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South Dakota — where everybody knows your name

The Big Sioux River roars over the falls that give Sioux Falls, S.D., its name. Heavier-than-average rains have resulted in flood warnings along the river’s banks this summer. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Blogging live from Sioux Falls, S.D.
Usually, I get funny looks from church members when they try to pronounce my last name.
Not so in the Queen City, as some of the locals call it. (I learned that during a laser show at Falls Park last night.) I’m in town for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. It’s my first trip to my father’s home state since covering the Northern Hills Church of Christ in Spearfish (about eight hours west of here) for The Christian Chronicle’s Churches That Work series.

Members of the East 41st Street Church of Christ visit between Bible class and Sunday worship. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

On Sunday I made sure to stop by the 41st Street Church of Christ, just a few miles away from the Free Lutheran church grandma attends.
Few people had trouble with my lengthy moniker. I even heard the more-accurately-Norwegian pronunciation “Trig-sted” instead of the three syllable “Trig-is-tad” that I use. Instead of getting the usual question, “What nationality is that?” one church member asked me if i was from Brookings, a town about an hour north of Sioux Falls. I probably have extended family up there.
Despite being more than 600 miles north of Oklahoma City, I felt at home immediately. Both of the church’s elders, Dave Cutshall and Austin Vanderzee, introduced themselves. I found out that Vanderzee’s son is a student at Oklahoma Christian University. I also met a young couple that will be married at the church’s building this weekend. They met at OC. I even got a shout out for one of the Chronicle’s regular advertisers — churchofchristsingles.com.

James Telgren outside the building of the 41st Street Church of Christ in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Today I had coffee with James Telgren, who began ministering for the church in January. He grew up in the Omaha, Neb., area but has lived all over the country — and beyond. His parents met in Korea and were converted by a Church of Christ missionary there. He’s a ministry grad from Harding University in Arkansas. We talked about the challenges of (and opportunities for) evangelism in South Dakota. He’s got big dreams for the church in South Dakota and I’m really glad I got to spend some time with him.
Tomorrow I head back to the Sooner state, though I’m not looking forward to constant road construction along Interstate 29. I shared this frustration with James — and he shared a truism he heard from a fellow church member.
“We have four seasons here,” he said. “Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Road Work.”
I made sure to share that joke with grandma.

  • Feedback
    Erik, if you get in the neighborhood of St. Joseph Missouri we would love to put you up. Always enjoy a visit with you! Keith and Jennie Percell
    jennifer percell
    July, 2 2010

    We were blessed enough to worship and fellowship with this amazing group of Christians for a year, and we absolutely love these folks. Austin and Dave welcomed us in the same way they welcomed you, they always are so great about making you feel welcome. James and his wife are a great couple, and I know they are doing a wonderful job serving along side this body. Our lives are richer because of the time we spent with the 41st street church!
    July, 2 2010

    Bro Erik July 3
    Indeed you should have made the trek to Brookings. I recall when I came to work with the church in Brookings eight years ago, that the local Ace hardware store had a shelf for only Norwegian memorabilia and the local hyvee has several brands of leftse. And you could have enjoyed the afternoon call-in radio program where Grant Petersen suddenly breaks out in Norwegian with a friend from the area. The Norwegian community is proud of its heritage and even after 125 years holds on to it. And Torsk and lutefisk dinners at Christmas still sport 100s of attendees. Brookings is very Norwegian, German and Lutheran and Catholic.
    And from Brookings you would have been only 35 miles from DeSmet, the home of Laura Ingrams Wilder (Little House on the Prairie). Your kids would have loved hearing about that. You can come back next month when they will have several hometown bred evening plays about her life.
    I met Jim Telgren when he was a teen in Plattsmouth, Nebraska and his father Dave was one of the leading brethren along with __Smith, who literally built their building. I was traveling through presenting a report on the Russia work in Usinsk and Pechorah, Russia. I lived in Plattsmouth for four years in the late 70s, when we grew from 45 to about 90 in attendance plus those on the four buses we had during in its golden years.
    Back to Brookings. We have fluctuated from rom 24 to 45 in the last eight years and currently have 33 including the church mouse. Most of the fluctuation has been from moves in and out, with four falling away through those years. One year we had six baptism, that was 25% growth in that year. As a result we are now reaching into Hendricks, MN in stirring interest in the gospel. We hope fruit will be borne in this Lutheran town.
    One of the challenges for the Brookings Church is that most of the falies live from 20-35 miles from Brookings and as far as 65 miles from each other. With that in view we have a global view of our world. We pass out House to House at the nine annual parades in the area. It is my practice to study with new Christians individually for at least an hour a week for a year. If they want more, they have my time. One new brother, Tim, and I have studied two hours a week for three years. He is also going through the Bible for the third time, this time he is writing it as he reads through it. He is literally like a walking Bible.
    The national congregational average is about 125. For SD, it is more like 30 or less. The real hurdle is getting preachers to come to the northern plains and getting congregations to support the preachers. In “East River” we have 10 congregations, four of which desperately need preachers to work with the church and evangelize locally. We plead for your prayers and promotion.
    You recall when I was expelled from Russia in 2001, that we had a commentary publishing ministry. Thankfully, the Russian government did not interfere with that work. We have finished the commentaries on the NT, plus some apologetics and biblical language helps and are now working on the OT, having finshed a commentary on Genesis and Exodus. Currently Humphries commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations is at press. We are thankful to Sam Hester and Jack Lewis who have permitted us to do Lewis’ four books on the prophets, currently in translation. This is the only ministry to print commentaries to be given to the Russian reading church. Please pray for this effort.
    The next time you come to SD, we welcome you to Brookings
    Keep the faith
    SJN in Brookings
    Jim Mettenbrink
    July, 3 2010

    churchofchristsingles Keep up the good work!!
    Thanks for visiting with us Erik!
    What a blessing to have brothers and sisters, the family of God where ever we may travel!!
    July, 3 2010

    What a kind article Erik. I hope you continue to be greeted in love wherever the church’s door swings open and may your ministry on print continue in the kind of encouraging fashion we witnessed and experienced while you were in our congregation. Send more laborers our way here in the northern country. The fields are ripe unto harvest. God bless you always and remember to look up my son Brett when you get back to the campus of OC. Just ask for the guitar player who loves to make people laugh and pray a lot! Love ya, Austin.
    July, 3 2010

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. And thank you (or should I say “spasiba”), Jim, for the update on the work in Brookings. I’m sorry I didn’t get up there on this visit. However, I did pick up a T-shirt for SDSU while I was there. Go Jacks! (That’s my wife’s maiden name. The shirt is a gift for my father-in-law.) Of course, my dad and his two brothers went to Augustana College, so they didn’t approve of the purchase.
    Erik Tryggestad
    July, 4 2010

    I did not get a chance to meet you Erik. I hope that you will be back in Sioux Falls in the future. We do have an amazing church family at 41st Church of Christ. God has truly blessed us.
    Cheryl Ingalls
    July, 7 2010

Filed under: News Extras Travel Reports

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