Inspirational Journeys Presents: The Upsides and Downsides of a Life of Extraordinary Service with Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor

This is a picture of Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with a husband and wife team who cowrote the story of John and Clara Schmitt. Unfortunately I was unable to download the audible sample for Called, so I’ve put it in the podcast description and the show notes on my website.


Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor!


I’m proud to announce the following guest for your listening pleasure.

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Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor


Tuesday, May 3, 2022


YouTube video

Podcast episode

MORE ABOUT GUEST AUTHORS Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor…

Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor are spiritual seekers whose writing explores the depths of who we are and what’s possible in our lives. They have devoted themselves to supporting others in identifying and removing the barriers to realizing their dreams. They consider every blog, essay, video, book or workshop an opportunity to share their insights with others, as well as learn more about their own transformational journey. Marlena is also author of the memoir, Nothing Bad Between Us: A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness (Mango Publishing Group, 2020).

This week’s featured book is entitled, Called


Get swept away by the inspiring true story of John and Clara Schmidt, determined Mennonite medical pioneers, whose relentless devotion and sacrifice often verge on madness. Set against the backdrop of World War II, Nazi uprisings, revolutions in Argentina and Paraguay, and the scourge of leprosy left untreated, Dr. John and Clara Schmidt commit to living a life of service.

Purchase link:

Link to the audiobook sample for Called:


“A beat-up diesel pickup truck sputtered as it came over the hill into view. Clara jumped to her feet, nearly tripping on the long canvas apron tied around her waist. With her left wrist, she pushed aside a strand of hair that had escaped her kerchief.

A half-dozen Paraguayan men in torn filthy shirts stood in the bed of the truck, passing a bottle around, their fists pumping the air. Who were they? She dropped the trowel still dripping with adobe sludge from the last brick she was setting, and stood, staring. As they grew nearer, she could make out their shouts.

“Lepra de satán…que mueran todos…guerra contra satán.”

Could she run? Escape? Clara jerked her head around to take in the rubble of recently cleared land where she and John planned to build the clinic, the thatched-roofed lean-to stacked high with adobe bricks, the tarp on the ground behind her covered with plaster, and the partial wall to her left. There was nowhere to go.

The truck slowed as it approached Clara. The men thrust their fists at her, and their voices rose to a wild crescendo. “Lepra…que mueran…trabajo de satán…”

Following the driver’s lead, a few of them jumped to the ground, grabbed rocks from the truck bed and moved toward Clara. She backed up, grasping her apron as though it might shield her from the angry, wild-looking men. Why was John traveling around in Brazil when she needed him? Clara’s lips trembled. He wasn’t due back for another month.

Without taking her eyes off the men, Clara sensed by her side the presence of Johann Teichgraef. “Johann,” she said between clenched teeth, “who are these men and what do they want?”

 â€œThey’re from Itacurubí, Frau Clara, just up the road from us, and they’re saying that you will not live and that they’ll destroy this hospital. They refuse to let you bring lepers into their neighborhood.”

The men pulled more rocks off the truck bed. Teichgraef continued to translate, his voice getting thinner and tighter. “They’re saying that they’ve brought these rocks to destroy you and your satanic work here at Km. 81.”

Clara’s chest muscles constricted. She wished she knew Spanish. Surely, she could explain the Lord’s work. Explain that they were here to help.

Clara took a deep breath and slowly turned to Teichgraef. “Please ask them if they would like to have some coffee and Zwieback.” She pointed to the angry men, who were still pulling rocks from the truck bed.

Teichgraef relayed the message. The men stopped shouting. They stared at Clara.

Slapping her hands against the sides of her apron to remove some of the mud, Clara walked toward the lean-to where she kept what little provisions she had. “Here, I have this thermos full of iced coffee and these are Zwieback that my maid baked yesterday. You probably don’t know what Zwieback are…” In her nervousness she forgot that they didn’t understand a word she was saying. “Um… Johann, please tell them I’d like to pray with them before we eat?”

The men didn’t move, their dark eyes darting back and forth between their driver and Clara.

Clara clasped her trembling hands together. “Lord, we thank you for your love and protection. Bless this food, we pray, in Christ’s name. Amen.” She held out the bag of Zwieback and motioned for the men to come.

The driver said something to the men and one by one they dropped their rocks. They ate Zwieback and drank iced coffee with Clara and then quietly climbed back onto the truck and left.”

Connect with Marlena and Ed at the following links:


As authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs, we often find it hard to stand out above the constant chatter on the internet. If that sounds like you, I’d like to help you boost the visibility of your brand. My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes and I run a podcast called Inspirational Journeys. On my podcast I post solo episodes of value to my listeners, led by the Holy Spirit. I also talk to authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs who want to share their inspirational journeys with the world. If you’re interested in being a guest on my show, please send an email to with Inspirational Journeys in the subject line of your email, so I can send you my featured book questionnaire.

 Thanks for listening to Inspirational Journeys and have a Blessed Day.

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