Trailer Park…pt 5 – the incarnational journey


During those years many of us jumped into various people’s lives and we all had a few people that we came to know deeply.

Let me tell you of six people and the injustices they faced…we did the funeral’s for these six people but we came to know many others who lived there.

There was Harold (not his real name) and his wife Agnes (not her real name). Harold was an aboriginal man who became close with us until his death soon after his move from the trailer park. When Harold knew he was dying he asked me to carry out his funeral.

He asked me to reveal a secret of his life at this funeral. I felt both fearful and honored to do so. The secret was what the Canadian Government had done to him as a child in family services custody. They had taken Harold’s’ ability to procreate to manage his people’s multiplication. He was marked with a tattoo in his hand as a forever reminder.

I remember leading the memorial service for Harold that day.

Mostly aboriginal extended family and friends in attendance. The memorial started with the drum circle and had many expressions of culture throughout. I recall reading out loud this secret Harold had given me. A moment of awkwardness and a moment of closure. The secret was no longer a secret. But injustice was revealed in death yet life came to Harold in his last days.

I wept as a I shared the secret. And I wept as thought of my friend Harold that day.

Then where was Mitchell (not his real name), who was from Hungary and had played soccer at the 1954 Olympics for his country but was now living in a wheelchair, picking bottles out of trash cans for gambling money.

Mitchell had an unusual story.

The son of a Hungarian army official, he was traded for the release of his father from capture. Mitchell was trained as a money counterfeiter by the KGB. Eventually Mitchell was released back to his family in Hungary after serving his time. Mitchell immigrated to Canada where he counterfeited money until he was caught and put in prison for several years.

Eventually he ended up at the Trailer park to live out his last years. When we met him he was estranged from his oldest son and was living out of money he cashed in from bottles and goods he pulled from trash cans.

Donovan spent hours caring for Mitchell. One day I remember going to visit Mitchell in the hospital. When he saw me coming down the hallway he yelled, “There is my pastor!”. A nurse was standing beside him with papers in her hand. I could hear him saying to her, “There is my pastor, he will know.”

As I got closer Mitchell said to me that the hospital wanted to know the name of his church for their records. He then turned to me and asked, “What is the name of my church?”

I told him, while thinking to myself, he probably has never known the name as that isn’t the point. I laughed.

Donovan spent much time sharing the life of Jesus with Mitchell and listening to him and praying for him in the hospital. We did Mitchell’s funeral a few months later and shared the story of Jesus and eternity and saw some of his family reconciled into what we’re strained relationships earlier. Mitchell affected us all.

There was Connor and Ethel (not their real names). Connor had a tough struggle with depression and making ends meet due to health. They basically lived in poverty. After we moved them into an apartment Connor died within a year or two.

I remember seeing the photos of Connor as young, strong man at the funeral. It shocked me really, as I had never met that Connor… but his family did. Depression ravaged his life.

I remember standing up at the memorial service, with dozens and dozens of young and old people, his extended family present. I stood there thinking to myself this is one of the God moments for this family. I could feel the tangible message of hope that needed sharing.

Connor & Ethel and Martha had come to one of our church gatherings once. They might be the only ones and at that have been the only time.

They had no experience with Church. However, when we gave the invitation to communion that day we gave the invitation to give one’s life to Jesus. I remember as Robert and I served the three of them communion and walked through the story of Jesus with them. As they partook together all three were teary eyed and faces softened with hope.

The moment and look are seared into my imagination. I knew I could share that with Connor’s family that day as it was so real.

For the last leg of the journey read trailer park…pt6 – incarnational journey

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on October 10, 2012.

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