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Today in the Mission Yearbook

‘Petra’s Pier Picnic’ tackles world hunger


Fishing adventure with dad teaches birthday girl to consider the needs of others

August 28, 2019

“Petra’s Pier Picnic,” written by Presbyterian author Phyllis Vos Wezeman of South Bend, Indiana, is a new children’s book on the topic of hunger. Oscar Joyo provided the book’s illustrations. (Contributed image)

In her latest book, “Petra’s Pier Picnic,” author Phyllis Vos Wezeman introduces readers to a 9-year-old girl who is excited to go fishing with her father to celebrate her birthday. The crowded pier provides Petra a chance to use her new fishing pole. Her interactions also open her eyes and her heart to the needs of hungry people in the world. The book, for readers 10 and younger, is illustrated by Chicago artist Oscar Joyo, who is originally from Malawi.

The seed for Petra’s adventure was planted in 2005, when Wezeman and a small group from First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, Indiana, organized a short-term mission trip to Malawi. Church staff had been urged to go to the “Warm Heart of Africa” to look and listen, in part because First Presbyterian Church of South Bend has the largest number of members from Malawi of any congregation in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The first mission trip 14 years ago led to a long-term relationship for Wezeman and others with their Malawian neighbors locally and abroad. Wezeman said she is preparing for her 23rd trip to Malawi in September. In addition, she has served as part of the Malawi Mission Network since 2005 and previously held the role of mission network chairperson. As a lifelong religious educator, her passion is seeing an end to the spread of HIV and AIDS, which is the leading cause of death in Malawi.

Food insecurity is common in Malawi due to severe flooding and drought during the growing season.

Wezeman has written nearly 2,000 articles and books published by more than 80 publishers. She was the director of education and nurture at First Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana, for 12 years and is nationally recognized in the fields of faith formation and religious education.

Joyo was introduced to art by his mother in Lilongwe, Malawi. His passion and skill grew through interest in animation, comic books, video games and film. Joyo moved from Malawi to South Bend, Indiana, in 2000. After high school, he moved to Chicago, where he received a bachelor of fine arts degree in life drawing at the American Academy of Art in 2015. His interest in technical drawing led him to pursue professional illustration, graphic design, photography and fine art.

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  ‘Petra’s Pier Picnic’

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dave Dinkel, ASG
Carla Dobson, FDN

Let us pray:

Almighty God, grant us eyes to see our world as you would have it. And use our hearts, our minds and our hands to bring us one step closer to that world today. Amen.