015_HaroldDettweiler_portraitat29On Wednesday morning, the day of Dad’s funeral service, I woke early and went downstairs with my iPad to write out my eulogy in full. A search for the words of the verse I had gone to bed meditating on turned it up in Psalm 116:15. I have a developed preference for quoting complete passages of scripture, whenever possible, and I saw that this Psalm had both several All-Star verses (the type we might highlight) and had an overall theme which is more than compatible with describing the life experience of one who “calls on the Lord”. I decided early to read the Psalm in Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” version, not because it is any stronger or says more what I’d like to say in that version but because I know my weakness and how I can become incapable of continuing to speak when Scripture slays me with its “sharper than a two-edged sword” nature. Eugene Peterson uses different words and perhaps I thought that these words would be somewhat duller to my emotions. So there I was, in a different way than usual, using the words of Scripture for my purposes.

I am a fan of historical fiction, especially when the writer has done his or her research. Much of the time that I spent sitting in Dad’s room at A.R. Goudie I needed no more occupation than to think about dad’s life. In my eulogy, I tie the dated photo [January 1948] of dad with 120 other students at Kitchener Bible School with a note that dad wrote about his “first job” which included milking Uncle Norman’s cows besides their own. When he wrote that he would hitch up the horse to the sled in the winter and head across the fields in the morning I had a romantic image that I just couldn’t resist. It is quite probable, now that I’ve done a quick Google of Howard Dettweiler’s birth year, that Dad was referring to his chores circa 1936, when he, as a 14 year-old, would be more capable of hand-milking cows than 7 year-old Howie, Uncle Norman’s only son. But a little compression of a lot of chore-doing between 1936 and 1948 is only taking a tiny bit of poetic license.

some of Kitchener bible school January 1948 studentsAmong the witty one-liners that Dad so often used in Karen’s biographical exercise book to avoid the hard work of filling out the facts, there are, in fact, a few interesting facts. It is recorded that Dad made Mom’s acquaintance (for the first time?) when he was invited to Cecil Mader’s Sunday dinner (dad’s employer from 1943 through to 1946) along with the [all-girl] Arthur Hachborn family who went to the same Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church in Breslau as the Maders. Mom verified [in a phone call today] that this would have been when she was 15 or 16 years old. I said in the eulogy that Hitler delayed dads life, but that God uses for good what was intended for evil. I’ve no doubt that Harold took note of the young woman, Margaret, on that Sunday dinner in 1943. I can imagine him contemplating if God was beginning to call him to the church that in 1947, after the war, changed its name to the “United Missionary Church”. A girl hardly 16 is much too young to be a wife, however, and Mom was busy boarding in Kitchener to continue her education at K.C.I. The next we hear of Dad and Mom is Christmas of 1948 when the youth groups join to go carolling. Margaret is now 20 years old and Harold is not going to miss his opportunity to drive Margaret home and begin a 4 year courtship.

When I read the eulogy based on Psalm 116, I finished with an uninterrupted reading of verses 16 through 19. Bear in mind I was expecting to have difficulty delivering this eulogy without choking up and being unable to speak. Carol and I had prayed that I would be able, contrary to many previous experiences, to overcome my emotions, so often brought on by the word of God, and deliver this to the end. By the grace of God I had reached this point without any tears or debilitating emotion and, I must say, I was rather elated. It could be that I stretched my hands in the air as I read with the psalmist “Oh God, here I am, your servant”. Afterwards at least one person described my delivery as being “like a Pentecostal preacher”. I must say that careful listeners might have noted that I did ask that they consider these last words of Psalm 116 as the “theme song of Dad’s life”. As I entered into the character of my father addressing these words to the Lord, I just don’t see him doing it with nonchalance or with his hands in his pockets. This is not a kid struggling through a scripture passage and missing the meaning of the words. I know I get a lot of practice, singing in a gospel choir, but Dad will seize the moment when he stands before his creator and he will break forth with all the emotion that God gives him and give praise, give blessing to God.

My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations.
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

God has no problem with that

Thinking of a title for my Sunday blog this week, which must be prepared this Saturday night as tomorrow is not only a day of rest in the morning for me and Carol, it is an exciting day of choir work as we audition over 50 singers for Montreal Gospel Choir.  Exciting season-beginning event each year.

So….what of the title, “God doesn’t have any problem with that”.  Well, if God were God On High, and also Prosperity God, wishing, even willing my material well-being, I know he would have a problem with the way I conduct my business. This Prosperity God would be ashamed to be associated with an affair like mine which refuses to progress and finds itself (parce que, l’affair dans cette affair, c’est MOI) doing shoddy things like lugging home leftover product wrapped up with ice like I was some bag-lady moving her worldly possessions. At the June market I reached my target of a complete sell-out in spite of having significant un-ordered product.  When this happens, I’m elated the whole trip home.  Today I had little extra product available at the outset (except in Garlic-smoked sausage) so I didn’t try to promote extra sales.  Result:  I didn’t get extra sales and had several no shows – people not claiming their orders.

[Note added 6 weeks after original date of this blog:  watch this 6 minute presentation on the effects of inner voices from Alain de Botton’s School of Life.  You could say that my rather confusing blog “God has no problem with that” is about me listening to my inner voice condemning me about the way I do business.  Fortunately, God is to me the comforting, encouraging inner voice and more than that, God specializes in redeeming bad situations, at least that is my experience.  Read on and see what happens when I’m faced with more leftover product than I can carry and a rapidly approaching deadline if I am to reach the last Saturday train back to Montreal.]

What did the God that I know do?  (Btw, He is Suffering Servant God and God Immanuel, too).  This God sent an absolute angel of a taxi man: patient, caring, good driver, very professional, a listener.  The flat rate from Burlington to Union Station downtown Toronto was nothing miraculous, but I tipped him as if he was Jesus Christ meeting Abraham.  God can get me more of the tipping money and he all-the-time-Jehovah-Jireh does (that’s my life experience).  But still, I’m lugging a hockey-bag-sized ensemble of 4 X 5 kg garlic sausage plus ice bag to keep the product chilled, plus insulation to keep the ice from totally melting, a vinyl sign used between ice and product to keep the whole thing from becoming sausage soup until I got on the chill train. ‘Le tout’ bound together and made carry-able, but not elegantly, with the jib halyard that I salvaged from the items in the rummage shed at the Lake of Bays dump several years ago.  Fer shame, Ted!

I am presently returning from a business trip – please don’t imagine me meeting clients like a traditional businessman might on a business trip.  That is what I do – meet my clients – but we’re not talking of some future sale, we’re handing over product that they have ordered from me by phone or email.  If I did it every month I might really hate what I do, but I do it 4 times per year (go to market) and it refreshes the majority of what I do in my business which is work by myself in a cooler, packaging sausage while staring at the box liners hanging in front of my stainless steel work table. I don’t exactly hate that either, as it is menial work which gives a person time to think great thoughts, and the one day per week nature of packaging is about the appropriate healthy level for doing that sort of thing.

God has no problem with that.  God can use that, even when I’m ashamed of myself for my shabby show.  God is ‘in it’.  Like ‘with me’ – Immanuel.  God doesn’t desire to put me in a situation where I don’t feel much respect for my business self, but he doesn’t say “I’m out of here” or reinforce my negative self condemnation, he sends his angels to carry me.  Sometimes the taxi dispatcher sends Jesus.

Glory to God, in the highest!

And peace, on earth.

Good will…



btw, the bag-lady worldly possessions ensemble got delivered to my faithful Cornwall customer (and perhaps himself a double agent school teacher / part-time angel) who was over-the-moon for how it worked out in his favour and was ready for me to deliver like this all-the-time.  That would be putting the Lord, Thy God to a foolish test (in my eyes, anyways).  This one’s a one-off, kind of cool-in-the-end experience that started with me wallowing in misery.  And praise God, for His ways are right.  But Via Rail delivery? Not happening…..more than once.

PK Subban


Going to the Just for Laughs comedy gala hosted by PK on August 1.  This trade is a tragedy, but if PK and the comedians play it right it will make for great comedy.  Skewer all those that think Montreal hockey is better without Subban, please!

so I could worship

Do you know the Scripture where Jesus passes by a fig tree, somewhere near Bethany, if my memory is correct? [Matthew 21:18-22. We do fact check our blog so as not to lead the Internet-gullible astray.] There are a whole range of trees mentioned in the Bible and while many of the references are figurative, some are literal trees, like the oak or terebinth trees of Moreh (where Abram built an altar) and then his living place for a long time became the oak trees belonging to an ally, Mamre.

Nothing roots a story in history, so much as a tree. I guess it is because trees outlive the humans who live near them. If I am a Canadian who knows something about sycamore trees, it’s not only because I’ve been reading Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”, but because, as every Sunday School kid can tell you, Zaccheus was in that kind of tree and he was destined to meet Jesus.

This infamous fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22, however, was not mentioned because of what it bore, but because it did not bear any figs. So Jesus cursed it; the disciples heard him doing this, saw the result and reported it in Scripture; and almost 2000 years later, one Saturday night, I’m Googling “fig trees” so I can make sense of the story to my grade 2-3 Sunday school class. You might say like I did, “Do we have to incorporate in our Sunday school curriculum stories like these that are placed among the difficult-sayings-of-Jesus?”. But it was right there in the middle of the lesson plan with a Sunday school moral like, “Be fruitful, or else…” attached to it. As a responsible grade 2-3 Sunday school teacher I felt I had to give the kids something more than this, so I delved into fig tree research.

I learned many things about fig trees and when they should bear fruit and all, but the thing that sticks with me that has me writing this blog today was about a particular variety of fig tree that has male and female trees or flowers or something (don’t make me do the research again) and there is this one particular type of wasp that hangs around the male tree long enough to get pollen on the feet and then flies into the female flower and dies there. The wasp gets incorporated into the fruit, the fig, and it is only by this wasp that the tree can produce figs at all. Now don’t worry, adults, I was discrete in how I passed on this VERY interesting bit of fig info along. The author who put this info on the internet made it clear that it was only one particular type of rare fig variety that had these male / female trees and associated wasps. This wasn’t something I used to explain Jesus cursing the tree as it is highly unlikely that the type of fig tree between Bethany and Jerusalem operated like that. This was treated as bonus info for a grade 2 / 3 Sunday School teacher who has a keen interest in nature but, who, unfortunately already had enough science credits in high school so he never took biology [sad, but true].

Right after the fig tree lesson we served up the name brand Christie Fig Newtons which I had splurged on since my kids deserve only the best. There was a higher than normal amount of half-finished cookies that day, which I put down at the time to “kids-these-days” but, now that I think of it, might also have been accounted for by a certain wasp-like crunchiness to that snack.

Now that I’ve raised this difficult-saying of Jesus in a blog, some of you might want to know why Jesus, indeed, did this. Was the fig tree symbolic of Israel? Maybe, but I wasn’t using that with my grade 2 / 3 kids. Don’t want no part in raising more miss-guided anti-Semitics. Here’s what I take from this story: Jesus, knowing that this would be reported in Scripture, taught in church (and even in some Sunday school curriculums), and studied by teachers, wanted to create a special “wink-of-the-eye” to me and my kin in the 21st century who would delve deeper and learn something of the intricacies of creation as it pertains to figs. I don’t write this tongue-in-cheek, as my reaction at the moment that I read about the wasps was nothing more or less than throwing up my hands to creator-God and Lord of all trees in WORSHIP. He knows my name. He knows how I hang out on my terrace garden at watering time happy that my flowers have created an urban environment for bugs and bees. He knows each tear that falls and, believe me, my tears are all about God’s goodness.

Picture of a half-eaten fig

Most unfavourite things

“Hi, this is Ted Dettweiler calling from Dettweiler’s Sausage.  We’re going to be delivering in your area in the afternoon on Saturday, August 23.  Would you like some sausage at this time?”

That’s my opening line on the telephone to my 87 phone order customers in various parts of the Niagara region.  It’s not very refined – I think they say in sales to never ask a question that can be answered with a “No”.  But this blog post is not about improving my sales technique, it’s to tell you the very interesting things that happen when I FINALLY get around to making these phone calls.

FINALLY get around – OK, let’s back up – calling customers in the Niagara region is something that I do only 4 times per year as that is how many trips I make to the St. Catharines market, doing delivery to homes in certain areas, like Niagara-on-the-Lake, in the afternoon after I’ve finished my market sales.  I have more customers than the 87 that I will call today and tomorrow, but the rest have email addresses and I have rigged up my Filemaker Pro database so that I can click my mouse on “Send delivery email” or “Send market email” and when they respond I can click on “Send delivery confirm” etc.

4 times per year I procrastinate the calling.  I’ll fiddle with my database layout; I’ll do the dishes; I’ll make raspberry jam; I’ll create a blog on food and then post a story on the garden stew I was making to avoid doing these calls.  You must be thinking, what kind of customers does he have that he avoids doing a half-a-baker’s-dozen-dozen phone calls so?

My customers are the best customers in the world.  Many of the phone list customers are older and don’t do internet, email and all that modern stuff.  While many are quite business-like on their calls (my long distance records show that my average call lasts 14.5 seconds*) that suits me fine as that is exactly my phone manner – all business-at-hand, no chit-chat or politesse.  “I’ll have the same as last time” is a common order, which is why I keep records in my database, so I know exactly what, when, who and how much the last time was.  The number of these customers who order every time I call is much higher than it is for the email customers*, so I would be a fool to stop calling them simply because calling is something that I prefer not doing.

*Full disclosureI made up the two authoritative statements made in the previous paragraph.  If I took the time to do a study on my average call length or the order frequency of phone vs email customers I would only be further procrastinating my calling.

Calling is going very well, as usual. I’ve been playing a game to get through the calling.  These are the rules:  I must continue calling until one of the customers says “not this time”, at that, I mark “NTT Aug 2014” in the calling status field and put an X, which becomes an X in the YmX field.  At that point, I give myself permission to write another paragraph in this blog.  If I get an answering machine, or they are going to call me back once they check with their daughter, or the phone is busy (*66), that doesn’t count – I just document it in the database in the call status field and <ctrl>semi-colon in the call date field to put a timestamp on it and I’m on to the next phone number.  Count the paragraphs and you’ll see how many NO’s I’ve had so far.

†Not many NO’s at all as I only started the write-a-blog-paragraph-each-time-I get-a-NO game on around the 3rd paragraph (that doesn’t include the opening call-dialogue quote, but does include the footnoted paragraphs written in-line – like this one).  I’m actually wanting to procrastinate on the blog writing in favour of the calling, it’s going so well.  But first let me tell you about one interesting call that brought tears to my eyes, and from the emotion in my callers voice, I would likely say that it brought tears to my customer’s eyes as well.  Stay tuned, that’s coming up right after this calling break.

I think there were probably at least two or three very interesting calls that I could write about – I’m a writer (though not professionally) besides making the very best sausage you can find anywhere.  Sometimes when I am in the midst of the mundane task of calling customers it’s as if God sends me a sparkling jewel to remind me that there is more to life than making a living.

I’m thinking back to a call, earlier this year, to one of my very best customers  as I was preparing for my annual Leamington-and-area sausage deliveries in February and there are tears in my eyes as I write.  On that day, I could hardly continue talking on the phone, my emotions made it difficult for me, because of her and her family’s tremendous loss that was still so painfully fresh when I made the call.  I don’t want to give any more details about this experience but even this was for the good as I felt it was ordained by God that I called that customer on that day.

This morning one of my best customers spoke of her granddaughter who was on her way today to the U.S.A. where she is accepting a scholarship for university.  I’m sure she is so proud of her granddaughter’s achievements which allowed her to earn this scholarship, but the concern that she expressed was for her spiritual well-being going away to study.  I said that I’d pray for this grand-daughter whenever I thought of the school where she is going to study.  That will be fairly often as the school, or state, has produced many fine football coaches that have worked in Canada in the CFL and also in our universities.  (I’ve been a CFL and Golden Hawks fan for a long time).

I really liked when my customer told me what was on her heart on this day.  God has always provided for me quite well through this sausage business passed down from my father.  In recent years I’ve seen great things happen in around the business.  I have the faith that comes from seeing God act in my life.  I’ve come through a few very challenging experiences myself and now sometimes I feel called alongside others when they need support.  For sausage lasts for 6 or 8 months when kept properly in a freezer, but the spiritual side of us, I know, that keeps forever.

Rejoice with me, for I finished all 87 calls and this blog is thus complete!