Missions Trips Chapter 8: Eighty Years

Brother Zartman, known in Mexico as Don Tomás, turned 80 that summer, so a huge party was in order. The neighbors had all been invited to join us at the local park. They brought grills and food, and we busied ourselves in the kitchen, making a birthday cake and some matching cupcakes. No Betty Crocker here, Mrs. Zartman taught Mary how to bake a cake from scratch, and she entrusted the frosting to me. Let’s just say her trust in that instance may have been a bit misguided. After three tries, I still didn’t get it right… but we ate it anyway. “Waste not, want not.” I admire her patience!


The celebration of his eighty years
Brought neighbors all together at the park—
A grand affair that went ’til after dark
And ended with great blessings and glad cheers.
Our crowd began quite small, but quickly grew,
As one by one the families arrived.
A fire upon the grill two men contrived;
Much talk ensued among the residue.
When asked about his age, said Don Tomás,
“It’s just a number, nothing more—but then,
Another birthday marks the moment when
I found new life by kneeling at the cross.”
These eighty years a long life seem to be,
But they are naught against eternity.

This birthday celebration became an opportunity to share the gospel with their neighbors, many of whom may never attend their church. But while the Zartmans are busy reaching their community for Christ and ministering to the needs of fellow believers, they also take time to hold up other missionaries in prayer.

Each morning began around the kitchen table, with family devotions and prayer time. The Zartmans have a basket full of prayer cards through which they rotate, praying for the missionaries represented there. I have one too, inspired by their habit which I learned 25 years ago, when I met them.


“Eighty Years” (English Sonnet) Copyright © 2019 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved

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