Collected short stories, reflections and devotions written by Barbara Peterson are bound together in a newly published book, The Pensive Heart. Each story touched on an individual or experience from my time as a missionary: some of the experiences take place in Haiti or Mexico but the majority are based in the Dominican Republic. There are stories to make you laugh such as the story of Joel and a mouthful of cinnamon hearts or a two year old and a grandmother chasing each other up and down the street. Other stories are about my husband Lloyd and a Zacchaeus flying over the fence and ending up who know where. All the stories are based on actual experience and are about families and a father’s love or about God’s love manifested through the innocence of a child or the tragedy of stray dog running away with a family’s main meal for the day.
Along with the stories are poems about God exemplified in a tree or of people bent in submission before God. The Pensive Heart describes a heart which seeks to understand God’s grace and delights in the glory of God’s creation. AS you read the stories and poems you will sense a different culture and ask what mission God has called you to.
Last week I wrote about being still and knowing God, knowing how and when he calls us to serve. After a period of relative inactivity and ministry, God called us to action and business. First, we picked up some of the migrant workers and drove them to a social and barbecue. We chatted, ate, and listened to a message about a good God, a great God and the God of Gods. (I was asked to translate.)
Later in the week we enjoyed meeting Marta and her husband Cleo and showing Marta some of the character of our home town; Marta was in Canada for two weeks visiting her husband who is one of the migrant workers in the area. Ministry meant picking and eating peaches in an orchard, driving by farms where Mexicans work, and getting one’s feet wet in Lake Huron. That was followed by sitting on the rocks under the Bluewater Bridge eating french fries from the truck under the bridge followed by ice cream at Ice Cream Galore store both very traditional things to do in Sarnia in the summer.
Then we became the channel of communication informing 3 other migrant workers of a Saturday evening service and the details of the trip to Niagara Falls. Marta and Aaron who are first timers to Canada looked forward eagerly to seeing the falls. Then we became chauffeurs again getting people to the service in Thedford – our second visit there in a week.
We live in a busy world – a world that moves rapidly and at times may seem completely out of control. For my husband and I, the last month has included attending two weddings and taking video photography at both, a family reunion and a visit to see other family members. This has meant being in hotels in four different cities, travelling in two countries and a lot of hours on the road. Being still is hard and rest is not always easy to find.
Sometimes ministry and church life is equally busy and stillness and calmness even harder to find. In that same month, we have been present twice in a Hospitality Centre for migrant workers, praying with and visiting two Spanish language pastors, mentoring on line and encouraging people in crisis situations. Jesus was involved in people’s lives, teaching, preaching, and healing etc. on a 24 hour basis. However he knew the need to withdraw. When the crowds came to listen and for healing from leprosy and other illnesses, Jesus met those needs. However, Luke 5:16 tells us, “But Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed. He needed those quiet moments with his heavenly father.
There must be quiet times in our personal and our ministry lives. Psalm 46:10, 11 assures us that God is with us; he is our fortress and our strength. He brought wars to an end, and brought peace. He will do great things but we must be still at times. God’s instruction to be still comes with the result that we will know that He is God. Step back today from the frantic activity and take time to rest and know God deeply.
Jahddiel Gomez is a talented young man about 8 years old who lives with his family in Damajagua. His father is the pastor of the Free Methodist church in Damajagua and is also a person who travels close to the border of Haiti three times a week selling merchandise to help support his family.
Jahddiel drew a diagram at school which was chosen and then reproduced as a mural on the outside wall of the small school Jahddiel attends. This school is small, has three classrooms and most of the staff are Christians.
Prayer is a regular part of the school day and each class. When we visited, the director asked us to pray for each class and for the possibility of expanding this school.
This year, Jahddiel is not having a typical summer for a school boy. He was operated on in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The most recent picture I have seen of Jahddiel shows him with a big smile as he sits on a couch and both of his legs are in casts from just below his knees to the end of his toes.
Please pray for Jahddiel’s complete recovery and for being able to return to school soon after the August 21st start-up day.
One week after we attended the wedding in Ontario, we drove to Michigan for the second wedding. The venue was beautiful with a gazebo just in front of small lake and beside a water fountain. We were blessed again to be seated outside under a warm bright sun. Later we moved up the hill and inside a building known as the Silo for the reception.
Some features new to me included the large door at the beginning of the walkway to the gazebo – it was quite heavy, on a wheeled frame and made of wood by the groom and others. The mother of the bride walked down the aisle leading the bride’s dog, Rowdy. Rowdy will be in many of the bridal party pictures and wanted to dance along with the bride and groom in the first dance of the evening. The name does not describe the dog well as he was very well behaved and was actually the ring-bearer carrying the rings in a small bag tied to his collar.
The atmosphere was very relaxed; being on time was less important than having fun. Guests travelled as far as Canada, Florida and California. It was really great to spend time with my sister and nieces and nephews some of whom I had not seen in five years. Approximately 180 guests attended the reception and released bubbles as the bride and groom entered the hall
I heard the song, The Best Day of My Life, as one of the themes songs in a wedding. Recently, Lloyd and I have been focused on weddings, having attended two rehearsals, two weddings and edited videotapes of those ceremonies over a ten day period. The wedding of Steven and Julia-Ann was truly an event that can be described as the best day of their lives.
The venue was a delightful spot, groomed for weddings in a peaceful rural setting. After the service, cupcakes and veggies etc. were served from two farm wagons just off to the side of the open area for the service The Pastor, the groom’s father, stood in front of an old country church. About 70-80 people watched the service while seated in a green space under a bright warm sun. Even through it rained in the morning and later in the evening, the afternoon was an answer to many prayers for sunshine. The bridesmaids, two flower girls and a ring bearer walked down a natural aisle between two rows of trees. The church bell sounded as the couple was declared man and wife.
The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and very family centered. The groom’s sister, mother and grandfather sang a trio, and one of the groomsmen was the groom’s brother; members of the bride’s family read scripture, prayed for the couple or were part of the bridal party. Later, the father of the bride was the emcee of the reception dinner.
The day was the best day of their lives.
Next blog will be about the second wedding.
There is a song about ending a relationship which says “movin’ on out”. It is a rather negative image of the break-up of a relationship. But moving on out can be a very positive concept. My husband and I spent one day this week at a wedding and reception but we also had opportunities earlier in the day to talk with several people and in particular with two pastors who spoke about the timing for a congregation to move out beyond itself and into its community.
Pastor Andres has spent three years in his church building trust and training leadership and learning about healing ministry. Now is the time for his people to move out into the community both locally and globally. Someone from his congregation goes monthly to a church about an hour’s drive away mentoring and helping a young pastoral couple. In a month Pastor Andres plans to be in Columbia with his mentor pastor teaching about healing and using God’s power to heal, reconcile and restore.
Pastor Mario is considering a month of prayer and fasting before going out into the city of London. He states that you have to go out and listen and be caring because the world we live in is a hurting world. Churches cannot look in on themselves; they must be alive and sensitive to hurting people and to bring God’s healing to others. We spent a few minutes with Pastor Mario in the chapel praying for God’s blessing and healing grace.
These two meetings took place before the wedding and between the wedding and the reception we sat in the Tillsonburg mall and spoke with Mexican migrant workers inviting to the opening of hospitality centre which is open for workers every Friday. Jesus met people in the streets rather than in the tabernacles. Let’s follow his example and be out in the community around us listening to and seeing needs.