Foreign Mission

Sharing the Psalms in Latin America

Compartiendo Los Salmos

From Christel:  Growing up I often wrote down scripture and would paste it on a magazine ad, or better yet, find a magazine ad with a blank space and write there. I would send them off to friends or post them around my room. As I got older, for whatever reason, I lost this art. Years later I met Lizz Warren, who started lettering scripture and creating designs to put up on your wall, to print on cards, and to share on social media. My artistic side was rekindled!

 Lizz and I serve in Latin America, in particular, the Caribbean.  As a missionary and deaconess my service is often found among groups of women, children or the elderly. After learning about Visual Faith from my mother-in-law, Karen, and sister-in-law, Katie - and understanding that it’s not just all Bible Journaling - ideas have begun flowing!

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 I saw some Visual Faith Ministry prayer cards by Pat Maier and thought how great it was that not only can you create some art and pray but also share that with someone who may be in need of love and care.

I chatted with Lizz one day, probably on a very long voice message of rambling thoughts, and eventually the Compartiendo Los Salmos (sharing the Psalms) was created. We chose eight Psalms – Psalms of lament, ascent, and praise. These Psalms have been prayers that have been shared time and time again. Some were songs we would sing on visits and in services, some have been with us in very dark times, and some at very joyful times. This is the gift of the Book of Psalms — prayers written by people like you and me, going through this life like you and me, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Spanish Prayer Cards created by Lizz Warren. You can find them on the Visual Faith Ministry website here:  https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources

Spanish Prayer Cards created by Lizz Warren. You can find them on the Visual Faith Ministry website here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources

Our goal was to have four cards that identify the Psalm visually. After a Bible study, a visit, or a devotion on this particular Psalm, the participants would be able to color, paint, and put color to the cards. They could pray while doing this or simply embrace the time together in the Word with their fellow believers. One or two cards could be given to friends or neighbors in need of prayer, one could be given as an invitation to church or a church activity, and one card to hold onto, to remember the promises that God has for each of us.

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From Lizz:  I have always enjoyed the process of creating art, even though I have never considered myself an artist or showed exceptional talent in art class growing up.  When I became a preschool teacher, my love of creating art was awakened.  I quickly understood that creating art was more about loving the process than a perfect piece of art in the end.

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 I am a homeschool mom and a missionary wife in the Dominican Republic; my husband serves as the Business Manager in the Latin America and Caribbean region for the LCMS.  Shortly after moving here in 2015, I began a new hobby of lettering. This quickly became my therapy and passion. I began making gifts for others and art for my own walls. As I kept lettering, my audience expanded, I opened an Etsy shop, and my projects began to increase. 

A year ago Christel asked me to help her with a devotion that could be shared while creating art.  She asked me to illustrate prayer cards that could be painted or colored.  These cards would serve as reminders of God’s Word as well as gifts to pass along to a neighbor.  I was excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with her and together we created Compartiendo Los Salmos.

As a missionary wife and mother, my opportunities to be out in the community are limited.  On top of that, culture adaptation has not been a smooth journey for my family. So I was humbled and grateful that Christel asked me to be a part of this project, and God could use my hobby of lettering for His work in the mission field.  What a joy to see the beautiful art women and men in different Latin America countries have created with these cards!

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Compartiendo Los Salmos: Around the Region

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In Dominican Republic, we had the opportunity to gather around God’s Word and paint cards with our local missionary women, seminary wives, and Spanish teachers.  We have also shared the devotion and prayer cards with our fellow missionary women across Latin America, and many of them have taken the devotion into their congregations and small groups.

Deaconess Caitlin (left) and her son Abraham sharing in visual faith with the women of Pueblo Nuevo.

Deaconess Caitlin (left) and her son Abraham sharing in visual faith with the women of Pueblo Nuevo.

Missionary and Deaconess Caitlin wanted to reach out to the women in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic. We promoted the event as an evening of devotion and “manualidades” (crafts). We had an awesome turn out which led to community building among women who are members and their neighbors.

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Missionary couple, Rev. Sergio and Yoxa Maita, led an evening Bible Study in their community of Ozama, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After studying Psalm 4, we shared water-coloring techniques for the prayer cards, including masking and wet on wet application. Most of the attendees were women who work full time, are raising families, and are new to the church. Watercolor is not a common past time for adults, but after some initial hesitation the ladies began to embrace their creative side.

One woman even said, “I am so relaxed right now.” They ended up painting all four scenes (cards). Often times in our Latin American churches, we care for women who hold many (and often heavy) vocations. They are daughters caring for their parents, mothers caring for their children, the bread winners of their households, and more. These women, just like many of us, forget to take time out for themselves. We all need to allow ourselves to be creative and have a space to relax. At this Bible Study, we tried to provide that space in the Word, in art, and in fellowship.

As missionaries we have learned the importance of always being prepared. In Puerto Rico we had the opportunity to share Christ’s love through the Psalm cards with our Sunday School children! We had a theological education class at church which was structured for adults. One of our members brought her three children, and I remembered I had prayer cards and some water color tissue paper in the back closet. We ended up spending over two hours painting prayer cards that we passed out at the Divine service the next day.

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In Ponce, Puerto Rico, art is everything. Expression in art form is all around. Working off of this cultural understanding, we worked with a short-term team from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN and did a series of three Psalm card studies at a housing project near our congregation. We had a short devotion, sang the Psalm, and then colored a prayer card. We were pleased to see so many from different backgrounds come to learn and create art together.

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The Word never returns empty (Is. 55:11), and as missionaries we often have to remind ourselves of that. We don’t always see the fruits of our labors. However, we do know with complete confidence that when the Word was shared, not only was it heard, but it was seen, it was read, it was painted, it was colored, it was prayed. That’s one of the reasons we love the ministry of Visual Faith. For those of us who appreciate and take in the visual and the tactile aspect of learning, Visual Faith allows us to “inwardly digest” the Word to a whole different level.

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Jesus comes to us in our Baptism, in His Body and Blood, and through His Word — this is the gift we have as Christians. Visual Faith ministry helps us share this gift with our community; we give a piece of artwork with His Word and that endures forever (Is. 40:8). This is our hope and prayer for these cards.  We hope they give opportunities to take in the Word, to pray it, and to share it.

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Christel and Lizz

Christel and Lizz

Christel Neuendorf serves as deaconess and missionary for the LCMS in Ponce, PR alongside her husband, James. She cares for the women, children, and elderly in her congregation and community, often times using visual faith resources. Christel often does not leave home without her coffee in her Saved by Grace, Fueled by Coffee tumbler by Lizz Warren. ( https://www.etsy.com/listing/555035058/christian-coffee-travel-mug-saved-by?ref=shop_home_active_1)

Elizabeth Warren is an LCMS missionary wife serving alongside her husband, Blake, in the Dominican Republic.  She has four beautiful daughters.  She is raising three here on earth and has one waiting for her in heaven.

She is a lettering artist with an etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/myalabasterflask?ref=shop_sugg ) and excited to contribute art to the Visual Faith resources. She is grateful for the grace and love of a forgiving Savior. She records her thoughts, feelings, and lessons learned about mission life, grief, and motherhood on her blog: myalabasterflask.com.

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Thank you, Christel & Lizz for sharing this amazing story and for the privilege of seeing how visual faith works in a foreign mission setting. You inspire us to be aware of and reach out in our own mission fields, which are often in our own communities, down the block, or right next door! Spanish resources, including the Sharing the Psalms devotions and prayer cards by Christel and Lizz, are available for ministry use at no cost on the Visual Faith Ministry website here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources .