Liz and Russ

“Sometimes life takes us places we never expected to go and in those places God writes a story that we never thought would be ours.” Our family has had its share of ups and downs, as has all other families. No couple can raise three children in such a tumultuous age as ours and put four parents to eternal rest without heartache. We come home to North America each year knowing that we will face our share of whatever our grown children and their children are going through, and determined to be a closer part of their lives, at least briefly, so that we might share in their joys and their burdens.

This year our time in Seattle was unexpectedly early and lengthy, a blessing that was a result of our reassessment of our course load for our Master’s degrees that will reduce our burden by six courses each. We enjoyed the additional time in a beautiful part of North America, and had the rare privilege of looking after three of our grandchildren for a week while their parents enjoyed a well-deserved and long overdue vacation in Hawaii. Having the opportunity to get to know these three adorable children a little better and walk/ride/drive them to school daily was to us like winning the lottery, minus the money of course. Though we greatly enjoyed all that we did, we had a lot less energy by the end of the week!

Flying on to Calgary in a gorgeously clear sky over the Cascades and the Rockies brought us to the other two grown children, Dave and Liz, and the lives in which they are engaged. Liz and her husband have one son, a dear fellow with a happy, inquisitive nature and a fearless thirst for adventure. He was due to have a little brother in October, but the baby was stillborn at twenty one weeks into our daughter’s pregnancy: his little heart succumbing to a congenital defect.

The families rallied around, as good families do at such times, and our daughter was well-supported and cherished through this difficult time. Her own character is strong and resilient, the heritage of a loving home and a capable and caring mother. As devoted Christians, we are of the conviction that a loving God arranged for us to be home at this unusual time in the year for us so we could be present to help out wherever we could. It would have been unbearable to be in Malaysia while our daughter and her husband were going through this. Jon flew up from Seattle to be with his sister and show his support as well. Though overwhelmingly sad, this loss was tempered by the evident love of all for the little life that was lost.

We also found comfort in the joy that Liz and Greg’s little toddler, Russell takes in life. He is crawling fearlessly and standing with support. Soon he will be walking and falling over the place. Seeing the world through his eyes was a great joy. Dave was facing an unexpected slowdown at work, and was doing his best not to be anxious about his job. Yesterday his company landed an enormous contract for a reservoir outside of Calgary that will see them right through the winter. The two of us snuck in a few brief minutes at a local driving range with a promise to get in a least nine holes next time we are home. Our evenings were often spent in family meals around Greg and Liz’s dining room table eating the finest barbequed beef that Alberta could produce, Greg’s parents joining us on occasion.

Now I am sitting in the airport lounge at Calgary airport, nursing a soy latte and trying to put into words what the last month has been like. Living in Malaysia has been a tremendous adventure and it is a much appreciated opportunity to serve God and do some good in a part of the world that needs the expertise and skill set that Pam and I possess. But a month like we have just been through reminds us that there are more things to our life than service, no matter how significant, and whatever we do now and in the future must include our families in a meaningful way. We don’t want to be visitors in our children’s lives; they are too important to us.