Monday Musings: October 24, 2016

Dear Friends,
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Many of you know Marisse DeThomas and her three adorable daughters, Zoe, Amelia, and Sophia.  They have been very active in our church since they came to us less than a year ago.  Marisse’s husband, Leslie Nassar was killed by a hit-and-run driver Saturday morning.  He was walking with two of his daughters who, thankfully were not badly injured.  Our love and prayers go out to the family.  You can reach Marisse at 2413 Hillcrest Way, Nampa 83686. So many have asked how you can help.  I suggest you call the church first so we can work together and not duplicate our efforts.
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Two other bits of church news, both good:  Our successful Holiday Bazaar on Saturday and Laity Sunday yesterday.  David Peterson gave a wonderful sermon.  Many others worked hard on both events.  Thanks to you all.
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What I want to share this morning is some news I got from my mother.  My high school in Madras, Oregon started a tradition this fall.  Each year they will honor five “distinguished alumni”.  I thought I’d tell you a bit about one of the five being honored this year.
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The Peña family was one of the first hispanic families in Madras that lived in town year around.  Most hispanics in Madras were migrant workers. Porfirio Peña,Sr. had been a farm laborer, but he didn’t want that life for his family.  He opened an auto body shop.  His oldest son, Rich was two years older than me.  We ran together in cross country and track.  His youngest son, Porforio, Jr.  (we all called him “Junior”) was a year younger than me.  The Peña home was on the way to school, so we often walked together.  He was humble, shy, kind, but there was nothing about him that stood out.  He would not have been voted “most likely to succeed”.  He would more likely have been voted “most likely to be forgotten”.  Everyone liked “Junior”.  I can’t imagine he had a single enemy.   But I don’t think anyone expected from him a very illustrious future.
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I was surprised when I learned that “Junior” had gone to medical school.  (By that time, he would politely correct those who called him “Junior”, telling them he preferred Porfirio.)  I learned what a successful physician he had become when I served a church in Portland, where Dr. Peña practiced.  Many of my members saw him.  They raved about him.  “Portland Magazine” named him a “Top Doc” in Portland.
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Many question today whether the “American Dream” still exists.  Is it still possible for someone born into poverty to escape and be limited only by their dreams, their talent, and their willingness to work long and hard?  That is, to never quit until the dream is a reality, as we learned from the story of Nehemiah.
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It certainly is harder today than it once was.  One factor is student debt.  I didn’t have any.  Many today work for decades to pay theirs off.
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But when I begin to question if the American Dream is still possible, I think of Junior Peña (yes, I might be one of the few who can get away with still calling him that).
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And I think of another couple of our leadership sermons.  “Junior” got a lot of encouragement along the way.  That means there were many who played for him the role of Barnabas. There were many who did what David Peterson was talking about yesterday and took time for him.
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That means you and I may have a lot to do with whether the American Dream still exists or is just a nostalgic memory.
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In Christ,
John
pena md