“My family gathered together every other weekend to sort and pack medical supplies to send to Phebe Hospital in Liberia where my aunt, Carolyn Miller, had been a midwife missionary with the Lutheran church for 25 years.”
In 2012, Dione was one of 16 students awarded full-tuition scholarships from the ELCA Fund for Leaders, an ELCA initiative that seeks to provide tuition assistance for qualified candidates studying at ELCA seminaries. Dione says her aunt Carolyn was an inspiration to attend seminary.
“I can honestly say that Carolyn has probably had the single greatest influence on my sense of call and connection to the church. By simply listening to her stories and observing her passion for service, I gained an appreciation for all that the church is doing in the world,” Dione shares.
Carolyn served as a missionary in Liberia from 1966-1990 at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. She went to Liberia to teach nursing but also started two midwifery schools while there. She met many people and created life-long relationships for her entire family, and in the summer of 2008, Dione traveled to Liberia with her aunt to meet the people and see the places where she served.
“I enjoyed my time there so much that after I returned home, I instantly knew that I wanted to return there to work myself,” Dione says.
She returned to Liberia in the summer of 2011 as an intern. During her time there she met people and learned about their history, especially during the Liberian Civil War. The relationships she formed inspired her senior paper for Luther College.
“Hearing and documenting these stories of faith and hope in the midst of absolute peril helped to solidify my faith,” Dione says.
Though she’s not sure how much she’ll be involved in global mission after graduation, Dione does know that many of the lessons she has learned have come from her experiences overseas.
“If it were not for my exposure to the global church through ELCA global mission events, my aunt’s personal stories, and my first hand exposure to cultural diversity in Liberia, I would not be the person I am today. Though I don’t know if I am called to do full-time global mission (work), I know that the global church will always be a crucial anchor point for my ministry and my life.”
Megan Nuehring is a student at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, majoring in public relations and religion with a minor in leadership.