This past spring, Carol and Duane Peterson left Mountain City to fulfill a dream they aptly coined a vacation with a purpose. Their trip to Sweden and Denmark proved not only an opportunity to serve their Lord but to also realize a long-held desire to visit their ancestral homelands.
In 1993, the Petersons gave up their jobs and their brand new retirement home when they both realized they wanted to serve as missionaries. We both wanted to do something purposeful in our lives, said Duane. They soon found themselves traveling across North America as they worked on an Apache Native American Reservation before heading to work with people in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and Kentucky for many years. We went as volunteers with no promise of a long-term job, Carol stated. In Kentucky, Duane worked as an operations manager of a site that had a 120-acre working farm, a gym with a pool, schools, summer camps and work projects. We often put in water for the first time, she said, something difficult to conceive of in this day and time.
Although they had settled in Mountain City, they still felt a calling to help others. As we are retired, we wanted to serve somewhere, said Carol. We wanted to do something significant. With the help of the Internet, they found Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an international volunteer organization of Christians from all parts of the world and all walks of life. The Petersons soon discovered there was an opportunity for them to serve in Sweden. We wanted to see Sweden all of our lives, she said. Contacting the agency in late December, plans were soon underway. Lord, if it's what you want us to do, we will go, she said.
Arriving at the YWAM location in Restends, Sweden, Carol soon found herself in charge of fika each day, their word for coffee break, for a team of volunteers, as well as helping to prepare the mid-day meal. As her day slowed down, she would spend time working in their floral gardens. Duane worked on a maintenance team with two Swedes and one Dane who luckily spoke English. I kept pinching myself, she said. We are here in Sweden.
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