-As published in The Voice of Nativity, Nativity Catholic Church, Fargo, ND.
In parenthood the trickle-down effect sometimes travels upward or across.

Wayne Sander’s eyes light up the moment he begins talking about his sons. The pride of fatherhood is obvious.

Thirty-four years ago Wayne and Lorna Sanders were blessed with their son, Scott. Wayne excitedly describes Scott’s birth as “magical—so amazing to see a little person who is a part of you”.

And three years later Mark was born. To Wayne it was a feeling of completion. The four truly became a family.

Over the years Wayne tiptoed the line of friend verses father. “It was a struggle at times to find a balance”, says Wayne, “looking back I think I was more stern than I thought I was at the time.”

It’s a line many fathers have tried to balance. And when balance was needed, Wayne explains, “Lorna was our grounding force, our stabilizer. She had the ability to bring another perspective.” When Wayne wondered if the boys held enough respect for him, Lorna gently reminded Wayne it was ok to be a father, not always a friend.
In 2006 his business partner encouraged Wayne to accompany him on a trip to Friends of Chimbote’s Mission in Chimbote, Peru. The trip became a defining moment in Wayne’s life. Amid Father Jack’s presence, Wayne was reminded of the power of prayer he had witnessed within his own father. In both men, a strong faith was the foundation of all facets of their lives.

As Wayne spent days feeding and building houses for the poorest of the poor, he begin to feel the depth of Friends of Chimbote’s compassion, to understand the power of selfless giving, and the importance of leading by example.

It wasn’t long and Wayne became more involved with Friends of Chimbote-Father Jack’s Mission, soon joining the Board of Directors and various committees.

Friends of Chimbote’s influence trickled down through father to son, and after following in his father’s footsteps Scott too was asked to join the Friends of Chimbote Board of Directors.

In 2012 on a warm November night in Chimbote, Peru the board gathered after a long day of building homes and delivering handmade beds and stoves to families in need. One-by-one board members and guests filtered into a dimly lit room choosing their spot in a circle of chairs. Wayne and Scott were among them.

Friends of Chimbote’s Executive Director, Susan Trnka, leading the group, spoke of living lives worth imitating and encouraged participants to share their thoughts. When asked specifically ‘who in your life has lived a life worth imitating?’ Scott smiled, looked across the circle to his father, and said warmly “my dad has been that person for me.”

The father/son relationship with Mark expanded to another level as he went to work with his dad. Shortly thereafter, Mark became a member of the management team of Coaches Choice reporting directly to his dad. The opportunity to mentor professionally added a whole new facet to their relationship.

Wayne acknowledges that though we spend our lives teaching our children we learn much from them too. “They are like mirrors for us”, says Wayne, “they challenge us, make us look inside, show us we are human.”

Wayne watched, as his son Mark became a father himself, seeing the joy in his eyes three years ago when his daughter Taylor was born. And now a newborn son, Benjamin adds another layer of joy to their family. Mark now will have the same mirror which his dad stands in front of.

“I wonder,” says Wayne, “what things will filter down into their lives?”

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