Lavern Pratt first went to Panama forty years ago. In 1981, she and her husband, Angus, were sent to Panama on an assignment with Multiply (MBMS at the time). They led an agricultural development project for two terms and returned to Canada in 1988. During their time in Panama, they especially grew to love the young people that they lived and served among.
Upon returning to Canada, the couple settled in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, where they spent the next twelve years getting to know the
Indigenous peoples in the region, specifically the Cree and Dene. However, the adjustment to Canada was not easy. “Re-entry seemed much more difficult than the culture shock we experienced in Panama,” Lavern explained.
In 1990, the couple lost an infant daughter, and in 2000, their marriage ended, leaving Lavern a single parent. Those years were extremely stretching and refining for her. Coming out of the divorce, she asked
the Lord about the next steps for her life. “I sensed the Lord leading me to go back to school,” Lavern said, “and I studied to become a Landscape Architect. It was a rewarding career, and I thought I would be doing it until I retired.”
However, after twelve years of progressing in this career, Lavern was laid off and she went to God again with the question, “What do you want me to do now?”
It was then that she took an opportunity to return to Panama for a ten-month mission experience with Multiply’s TREK program. Her love for that country and people was revived. After that experience, Lavern worked with an inner-city mission in Saskatoon for two years, but she continued to search her soul, asking God what he wanted to do in her, and through her.
Finally, an answer came in the form of an open door to return to Panama long-term with Multiply.
“As I began to prepare, I resigned from my job and sold my house,” she said, “and then the pandemic hit!” Despite COVID slowing down the process significantly, Lavern has been thrilled to be preparing for a move to Panama once again. Through online connections, she has been able to rekindle friendships with those in the church in Panama that she had been involved in planting decades earlier. “What a joy it was,” she said with eyes sparkling, “to see how God had led some of the youth we knew in the 1980s into leadership positions within the MB church conference in Panama!”
As pandemic restrictions lighten, Lavern is optimistic about her new timeline. Although it has been difficult to meet with people to develop partnerships, she is trusting in God’s provision. “I know I’m following God’s leading,” she said, “so I am confident that his plan will be fulfilled according to his intentions. Though I don’t know the timing of it all.” She is inspired by the truth in Ephesians 2:10, a verse that has been very special to her during the last few years: “For we are God’s master-
piece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Looking back on her life path, Lavern marvels, “I know that most of the missionaries who were sent out in the 1980s are now returning home and shifting into other areas of ministry. My journey has been so different, but there’s no retiring from serving God, so I’ll just keep following where he leads.”
Throughout her life, Lavern has come back to that simple question again and again: “God, what do you want to do in and through me?”
What about us? Will we be open and willing to keep asking the same question and follow where God leads?
Lavern’s story was originally posted on Multiple’s website here.