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The Old Paths

Timo and Minna Hotari | The Voice of Zion January 2022 - Home and Family Article --

For this feature, Timo and Minna Hotari visited with Timo’s parents Mauri and Irmeli Hotari. All are members of the Toronto, Ont., congregation.

As we slow the vehicle and turn into the familiar driveway, we reflect on the thoughts that had occupied the whole one-hour drive. Arriving together, we are eager to step out of the car and scurry up to the front door of Timo’s childhood home. It always feels good to come home, return to the safe haven of our parents, Irmeli and Mauri Hotari. The door opens and the joyous gaze and outstretched arms of parents with that comforting, familiar greeting of “God’s peace” quickly banish the worries of why this world can seem filled with confusion and evil. The simple greeting of “God’s peace” actually brings instant peace, we marvel.

The warmth of the home, the smell of baking, the table set and the sound of coffee brewing tell us they waited for our company with welcoming hearts. As we settle down to coffee, we find our discussion drifting from everyday topics to our comforting family memories and the old paths. We ask, “Dad, Mom, what comes to mind when we consider “the old paths”?

Dad picks up his glasses and opens his Bible. He begins to read from Jeremiah 6:16.

“Thus, saith the lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” He instructed us that it is important to travel on the pathway on which the previous saints traveled, because it leads to heaven’s home. It is comforting to know that the same pathway today remains unchanged and it yet leads to heaven.

Mom looks up and adds, “Only the gospel keeps us on this narrow way.” We ask Dad and Mom many questions. Here are some of the thoughts they shared with us.

How are things different now?

When we were young, we had no phones or computers. Perhaps there was more time to visit and share fellowship, life felt much simpler and spare time was used more effectively. People seemed closer to nature and kids spent more time outdoors playing. The rapid advancements in technology have brought good and bad. The good is that online service broadcasts and God’s Word can be spread throughout the world. The bad is that the number of temptations seems drastically grown and more available. Society as a whole has changed; sin is prevalent, and everything appears to be acceptable.

Are there things that haven’t changed?

While it seems there isn’t anything in this world that has not changed, the life of believers on the old path hasn’t changed. We can still, under the protection of the law, hold services. We have the freedom to believe.

How do you see young people’s lives now?

As parents of a large family, we carry our children and their families in prayer every day. They face many trials and temptations on the front lines of God’s kingdom. Cell phones and social media seem to take up much of their day. Pressures from the world and its ways press down on them. But nevertheless, our hearts rejoice to see them sitting willingly at services and singing.

What advice would you pass onto the young?

Put sin away and keep faith. Remember us elders and share some of your spare time with us.

What advice would you pass onto the newly married?

Use the gospel. Trust in God’s guidance in all matters. Don’t allow a “his or her master spirit” into your homes but allow Jesus into your homes.

What advice would you pass onto parents?

Root your children in living faith and suffer to bring the little ones before Jesus. Be content with your portion in life; it will bring you joy. Discuss spiritual matters at home – not just temporal matters with your kids. Spend time with your children; it breeds comfort. Stay on the old paths; you will receive peace and rest. It is important to live our lives according to our faith, which the Holy Spirit reveals in the kingdom of God.

As the evening draws to a close, we leave Mom and Dad with hearts full of peace and joy. What a blessing it is to have a believing home, we say. We pray that, with God’s help, our own children may feel the same.

An Interview with Wilfred and Estelle

Jennifer Waaraniemi | The Voice of Zion January 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Tara Simonson of the Outlook, Sask., congregation visited with her grandparents Wilfred and Estelle Haapala from the Dunblane, Sask., congregation. In this article, Tara’s sister Jennifer Waaraniemi from Monticello, Minn., shares parts of the conversation based on Tara’s notes.

Tara visited our grandparents Wilfred and Estelle about the theme of this Voice of Zion issue, “The Old Paths.” Grandparents have a wealth of life experience, and we can learn a lot from them. They are a great blessing!

Tara asks what comes to her grandparents’ minds when they consider the old paths. “The old path is the one we’ve always followed. There seem to be new paths that come up, but we want to stay on the same path,” they say.

When asked how things are different now, Estelle comments that life used to have a slower pace. Travel wasn’t a big thing and everyone stayed closer to home. There weren’t so many services, and visiting others’ homes brought much happiness. “The world is so busy now!” Estelle exclaims.

Worldly things seem closer and more accessible than they used to, which is a danger. But it is a blessing to have so many service events and camps to attend. One thing Wilfred and Estelle have noticed is that there is more emphasis on hearing the gospel daily than there used to be. “This is a good thing with the world being that much closer,” Estelle says.

Tara wonders aloud whether there are things in life that haven’t changed. Both grandparents reply that the basics of faith have not changed. The closeness and love of the congregation have always been there. It seems that thoughts about COVID and restrictions have tried to divide us, but we all have the same goal. We should always try to stay childlike and believe. “Trust in God; He has promised to look after us,” Wilfred reminds.

How nice it is, we realize, to hear advice from our elders. They can look back over years of experience. Here Wilfred and Estelle share thoughts on different stages of life.

To a young person: Keep faith and a good conscience. Stay in the love of the congregation as everything we need is found here.

To a newlywed couple: Remember to communicate and forgive one another. Nothing is perfect. Marriage needs continual care and work.

To new parents: Enjoy your little ones! It can seem there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all you need to do, but as you get older you realize that some of those things aren’t so important.

When kids are small, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know how you will manage. Now that we are older, we see what a huge blessing our kids and grandkids are.

What you wish for: In life there is so much you can wish for, but we have more than we need. God has blessed each of us, and it’s good to be content. Nothing comes from our own hands, and that’s easier to see as we get older.

We are so fortunate to be in God’s kingdom. As the world grows evil and restless, we don’t need to be scared. Let us follow the old paths. We have a secure foundation.

Questions for Thought and Discussion

  1. In your own words, what is meant by “the old paths”? The adjective “old” suggests what about the paths?

  2. The phrase comes from Jeremiah 6:6, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Who is being spoken to? Who might say, “We will not walk therein”?

  3. To what extent is this instruction counterintuitive? To what extent is this instruction logical?

2022_01_Pub_JanVZ_HF_The Old Paths
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