QUITO, ECUADOR -With a quiet demeanor and steady devotion accompanying her skilled hands, Darlene Peters served God as a mission worker for more than 50 years.
Across the decades, it became evident to those around her that Darlene had fixed her focus on a distant horizon. Amid the life’s rhythms of her daily work, she kept an eye to the things eternal. As she served others in practical ways, she served Christ, whom she had received as Savior as a little girl growing up in Michigan.
On March 29, 2018, Darlene succumbed to the colon cancer she had been diagnosed with several months earlier. “Though she was hopeful of getting better at first,” a friend, Karen Miller said, “following surgery she was very realistic about her status—soon to be with her Savior. Her faith was strong, which gave her perfect peace.”
Born on September 17, 1938 to Darwin and Lillian Kimmer, she grew up on the outskirts of Albion, Mich., where Darwin worked as a city fireman. She busied herself on the family’s farm, picking and selling strawberries in the summer and helping her father trim Christmas trees in the winter. Capable and bright, she taught herself to play the piano without the advantage of an instructor.
Her decision to follow Jesus at a young age served to guide her career later in life. After completing high school in 1956, she studied at Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern St. Paul, Minn.), completing her education in 1958. She married Doug Peters on August 20, 1960. As missionaries with Reach Beyond (then known as HCJB – The Voice of the Andes) they learned Spanish in Costa Rica. They began work in Quito, Ecuador in December 1962.
Darlene quickly learned to get along without the modern conveniences that she had known in the United States. She and Doug often opened their home to other missionaries and to visitors from abroad.
Her mission work in HCJB’s English Language Service saw her reading, routing and helping respond to letters sent by shortwave radio listeners around the world. She also auditioned recorded programs that ministries sent for airing on the station and sang in the mission’s choir.
Karen Miller and her husband were visiting missionaries in Shell, Ecuador in 1974 when the Peterses volunteered to show them the hospital—where Doug worked in administration—and the Nate Saint Memorial School. “Hospitable must have been their middle names,” Miller observed, “as we were made to feel comfortable and welcome, including a lovely meal in their home.” Sufficiently impressed by Doug and Darlene’s approach to their Savior, their work and guests, the Millers began giving mission support to the mission and to the Peters family.
“Darlene’s selflessness showed up in her support of Doug and his numerous positions with Reach Beyond,” Miller said, adding that her abilities as a skilled wordsmith and proofreader aided Doug in his role as the mission board’s secretary. “Even in retirement, Darlene supported Doug’s role in working with seniors and their giving plans. Darlene never wanted the spotlight, but viewed herself as one to support Doug and the mission.”
“I always admired how they worked together as a team,” wrote fellow missionary retiree, Ruth Ann De Flon on Darlene’s personal health journal on the website, Caring Bridge. “Darlene always had a smile on her face and enjoyed her work for the Lord.” In Ecuador, she served in secretarial roles in the health care division, as well as in regional administration and for the mission’s president.
Sewing—a skill Darlene had learned as a girl in 4-H—served her throughout her life, according to daughter Deb (Peters) McCrary, one of Darlene’s primary caregivers during her last months of life. “Over the years,” McCrary said, “her hands sewed clothes for herself and our family (including one year when she made our travel clothes for coming to the U.S.—matching polyester tan leisure suits for my dad and brothers and matching blue polyester pant suits for herself and me.) Yes, there was a time when everyone dressed up when they were going to fly.”
“For over 15 years, Mom knitted caps and booties and sewed baby nighties and quilts for newborn babies in Bangladesh,” McCrary continued, “Ever resourceful, her hands jumped at the opportunity to make dresses out of pillowcases for girls in Haiti.”
Together, Doug and Darlene served in Ecuador until 1982 and after that, continued working at the mission’s headquarters in Miami and later on in Colorado Springs. Upon their retirement in 2000, they volunteered their time, attaining 50 years of service to Christ through Reach Beyond. In 2008 they moved to Oviedo, Fla., to live closer to the McCrary family. They became active members at CrossLife Church and made many new friends through their small group and the senior ministry.
Darlene enjoyed reading, time with grandchildren, playing the piano and sewing. Many have been privileged to taste her signature apple pie. To the end, she played a competitive game of Scrabble, Upwords or Quidler, with her daughter-in-law, Vicki. “When I returned [to relieve Vicki in caregiving],” said McCrary, “Mom proudly announced to me that they had tied in the number of games each of them had won. After that, Mom no longer wanted to play Quidler. She wanted to leave the score even.”
She was preceded in death by her parents, a brother and a sister. She is survived by her husband of nearly 58 years, Doug, her children and their spouses, David (Vicki) Peters, Deb (Rex) McCrary and Dan (Tascha) Peters. She is also survived by eight grandchildren, her sisters Elizabeth (Robert) Kirby, and Ruth Ann (Tom) Potter.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial donations be given to Reach Beyond, P.O. Box 39800, Colorado Springs, CO 80949 with “In memory of Darlene Peters” written in the notes section of checks.
Photo captions. 1) Darlene Peters (1938 – 2018) with her husband, Doug Peters. 2) Darlene filing. 3) Ralph at the microphone.
About the writer: Ralph Kurtenbach, a missionary journalist, works with Reach Beyond, where he has been an English-language newscaster and program host on the international shortwave radio station, HCJB The Voice of the Andes. He now blogs at www.calloftheandes.wordpress.com and helps to mentor Latinos who want to join in taking the gospel to other parts of the world. He may be found on LinkedIn and his e-mail is: email@example.com
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