Pastors aim to nourish, inside and out 0
Angela Brown, The Herald-Leader... Lieutenants Graciela and Jeff Arkell are pictured outside Portage Salvation Army recently. They will be leaving their posts in Portage la Prairie to move on to Ontario at the end of June.
It was a long path for Graciela and Jeff Arkell, Salvation Army lieutenants in Portage la Prairie, to become officers/ pastors at the local Sally Ann Citadel.
While they will be leaving soon to continue their ministry elsewhere, they say wherever they are they appreciate their work is never just a job, but a service they don't take for granted.
"I just love it," said Graciela, recalling why she first became involved in the Salvation Army many years ago. "You really get to live out what you learn in the bible, serving others. There are so many ways to live it out."
It is with mixed feelings that the Salvation Army pastors in Portage la Prairie announced they will be moving on after serving here for the past three years.
Lieutenants Jeff and Graciela Arkell will be moving to Mississauga, Ont., at the end of June.
"We are sad to leave Portage; this was our first appointment with the Salvation Army," said Jeff. "There are some strong ties and good friendships that we have made here. So we will be a little disappointed we will be leaving.
"But on the other hand, we are also excited we are looking forward to new ministry opportunities and new challenges," he added. "(And) it will be nice for our family and children to be close to their grandparents, because they are in Ontario."
Jeff, who is originally from Owen Sound, Ont., and Graciela, who is from Panama, will be going to Cornerstone Community Church in Mississauga.
Before the Arkells came to Portage, they trained in Winnipeg after entering the ministry in Orillia, Ont.
The Arkells have three children: Joshua, 4, Gabriela, 6, and their youngest Graciela Angelica, 1 year old, who was born in Portage.
"They have made some good friends, so it will be tough for them as well," said Jeff. "Portage has been a great place we found to live and to work."
The Salvation Army pastors need to relocate every so often to minister in new communities, so the Arkells have accepted they must move to where they are needed.
Graciela finds it difficult to leave Portage also, but appreciates that is part of her work.
"I feel sad," she said. "It's like leaving family," she said.
When the Arkells move on, taking their place at the Salvation Army in Portage will be Lieutenants Peter and Amanda Robinson, along with their young daughter. The Robinsons will be arriving in early July from their appointment in Bermuda.
"I am confident with the new officers coming in," said Graciela. "They are amazing."
Graciela recalls the early days when she and Jeff came to Portage three years ago as cadets at that time.
"Part of our training before becoming Salvation Army officers was done here for a full year," she said. "Then, we are commissioned and ordained and they kept us here. So our first two years as officers was here."
In their service, the Salvation Army pastors are responsible for administering the food bank program for the needy and providing their prayer service.
For the Arkells, the community connections also offer bonds for their own family. One of their children started Grade 1 in Portage, so they have strong feelings about being a part of this community as well.
The Arkells have travelled to many places before they arrived in Portage.
They first met at The Salvation Army's Booth University College in Winnipeg 11 years ago.
At the time, Graciela was studying social work and Jeff was taking theology.
Both Graciela and Jeff were still deciding then what their futures would be like.
"It was on my radar; it was on his radar," said Graciela. "Then, we met and went: 'Oh, you want to be a pastor too?' It's amazing."
The couple then went on to Panama and lived there for 18 months.
Following this term in Panama, they moved to Orillia where Jeff was a youth pastor while Graciela helped out with family services and other activities.
The couple both have roots in the Salvation Army also.
Jeff was a member in Owen Sound, Ont., while Graciela was with the Panama group.
Her parents were also both Salvation Army officers too. Graciela said her mother had served in Jamaica, Trinidad, Panama and other countries.
Jeff's parents are also Salvation Army members.
Now that Jeff and Graciela are moving on to Mississauga, Ont., they will have an opportunity to speak a little Spanish in their work since they will also be serving a Spanish community there.
"There will be some new responsibility when it comes to multicultural ministries," said Graciela. "That's exciting."
Graciela knows Spanish since that is what she is familiar with growing up in her home country, Panama. On the other hand, Jeff managed to become fluent in Spanish while working in Panama himself.
Because the Salvation Army does so many good works, Graciela wanted to be part of that service also, and commit her life to it.
"I grew up watching how we served God," she said. "A love for God actually compels us to serve others to meet their needs.
"The good thing about the Salvation Army is it's not just the church," she added. "You grow spiritually and you connect and worship with God. But it's also the social part of it, where you try to help their physical needs -- whether it's the food bank or clothing .... It's the whole physical and emotional need.
"It's more holistic; it's more than just the church," stressed Graciela. "That's why I was so compelled to come in and serve God in the