Martta Koistinaho (1918–2008) lived in a small village in northern Finland. For years and years she helped her friends and neighbors in many different ways.
Martta and her family lived in the village schoolhouse, where she also worked. She served the village people for 30 years as the school’s cook and caretaker. Those who went to primary school in the early 1950s still remember the delicious berry porridge she cooked.
At that time Sunday was clearly different from the busy weekdays. Sunday service in the local church was especially important for Martta. If she did not have a ride, she walked the 5 kilometers from her village to the church.
Laestadian services have been arranged in Martta’s home village since the late 19th century. When the number of believers increased, village communities began to appoint service committees to facilitate arrangements. Martta was appointed a member of this committee in the 1930s. She was also a member of the local Laestadian congregation’s board for nearly 30 years.
A friend reminisces about the local midsummer services: ”They were always so busy. Their cheeks glowed in the heat of the wood-burning stove which they used to make coffee. And how they talked! Martta was a very cheerful person, always smiling.”
Service guests were usually treated to coffee, and Martta would bring some baking with her. For tens of years she always came to services with freshly baked doughnuts in her backpack.
Children at services would keep an eye on Martta’s black handbag, where she had candy for them.
Martta also served as a Sunday School teacher for 50 years. She explained the Bible stories in a lively way that gripped children’s attention. She later also worked with Day Circle and Bible Class.
She participated in a building crew when the new rauhanyhdistys building was being constructed and also did woodwork as a hobby. She made the furniture for her small house and various utensils for her kitchen. She even built a playhouse and a slide for children on her yard.
As Martta aged, she retired from work but continued to be active in many ways. She still baked delicious bread for the congregation’s bake sales. She also had more time for her grandchildren. She went to help her daughter Katri’s growing family almost daily.
Over the years Martta visited many homes in the village. She liked to discuss faith and also temporal matters. She was never bitter about her own life but liked to point out the humorous aspects of her experiences. Her positive attitude and sense of humor shed a special light on those near to her.
Her friends and neighbors remember that she never counted the hours when helping others. She did things voluntarily and willingly, without asking anything in return. Actively and cheerfully she served both village people of all ages and service guestss.
Text: Raija Lohilahti
The text is an abridged version of an article titled “Koko kylän Martta” (Martta of the whole village) in the book Naiset viestinviejinä (Women as messengers, SRK, 2017). Translation: S-L.L.
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä tammikuussa 2019
Viime sunnuntaina vietettiin laskiaissunnuntaita. Kirkkovuodessa laskiainen aloittaa pääsiäisjakson, ja nimi laskiainen (Esto mihi) viittaa paastoon laskeutumiseen. Varsinainen pääsiäistä edeltävä, 40 arkipäivää kestävä paasto alkaa tänään tuhkakeskiviikkona. Paaston aika huipentuu pääsiäistä edeltävään hiljaiseen viikkoon.
Kirja erilaisuudesta, elämän ainutlaatuisuudesta ja rikkaudesta: teoksessa puheenvuoron saavat erityislapset, heidän läheisensä sekä aiheen parissa työskentelevät ammattilaiset.
Kurssi on suunnattu rauhanyhdistysten johtokunnille, taloudenhoitajille ja muille vastuunkantajille.