Text: Suvi Myllymäki
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
My father served as a speaker for decades. When it was his turn to speak at services in our home congregation, it was always special for us, his children. I do not think I was ever nervous for my father. Maybe I did not even worry about such things as a child. But I do remember the special feeling I had when I sat at services, listening to my father speak.
Sometimes, when my father went to serve in another congregation, he took some of us children along. He was often accompanied by another local speaker. I loved to come along. I have glimpses of memory where I sit at services somewhere unfamiliar. The visiting speakers and their children were always given a good meal. I remember a white wall and a large table with many sisters and brothers sitting around it engaged in cheerful discussion. I remember I ate so much that I thought my stomach might burst. And then someone came and asked us to have rice pudding for dessert. I wondered how anybody could eat rice pudding after that lovely meal. I was even more astonished to find that a coffee break followed soon after the meal. My stomach was still quite full, and we were supposed to eat again.
Once when my father had taken me along on a speaking trip, we stayed the night on a cattle farm. I slept on a mattress on the living-room floor, and my bedtime reading consisted of a Readers’ Digest novel that I had found on the brown bookshelf. In the evening I heard the family talk about a bull that had got loose from its stall. The owner called his son to come and help catch the bull. I was quite small and found it scary. I imagined a huge bull with horns running around and the men trying to catch it. Luckily, the incident ended well and the bull was returned to its stall.
The incident was still discussed at breakfast. After that we began to prepare to leave for services. Before they left, the speakers were preached the liberating message of the gospel. I remember standing there next to my father and hoping that the adults would also bless me. I do not remember if I was able to believe my sins forgiven there and then, but I am sure I heard the gospel at services.
If my father did not take any of us with him to services, he always brought us a treat when he came home. It was always the same thing, once particular chocolate bar that he bought from a nearby service station. It was fun to wait for him to come home, knowing we would get that treat.
We also sometimes attended baptisms, either one of us with our father or the whole family. A few years ago one of the local people gave me a picture of myself at a baptism with my father. I was seven in that picture.
I am sure I was happy to attend the baptism. I had wanted to go on another occasion, but it was not possible then. When I was six, I tried to come along without permission: I hid behind the driver’s seat of our car, worried that my father might see me. He started the car, and I was thrilled about having succeeded, but he then stopped the car and called me by my name. Disappointed, I had to crawl out and stay at home. It is funny how strongly I still remember the feeling of disappointment. It is easy for an adult to understand that it is not always possible to go to places, but a six-year-old found it quite unfair.
I remember about my last service trip that I was a bit ashamed of coming with my father, being a big girl already. I remember feeling somehow nostalgic, aware that I had grown out of one stage of childhood. Those services were beautiful. They were kept in an old building where the floor boards creaked when you stepped on them. The atmosphere was just right for my last heart-warming service trip with my father.
Reilut kymmenen vuotta sitten julkisiin rakennuksiin alkoi ilmestyä kansioita, joissa luki ”pelastussuunnitelma”. Monien kirkkojen sakasteissa tämä antoi aiheen huumorille ja erilaisille toteamuksille: ”Viimeinkin pelastussuunnitelma on tiiviissä paketissa niin pappien kuin seurakuntalaisten saatavilla”. Joku puolestaan pohti: ”Eikö Raamattu enää riitäkään pelastussuunnitelmaksi, kun apua pitää kysyä viranomaisilta?” Rakennusten turvallisuuteen liittyvä ohjeistus muistutti siitä, että kirkko on Jumalan pelastussuunnitelman eli sielujen pelastamisen asialla.
Välähdyksiä rovasti Pentti Kopperoisen elämän varrelta sekä ajankuvaa suomalaisten elämästä 1930-luvulta nykypäiviin.
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