prayer Path.
  • Cleared entryways connecting the Prayer Path and play areas with the canyon woods.

Agua Viva School Supplies and Backpacks - August 2016
By Jon Martin

With the generous support of Triumphant Love members, again this year, we met our goal of providing 130 school children - kindergarten to 12th grade - with school supplies and backpacks for everyone at the Agua Viva Lutheran Mission Church which is in the colonia of El Cenizo, a few miles down river from Laredo on this side of the border. The three week campaign was organized by Josh Martin and thanks to Pat DiSanza and Russ Miller for helping to sort all the supplies and to Pedro Barreda who helped take everything to Agua Viva. We also had school supplies and backpacks from three other Lutheran churches in Austin, San Antonia, and Canyon Lake which Pastor Mariana took to other colonias on both sides of the border. With the help of a few high school students and some mothers we set up all the backpacks and school supplies and handed them out to the joyful, smiling faces of the students. One boy who Josh and I have known for years is graduating this year from LBJ High School (yes, President Johnson taught school in the valley after he graduated from Texas State Normal College). The senior is a straight-A student, taking AP courses, and has been accepted at U.T., Rice, and Stanford and wants to become a doctor. A girl we have known over the years graduated at the top of her high school class. The kindergarten students don't speak English, but by the time they are in 2nd or 3rd grade they all speak English. Triumphant Love members have been faithful supporters of Agua Viva from the beginning when Carl Teinert came across the mission over fifteen years ago.

Water to Thrive Memories

First W2T/Triumphant Love Trip!......In the summer of 2008, Dick Moeller and his daughter, Meredith, made the first trip to Ethiopia to experience first-hand God’s abundant grace and the joyous gratitude of the communities being served near Adwa, Ethiopia. Since then, more than 120 travelers have joined W2T on these life changing experiences.

Agua Viva Trip - December 2015
by Jon Martin

Thanks to all who gave Christmas presents for 131 children and 33 elders at Agua Viva Lutheran Church.  The gifts were beautifully wrapped and brought much Christmas joy to  the children and elders. Bob Kohls, Russ Miller, and Josh and Jon Martin delivered the presents to Agua Viva in El Cenizo. The church, as always, was beautifully adorned for Christmas. Thanks to Pat and Len DiSanza, Carol Miller, Karen and Rick Steans, and Josh Martin for helping to organize all the presents.

Experiencing Something Bigger
by Megan Bruce

Honestly, I didn't know why I was going to Detroit. All I knew was that I needed work gloves and long pants and I was going to what was supposedly a really "tough" city. So that night when we're going to our first worship it was honestly pretty frustrating. Everyone was talking about how we "had been called to experience something way bigger than ourselves" and I just didn't understand why. Really I hadn't been called by God to go to Detroit, I had been called by my youth director, Bri.

Triumphant Love Youth Lead Camp Hope

Campers have been having the ride of their lives at Camp Hope-Rodeo. In addition to their daily activities at Triumphant Love (such as science experiments, Bible story drama, and learning to prepare healthy snacks), they are also exploring our great city. This week they went on a canoe trip to Lady Bird Lake to pick up trash, went swimming at Barton Springs, and had ice cream at Amy's! Camp Hope is led by the Triumphant Love youth every summer.

The Water to Thrive travel group on an adventure in Ethiopia.

Triumphant Love members Dick Moeller and Bob Kohls are among the travelers. They are visiting communities that need clean water, those that have clean water and those who are soon getting water. The other part of the trip is spent visiting ancient historic sites, museums, cultural experiences and Ethiopian cuisine. Upon returning home Susanne Wilson, the new Executive Director of W2T, will assume her responsibilities. Dick will remain as president and chairman of the board. We thank you for your continued support of this ministry.

Sharing Grace
by Russ Miller

On May 16th Triumphant Love Lutheran Church had 27 volunteers help work on a house for Habitat for Humanity in Austin. The house is sponsored by our partner Thrivent Financial. We performed various tasks such as exterior painting, site clean-up and interior cleaning. We even helped on another home that was behind schedule.

Endowment Golf Benefit a Huge Success

The weather smiled on this year’s Endowment Golf Benefit, sending down sunshine instead of rain on a gorgeous spring day in Central Texas. The event was a big success, due to the efforts of so many loyal supporters whose warm hearts made the day fun and exciting. This year was marked by increased support from agency grant recipients who donated several valuable items for swag bags. Water to Thrive joined in as a Gold Sponsor and the Triumphant Love Child Development Center sponsored the event at the Silver Level!

Congratulations to the First Place Winners of the coveted Pastor's Cup: Trevor Green, Shelly Mc Laughlin, Brian Hendrixson, and Trey Owen.   This team was sponsored by Blazier, Christensen, Bigelow & Virr, and the prize includes a four-person entry to the Fall UPBRING (formerly LSSS) golf benefit, as well as four gorgeous golf shirts, and four water bottles!

Developing Leaders of All Ages
by Pastor Steve

On Maundy Thursday we had the opportunity to gather as a community around a group of children (K-2nd Grade) and their families as we celebrated the gift of Communion.  The service began with a simple dinner in the fellowship hall, where we not only shared table fellowship but also had the children guide us through a liturgy of readings, songs, and prayers. We then processed silently by candlelight through our darkened hallways into the sanctuary. There we celebrated communion as a community with some children taking the Eucharist for the first time. The worship concluded with the stripping of the altar and silence. For me it was a powerful combination of both traditional and new worship elements, centering on our purpose to celebrate and share God's grace through the mission themes of engaging across generations and developing faithful leaders.

Thanks from Florence’s Comfort House

Dear friends at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church, on behalf of Florence and the children, elderly, and families she supports, we thank you for your very kind contribution. Your donation allowed Florence to once again provide a safe, nurturing environment for the disadvantaged children in Montopolis. Florence is available 365 days a year bringing hope, dignity, and love to those she supports.

Missionary for a Day
By Jon Martin

Many thanks to everyone who signed up for the first time to support the Agua Viva Lutheran Missional Church through the Missionary for a Day program and to everyone who continued their pledges on their designated day or days. We now have 221 pledges for 2015 which means Triumphant Love will be able to continue to send $400 each month to the South Texas Food Bank whereby Pastor Mariana will be able to get enough food to provide after school meals for a hundred children (which she calls the Kid's Cafe), lunches for the elderly, snacks at VBS, and food to stock the Agua Viva Food Pantry in the heart of the El Cenizo, TX community (colonial).  During the January drive it was great to see everyone coming by the table to see if they were still on the list - thank you.  Pastor Mariana wishes to thank the members of Triumphant Love for all the blessings provided to Agua Viva over the years.  Also, thanks to Pr. Steve, Reenie Visness, Janice Daily, Tara Brecheisen, and Josh Martin for all their efforts with the Missionary for a Day program.

A Very Merry Christmas
By Reenie Visness

On the morning of Christmas Eve, seven cars from Triumphant Love formed a Care-avan loaded with many gifts, donations, and 60 gift cards for refugee children and their families. Many thanks to all of you that provided the donations of money, gift cards, toys, sports equipment, and warm clothing that provided much joy during our three stops in East Austin. A special thank you to CDC and especially to five-year-old Abby who made star ornaments to sell and donated the proceeds to this cause. Without the drivers and helpers, the benevolence we shared would not have been possible. Thanks to the Coffmans, Westbrooks, Condons, Bayers, Welkers, Visnesses, and Jon and Josh Martin for delivering gifts. Many thanks to Johnson Doe who guided us on our journey. From the smiles and expressions of gratitude we witnessed, our project touched the lives of many refugees, young and old, during this blessed season.

Thank you
By Jon & Josh Martin

Thanks to all Triumphant Love members for the Christmas presents for 138 children and 34 elderly at Agua Viva.  The presents were taken down to the Agua Viva Lutheran Church outside of Laredo in the colonia of El Cenizo in TX on Sat. the 20th and given to the children and elders in the beautifully decorated church after Sunday worship.  Prior to their receiving the presents about forty children sang in Spanish and then English "We Wish You A Merry Christmas".  There was much joy on the faces of the children and elders receiving their presents. Thanks to everyone involved from Triumphant Love for making their Christmas brighter. Also to the Thissens and Webers for going to Agua Viva with us and for the Steans, Visnesses, Janis Coltin, and Pat DiSanza for organizing all the presents by families and to Sarah Orth for getting the additional needed presents.

600 pounds of Food
By Josh Martin

Thank you Triumphant Love members for supporting "Feeding 5,000 Sunday" by bringing your non- perishable foods to church. Seeing the food at the altar and in the front of the church is a wonderful reminder of the blessings we all enjoy. The ladies who coordinate the Bread for All Food Pantry are very grateful for all the food. 690 pounds! This greatly helped their efforts since the shelves were nearly bare when we arrived. The Bread for All Food Pantry is located at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Oltorf, just one block east of I-35. It serves those living in the 78741 zip code in Southeast Austin. The pantry is open Mondays from 6pm-8pm. In early September, it will celebrate its one-year anniversary.

Children’s Choir Makes Earth Day Special
By Amy Hines and Geanie Firnhaber

"The Majesty of God" was fresh and alive with wonderful energy, fit the children so well, and was perfect for Earth Day and Easter afterglow.  The kiddos were incredibly well prepared, the music was fun, the kids were understandable, the tee shirts were delightful (and how fun that they got to make them), the decorations were fitting.  I thought it was "just right"....

Helping to Build a Better Community
by Russ Miller

We had 19 people supporting a Habitat for Humanity build last weekend. Tom Winn, our Thrivent sponsor, was very pleased with our turnout and support.  Everyone worked hard and we completed decking the entire roof of our house. We even helped on other houses. We should all be proud of our efforts in helping others and serving our Lord.

Using our Gifts
By Janice Daily

Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise. Psalm 84:4

On March 30, 29 people from the age of 4 to ? came not to sing but to use their gifts and muscles to give our church some much-needed tlc.  In just a few hours, they worked together to paint the choir room, clean windows, change light bulbs, replace air conditioning/furnace filters, powerwash the deck, fill the Coke machine, and count the soda money. God blessed us with a beautiful spring day, cool weather, and bright sunshine.  God blessed us with people that served with  willing hearts and servant hands.

Triumphant Love Child Development Center Families Step Up for Bread for All!  

After a year of collecting and a little February competition, Triumphant Love's Child Development Center collected almost 500 lbs of food for BFA! Some children even volunteered at the pantry with their families. The oldest class, the Penguins, used the collections as an opportunity to learn about tally marks and kept inventory of the food collected. Ultimately, one of the smallest classes won-the Butterflies. BFA sent a wonderful e-mail that really touched us: "Thank you for all the food and volunteers and supporting Bread for All!  Your church steps up when we are in need the most. What you brought in yesterday-350 lbs.-and still more to be delivered. WOW! ...What a wonderful Monday, best one yet....Thank you....Jane"

Blessings, Prayers, and Thanks
by Jon Martin

Many thanks to the Triumphant Love members who graciously gave 140 brightly wrapped Christmas gifts to the children and youth of Agua Viva Lutheran Mission plus 32 gifts for the elders. Those who traveled to Laredo on Saturday, December 21, stayed at the Latin America Lutheran Mission in Laredo and Sunday morning went to the Agua Viva Mission (which is now Agua Viva Lutheran Church) - about ten miles southeast of Laredo. The church was beautifully decorated for Christmas and all the presents were piled in the front next to a large Christmas tree. After the service (in Spanish) Pastor Marianna called out the names of the families and all the members of each family came forward with tremendous joy on their faces to receive their gifts which were handed out by our youth: Erica Weber, Natalie Vaz, and Claire Petiprin along with a friend of Erica. When I gave one elderly man his present he told Pr. Mariana, in Spanish, that was the first present he ever received. We always receive more than we give on this very special trip. Thanks to Sharon Weber, Haydee Pleitez, and Chris Petiprin for traveling and to Janis Coltin and Josh Martin for helping to sort the presents prior to our leaving.

Warming Hearts around Austin This Christmas
by Reenie Visness

Triumphant Love members delivered lots of joy to refugee families on the morning of Christmas Eve! We collected a total of $2,100 dollars which included a $500 designation from the Social Service Team using Thrivent Choice dollars to buy gifts. We had six car and truck loads of donations of toys and household goods to distribute and everything found a new home and a new use. A huge thank you to the Child Development Center parents, Great Hills Ladies Club, the  Monday and Wednesday night Bible study groups, Kelly Condon's  Round Rock West Mom's group, and dedicated members of Triumphant Love for their donations of clothes, household goods, toys, and linens. Thanks also to our drivers and those of you that helped sort everything. Although  language may have been a barrier, the gratitude and thankfulness was evident. It warmed our hearts as we watched the children playing with their new basketballs and even a hula hoop as we left the apartments to head to Pastor John's apartment.  Thank you one and all for your help with making the 2013 giving to refugee families successful. God's work, Our hands!

Installing Air ConditionerAir Conditioners for Agua Viva Lutheran Church
By Jon Martin

During the week of July 17 Jon and Josh Martin along with members from St. Martin's Lutheran, Austin, an electrical contractor from Redeemer Lutheran, Austin, and an air conditioner contractor from Zion Lutheran, San Antonio, installed three large air conditioners for Agua Viva.  Thanks to the other church members who volunteered their time.  Agua Viva (a colonia in the town of El Cenizo ten miles southeast of Laredo) was received as a new congregation at the Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly in May after starting as a mission ten years ago.  Agua Viva is the central focus in serving the community, such as providing after-school meals for over 100 children and lunches and food for the elderly.  Their food is purchased from the Laredo Food Bank which Triumphant Love members provide thru the Missionary for a Day Program.  Many thanks to all of our members who have supported Agua Viva over the years by providing backpacks and school supplies, Christmas gifts for the children and elderly, and the Missionary for a Day program.

altTriumphant Love Members in Ethiopia

Dick Moeller, founder of Water to Thrive, is currently leading a group of 12 in Ethiopia. Triumphant Love members are among the travelers... Rennie Scharlau, Greg and Adam Hilton, Eric Schmidhammer, and Suzanne Barrick, former member who now lives in New York. You can follow their travels at Water To Thrive and click on Blog. Dick is blogging daily and sending photos for all to follow their journeys to visit wells, celebrate with the recipients of clean water wells, and to visit places of historic interest in this ancient land. More exciting information will follow.

Lord Keep me in the spirit of prayerUnited in Love
By Diane Lung

At Triumphant Love we have one faith in Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We are one church family, gathering for worship, fellowship, community events, and family events. We have prayed and waited for two years for a new pastor. We have been blessed with excellent teaching and worship from Pastor Skip while we waited. The timing of Pastor Steve's calling and Pastor Skip's calling is a miracle. When I read Pastor Skip's Butterfly story of the African fable of the two men arguing over the color of the friend's hat, I was moved to say out loud what was in my heart!

Kid Friendly SpiritKid-Friendly Spirit
By Carrie Thayer

Campfires, songs, fellowship, quality family time...these are just some of the wonderful things you can experience at family camp. Summer is around the corner and our family just finalized plans to attend Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp's Family Camp in Colorado. Come join us or check out two awesome camps just a couple of hours from Austin. Both Lutherhill and Camp Chrysalis offer family camps this summer. Chrysalis also offers a Labor Day Retreat. This year's theme is "Viva Las Vegas!" All are sure to guarantee lasting family memories.

altA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By Janis Coltin

Twenty-seven Triumphant Love members, family, and friends worked on last Saturday's Habitat for Humanity home build. The construction of this one-story, four-bedroom house is being sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The site is located in a small neighborhood off Loyola Lane, east of Austin near Decker Lake. Many other Habitat houses have already been completed in this neighborhood, and two others were under active construction last weekend as well.

altReaching out to our neighborhood
By Amy Hines

Thanks to everyone who helped make Saturday a success! Many people contributed time and talents to ensuring the event was fun and ran smoothly. We had a number of guests from outside our church, and many of us got to meet and visit with them. The food, entertainment, and camaraderie all made it a memorable day.