Tuesday, August 07, 2012

a pastor to seniors tells it like it is

One of the things I've wanted to do from the time I started my focus on aging and seniors issues is to interview real seniors and the people who love them.  I was thrilled when the seniors pastor at my church, Arlene Trauter, agreed to do an interview right here on the blog. Her photo is only a glimpse of the vivacious personality and warm heart that so endear her to us.

Here are my questions and her answers:  

1. How long have you been a pastor to seniors?  
Pastor Arlene: 10 ½ years

2. What attracted you to the job & how did you get started? 
Pastor Arlene: I have had a great love and appreciation for senior citizens since I was a small child.  I was asked to give leadership to the CLA Seniors’ Ministry when Pastor Don Cantelon stepped down and directed his attention to the Visitation Pastoral role.  

3. What are the things you do as a pastor to seniors? 
Pastor Arlene: I plan, organize and facilitate weekly/ monthly events (including a dinner), trips and special events for seniors.  I am presently planning a 12 day trip to Israel for May/2013.  In overseeing this ministry, I contact guest speakers/musicians,   recruit volunteers, work with an executive, have a ministry to widows, call & make contact with seniors.

4. What’s your favorite thing about this job?  And what other things do you enjoy? Not enjoy?
Pastor Arlene: My favorite thing is to provide care and value to a group of people that are so often overlooked   I love seniors and I love to be around them.   
I love hearing their stories and gleaning from their lifetime of experience.  I love learning from them.   There will never be another generation like them!   
Not enjoy?  I find it hard when seniors pass away.   That is the hardest thing about my job.

5.    Has this job changed you?  If so, how? 
 Pastor Arlene: Yes it has. I have learned so much from this generation in terms of them being….. hard working, persevering, forgiving,  predictable, consistent, strong, faithful, trustworthy, content and having a ‘never giving up on life’ attitude.  They have experienced hard times and I love that pioneer spirit, survivor mentality, overcoming mindset and an unshakable faith and trust in God that so many embrace.  I believe that this job has challenged me to greater appreciate the wonderful life that I am so privileged to enjoy!

6.    What have you learned about your own aging as you’ve worked with seniors?  And how have these insights impacted your life?
Pastor Arlene: I have learned that how you view growing older has more to do with your mind than your body.   Staying positive and upbeat and seeing the glass half full, rather than half empty is the way to live.  
However, we do need to care for our body through proper nutrition and exercise and staying active.  We also need to be involved with things that we love to do and that bring us life.  
Keeping our mind sharp by reading, taking a class, playing games, doing puzzles, learning new aspects of the  computer world, travelling etc. is a bonus as we age and keeps us young at heart.   
Keeping a great sense of humor and not taking yourself so seriously has to be one of the best things we can do as we age.  Grumpiness is a downer and will keep people at bay.  
Community is also so important and having good friends and staying in close touch is vital as we age.  We were meant to do life together and not in isolation.   
On a spiritual note,  Psalms 10 states that God satisfies my years with good things, and that my youth is being renewed like the eagles.  I am not growing older, but better!  I desire to live with a cheerful heart and to nurture an attitude of gratitude.   I must keep looking to God, believing and trusting Him in all things
(Those insights have shown me) that life truly is a gift!  That I must not wait until everything is perfect in my life before I decide to enjoy this amazing journey!  I need to embrace and live life to my full potential now! 

7. What qualities are helpful for people working with seniors?  
Pastor Arlene: Patience…….. giving value to them, by being attentive and hearing what they have to say……….respecting and honoring them…………….embracing their life experience and asking them questions about their journey…..giving quality time.

8. What advice would you give seniors about relating to their church and the pastors who shepherd them?  
Pastor Arlene: Seniors must guard their heart against criticism, because change is inevitable.  There is a book out entitled Change is Inevitable, but Misery is Optional.  Although this book isn’t about seniors, this book title is appropriate for aging seniors  because they will be confronted with the choice either to go forward with  change and embrace it, or stay ‘stuck’ in the past.  The church does not look like it did 60 years ago, although the message is the same.   And the music is not the same as it was even 20 years ago.   If seniors can embrace change in their church and pray for and encourage their leadership, this will be invaluable to them.
  (Emphasis added)

Thank you so much, Pastor Arlene! 

For readers in the 50+ age group, Langley, B.C. area,  we'd love to have you join us for the fall seniors program which begins in September. Check out the CLA Adult Ministries web page for information on how to contact Pastor Arlene and get details. 

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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