When the hungry, children awakened, their patience was disguised. They also needed to be dressed and readied for their day ahead. Martha and I recognized to begin the chores uninterrupted, it was compulsory to begin our day before the children’s.
The chores and tasks I assisted with, were enjoyable as they were not the routine I had with my family of origin. I also knew I was supporting Martha in her work for the Lord. She had labored assiduously for the past several years without complaints and meager assistance. Her work ethics as a German World War II bride were astonishing. She worked tirelessly all day without “breaks” or “me” time.
After the daily laundry was done, the breakfast served and the children attired for the day, there were a few hours of playing and interacting with the children, before the afternoon naps and preparation for dinner began. Monday and Friday were our days of adventure. John was residing at the Navajo Language School in Gallup five days a week. He was learning the Diné language to preach the Sunday sermons to the reservation residents that attended their small chapel close to the Barre’s home.
Martha used those days for errands in Gallop, including grocery shopping and visits to the post office. There were no stops at the local convenience store for soft drinks or candy treats. There were no special outings for ice cream or hamburgers. These were luxuries, not provided to missionaries on a minimal budget with twelve mouths to feed.
With Martha’s homemade hamburger and hot dog buns, there was not a burger or hot dog in New Mexico as tasty as hers. I know if we had patronized the local sandwich shops, our paletes would have been disappointed. Also, Martha’s homemade ice cream and fry bread outranked even the finest chef.
I learned more during those weeks as a missionary helper than I acquired over several years in my own family. I understood poverty as a result of my biological family subsiding on government commodities. Yet, living on a meager income was never recognized in the Barre home. I never experienced family love, devotion and dedication, for one another as I did during those few weeks with them.
From Friday night to Monday morning, John was home to participate with and enjoy his family. How I loved John as a father, for he delighted in bantering with me which my own father never did. Years later when John and Martha came to visit me as a young wife and mother, John reminded me of my “toilet water” from years earlier. When we all resided in Ohio as friends, I received a bottle of the Eau de toilette fragrance (toilet water on the label) as a gift.
As a young, naïve schoolgirl, John told me he could “refill” my bottle anytime I desired. With big eyes and belief of John’s words, I said, “you can?” John smiled, “sure Janie, just bring it over. I have plenty.” It was Martha that brought me back to reality. Those were heartwarming times. To be continued: Psalm 144:15 NKJ, “Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.”