Tennessee William’s song, “Sixteen Tons” talks about getting deeper in debt each day no matter how hard you work – (loading sixteen tons a day at the mine). Is it possible to get deeper in debt on a daily basis? Yes. Interest increases the amount owed and there are people who arrive at a point that there seems to be no way out. They lose a house and all that they put in it because they cannot make payments. Yet debt exists and is an increasing problem. Countries operate with deficit budgets; churches borrow for building projects. Church attenders pay more in interest than they give to the church as a tithe. Student loans are easily available and at registration several companies offer students a credit card.
I know people who have left their home and family to work in Canada for several months of the year because they have incurred debt they cannot pay. They are trapped and their sacrifice can results in loss of relationships and broken families. Proverbs 22: 7 says that borrowers become slaves to the lenders. Credit card companies hire people to try to recover what is owed to them. Most of us know someone who has no savings for emergencies or for replacement of a worn out vehicle or major appliance. Businesses promise no payment for two years. A refrain of the Williams song states, “St Peter, don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.”
I struggle with unanswered questions. Is our God not big enough to provide if we put him first? What should be the role of parents in teaching and setting examples for children? Should the church offer financial management courses?
Five of us sat in the apartment singing choruses in Spanish following the words on the television screen. Lloyd brought three migrant workers in for the study. Then after the choruses and worship, we turned to prayer and scripture and reflection on the scripture we read- Do Not Worry, part of Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. As each of us commented on a verse that touched him or her, it was interesting to see that all five of us chose a different verse. An interesting question developed with respect to people who seek or strive for things like food, drink, clothing etc. The Spanish language version states that the gentiles seek things and the English NIV version states that pagans seek these things. Those who are believers and know who God is know that God knows our needs.
We all agreed that worry and searching for things was a result of a lack of confidence in the breadth of God’s love and the wonder of his kingdom. One key verse states that if we seek the kingdom of God first, all the other things will be given to us as well.
Our time together ended with prayer bringing to God our concerns and needs – health issues, family concerns and difficulties at the work site. In an hour, we shared our needs prayed for each other and trusted in God that he would meet our needs as we sought him in prayer.
Often we ask questions about where something or someone is and sometimes the question has developed into a song or a game or a puzzle. For example, there is the song “Where, oh where has my little dog gone? Oh, where oh where can he be?” or a one-time popular computer program, “Where in the world is Carmen Santiago?” or a puzzle which asks “Where is Waldo?” Your recognition of any one of these questions probably says a lot about your age.
For the last couple of days I have been asking, “Where is Rosario? After her 2 month visit, it seems very unnatural not to see her in the kitchen making supper, going for yard sales on Saturday morning or seated in her chair at nine in the evening with her Bible for our family worship time.
Psalm 121 speaks about looking up to the mountains and asking, “Where does my help come from?” The psalmist replies, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” As Lloyd, Rosario and I discovered over and over in our study time, our help, our protection and our blessing comes from our heavenly father.
Where is Rosario? At home with her family in Durango, Mexico.
As the three of us, Lloyd and I and our guest, were leaving the apartment building with a couple of boxes and a pot, the ladies sitting by the door asked where we were going. Jokingly, I said we are a Mexican restaurant and we are making a delivery. One looked at us wondering if we would deliver to her apartment. Our Mexican guest had spent all day preparing the feast we carried to the car.
While we were not part of a restaurant, we were carrying Mexican food and delivering it to a farm where Mexican migrants worked. We arrived, wiped off the table and set a serviette and plastic fork at six places, three for the men and three for us. When they came in, they were delighted to see they were being treated specially and even more delighted when we served plates of tacos dorados, pasta and salad and a hot sauce. One comment was Mexico came to us tonight and that they had had a real Mexican meal in more than five months and another said this meal was for them a Thanksgiving meal.
Before we ate, we sang about God’s glory coming down on us and healing hurts and encouraging people and then prayed. After everyone had a second serving, we sang well known choruses and then ended the evening after prayer. There were a lot of laughs, great food and a time of sharing God’s love. The next day we did the same thing for the workers at another farm. We deliver –both food and an example of our faith.
Many people look forward to Thanksgiving thinking of turkey. But thanksgiving is not a one-day event or a special meal with all the trimmings. Thanksgiving should be as Psalm 100:4 states a process. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” Such thanksgiving is an ongoing event.
I’d like to highlight three things in the past several months for which I give thanks this year. I underwent knee replacement surgery in May after six weeks of exercise and preparation. My mind was at peace because I knew God had answered prayer concerning the pain I experienced and the surgery came at his timing and as his way of healing. I experienced peace because I had surrendered the operation to God and knew he was in control. Things went extremely well and recovery was rapid.
Recovery went so well that I was able to attend two weddings in July at some distance from home. In the first wedding, God’s presence was very real through all of the service and activity. The second was special in that I was able to visit family members that I had not seen in four or five years. Both wedding services were outside in locations which revealed God’s beautiful creation.
A delightful surprise was the visit of Rosario from Mexico. While Rosario and Lloyd and I planned to spend time in the Dominican Republic, two hurricanes caused our flights to be cancelled twice. God opened doors for ministry to Mexican migrant workers in several communities and we were able to pray with many workers for their families back home in Mexico who were impacted by the earthquakes in Mexico. A special blessing for the three of us (Rosario Lloyd and I) was our hour of praise choruses, scripture and prayer every evening.
The praise, thanks and glory belong to our God who made all of the blessings possible.
In one week, we have seen the temperature soar into the thirties and then drop to single digits. The winds have whipped the tree tops outside our apartment balcony. Rain has been sudden and then almost immediately followed by sunshine. Brightly coloured maple leaves are beginning to fall. The glory and majesty of God’s creation surrounds us. God’s word reminds us that all things were made by and through him.
In Niagara Falls, we sat during dinner looking out over the river at both the American and Canadian Falls. The majesty and beauty of creation are evident in what is referred to as one of the seven wonders of the world. The mist rises; crowds gather. Some visit the store at Table Rock and others walk along the gardens. Many wait for evening when the sky turns dark to see colours projected in the cascading water. The colours are a human effort to embellish the natural beauty but they would have no power to touch us if the falls did not exist. We are reminded that all things are created by God and nothing was created without him. Our ingenuity and our efforts to enhance the beauty are only possible because God has given us the capacity to be design the lighting system.
We drove by the tourist shops, had a lunch by lock 7 on the Welland Canal, saw the massive boats man has built passing through, shopped at an outlet mall and enjoyed it all. However the majesty of creation remains with us long after malls, or a good buffet. Praise God for showing himself through his creation.
Helping in Moments of Crisis
The last week, the third week of October, has been a week of disasters such as hurricanes in the Dominican Republic, earthquakes in Mexico and a crisis in one family life. In Canada, we hear stories and watch the news and are concerned but perhaps not touched personally. My husband and I have been impacted by these events and have made several pastoral visits to migrant workers from Mexico who are in our area of South Western Ontario. Prayer has been very much a part of this week.
Concerning the hurricanes in the Dominican, we have sent many message of encouragement and have just learned of damage to the bathroom and lighting in a small church in Damajagua where we helped build at covered worship area just 6 months ago. The evening of the earthquake we drove out to visit 4 groups of workers at their work sites to ask about their families and to pray for families in Mexico and for Mexico in general. One man’s family experienced loss of material things but his family is safe. Three days late we were able to talk with others whose families had lost things or had property damaged. Prayer and words of scripture reminded who to turn to for comfort.
One evening as we enjoyed coffee, we got a phone call from a worker’s wife to ask us to help contact her husband and let him of a crisis concerning his father’s help. More phone calls led to a visit and then another visit the next day to encourage and to learn that the medical crisis was now under control.
We were following instructions from I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.”