There is so much I could write about my Father. As far back as I can remember he’s been my hero. Maybe not. When I was a kid I thought he was too strict, but what kid wouldn’t think that of a strict father?
I’ve been wondering what to write about for this Father’s Day and then I came across some pictures from a time when Dad was honored with a street by his name and the town square called after his home country.
I will let my Mother tell the backdrop to the story. She suffered with heart problems, but that did not stop her from being the helpmate my Dad needed. Here is her account, taken from the book A Life of Adventure:
The doctors had told me that I should not go to Huancayo, which is situated at 11,000 feet above sea level in the Andes. With a deficient valve and a fluttering heart they thought that I should not live at that elevation. But I had no choice. I did not want to be a hinder to my husband and our task and therefore had to trust in God’s sustaining power. That has worked. Every new day is for me a gift from the Lord.
Certain periods I was weak and could not do much and I became tired of just staying home and inside the house. One day I asked Per, who was going to do some errands, to take me with him so I could just sit in the car. When his errands were done he thought that we should make a small trip and go to some place we hadn’t seen before. We left the city and started out on a small road into the woods. It was so beautiful with the eucalyptus trees along the road and we enjoyed the healthy smell from those trees. Suddenly we came to an open space filled with plastic tents in many different colors. On top of every tent sat a Peruvian flag.
Not a market but living quarters
We stopped the car and asked a man what this was. We thought it was a kind of market. “We live here,” said the man. In the conversation that followed we found out that about one thousand people lived there. First they had put their simple tents at the shore of the Mantaro River, but the authorities had moved them by night with military trucks to this place. Like so many other poor Peruvians they needed a place to live and had asked for some land, but received nothing. While they lived along the river many of their children had died because of the humidity and the cold.
A farmer had donated this land, but their “houses” were far from good. When we saw their situation, and especially as we thought about the unhealthy conditions for the children we asked for help from Sweden and received 10,000 crowns from PMU (a relief organization). We bought corrugated metal sheets for roofs and also blankets; that we in first place gave to families with several children.
Very unhealthy conditions
On rainy nights, when the rain was pelting on our roof, I thought a lot about those people in their drafty plastic tents. We obtained spill boards from lumber yards and built a small kitchen and started to give nutritious food to the children. Some girls from the church helped us to clear the kids of lice and to give them a necessary bath. We got a doctor friend to come and examine the children and we bought medicine for those who needed that. After only one month we could see how the health among the children had improved. We held special meetings for the women and taught them hygiene and how to mend their clothes.
The water they used came in irrigation ditches, but that water, which came crystal clear from the glaciers in the high mountains, was very much contaminated when it reached San Martín, as the place was called. Many people got intestinal infections and one young girl died from typhoid fever. We asked for help from SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency). After some time we could, together with those living in the village, build a water plant, a school and another building for workshops.
The Water Plant
As a kind of thanks the people gave us a lot where we could build a house for the feeding station. That building served also as a meeting place for the group of believers that was another result of this ministry. The Water Plant was served by one of the men in the group and he was to receive his salary from the small amounts the people agreed to pay for the clear and healthy water they now had.
But everything was not peace and happiness. Many believed that we had made ourselves rich, taking money from the building fund, and therefore they did not pay the agreed fee for the water. On one occasion we went to San Martín with the Mayor of the district. He tried to talk to the people, but they did not listen and were instead ready to throw stones at us. “Ingratitude is a sure reward,” we say in Sweden. Other circumstances forced us to close the feeding station, but the spiritual work goes on.
This is a summary of many years of different experiences. While reflecting on this period in my Dad’s missionary work my thoughts go back to Egypt and the Israelites. I’m sure you’ve read the story of Joseph, and how his intervention saved Egypt and surrounding countries in a severe time of famine. He was honored and his family was accepted to live there. But then…
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. Exodus 1:8-11
The pictures show happy times, when people were thankful for the help they received. When we serve the Lord we have to be prepared to take the good and the bad. And Dad has sure had his share of both kinds. Am I proud of him because they named a street after him or because the town square was named for Sweden? No! I’m proud because he has been a faithful servant in all circumstances. His only desire has been to honor God. That is a Father to be proud of!
In that San Martin village things have been going back and forth –thankfulness and ungratefulness—all depending on the “king” ruling. But through the years many, many children have been helped and received healthy meals. But the most important thing is the spiritual work done in the lives of the villagers.
In Sweden they celebrate Father’s Day in November, so Dad will be honored now and then. I feel he needs to be honored every day. He was strict. It paid off.
What a privilege to have grown up with godly parents and to have known first-hand missionary work.
As I write this experience from my parent’s missionary work, let me ask for prayer for a young man fifteen years old, who recently lost his father because of suicide. If that isn’t pain enough, some years ago his mother committed suicide. To protect his privacy, let’s just call him John. He lives in one of the countries I serve through my ministry. I wish he was here and I could give him a big hug. Pray that he will feel the warm embrace of his Heavenly Father, who will never leave him nor forsake him.
Blessings to all fathers. Have a Happy Day!