We have several new members to our congregation this holiday season: 

1. Mabel Neitzke is a recent transfer to Immanuel from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Waukesha. Mabel married Immanuel member Norbert Neitzke in May 2007. Mabel says she clicks with Pastor Schneider especially, and likes the style of Immanuel’s services.

Mabel and Norbert live in New Berlin, but are spending the winter in their mobile home in Mesa, AZ, so you may have to wait until spring to welcome this new member to our congregation! While in Arizona, Mabel enjoys playing cards with friends and reading.

Mabel says she prefers a white Christmas, but wouldn’t trade her time in Arizona for a few days of snow (especially considering the shoveling that comes with them). Years ago, Mabel says, her holiday tradition was putting on a Christmas brunch for her family. This would be quite a task today, as she has seven grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren! These days, she’s still busy in the kitchen: baking 25 varieties of Christmas cookies to share with her fellow card players.  Please make this snowbird feel welcome at Immanuel! 

2. Jeri Koenigs was born and raised at Immanuel, back when the church building was still at its original Butler location. She moved to Chandler, AZ with her husband Dick about twenty years ago when they retired. Now the couple has returned to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin for good, and Jeri has transferred to Immanuel from Trinity Lutheran in Arizona. Jeri is the sister of Lois Schlei, and says she’s looking forward to attending church with her family again.

Like many of her family members (some of whom participate in the Family Singers at Immanuel), Jeri is musically inclined, and with Christmas just around the corner, she is excited to attend Christmas concerts and choir performances. One aspect of Wisconsin life Jeri is not so eagerly anticipating is the arrival of the cold and ice that accompany winter here, though she does enjoy the snow.  Let’s hope this winter is a mild one to ease her transition! Please welcome this returning member of our congregation!

3. Rev. Robert Gebel, wife Sue, and daughter Louise are transfers to Immanuel from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Iowa City, IA.  For the family, moving to Wisconsin was a bit of a homecoming: Robert grew up in Milwaukee, where he attended Milwaukee Lutheran High School. Sue was raised in Colby, Wis.

Now, upon their return to the area, Robert has begun teaching classes for Concordia University – Wisconsin. Sue is working as a Development Specialist at Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots U.S. Louise is currently a senior at Marquette University.

The Gebels are pleased to be closer to their parents, and ask for the congregation’s prayers as they seek wisdom and discernment in caring for them. They are also near to their eldest daughter, Maria, who is married to Jon Traska, Director of Youth Ministry at Brookfield Lutheran. The Traskas live in New Berlin, and welcomed daughter Tessa on September 14th, the first grandchild for the Gebels. Robert and Sue also have another reason to celebrate – as of Nov. 18th, the couple has been married 30 years.

The Gebels have been attending Immanuel since January, and Robert says they were particularly drawn to the ChristCare program, the choirs, and the diversity of ages within the congregation. One highlight for Sue was attending the Juarez Mexico Mission trip this past summer. The Gebels also had a familiar face to welcome them to Immanuel: Pastor Ben Squires and his wife Susan. The Gebels’ and the Squires’ paths crossed when they resided in St. Louis. At the time, Robert was serving in his first call and doing graduate work, and Ben was attending seminary. Sue and Susan worked together at Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Like Pastor Ben, Robert is musically inclined: he plays the keyboard and has written one hymn. Entitled, “The Song of Your Redeemed,” Robert composed the piece upon the occasion of Our Redeemer’s anniversary. He also heard it performed at a pastor’s conference.

With Christmas approaching, the Gebels are seeking out choir concerts in the area. Sue’s favorite Christmas hymn is “Once in Royal David’s City.” Robert looks forward to hearing the new hymns and interpretations choirs come up with.

Sue’s passion is cooking and baking, and Christmas gives her ample opportunity to try her skill at new recipes as well as traditional German cookies her mother made. Robert especially enjoys her spritz cookies and coffee cakes.

“Get her and an oven together and wonderful things happen,” he says fondly.

Asked whether he prefers a white to a green Christmas, Robert says certainly. “The colder the better,” he says. “I’m a 20-below person, not 100-above.”

Please welcome these native Wisconsinites at the 9:30 service time.

4. Joanne Wamback and her children Sarah and Ben Latendresse are new transfers to Immanuel from St. Peter Immanuel. Joanne says they love the pastors and the friendly church atmosphere. Sarah and Ben’s dad, Ed Latendresse, is also an Immanuel member.

Joanne works in the hot lunch program at St. Peter Immanuel. Sarah, 15, attends Milwaukee Lutheran High School. Her older brother Ben, 18, is a freshman at UW-Milwaukee.

The family enjoys traveling and camping – they recently toured the East Coast, where they visited the museums, monuments, and memorials of Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va.

Joanne and her kids are currently planning a trip out West to see Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

At home in Milwaukee, Joanne enjoys gardening and reading. The family also likes to go biking.

During the holidays, Joanne has fun getting together and spending time with family over Christmas dinners. She also prefers a White Christmas to a green one.

“White is ok for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. It can stop at that point – I’m not a fan of cold, freezing temperatures,” Joanne says.

Please say hello to Joanne, Ben, and Sarah at the 9:30 service!

5. Raymond (Ray) and Melanie (Mel) Jesko and their children, Reis, 7, and Konnor, 4, recently transferred to Immanuel from Our Redeemer. Konnor also attends 4-K at Immanuel. They learned about Immanuel from Edward and Val Wozniak, who attend our church.

Ray works for Cox Plumbing in Waukesha, and has been a plumber for 13 years now. Mel works for Assurant Health. The Jeskos live in Menomonee Falls, where Reis plays Little League in the summer. Konnor is currently passionate about Batman and Spiderman. Both boys are looking forward to cookies and candies come Christmastime.

Give a friendly smile to this new family at the 9:30 service!

6. Bruce and Teresa (Terri) Nolte and their children Kyle, 15, and Evan, 8, are new transfers to Immanuel from Covenant Lutheran in Milwaukee.  Kyle is a freshman at Monroe Virtual School. Evan is in third grade at Immanuel Lutheran School.

The family also includes older sons Sean, 20, and Alex, 18. Sean and his wife Trish have a 1-year-old boy, Kieran, making Bruce and Terri youthful grandparents! Bruce and Terri ask the congregation to keep Sean in their prayers as he serves in the U.S. Air Force. He is currently stationed in Idaho.

The family found Immanuel this past summer through attending a Day School Open House, after which time they decided to enroll Evan at Immanuel and to transfer their church membership to Immanuel as well.  Bruce and Terri have been attending an Opening Doors Bible study this fall. Evan enjoys going to Kingdom Quest, and Kyle assists with the fifth-grade Kingdom Quest classes.

The family enjoys many hobbies, both indoors and outdoors. Bruce and Terri bowl in a league and take the kids bowling for fun as well. Every summer the Noltes go up north to Minong, Wis. for two weeks and spend time hanging out camping and fishing at a resort with their extended families. The Noltes also enjoy playing with their dog Kaya, a husky/yellow lab-mix.

At Christmastime, the family has fun making peanut brittle and eating pecan fingers. They also relish Christmas music: Terri’s favorite holiday hymn is “Away in a Manger,” Bruce’s is “Silent Night,” Kyle’s is “Joy to the World,” and Evan says he likes them all! Above all, the Nolte’s favorite holiday pastime is spending time with their extended family and each other.

Say hello to this friendly family at the 8:00 and 9:30 services!

7. LaDonna (Donna) Odrzywolski, of Wauwatosa, is joining our congregation this winter. Her husband, Jason, is already an Immanuel member. The couple was married in May, and is currently working to blend their families. They have five children between them: Madeline (Maddy), 6; Timothy (Timmy), 5; Sam, 8; Jacob, 8; and Danny, 5.

The Odrzywolski family loves the outdoors, especially fishing and hiking.

Christmastime offers lots of opportunities for family bonding: Donna says she’s looking forward to making Christmas cookies with the family; the kids especially enjoy decorating the sugar cookies. She also makes it a tradition to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on her birthday, December 13th. Other holiday pastimes include decorating the Christmas tree and making hot cocoa after the kids finish playing in the snow. Donna says she’s in charge of making sure the cocoa is the right temperature.

Donna is originally from Arkansas, and she specializes in Southern cooking. She is particularly known for making delicious soups, fried chicken, and fried steak. Donna also loves reading and counts Max Lucado as one of her favorite authors. She recently finished his book, The Cure for the Common Life. Donna is a lawyer and currently works as an independent public defender.

At Immanuel, Donna says she’s anticipating learning more about our ministries from the PLACE class. She wants the congregation to know that she’s initially very shy, but if people introduce themselves, she is very approachable and warms up quickly to conversation. Donna requests congregational prayer for her family to grow together. She also desires prayers for the safety of her brother, Joseph Thompson, who is in the U.S. Army Infantry and is about to go to Iraq for his third tour of duty there.

Say hello to this friendly new member at the 9:30 service time!

8. Michael, Jennifer, and Taylor McKibbins, of Milwaukee, learned about Immanuel from their neighbors, Fred and Fritzy Eggold. They visited and felt very welcomed by our friendly congregation. Taylor, 5, now attends kindergarten at our Day School and Kingdom Quest on Sundays.

Jennifer works as a lab technician inspector, while Mike is a machinist.

In his free time, Mike bowls in a league. He also loves to take Taylor fishing. Jennifer bonds with Taylor while baking cookies together, particularly Taylor’s favorite: chocolate chip. Taylor is also enjoying an introductory dance class this fall.

This Christmas, Jennifer says she is looking forward to “getting together with family and reconnecting and seeing people you don’t get to see as often as you’d like.”

Connect with this new family at the 9:30 service!

9. Kevin Stier is linked to a familiar face at Immanuel – his fiancé is Immanuel member Laura Moser. The couple plans to marry Oct. 24, 2009 at Immanuel.

Kevin has worked for Chuck E. Cheese for about 12 years now, keeping games, shows, kitchen equipment, and the computer system in good repair.

In his spare time, Kevin plays golf, goes fishing, and does landscaping and gardening around his West Allis house (and for his mother and future mother-in-law as well!).

Kevin is dreaming of a white Christmas this year (and hoping to hear Bing Crosby’s classic song of the same title), though he’d prefer we get a bit less snow than last year. He’s also excited to have time to hang out with family.

Greet this friendly new member at the 10:45 service!

10. Marielle Klagmann is a new arrival to our congregation and our country, as well. Originally from Sweden, Marielle came to the United States in August 2002 to work as an au pair for a family in Whitefish Bay. During her year here, she got to know Ryan Klagmann, and the two maintained a long-distance relationship for several years.

Although Ryan and Marielle married in Sweden on January 26, 2007, Marielle was not able to come to the United States permanently until this year. She officially moved to Wisconsin on July 11th. The couple is planning a June 2009 renewal of vows ceremony at Immanuel with a reception afterwards.

Having joined the Klagmann family, Marielle has plenty of friendly relatives to show her around Immanuel! She’s also taking the PLACE Workshop to learn more about our ministries. She requests prayer for her brother-in-law, Collin Klagmann, as he grieves the loss of his young wife, Kelly.

Marielle finds herself busy with wedding planning. She is also planning to pursue an occupation in business administration (she earned a bachelors degree in Sweden). Marielle also likes to make scrapbooks of digital photos to give as gifts, and says she finds the process “addictive and fun.” She also loves watching movies.

At Christmastime, Marielle enjoys spending time with family, exchanging gifts and eating together. She says she’ll miss being away from her family in Sweden this year, but looks forward to having them come for the wedding in June.

Please make this young lady feel at home in our congregation!

11. Dale and Phyllis Wood were once members at Immanuel, and are now transferring back to our congregation from Our Redeemer. The Woods, of Milwaukee, are both retired, though Dale does part-time accounting work for a Methodist church. Dale and Phyllis enjoy taking long walks together – they walk the 2-mile loop around their condominium complex daily.

This holiday season, Phyllis and Dale are looking forward to relaxing with their six kids and ten grandchildren and hearing their favorite Christmastime hymn, “O Holy Night.”

Please give this couple a warm welcome back to our church!

12. Lynne Gevaart and Steve Milbrath, who are getting married at Immanuel on Oct. 17, 2009, are both transfers to our congregation. Lynne is joining us from Grace Lutheran in Menomonee Falls, and Steve comes to us from Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. Lynne says they are excited to have found a church to worship together as a couple.

Steve and Lynne request prayer as they prepare for their wedding, and also for them to have strength as they support other family members.

Lynne is an assistant branch manager at North Shore Bank in Brookfield. Steve is a quotes specialist at GE Health Care.

For recreation, the couple enjoys going up north to ride ATVs. Steve loves to play basketball. Lynne is musically inclined and plans to get involved singing in one of Immanuel’s choirs.

At Christmastime, Lynne says she especially looks forward to her Grandma’s assortment of delicious cookies. She and Steve also have fun singing along to Josh Groban’s version of “O Holy Night.”

Please welcome this young couple to our congregation with open arms!