I attended my Walk to Emmaus in October 2008. At the time, I was looking for an answer to an increasingly challenging dilemma. My mom had Alzheimer’s and was progressively getting worse, and my dad was taking care of her by himself. My brother and I were worried about him and suggested that he needed to get help or to move Mom to a nursing home. He replied, “It isn’t time yet.” When I told Dad I was going on The Walk to Emmaus, he said, “Ask Jesus what we should do.”
As I sat with my eyes closed in the darkened chapel on the second night of my Walk, a feeling of peace overcame me, and I saw Jesus standing before me in my mind’s eye. He just stood there full of peace and love. At that moment, I just knew that everything would be all right with my mom and that we were not to worry.
When I told my dad what happened, he said, “I know that Jesus will show me the best way to take care of your mother.”
My mom lived at home with my dad until she passed away peacefully at home.
In my Fourth Day, to further my growth in piety, I am using a prayer book to help guide my prayer life. One of my daily practices is to use the daily scripture as a foundation for my prayer of the day. I am also reading the Bible each day.
Each week I participate in a covenant group that has met virtually. We keep each other on track and learn from various online studies.
As I continue to grow in grace through study, I recently participated in a Lenten study on the book Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today by Adam Hamilton. I was also part of an online group that studied He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart by Max Lucado. I also attended a conference on racism held by the New York Annual Conference and a class on sermon preparation and preaching. In the last few months I have read a variety of books, including The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel, Black and White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship at a Time by Teesha Hadra and John Hambrick, and From Pew to Pulpit: A Beginner’s Guide to Preaching by Clifton F. Guthrie.
For Christian action, I am involved in a soup kitchen at church that is currently inactive due to the pandemic. We are trying to figure out if we have enough volunteers to open again. I serve as trainer for our local Emmaus Ministries community, and I serve on event teams based on needs. I love seeing how God changes lives on weekends, and how these women go out into the world ready to share God’s good news in whatever way they are called to do so.
As part of my involvement with my local church, I co-teach the confirmation class, which is being held virtually. It is such a blessing to interact with youth and help them learn how to live a life in Christ.
As we know, the pandemic has brought many changes, so over the past year I have been working on the Care Ministry team at my church. My focus is on staying connected with the congregation. Most recently we created a to-go Holy Week packet. This included a palm branch for Palm Sunday, a Communion cup and wafer for Maundy Thursday, a cross made of sticks for Good Friday, prayer jelly beans for Holy Saturday, and a cross craft kit for Easter Sunday.
As I continue on my Fourth Day, I look forward to retirement (I have only a few years left) so I can serve the Lord more. I would like to participate in the after-school homework club, mentoring children and helping them with their homework, based at the Long Island Youth Mentoring Center.
I desire to continue ministering as a Lay Servant in my church, and I am interested in becoming a Lay Speaker.
Another goal I have when I have more time is to find other Christian-based community action to participate in that will draw people to God.
Betty Gastelua participated in the Walk to Emmaus in October 2008.
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I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”