Continuing the Journey

Our Florida home

We are enjoying our Honeymoon at our home in Sarasota, Florida.

Last evening we had our first guests for a  barbecue on our pool deck. Appropriately the first guests to come to dinner and sign our guest book were Julie & Loren Roth and Lyle & Jenny Martin. Lyle is my younger brother.

Julie and Loren are close friends, neighbors and members at Phyllis’s home church, Kern Road Mennonite Church.

Wilmer, Loren, Julie & Phyllis

They graciously opened their home to Phyllis, hosting her for the 2 months between when she sold her Indiana home and our wedding.

Jenny, Lyle’s wife, and Julie assisted us with the wedding reception setup and details. Jenny also helped Phyllis with decorating our Florida home.

We also enjoyed welcoming Paul and Ruth Herr also from Kern Road Mennonite Church.

Hospitality in our homes deepens friendship.  We are grateful for the quiet time in Sarasota. Next week we return to Ontario.

Visiting with Paul and Ruth Herr

We want to say thank you to the many friends who donated to Learning for Humanity  as a wedding gift. We are overwhelmed with your generosity. You are invited to go on the website to see how your gift is impacting the lives of teachers and children in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya.

Please keep in touch. We deeply appreciate your friendship.


~ Wilmer and Phyllis

Oberammergau 2020

Oberammergau’s Passion Play theatre, photo by Robin Zebrowski cc-by-nc 2.0

The World Famous Oberammergau Passion Play is next performing in 2020. This play, performed every 10 years, is fulfilling the village’s promise to God made in 1634.

Many of my friends are asking if I plan to take any tours to see the play. Currently I have 2 tours planned:

May 21-31, 2020: Explore the Alps Tour: Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany including Oberammergau

My friend Lorne Smith will be joining me and serving as storyteller on this tour. The focus will be on history and culture. Some of the experiences on this tour include:

  • the fantastic scenery of the Swiss Alps as we travel the Cable car at Erlenbach, Switzerland
  • visit South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to visit Otzi the Ice Man in Italy
  • an evening Tyrolean Folk Cultural show in Innsbruck, Austria
  • visit Sound of Music country and the church in Mondsee, Austria where the wedding scene was filmed

September 15-28: Holy Land Tour including Oberammergau

My friend Pastor Henry Detweiler will be joining me in tour leadership. The first two days of the tour will be spent in Oberammergau. Can you imagine how meaningful the tour will be after experiencing Jesus’ story so vividly? We will experience the Passion Play and then travel to the Holy Land where we will walk the Jesus Trail in Galilee, visit the Mount of the Beautitudes, as well as visit other cities central to Jesus’s life (Nazareth, Caesarea, Bethlehem and Jerusalem).

Our home away from home in Oberammergau, Hotel Turmwirt

Both tours include two nights at beautiful Hotel Turmwirt where we will be hosted by the Glas Family as we deepen our faith by observing the Passion Play.

For more information and tour details, including pricing, please write to wilmerraymartin-(at)  A $500 deposit per person will reserve your place on a tour.  Make your check/cheque payable to W.J.Martin Developments Inc. and mail to 1501-144 Park St. Waterloo, Ont N2L 0B6

I hope you are able to join me one of these exciting tours.

~ Wilmer

New Year’s Message

Happy New Year. As I was Reflecting on beginning a New Year, the Bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) came to mind.
This verse has been a comfort and encouragement to me since I was ordained at age 18. At that time I was feeling overwhelmed at being called to lead as a teenager. My father’s cousin, Bishop Raymond Charles from Lancaster, invited me to attend a Missionary Training Institute being held in Philadelphia. This was four months after my ordination. At that meeting this verse became embedded in my spirit and has been a comfort ever since.

Christ has strengthened me this past year through my family, friends, church family and colleagues at Learning for Humanity. It is such a blessing to have a meaningful office to go to each day and be surrounded by exciting people doing work that is making a difference globally. To see the smiling faces of children and to hear them talk about the difference their education is making gives me energy for my volunteer work as Development Officer at L4H.

Janelle enjoying "chocolat chaud" at the Christmas market.
Janelle enjoying “chocolat chaud” at the Christmas market. She said she had never had a more delicious cup of hot chocolate.

Number 1 for me is my family. My daughter Janelle traveled with me to visit the Christmas Markets last month in Austria, Italy and Germany. Janet and I loved this trip which we did many times. You can see by Janelle’s face she too enjoyed traveling with me.

Matthew and Miriam enjoy being with Grandpa. I love cooking for the family. Several days ago they told me my “signature dish” is Meatloaf. I use the recipe that Janet used. My goal is to keep the traditions of the family. They think I should open a restaurant. Miriam said we will call it Grandpa’s Meatloaf Restaurant.

Christiane, Alan, Miriam and Matthew with Grandpa- ready for Toronto!

Alan, Christiane, Matthew and Miriam invited me to join them for New Year’s Eve in Toronto. So we all took the train from Kitchener/Waterloo to Toronto. It is a beautiful city to spend time time exploring as a family. It gives me energy for facing a new year. “I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me”. This is my prayer for 2018.

Happy New Year to all my friends. I hope to see many of you in the year ahead!

~ Wilmer

Bolzano, Italy

The Christmas Markets, also known as “Christkindlmarkt” are a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. They portray the culture of each individual region of Europe. Janet and my favourite were the markets held in the Bavarian and Tyrolean Regions.

View from the balcony of the Hubertushof, our hotel for our first night, in Anif-Salzburg.
View from the balcony of the Hubertushof, our hotel for our first night, in Anif-Salzburg.
Janet and I loved coming to Europe for the Christmas Markets. I don’t know how many years we came; however, I know we both loved doing it. Some times we came with tour groups. Other times we came by ourselves. This year I told Janelle I want to go to the Christmas Markets and she said I will go with you. We decided this year to experience the markets of the Tyrolean region as Janelle has not seen these before. We are here and it is wonderful. However, we can’t do this trip without ending in Bavarian and visiting our friends in Oberammergau.

I stopped at the Erb Street Mennonite Cemetery before I came to Europe and visited Janet’s grave. I told her, “well Janet, Janelle and I are flying to Munich today to visit the Christmas Markets.” As I drove away I heard her say “Have Fun and enjoy your daughter.” The pictures show we are fulfilling Janet’s words of encouragement.

I enjoy sharing Anabaptist history with Janelle as we visit the cities.
The first Christmas Market we visited was in Innsbruck, along the swift flowing Inn River. Jacob Huter is attributed with the founding of the Hutterite movement. He was martyred on the Maria-Theresien-Straße in Innsbruck. Today, his commemorative plaque was hidden behind a market vendor selling Bratwurst but we still managed to duck behind it and read the plaque.

~ Wilmer

We stopped for a morning coffee at Cafe Katzung before exploring Innsbruck's Christmas Market.
We stopped for a morning coffee at Cafe Katzung before exploring Innsbruck’s Christmas Market.
Our welcome to the Innsbuck ChristKindel Market, a beautiful mural of The Ascencion of Christ.
Our welcome to the Innsbuck ChristKindel Market, a beautiful mural of The Ascension of Jesus.
Castle at Guifidaun, important due to George Blaurock's imprisonment in this castle. He was whipped out of Zurich as one of the three Swiss Brethren captured and imprisoned in this region, before being burned at the stake in nearby Klausen.
Castle at Guifidaun, important due to George Blaurock’s imprisonment in this castle. He was whipped out of Zurich as one of the three Swiss Brethren captured and imprisoned in this region, before being burned at the stake in nearby Klausen.
Village church in Guifidaun.
Village church in Guifidaun. We were blessed when the sun came out for our stop here.
Wilmer with the Saint of Guifidaun.
Wilmer with the Saint of Guifidaun.
Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
We visited Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology first thing this morning. Over 5300 years ago, Ötzi was crossing Tisenjoch/Giogo di Tisa in the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley, South Tyrol, where he was murdered and preserved naturally in the ice. As you can see from this chart, he lived long before Jesus and is over 1,000 years older than the Egyptian mummies.
View of the Dolomites
The Dolomites in Northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 meters. They are some of the most spectular in beauty and are also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Christmas market in Trento, Italy.
Christmas market in Trento – our first Christmas market in Italy. We arrived in time for the lunch rush as many locals enjoyed the market.
Old city wall, Verona, Italy
Return from dinner along the old city wall, Wilmer pauses to reflect on his trip to Verona with Janet, many years ago.
The Lower Church of Chiesa di San Fermo Maggiore, Verona, Italy. Excavations in the floor show the original church foundations from the 8th century.
Fresco showing the baptism of Christ, dated to approximately 1250.
Juliet's balcony in Verona, Italy.
Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy.
Wilmer "hanging out" with poet Berto Barbarani
Wilmer “hanging out” with poet Berto Barbarani.
Christmas market in Piazza dei Signori, Verona, Italy.
Christmas market in Piazza dei Signori, Verona, Italy.
Janelle enjoying "chocolat chaud" at the Christmas market.
Janelle enjoying “chocolat chaud” at the Christmas market. She said she had never had a more delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Beautiful Christmas flowers at Flover Christmas Village.
Beautiful Christmas flowers at Flover Christmas Village. It made me want to buy my Christmas flowers for my condo.
Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padova (Padua)
Lynn, Wilmer and Lisa in front of Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padova (Padua)
Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, Basilica of Saint Anthony
Botanical Garden at the University of Padova
View of the Hortus Cinctus (1545), Botanical Garden of Padova, with the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in the background.
Wilmer at the US Army African Headquaters in Vicenza, Italy. The base has been in continuous use since 1942.
The happy couple, Lynn and Lisa. We were walking in Vicenza, talking and enjoying the church bells ringing all around us. We timed our visit just right, they return to the US in a few weeks.
Van Gogh. Tra il grano e il cielo
Lynn, Lisa, Janelle and Wilmer at the ‘Between Wheat and Sky’ exhibit of Van Gogh’s work at the Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza. Featuring over 120 works among paintings and drawings. Janelle helped interpret the exhibit for me as, during the year she lived in the Netherlands she visited the Van Gogh Museum more than 50 times!
After a coffee, we bumped into Lynn and Lisa’s daughter Laura who gave us the history of the Teatro Olimpico and of her neighborhood in Vicenza.
The Martin clan enjoying a family meal (from left to right) – Jake, Laura, Janelle, Wilmer, Lynn, Lisa and Alex
Wilmer was pleased that proud Grandpa Georg allowed him to hold 11 week-old Annalena, the newest member of the Glas family.
Wilmer back at home in Oberammergau, in front of Pilatushaus – home to the Oberammergau Museum’s collection of paintings.
Today Wilmer finally got to eat his favourite type of bratwurst as we visited our final Christmas market in Bad Tölz. Doesn’t he look like he’s enjoying it?
Etta and Georg Glas with Carola’s Daughter Annalena – the 5th generation at Hotel Turmwirt. Time for one last cuddle before dinner.

A Time to Stand Up and Be Heard

“A brutal massacre at a Quebec City mosque has left Canada in shock but also unified the country in solidarity with Muslims,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the funeral service for three of the six victims this past Thursday. “It is with heavy hearts that we come together this afternoon to grieve the loss of these innocent lives,” he told the solemn crowd. “As a community and as a country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before – that is who we are.”

Adrienne Clarkson, the 26th Governor-General of Canada (1999-2005), wrote in the Globe and Mail newspaper, “How does one explain to ourselves or to the world that people were killed, shot in the back while they were praying to the one God who created us all. Are any explanations possible? This horror that has happened in Quebec City does not reflect what we as Canadians believe. It makes us feel terrible. It makes us feel unworthy that this should have happened on our soil. How could this have happened?”

This morning during worship service at St Agatha Mennonite Church, Pastor Len Rempel spoke about this tragedy and reminded us that it is “time to stand up and be heard!” He quoted from Jesus’ words, “Let your Light shine. We do good not for our own benefit but to give glory to God.” (Matthew 5:16) He expressed that when tragedy happens it may seem that God is silent. However, God is still in control. This is the message he shared with an Imman he knows, on behalf of our congregation.

This week our political and spiritual leaders reminded us of our heritage. Canada has always been a country where we were able to adjust, where we let people be. We must let people wear what they want to wear. We must always be the kind of country that understands that other people have brought different stories and different narratives to this country. We must respect their stories, as we ask them to respect ours. We must remember we are one family, everyone created in God’s image. We have one God and we are called to love and respect one another.

It is time for all of us to Stand Up and follow the examples and words of Jesus.”Do unto others as you would have them do to you” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

~ Wilmer Martin

A Principled and Persistent Leader

Last evening I learned that my friend, former Waterloo MP, Andrew Telegdi died at the age of 70. His death came as a shock – we have lost a voice that was strong, principled and persistent.

When I was Pastor of Erb Street Mennonite Church, Andrew, Roy Snyder and I would go golfing. At the time Andrew served as a Councillor for the City of Waterloo. There were always issues he wanted to discuss. Our conversations on the golf course often were intense. Roy and others were known to tell Andrew he was stubborn! Yesterday, on Facebook, Mark Yantzi shared about Andrew’s tireless work in support of persons in conflict with the law.

During my tenure as President & CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada, Andrew – now a MP representing Waterloo and parts of Kitchener in Canada’s Federal Parliament, joined me in Budapest, participating in the Jimmy Carter work project. We built 10 homes in 5 days. Andrew was born in Hungary and immigrated to Canada with his family at age 10, making this a project very close to his heart.

Andrew was a principled and persistent leader. His death is a reminder our time on this earth is short. Recently at a restaurant Andrew stopped by my son Alan’s table to ask how I was doing, making Alan the last member of our family to talk to Andrew.

Today I read an article that Andrew would have thoroughly enjoyed reading. Local leadership blogger Wayne Townsend today posted “Intelligent Leaders Demonstrate A Heart For Humanity,” a blog about the work Learning For Humanity is undertaking. I hope you will take a moment to read this article. As I read it, I could hear Andrew’s voice in my head asking about the leadership I’m providing to this project. He was determined to make the world brighter and kinder. This continues to be my goal also. I hope it is yours too.

THANK YOU Andrew for your leadership. You demonstrated this quality in everything you did.

~ Wilmer Martin

My Epiphany moment

Today our congregation joined Christians‎ around the world in remembrance of Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, according to Matthew 2.
It reminds us of Christ’s Light breaking into the world, displacing the darkness. God coming to us as light through Jesus.  During the service I experienced moments of sadness. It is now 4 months since Janet’s death and for some reason it hit me harder today.
The last song we sang in the service was “You are Salt for the Earth”. I always find this song uplifting. I remember my son Alan leading this song in worship. Janet and I always enjoyed when he would sing “you are salt for the earth, O People” and the congregational reply, “salt for the Kingdom of God.”
Behind me today sat Kim, who has a beautiful voice. I closed my eyes and was ministered to by her singing this hymn.  After the service I thanked her for ministering to me.  This was my Epiphany today.
Christ came to me today, taking away the darkness that wanted to encompass my soul. Claim the Epiphany moments in your life. God’s light is always stronger than Darkness. However, you must recognize and claim it!

Vicenza, Italy

Yesterday I arrived in Munich, Germany after an overnight flight from Toronto. This is my first overseas trip since Janet’s passing. Janet and I wanted to visit my nephew Lynn who lives with his family in Vicenza, Italy. With my travel schedule and her health, unfortunately this did not happen.

My children encouraged me to make this visit to see Lynn and my friend good friend JP Weber from Luxembourg. JP has driven buses for TourMagination for 26 years.

You have a choice when facing the unknown future. Trust God and, with hope, surround yourself with friends and family and go forward. The other option is to isolate yourself.

I choose to trust God and so I called JP and asked if he would like to meet me in Munich and go with me to visit Lynn, Lisa and their children Laura and Jacob. I call JP my Luxembourg brother. He is a good listener and this is the first we have been together since the major change in my life.

Wilmer, JP and JP's car
Wilmer, JP and JP’s car

God is good, JP is a great driver and has a good car. It was a fantastic drive through Bavaria, Southern Tirol and through the famous Brenner Pass into Northern Italy. The fresh snow on the Alps glistened in the sun. This region of Italy is famous for its fruit and vegetable farming, and of course their wine.

Lynn and Lisa welcomed us to their home. Lisa is a wonderful cook and made her delicious beef pot roast. They loved Aunt Janet and our family. It was so healing to experience their warm hospitality and friendship, the food and conversation extended into the evening.

Lynn works for the US Department of Defence. He will give us a tour of this beautiful area during our visit.

~ Wilmer


In Loving Memory of my Beloved Wife Janet

Janet with lilacsIt is with great sadness that I announce that Janet, my beloved wife and partner for 50 wonderful years, passed away suddenly last night. We will all miss her so much.

Martin, Janet Esther (nee Ranck)

Passed away peacefully on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at Grand River Hospital, Kitchener at the age of 71.

Janet in JamaicaShe will be deeply missed by her husband Wilmer, daughter Janelle, son Alan, daughter-in-law Christiane, and grandchildren Matthew and Miriam. Also missed by her siblings John (Barbara) Ranck, James (Judy) Ranck, Jean (Howard) Cann, Joe (Ann) Ranck, and Joanne (Doug) Dirks, as well as step-mother Alta Ranck and in-laws Eugene (Lorene) Martin, Lyle (Jenny) Martin, Elaine (Nelson) Ruhl and Anna Blanche Martin (step-mother-in-law).

Predeceased by her parents Robert H. Ranck and Mildred Denlinger, step-mother Pauline Peifer, father-in-law and mother-in-law Omar R. Martin and Anna Mae Kuhns, brothers-in-law Lee Stoltzfus and Linford Martin and her Canadian parents Mahlon and Marie Leis.

Born July 29, 1945 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Janet attended Lancaster Mennonite High School where she met her husband Wilmer Martin, whom she married on October 2, 1965. She and Wilmer attended Ontario Mennonite Bible Institute in Kitchener, before permanently moving to Ontario in 1968. Janet loved being a pastor’s wife and had a strong love for the global church, attending Mennonite World Conferences around the world and loved travelling with her husband and family. She loved being Grandmother to Matthew and Miriam.

Friends are invited to share their memories of Janet with her family during visitation at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo on Friday, September 9, 2016 from 7- 9 p.m., and Saturday, September 10th from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be held at Erb Street Mennonite Church, 131 Erb St. W., Waterloo on Sunday, September 11th, at 3 p.m. with Pastor Doug Snyder and Pastor Doug Hatlem as Officiants. Reception to follow immediately in the church hall, with Interment at Erb Street Mennonite Cemetery following the reception.

Condolences for the family and donations to Learning for Humanity or Lupus Ontario may be arranged through the funeral home at or 519-745-8445.

Light and Hope in the Midst of Darkness

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” Matthew 5:9. In my father’s library in his home office there was a book called the Martyrs Mirror, a collection of history and testimonies of 16th century Christian martyrs. I on occasion read in this book and it had a profound impact on me as a young Christian.

Bishop Amos Martin and Deacon Ira Eby officiated at the time of my baptism. Eight years later they also officiated at my ordination to the ministry at the Chambersburg Mennonite Church. I sometimes muse at how these two leaders helped to shape my faith. Their faith in God and commitment to the teachings and doctrines of the Mennonite Church, in my opinion, were unshakeable. They helped me as a young person feel secure even though as a teenager I began to question some of the traditions in our church.

I recall that my father, who was a minister in our congregation, felt the church needed to get involved in missionary work. He along with several other leaders went on a deputation tour to Guatemala to begin mission work for our area conference.

On their return, the Bishop called a meeting of all the ordained ministers and deacons. I was the youngest member at age 18. I don’t remember much about the meeting except Bishop Amos’ question, Are we sure it is God’s will to begin mission work? After the meeting I went to talk with him. I reminded him of the scripture in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go make disciples of all nations.” He said, That is correct. However, how will this change our church? In other words, how will I uphold our conservative dress and the traditions we hold important.

Light in the Darkness. Creative Commons: Attribution 2.0 CC BY by martinak15, Flickr
Light in the Darkness. Creative Commons: Attribution 2.0 CC BY by martinak15, Flickr

I believe Bishop Amos and Deacon Ira provided tremendous stability for our church. They were honest with the issues we faced and were committed to provide Light and Hope in the Midst of Darkness.

The Courier magazine, a publication of Mennonite World Conference, reminds us that the Anabaptist community is now all over the globe. We have active faith communities in more than 87 countries. In many of these countries there is limited religious freedom. We regularly hear stories of our Christian brothers and sisters suffering persecution, placed in prison and being martyred for their faith. There is a committee collecting stories for a current day Martyrs Mirror.

I thank God for the church of my childhood and for the opportunity to serve in many capacities as a leader in the Mennonite Church. I grieve when we lose our way, and stray from our core mission as an Anabaptist Believers’ Church.

Let us remember as followers of Jesus we experience Hope in the Midst of Darkness. “There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith,” Acts 14:22

~ Wilmer Martin