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November 14, 2009

After I had worked on the mission for the first year or so, I went home to Ohio for a visit.  I went to church with my mother and father.  They went to a small congregation that had left a larger  group because of doctrinal issues.  I should say the leaders of the group left because the old congregation had abandoned vital doctrines; there were some taggers-along who accompanied them for more selfish issues.

Most of these were people who had known me since I was a child and everyone was aware that I was working on the mission.  There were many questions after the service about the work, the people and the things I’d seen there. 

I remember one older couple who had only one child.  Their daughter was the apple of their eye and very much overprotected and indulged.  The family loved music and everyone played an instrument or sang with more or less success.  They descended on me as the after service visiting was winding down, all excited about the work and the prospects ‘for service.’  They asked questions about the ‘music program’ and the ‘educational program’.  They wanted to know how one got involved in that work and thought that it was a wonderful opportunity for their daughter to contribute to the work of the Lord and further her experience at the same time.

I was a little confused about ‘how to get involved’ in the work.  I hadn’t set out to get involved in the work.  The Lord had pointed his finger at me and said, “I picked you to go and teach in my service.”  There was no “getting involved” to it.   When I wrote McCormick’s  I discovered that although they had  been praying for a teacher, they’d had no other candidates.  It was a given and accepted that I would be there for the beginning of the school year.

The couple asked about my working hours.  They were a little taken aback when they discovered that my days ran frequently into nine hours and I worked nine hours a day and five on Saturdays.  On Sundays, I taught a Sunday school class and spelled the dorm mothers on alternating weekends.  And in addition I helped out with serving meals in the evenings.  Those hours seemed a little heavy to them and they asked about who assigned the hours and job roster.  They brightened a little when I said it was a voluntary schedule.  Perhaps their sweet ‘Cathy’ would be able to pursue an easier workload.  They weren’t sure she could tolerate such a demanding schedule.

Their final question concerned the salary I received for my services.  They of course understood that I would not be remunerated (honest, that’s the way they talked) at the same rate as public school but they assumed it was a ‘livable wage.’   

Now I had been raised in a pretty fundamentalist Bible family. ( Those of you who know, will understand when I tell you it was ‘old-time’ Church of God.)  I was brought up to comprehend that if the Lord called you to do something, you went and did not question but knowing that He would provide the means. The missionary examples of my childhood were living men and women who stepped out to serve God with five dollars in their wallet and no guarantee of anything more.  They weren’t just stories; they were living men and women.  I met them and knew them!

When I contacted McCormicks about coming as a teacher I did not ask about salary nor did they offer any.  In fact, they very considerately warned me that there was no salary.  I went to the mission with no promise from anyone of any funding at all.  I tried, in the most considerate way possible, to let these doting parents know that if their daughter wanted to ‘serve’ she would have NO promise of any financial consideration at all. 

The rain crashed quickly and cruelly on their parade.  Their countenances fell from bright smiles of anticipation to utter desolation.  They could hardly take a courteous departure quickly enough.  In fact it was rather too abrupt to truly be considered courteous.  I felt sorry for them.

 That was nearly 40 years ago.  How much further have we come from the fundamentals that I was raised with?  Do men and women of God still step out to serve where ever He calls them without any consideration of financial backing?   I don’t know.  If you know anyone who serves the Lord on that basis, tell them to let me know that they are still standing on the principles of our Christian fathers.

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