(this was a letter I sent out to a number of friends and family members the day I turned 65)
I turned 65 today.
It is clear to me (and was obvious to my parents) that I have guardian angels. Yes, more than one. That I have survived to 65 is manifest proof of that. I am in good health. I have never been hospitalized but have had broken bones, have at least a hundred stitches in various parts of my body, and have had a good number of exotic illnesses (and some not-so exotic but equally memorable, like malaria). I nearly drowned as a toddler, I was nearly swept out to sea in a strong rip-tide in Gopalpur in the Bay of Bengal as a kid. I have had at least a dozen spills on motorbikes. I have been T-boned in my Honda del Sol sports car that totaled the car. I learned to fly and it was probably a good thing that I quit when I turned 60. I have fallen out of trees, fallen off of ladders (could easily have been killed on one of those falls), have had a friend’s gun go off accidentally, in my direction (more than once). I could go on. You get the point. I have guardian angels. Plural.
OK. So I lived.
That is a blessing. But it does not begin to describe the length, breadth and height of the blessing that is mine.
Let’s start with my parents. Both had less than wonderful and happy childhoods. Both had parents in unhappy marriages (leading to separation or divorce). But both accepted Christ fairly young and it changed their lives. Both heard the call of missionary service and after getting married left for India. I was about 6 months old when they arrived in Bombay in early 1950. Their first mission station was in the village of Darchula on the west bank of the upper reaches of the Kali Ganga river, which separates Nepal from India. And this village was the second last village before pilgrims made their way over the pass into Tibet. It took 7 days or so of walking (yes walking up and down and through the valleys the foothills of the Himalayas) to get there. It wasn’t the end of the world but we could see it from there. I was there until I was six and we had our first furlough.
Our second and third terms we lived in Mussoorie, 7,000 ft. up in the foothills of the Himalayas where there was a missionary boarding school (Woodstock) where we went to school. Life was good. It was about as an idyllic a childhood as you can imagine. We loved to go hunting and hiking. We had cast iron stomachs, spoke the language, and traveled all over north India. Our parents, without realizing it, I think, gave us a breadth of experience and a love for people, along a strong notion about what service is. We had no TV and I developed a passion for reading, which dovetailed with the exceptional education we got at school. These experiences of place and parents were a blessing beyond any suitable measure.
I left India for college with a raft of friends and classmates I still keep in touch with. Then Seattle Pacific College (now SPU). And then on to Dallas Theological Seminary. My education was now complete. Really? Nope. It had just begun. That’s when I met Judy, also an MK, raised in Mexico. We have been married now for 38 years. I still think women are the single most complex thing God ever created, far surpassing the totality of all other forms of living matter combined. But out of that complexity came love. Love, with a capital “L”. And three girls. And a life infused with a wife that promoted Godliness in all things, love for all seasons, and a passion for aiming at the highest and best.
And then a career in Bible Translation with Wycliffe, first in Sudan where our life on the front line was cut short by Cammie’s cancer. By God’s good grace she survived against all odds. Then in Kenya and finally here in Dallas. And I loved every job I was assigned to.
And then a second career, this one in real estate. It was a very strange move for many of our friends but I had known for some time that I was a…uhh…. a closet businessman. In the world of full time ministry in those days this sort of capacity was typically kept in the closet and it was not viewed favorably. But we made the transition and the Lord saw fit to bless our efforts. Our company now manages nearly 300 properties and we have something like 6 full time maintenance men, and 8 others in the office side of things (including part time) plus Judy and me. I am part time now and am angling towards my “next thing”– I have started building a house that is both energy efficient and cheap (you can buy one or the other here, but not that combination).
So. Here we are. I am sure you have caught my drift by now. I view myself as blessed beyond measure. By any reasonable and rational measure I have no socks on–I am simply blessed out of them. An incredibly hard working, loving wife, three beautiful daughters, Cammie, Steph, and Amanda (a teacher, a doctor and a nurse), two great sons-in-law, Jer and Brian, 7 wonderful grand-kids. There is simply only one conclusion. I am a blessed man.
Add one more thing. You. Yep. YOU. You are getting this note because you have contributed to this extraordinarily blessed life as a family member, a friend, colleague, fellow-golfer, employee or a fellow businessman. Thank you for who you are, your input in my life, and for the blessing you are to me.
And thank you, Lord, for 65 years so far.
PS And Lord, please thank those angels for me. And please let them know I can still use them.