Marie Buss just celebrated her 95th birthday. Marie’s family lived pretty far from church growing up, so it wasn’t until later in her childhood when her brother started attending a church closer to home that she started attending regularly.
In 1992, when Hurricane Andrew stormed through Miami and Florida, Marie and her husband decided to wait it out with their son in his home. When they returned to their condo the back of it was missing. This was an unsettling time for Marie, one she remembers well. She and her husband decided to move out of Miami, which meant finding a new church home.
After visiting a number of congregations, they found their place at First Presbyterian. “I wanted a place that was welcoming, and I wanted to do something. I wanted to be able to make a difference.” Marie wasn’t interested in simply sitting and listening to someone else. “I finish a puzzle and I look at it and then think – what good did that do? It didn’t help anyone, but sometimes you do have to unwind,” she admitted.
When Marie started attending First, she quickly joined a small group of ladies with a “big official name” that she couldn’t possibly remember. The group worked to make Christmas items for a bazaar and eventually started calling themselves Holly House. Marie is delighted to see that the group has grown and now there are even men who help set up the bazaar and sell things. Marie hasn’t been able to attend for a couple of years for physical health reasons, but she still considers herself part of the group, and she is grateful for having found the group after living through Hurricane Andrew. She is also grateful that Holly House allows her to continue her calling to serve others. “Even though I can’t attend; I still crochet sweaters that go to Hungary and migrant workers on the other coast. People in wheelchairs in nursing homes sit all day. Their legs get cold, and I make lap blankets for them.”
Being at First helps Marie maintain her connection and closeness to God and her way to serve. “I have never expressed myself to anyone about how I feel about God. I experience God as a friend,” she shared. “If you don’t believe in God, how can you live a life? There are many days if it wasn’t for God, I don’t know how I would have existed. Problems and concerns that develop as you mature, get married, raise children - there are more and more opportunities for problems and my solution is to go to God. I don’t get a bulletin from God or flashing lights, but it comes within me. All of a sudden, I realize I could do this or that. God is at work helping me think better.”
Marie reads her bible daily and prays. She continues to serve by taking prayer requests from others. “I can pray in the moment,” she said. “When someone says something to me, I can pray immediately. I don’t need to go to a corner. I can pause, block everything out, and pray, wherever it is needed.”