Mary Lillian Schultz, Missionary
Mary is the wife of Missionary, Dr. Terry L. Schultz. She has a business degree in fashion merchandising from the Minnesota School of Business (a program through the University of Minnesota), with an emphasis on human relations and the arts. She also completed a sales and travel agent certificate program through Travel Leaders Network in the Twin Cities and completed courses in jewelry design and sales through Finlay Inc.
In the church where she grew up, she worked for five summers as a counselor for a summer day camp program and led a girls’ group for four years. After marrying Terry, she taught Sunday school and VBS and created and co-lead a youth program called Terrific Tuesdays, with a focus on outreach, for Mt. Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church in Saint Paul, MN.
In 1995 Mary moved with Terry to Lima, Peru, where she studied Spanish, counseling, art, coaching, and teaching EFL, among other things. Her ministries varied through their 15 years in Peru. She created 15 art projects to go along with Bible stories for VBS each year, taught VBS teacher training for 50 plus Peruvian teachers yearly, and taught art therapy for two years at a residential drug rehab center for men. She also worked with a women's group in the ANCASH region of Peru. Mary was asked to start beginner EFL classes at the seminary in Lima for the incoming students, and led an advanced conversation class on Sunday afternoons for anyone connected to the Mission.
Mary was the Short-Term Volunteer Coordinator for the Peruvian mission. This included organizing all the details of the trip and working with individuals/ teams once they were on the Peru mission field. Throughout their 15 years in Peru, Mary traveled the country, getting to know the different cultures and customs in each province, most times driving herself and a car full of friends. She took many trips on horseback to remote Andean villages two days out from public transportation in the Peruvian Andes. She also accompanied her husband on 12 jungle trips deep to the Amazon.
One of her central ministries in her last years in Lima was a ministry with foreign women in Peruvian prisons. Over 99 percent of the ladies she ministered to in the prisons were caught at the Lima airport with cocaine. Her work involved leading an international group of ladies in Bible studies, counseling, organizing parent visits, writing and responding to emails, shopping, and developing partnerships with foreign embassies. She entered the prison three times a week and mentored the ladies who were on parole.
Another role Mary had in Lima, Peru, was being a part of the General Federation of Women in Lima (GFW). The General Federation of Women's Club was founded in 1890, and its headquarters are in Washington DC. It is an organization whose members are dedicated to community improvement through volunteer service. Their objective is to unite women's clubs and like organizations throughout the world for mutual benefit and the promotion of their shared interest in education, moral values, civics, and fine arts. Mary held various positions from 2001 to 2009, such as year book contributor, program liaison on the advisory committee and the executive board, member-at-large, vice president, and, in 2007 and 2008, president of the Club for a two-year limited term. The Lima membership is around 200, and the majority of the group members are North American.
In 2011, Mary and Terry moved to the Dominican Republic, where Terry was quickly assigned to work in Haiti due to the 2010 earthquake. Once arriving in the DR, Mary took on the role of Terry's administrative assistant, in charge of accounting, travel arrangements, PowerPoints, and other duties. She also started going on medical mission trips to Haiti, assisting our mission nurse and seeing between 200 and 700 children per trip. Those trips continued with two trips a year until 2018, when the risk management group of the mission no longer approved visiting due to the danger levels for foreigners.
Since moving to Chicago in 2016, Mary has worked in various ministries at their church, including designing a children's art project weekly for a kids’ club, leading a team of 14 church members in a refugee ministry for two years, leading a women's fellowship group and a ladies Bible study, and being the Sunday school teacher sub in a team of three. She also is active with her local LWMS (Lutheran Women's Missionary Society) and recently has had speaking engagements for women's groups, doing presentations on foreign missions from a woman's perspective.
Currently, Mary is pursuing a lifelong dream to go to photography school and continues to assist Terry. She is also a board member of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti.
Kathleen Menke, CPA, Treasurer
Kathleen has been a member of our board since 2015. It was truly God's hand in how she became a part of the organization. She has loved every minute of it - from helping to start and grow the organization to her first trip to Haiti in December 2017 to even filing our tax returns. She attended the University of St. Thomas, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting. She works at Ernst & Young LLP in Minneapolis as a senior manager in the Assurance practice. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Minnesota and a member of the AICPA and the MN Society of CPAs. In her free time, she likes to garden and run and is currently training for the Twin Cities marathon in October.
Pamela Folkens, Volunteer
Pam is married to Darryl, Secretary to Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, and they have 2 adult children and 5 grandchildren. She worked at the University of Minnesota for almost 30 years and is currently retired. She enjoys spending time at the lake, sewing and crafts of many types.
Pam has been involved in several organizations at church including altar guild, Sunday school teacher, Lutheran Girl Pioneer leader, and has assisted with many fundraising events for church and BLSH. She also volunteers at Christian Life Ministries New Day Thrift Store. She has had the blessed opportunity to travel to Haiti 5 times aiding in the delivery of school supplies, clothing, and Christmas gifts to the students, staff and directors. Pam and Darryl have also had the privilege to travel to Peru, Dominican Republic, Mexico-Costa Maya Mission, Greece and Turks & Caicos.
Lee Petersen, Chairman of the Branch Schools Board of Directors.
Lee is a member of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Saint Paul, MN, where he recently finished a five-year term as congregational president. He is married to Linda (Special Projects Coordinator for Branch Schools), has two grown children and two grandchildren. Professionally, Lee is a Principal Engineer at Itasca Consulting, has a Ph.D. in geoengineering, is a registered professional engineer in five states, and has 40-years experience in the design and construction of civil and mining projects.
Lee Petersen, June 2019
The end of the spring term for Branch Schools is in mid-June. What tremendous blessings God has showered on Branch Schools this school year! Enrollment at the three schools was 654 children - about 100 orphans and more than 500 children from the surrounding neighborhoods. Despite an October earthquake and ongoing unrest that caused the schools to close on occasion and drove up food and fuel costs, the schools flourished. God willing, the 2019-2020 school year will be even more successful.
The directors and teachers celebrated the end of the term with a closing worship service led by Pastor Rona. He traveled from his home near Cap-Haitien in northern Haiti to near Port-au-Prince, to the orphanage and school run by Yvette. In the first photo, Pastor Rona is leading the service. The second photograph shows the teachers after the service.
Thank you, friends, for your faithful love, concern, and support for these children. Please join us to pray:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank you for your blessings on Branch Schools for the 2018-2019 school year in which Pastor Rona, the superintendent, directors and teachers shared the Gospel message of salvation earned by your son Jesus. We humbly ask for your continued blessing on the schools. Keep all safe over the summer and bring them once again to the schools for the fall term.
In Jesus precious name we pray,
For several months, we’ve been forced to cancel plans to visit our friends in Haiti due to a Level 4 Travel Advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State. This is painful. We have gifts for the children and our medical team worries about the disruption of regular visits. But we also have reason to be deeply grateful - vital systems are in place to continue the flow of love and support to Haiti. As we wait, here are five things friends of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti can do when travel to Haiti isn’t possible.
1. Remember the school children, staff, and Pastor Rona in our daily prayers. When a crisis, whether political unrest or natural disaster, temporarily closes the door for travel to Haiti, we know the people of Haiti are suffering pain and massive disruption in their daily lives. Pray that God eases their burdens and comforts them.
2. Thank God for the systems in place in Haiti. When we can’t physically travel to Haiti, we know trusted people are in place and working hard for the physical and spiritual benefit of the children – a national pastor, confirmed orphanage directors, and a school superintendent. This allows us to continue operation of the schools during tough times as much as possible.
3. Check in online. We’re blessed to be able to communicate online so we can keep posted on the current events, learn of emerging needs, and provide encouragement.
4. Send financial support. We have secure and reliable systems in place to send our regular financial support and additional aid as needed. This aid becomes even more essential during a crisis when prices escalate and supplies run low. In the current crisis, the prices of food, charcoal for cooking, and other essentials have doubled. God led many friends to help and we’ve increased our support and, despite the political unrest, successfully transferred the necessary funds.
5. Wait patiently in the Lord. Haiti is a challenging place to live and work, but God has not forgotten his children there and we won’t either. We remain patient, persistent, and hopeful. The schools are equipping more than 650 children with gospel and education that will sustain them their entire lives and help them make a positive impact on their community in the future.
We’re monitoring the situation closely and we’re confident the travel ban will pass. For now, we trust God, we’re grateful to have systems in place in Haiti, and we look forward to seeing the children and our friends face-to-face as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We’re so grateful for friends like you who are holding the children close in prayer during this time of hardship. The outpouring of concern during this crisis is truly humbling. We’re receiving messages of encouragement from across the country. More than $8,000 has been donated for food needs in Haiti so far.
Last week, we immediately sent money through secure means to the Branch Schools directors and we confirmed with them that the money was received and used to purchase food and cooking supplies. We are thankful for safe and modern means of transferring money across the world. We will continue to send your generous contributions to Haiti throughout the coming weeks and months as we do not foresee a decrease in food prices in the near term. Many news outlets are reporting Haiti is close to a humanitarian crisis.
Two of the schools opened today after being closed for over a week. One of the school directors reported : "Two of our schools operate timidly. The school of Carrefour does not work the tensions are high in its localities. Hello and good day."
However, the situation remains perilous. The government opposition has established a 72-hour deadline for the government to resign or riots, unrest, and violence will resume.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9
We thank God for all of you. Keep the people of Haiti in your prayers and we will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks.
Lee Petersen, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Dear Friends of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti,
The political unrest in Haiti, which has been ongoing for months, has intensified in recent days. The unrest is driven by "a worsening economic crisis that has led to a drop in living standards, inflation at around 15 per cent, a growing national deficit, and allegations of corruption leveled at President Jovenel Moise, before he took office." according to the UN News. (https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1032441).
The US State Department has issued a security alert as well: "The security situation remains very unstable with demonstrations very likely. The potential for violent pop-up demonstrations is high and they are proving to be sporadic and unpredictable. Public transportation is shut down again today. Many roads have debris, so caution is needed to prevent damage your vehicles. Rock throwing from small groups is likely in numerous areas."
Branch Schools is not immune during these challenging times. Pastor Terry Schultz, WELS missionary to Haiti, summarizes reports from the school directors: "The continued turmoil in Haiti has led to many businesses and markets closing for days on end. Our schools may be closed for the entire week. Meanwhile, prices on basic food supplies have skyrocketed between 30% to 100%. Huge increases are also reported in drinking water, charcoal, and cooking oil. At least one of the 3 orphanages (Boursiquot’s) is down to one meal and one snack per day."
The orphanage directors report: "We rise under a black sky, without hope in a completely blocked country. On the 7th day of the political problems, the hunger only gnaws at our children, the prices of the basic products multiply by 2, sometimes to the highest bidder, the water of drinks increases to approximately 30 to 40%, the vehicles cannot transport anything..."
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We humbly request your prayers for the violence to end, the economic crisis to lessen, and protection for the children, teachers, school directors.
Branch Schools is using the remainder of our funds donated and designated for emergencies ($400) to supplement our monthly food assistance. However, more funds are needed to offset the increases in food cost. If you wish to donate, please follow this link to our donation page on our website and if you choose to donate by using either WePay or PayPal, please designate your donation to our food fund. Any check donations can be sent to Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, c/o Kathleen Menke, 1627 Dunlap St. N, St. Paul, MN 55108. Please write food donation or your check. All amounts donated to our food fund will be used for food, fuel, and water. Thank you in advance for your prayers and donations.
Lee Petersen, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Update from Lee Petersen
A few weeks ago, I reported that new classrooms were under construction at the orphanage and Branch Lutheran School location under the leadership of Luxon Boursiquot. The facility is located in Carrefour, Haiti, about 6 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. Boursiquot’s enrollment increased from 96 last school year to 130 this school year.
One of Boursiquot’s existing classrooms was without windows, without electric lights and natural light was limited to a few inches over the top of a wall. This classroom had no air flow and was not conducive to learning. Boursiquot’s new classroom is being built along the side of the existing building.
Above, at left is the new classroom in use. The construction was finished in time for the spring term. In comparison to the old classroom, the new classroom is open, airy, and well lighted. In the background, younger students are having a lesson.
We thank God for the growth of this ministry, and for the faithful donors who support the directors, superintendent, and teachers and provide water, food, and materials for this new construction.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Classroom Construction at Boursiquot's School in Carrefour