WINDHOEK, Namibia, 17 May 2017 - Everybody takes it for granted that they are around. It’s because of them that everything runs smoothly. They are visible and invisible at the same time: the young people serving as stewards and volunteers at the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in the Namibian capital Windhoek.
A group of 30 young Lutherans from all over the world formed the team of stewards, assisted by 25 co-volunteers from Namibia. They assisted the 800 participants of the Assembly from 10 to 16 May. The stewards also took part in the Youth Pre-Assembly, 3 - 9 May in northern Namibia.
The day after the 14 May global commemoration of the 500 years of the Reformation, attended by thousands, even the young assistants looked exhausted from being out in the sun all day. ”It was not always easy,“ 19-year-old Lisa Schaude from Germany said at the final meeting of the stewards on 15 May. Nevertheless “it is a really unique experience.” She mentions “interesting conversations with people you normally do not have the chance to talk to,“ like church leaders from other continents whom she had welcomed at the registration.
“There are good and bad experiences. That is the learning process,“ Rakel Kavena Shalyefu from the Local Assembly Planning Commitee said. She had been of handing out printed materials at the morning worships, preparing the conference rooms for the plenary sessions and all the smaller meetings in village groups, workshops and discussions, and giving advice on when and how to travel back home.
That improvising is part of the job was the experience of Titus Aukongo. The co-volunteer from Namibia had some difficulties at the registration table. “Being there was really hard for me,“ the 28-year-old young man describes. “All of a sudden I could not think of the right word in English and I struggled expressing myself,“ the student of theology explained. “I just ended up saying “ja“, “yes“, “ag“ and so many funny words.“
26-year-old Stephen Barman from Bangladesh has “learned a lot about how to organize this kind of meeting.“ Ester Sakaria from Namibia “just wanted to experience how to communicate with all the people from different backgrounds and cultures.“ For the 27 year old, who studies counseling theology, it was the first time to attend an international event. “And it was a very good experience,“ she said.
At a final gathering, each of the stewards received a certificate. LWF youth secretary Caroline Bader hopes that the young people are taking home much more than a document. “I think you have a lot to bring back to your churches. It is an experience not many have back home,“ she said.
As part of what they had gained, she named “dealing with conflict situations and learning about intercultural experiences.“ These are steps to leadership, Bader emphasized. And between the young people new networks have been established. ”Stay connected also with us,“ she added.