Still Waters: Happy 65th anniversary, Mamma and Daddy

She was invited to a welcome home party for a college kid she didn’t know. Since she didn’t have other plans that night, Teresa Arlene Pointer went to the surprise party. As “luck” would have it, when the group burst out of their hiding place to welcome the college student home, she pretty much fell at his feet as the crowd pushed forward.

Donald Sales couldn’t help but take notice. In fact he took a lot of notice over the next weeks and months. Although they were five years apart, they found much to talk about whenever the college student was in town. Both Don and Teresa were natives of Sheridan, Wyoming, but their paths had not crossed due to the difference in their ages until that fateful evening at the surprise party.

Don was studying to be a minister at a college in Washington state. Teresa was just a teenager. Something more than physical attraction drew them together. They both were sincere Christians who believed God had a special calling for their lives.

It would be that calling that would sustain them through all the “better and worse” times ahead.

It was not luck or coincidence that brought Don and Teresa together. It was providence. God knew they would be better as a team together than apart. He needed them in His service — both of them, together.

The young ministerial student and his teenage bride, having just graduated from high school, began their lives together on August 24, 1952. From their Wyoming hometown they would go to Lincoln, Nebraska and Washington, D.C., where Don would conclude his ministerial studies, and then to Nucla, Colorado, where he would enter the ministry as a teacher/pastor. Never having enough to make ends meet on a minister’s salary, Teresa would find jobs wherever they lived, whether it was working for a firm in D.C. supporting the aerospace industry, working the switchboard at a rural telephone company in Nucla or composing the television guide for the Muskogee Daily Phoenix newspaper. For many years she would work as a journalist.

Always, though, she was part of the ministerial team of “Pastor Sales and Teresa.” They would serve congregations in Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa and Oklahoma. Often Pastor Sales would have three churches in different towns to serve. He would spend many hours on the road, in church meetings, conducting Bible studies and visiting church members. His work would range from constructing a church building in rural Okeene to holding evangelistic meetings in a tiny church in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He would preach, lead, teach, baptize, marry, bury, sing, counsel and write.

Teresa’s church work complemented his. Often they would sing duets. She would run off bulletins and newsletters, bake thousands of dishes for potlucks and socials, visit sick and elderly members with her husband and help with every event at church whether it was a prayer meeting or Vacation Bible School.

There were always visitors to accommodate, sometimes with little notice, in the family home, and crises to address and avert.

Sometimes the crises were in their own home with physical illnesses challenging their bodies and their only son’s mental illness challenging their souls. There would be times of heartbreak, but there would also be times of pleasure, for example trips to places that would take their breath away and provide them with beautiful memories forever. Wherever they lived, they found beauty and interest in the natural wonders nearby, like Effigy Mounds not far from their Iowa home, or salt crystal fields in Oklahoma or wildflowers on mountain hikes in Colorado. When they lived in the San Luis Valley, they enjoyed trips to the Great Sand Dunes.

Every time they moved — and the moves were many — they would look at the map where they would be going and anticipate what adventures they could encounter there.

They would instill in their three daughters that anticipation of what the future would bring. More importantly, though, they would instill in them an anticipation of an eternal future yet to come.

God only knows how many lives have been touched and transformed by the providentially ordained team of Pastor Don and Teresa who have survived to serve for 65 years.