This post has been reproduced from Rick's personal blog. To be redirected there, please click here.
Memorable firsts – there’s always a first time for everything.
Some of those “firsts” we recall vividly and some we don’t remember at all. Maybe we were too young or maybe we were just distracted by something else. But those first time exposures can impact us for a lifetime.
For example, I don’t remember my first ice cream cone, but I do know that my current favorite combo is Moose Tracks and Rocky Mountain Raspberry. Conversely, I can totally picture the moment I sampled my first pulled pork taco in the Baja. It probably helps that I took video of the event.
Those of us in the trades may not remember the first time we picked up a socket or swung a hammer, possibly because it was something our fathers did. We were exposed to it from the ground up, so it was just “normal.” But that isn’t normal for the students of Mercy Tech Mission. Extreme poverty and day-by-day survival is the true normal. In most cases, a chance exposure to something that might lead to a different future comes later in life, and they literally are life-changing moments.
We just wrapped up another week of mechanics training at the One Life One Chance mission base in San Quintin, Baja. A lot of sick vehicles went through our “triage” centre and a number of mechanical issues were dealt with. But for volunteer instructor Todd Green and myself, it wasn’t the vehicles that mattered as much as those who worked on them. Here are some of the things our students experienced for the first time.
Poli had heard us teach about internal combustion engines and the importance of good compression in the cylinders, but it was when he did his first-ever compression test that he really got excited. He didn’t know such a test was even possible.
Ivan discovered that time passes quickly when he’s deeply engrossed in a vehicle repair. It was all we could do to drag him off his water pump job at coffee time.
When we taught our translator Maria how to measure and adjust tire pressures, she was thrilled. “I actually know more about cars now than my husband does!”
For Isaias, seeing how a scan tool can read real-time vehicle data was fascinating. Already he is using the laptop computer we left on site to access the internet to learn more about mechanics on his own.
In the book of Proverbs it says that knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. And wisdom comes full-circle when we learn how to share our knowledge in a way that is accepted and appreciated by those we teach.
Every training session we hold reinforces the fact that learning a simple skill can change a life forever. And for MTM volunteer instructors, sharing their knowledge for the first time with someone in need becomes life-changing for them as well.
The trade we were taught in our younger days not just something we earn a living with; it’s bigger than that. It’s a privilege we’ve been given that must be shared with others. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to create memorable firsts in somebody else’s life.
Thanks again for your support of Mercy Tech Mission; together we are changing lives, one skill at a time.
What’s up next?
Rick will be leaving for Mozambique and Swaziland on July 31st, returning to Canada at the end of September. We are also thrilled to announce that our fundraising goal of $6000 for the Mozambique Maintenance Shop project has now been met! The finishing touches on the shop are now being completed by local workers in Mozambique and should be finished in time for our building dedication and celebration time in August.
Please note that any funds that continue to come in will be used entirely for the ongoing work and future projects of Mercy Tech Mission. Please visit our donations page and follow the links. We appreciate your support!
(All of the information used below was gleaned from those who spoke during the celebration service. If you would like to listen to the whole service, please click here.)
On Sunday, July 5, we celebrated the 110th anniversary of Summerland Baptist Church. It was a time of celebrating God’s continued faithfulness over the years and a special time of reflecting on the things SBC was founded on.
The theme of the morning caught everyone’s attention as Del walked into the sanctuary and down the aisle singing The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Changes. The worship team and congregation joined in as we focused on God’s great mercies and faithfulness.
Pastor Larry began by sharing some of the history of Summerland Baptist Church:
In 1905, Summerland was a village of 1500 people. In the Meadow Valley area there was a small group of 7 people who felt a stirring and began to pray about whether Summerland needed a Baptist church. At that time, Pastor Ritchie from Peachland would ride his horse out to Meadow Valley once a month to meet with them. This small group began to pray about whether more than this was needed. In early 1905, the mill where they met burnt to the ground and these people all moved to town... to Prairie Valley. This group of 7 grew to 17 and they began to dream and to pray that God would do something powerful in their midst. They prayed and they listened. And in July 1905, they heard the voice of Jesus speaking and they said ‘yes’ to creating a Baptist church in Summerland.
The first thing they did was to appoint Deacons. They understood that people are incredibly important and they wanted to make sure there were Deacons to take care of the souls of the people who would be part of their church. Second, they appointed a finance committee because they knew that the greatest reputation a church has in the community was to pay it’s bills on time and to be transparent with their money. The third thing that they did was to deliberately and intentionally celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a month and remember Jesus Christ. If those 17 people were here today, they may be shocked (and scandalized!) by what we are wearing and what we are singing... but they would also see that those values that led them to say ‘yes’ to Jesus back then are still here today. We still want to hear what Jesus has to say. We still believe people really matter and we appoint deacons to care for them. We still have a finance board so that we do things in a way that brings glory to God. And we still remember Jesus as our Lord and Saviour as we take the Lord ’s Supper.
Larry then called up Al Warkentin, who was SBC’s song leader for many years, to lead us in worship. Seeing his passion and enthusiasm as he led the congregation in It Is Well With My Soul and Great Is Thy Faithfulness brought a tear to many eyes. Joining him was Rita Sundvick on the pump organ (and Serena who assisted Rita with pumping the organ!).
Next Stephanie had the children come up to open the time capsule that had been prepared by the Sunday School kids of 2005. Before opening it, however, she brought out a special chair that has been sat on by pretty much every child that has ever passed through our Sunday morning preschool program. Stephanie told how Lorne Bloomfield had also sat on that chair back when he was in Sunday school in the old church building. When he was young it was the only chair in the Sunday school, and each week the kids took turns sitting on it.
In the time capsule was a small lighthouse (because at that time we were called Lighthouse Kids), a tape cassette of the kids singing the Romans 19 song (a favourite at that time!), photos of the Preschool and Elementary Sunday School classes from 10 years ago, a little booklet of The Story (what the kids were learning at the time), and personal fact sheets that the kids had filled out and included. Several of these ‘kids’ came up to the stage and shared what they had written about themselves 10 years ago (apparently the answers were pretty funny!). Stephanie finished by telling the children at the front how much kids matter to God and how much kids matter to SBC and that they are very special.
Welwood Sharp (aka Pastor Del) came to the stage to share how music and outreach has always been a part of Summerland Baptist. Some examples of this were:
Summerland Baptist never lost its vision and passion for God and for the people of this community. From outreach to railway workers, to loving children and youth, to a commitment to music... God was faithful then and He is faithful now.
Pastor Jack tackled what was going on in the 1950’s and 60’s. We saw the invention of the Diners Club Card (which led to Visa and Mastercard), deodorant (thank goodness!), Swanson TV Dinners, colour tv, microwaves, Velcro, seatbelts, ultrasound, and bubble wrap. In Summerland at that time we saw the start of the Summerland Curling Club (of which Dave Gartrell has been a long-standing member and has been teaching young people to curl for years); the invention of a low volume concentrate sprayer by Dr. Marshall for the Pacific Pipe and Flume Company; and a community ice rink in Memorial Park that was tended to by Mr. Wharton. Lorne Bloomfield and Irma Barg, two people instrumental in the heritage of our church, attended SBC during this time. Irma’s father bought a grain truck, loaded up his family of 13, and travelled from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Summerland. It was a treacherous road and on the way they hit a snow storm and ended up in the ditch. The all were ok and in fact when they arrived in Summerland they had increased to 14 in the grain truck, as one of Irma’s aunts had miscalculated her due date. Sundays looked very different back then... after Sunday morning service, their family would travel with the Sunday School to Peachland to lead a service there. They then stopped by the McKenzie’s home for a sing-song around a piano and would arrive back in Summerland on time for the Sunday evening service! At one point a contest was held at SBC to see how many they could bring in for Sunday School. They had a goal of 200 people (children and adults) and came just short of that. Jack finished his reminiscing with a video clip from Irma herself.
Pastor Matt took a look at the 80’s: computers were slowly making their presence known but were still too expensive to buy; a 10 MB hard disk cost more than $3000; we listened to music on cassettes... on a Walkman. Popular movies were Return of the Jedi, Back to the Future, and Top gun. Popular bands were Duran Duran, Tears for fears, Run DMC, and Cyndi Lauper. And let’s not forget Amy grant, Petra, Degarmo and Key, Whiteheart, and Randy Stonehill. Favourite TV shows were Cheers, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show. You could buy a home for $72,000 but you may have been paying 20% interest! Terry Fox started his journey in the Marathon of Hope. If you were a kid you walked everywhere (parents didn’t drive you) and you taped hockey cards to the spokes of your bike. There were no cell phones, text messages or facebook... you had to talk to your friends.
Matt called on Larissa Kuechle who attended SBC during the 80s to share some of her memories. Larissa moved to Penticton in grade 6. It took half an hour to drive to Summerland from Penticton at that time. Their church in Penticton didn’t have any youth group activities, and when Larissa’s mom, Angie, saw an ad in the newspaper for a Halloween Party at Summerland Baptist Church she made sure Larissa attended. Larissa remembers going to the party with a friend and they dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. She vividly remembers Jamie Borchert, 3 months old at the time, dressed as a pumpkin. She loved it and continued to go every week. As there was no youth pastor at that time, the youth activities were run by Pastor Jack and his wife, Pam, along with parent volunteers (the Juliens, Suttons, Johnstons, and Parkers). Larissa’s parents brought the whole family out for a Sunday morning service and there was no turning back. SBC became their church home. Other memories included the ‘penalty box’ (where you had to sit if you were late), the Crossleys and Juliens starting a second service that sang praise choruses instead of hymns, Percy Miller doing sound with a tape cassette player, Dorothy Miller and her characteristic hats, learning what a Chinese fire drill was from the Johnston boys, clipboards on the benches as a means of taking attendance... What Larissa hopes for her boys when they are older is that they will be able to experience all the things the Kuechle family has experienced over the last 10 year that they’ve been back at SBC... the pastors, the children’s ministry, the worship, the fellowship, the relationships and she hopes that when they are old enough to understand, they will get to hear Pastor Larry’s sermons and glean from them.
Pastor Gary Swabey kicked off our look at the present day (the year 2000 on) with a video message:
Pastor Matt then called several young adults to come forward: Lisa Isaak, Karalyn Friesen, Owen Walker, Haley Petkau, Mikaela Peters, and Nathan Barg. They were asked the question, “In 10-20 years, what do you think will be the same?” The replies included: our core values, that we love our community and reach out to people, that we accept everyone who comes in, that we value relationships, that we reach out to others rather than expect them to come through our doors, the importance of children, that we will continue to be a generous, hospitable and welcoming community, not just a church but a family.
Responses to the question, “What things might change?” included: that denominational walls might come down so that we can intermingle, more intergenerational stuff with youth and seniors mingling, people walking more in their identity as sons and daughters of the king, recognizing the power of the Holy Spirit and operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, recognizing all the gifts including prophecy, tongues, and deliverance ministries and delving into the power of God, that we will grow and expand to different towns and even countries.
We closed the service singing together The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Changes and thanking God for His never ending mercies and His faithfulness.
And in good Baptist fashion we capped off the morning with a tailgate party!
Photo Credit: Erna Schram (Thanks once again, Erna, for using your gift to bless the rest of us... especially in such lighting-challenged areas like our sanctuary!)
Having just returned from George and Hilda Bartel’s 50th wedding celebration, I found myself thinking about the important elements of creating and passing on a legacy to my family, my church family, my friends and neighbours.
George and Hilda have been such a great example of a couple who have spent a lifetime building a legacy of faith, compassion, justice and love using their resources and gifts to bless others. At their anniversary celebration, people remembered being welcomed into the Bartel home for one of Hilda’s delicious meals, home visits and compassionate care by George who knew the healing power of face to face visits.
We heard the Bartel children express gratitude to their parents for modelling a God-directed life that went beyond themselves, as described by Paul in Philippians 2, "Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.”
So, what about us? What about me? What elements of this kind of legacy am I creating in the way that I live my life? I can’t offer medical care to someone who is sick but I can visit them or take them a meal (prepared by Pam). I can stop and listen to people who haven’t had a chance to tell their life story. I can sit down and read a book to my grandson or swim with my granddaughter before I mow the lawn. I can watch for people who are marginalized by life’s situations and take time to care for them. I can thank and encourage people who are relentlessly giving of their time and resources by caring for our children in the Nursery and building relationships with our middle school and high school kids. Maybe your legacy-building at this point of your life is to care for aging parents or adult children who find themselves in times of need.
I came away from the exciting celebration of George and Hilda’s anniversary realizing once again that we are all building our own legacy that is passed on to others. It doesn’t have to look like George and Hilda’s but we all have the opportunity to add exciting and meaningful elements to the legacy that we pass on.
Today, George reminded us that, in all things… "Trust in the Lord with all your hearts and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5,6 This becomes the foundational element for building a meaningful legacy.
And… If you want a visit, let me know or I could bring you one of Pam’s amazing lasagnas?
(Editor's note: George and Hilda attended SBC from 1973 to 2007 and were a foundational part of our church family. Congratulations George and Hilda on your 50th Wedding Anniversary!)
This past June our Roadsalt Riders motorcycle group travelled some 7500 km through Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado just about to the New Mexico border. There were 7 riders from BC and Alberta who rode together, camped in tents together, prepared meals together, had morning devotionals together, saw the wonder of God and man’s activities together, and ate a lot of pie together! We travelled through mountain passes (4°C at 11,000 feet) and desert flats (41°C) and enjoyed the corners and spectacular back roads that make motorcycling so exhilarating. Modern bikes handle any terrain with ease and there are always great stops to enjoy coffee, pie and good conversation.
Two scenes, however, reminded me that life has not always been what we enjoyed each day. There have been times throughout North American history when travel was neither easy nor enjoyable… as challenges, dangers and unforgiving terrain stretched travellers and residents to their limits.
The first scene was the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings where the Anasazi Indians found protection and community in the natural alcoves honed out of the canyon walls in southern Colorado (during the late 1190’s AD). We are so accustomed to our homes, conveniences and security that seldom do we consider what life was like before the amenities we enjoy today.
The second scene was when we came around a corner only to be faced with hundreds of Aberdeen Angus cattle strewn across and down the highway as far as we could see. Then we saw perhaps 20 cowboys rounding up and driving these cattle to new grazing areas in the distance. The cowboys were obviously made up of several families with moms, dads, boys and girls on horseback with hats, spurs and lariats to assist them in keeping the herd together. As we stopped and waited for the highway to be cleared of cattle (and their residue!) the scene took me back to what it must have been like in bygone years… before highways and motor vehicles.
When I return from these trips, I never cease to be thankful for what we have and the conveniences we enjoy. Our amenities have come from many years of hardship, challenge and slow improvements by those who have gone before us. Why do we think that things should come quickly or easily? Scripture reminds me that I too am in process! Maturity for all of us is a slow transformation to the image of God which He patiently forms in us over time and experience.
Today, take a moment and consider how you got to where you are and know for certain that God is still working in you and will complete what He has begun! Philippians 1:6