Every little bit helps...

Friday, July 20, 2007

For the last 2 1/2 years, Rosie Osterberg has been saving her change, donating it toward missionary work in the east-African country of Tanzania.

Rosamae "Rosie" Osterberg is saving her change.

While one goal is to make the lives of a few orphans a bit better, another intention is to experience their betterments firsthand in the east African country of Tanzania.

The Spencer woman spent approximately 18 months enrolled as a student at Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in San Antonio before receiving a "call" from God.

He wanted her to give another vocation a try. Osterberg answered by hopping onto a train to Waxahachie, Texas and registering as a Southwestern Assemblies of God Bible College student in 1961.

Four years later, with a brand-new bachelor's degree in Missions and Bible in hand, Osterberg's purpose was to enter the mission field.

That, however, "kind of went sideways" when she returned to Spencer, pursued and achieved another collegiate degree in elementary education, taught, married and reared children.

While Osterberg most recently volunteered in the local school system for 22 years, she also kept her ministry credentials active and served as an interim pastor at a Spencer church located in a home on West Fifth Street in the 1960s.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, Osterberg's spiritual journey took another fork in the road in November 2004 when Dr. Steve Meyer, an orthopedic surgeon based in Dakota Dunes, S.D., replaced her first knee.

But it wasn't until a February 2005 follow-up visit with Meyer that Osterberg received another summon as the surgeon, who also serves as the president of Siouxland Tanzania Education Medical Ministries (STEMM), shared with her about a recent trip he'd made to Africa.

"That's really when I started to get involved with it and began to pray for STEMM ministries," Osterberg recalled.

She also began saving her change at that time.

"Any change that I get in my pockets goes into that jar," Osterberg confided.

While the Spencer woman has "deposited" her change with Meyer over the past 2 1/2 years, her last monetary installment earmarked for STEMM was mailed late last week. It was accompanied by a note addressed to the doctor, whose family has also befriended Osterberg.

"I'm going to send a little more with it this time because I just feel I'm supposed to do that. I feel God wants me to do that," Osterberg said as she prepared the package meant for Meyer and his interdenominational mission group. "It'll probably be a little sacrifice, but that's OK. He told me the last time what he did was buy rice with (the change I gave him)."

The timing of Osterberg's donation coincides with a 2 1/2-week trip to Tanzania planned by Meyer and 20 STEMM volunteers to commence on July 18. It'll also target the mission group's plans to expand its focus from providing medical care and scholarships to building and operating an orphanage.

The proposed 20-home orphanage housing 200 orphans is slated to eventually be located on a 100-acre tract of land 45 minutes from the city of Arusha.

The estimated price tag for this, including purchasing the land, constructing the buildings and establishing an endowment fund to make the orphanage self-sustaining, is $1.1 million.

Approximately $300,000 had been raised as of the end of June.

Osterberg, meanwhile, finds herself currently searching for a way to raise the money needed for her to serve as a STEMM volunteer on another upcoming trip abroad.

"I don't know if my heart or my 66-year-old body will let me do this, but my dream is to some day go with Dr. Meyer and his team when they go for two weeks to Tanzania," Osterberg said with tears brimming in her eyes.

Besides her new knees, the Spencer woman is blind and has had five stents inserted, the most recent after a heart attack suffered on Fathers Day.

"I can rock, feed and change babies, and that is what I would want to do at the orphanage. I can sing to them and rock and love them," Osterberg said. "I know God will show me what I need to do to raise the support money - if I can get an OK to go with at some point in time.

"I guess if I can not go, then my prayers have to go. That then is going to have to be my ministry at this point, intercessory prayer."

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