Come and Listen: Global Partnership Missionaries share stories and experiences

Don and Maryjane Westra have completed their fourth year of service in Honduras and their eighth year with Global Ministries.  Prior to Honduras, they served in Zimbabwe with a short stint in Mozambique.

Please join us from 1.30 pm to 3.00 pm on Wednesday, May 3rd at the Minnesota Church Center at 122 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis to meet and welcome the Westras home.  Their story is intriguing and inspiring.  We seldom have an opportunity to hear stories directly from those who do this work on behalf of the church, both nationally and locally.

Don’s education and background is in Mechanical Engineering Technology and Maryjane’s education and background is in Family Service and Social Work.  Both Don and Maryjane were raised in the church and credit their parents with giving them a good foundation, with Don adding “Marrying a pastor’s daughter also had an impact!”  They have been involved in the life of the church their entire lives, Maryjane adding; “I was probably one of the few people on the planet who continued to attend church through high school, college and during our ‘before-children stage of marriage’ and Don leading youth group at 24!

Don reports that in 1990 he and Maryjane uprooted their eight children, moved from Chicago to western Minnesota, and started a business.  At times, he says, his faith was challenged, but also strengthened.  Don and Maryjane have both experienced the typical faith journey as well as the extraordinary that has been challenging, humbling and nurturing.  Don said of his time in Honduras “Now we live in Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to live.  People live their faith by thanking God every day for giving them one more day to serve God.  If watching that doesn’t help one’s faith grow, nothing will.

When the Westras are asked how they ended up overseas, they reply “The short story is, for our whole married life we planned to do international work.  We considered joining the Peace Corps when we were young, but instead we got jobs, babies and a large mortgage.  The last baby moved out of the house and we looked at each other and said, ‘now’s the time.’  We were invited to Zimbabwe and had to look it up on a map before we remembered that the country was named Rhodesia when we were learning geography.”

Although, technically, they are missionaries in that they are sent by a religious organization and are on a mission, they prefer to be called mission partners or mission personnel.  Maryjane notes that the term missionary has connotations we do not like to identify with.  Maryjane recommends Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible to illustrate her point.

In Zimbabwe Don worked in agriculture and Maryjane worked beside the administrator of a mission hospital and a children’s home. After three and a half years in Zimbabwe, they were invited to Honduras in 2013.  Come hear about their work in Honduras and Zimbabwe.