My husband Eric and I just celebrated twenty-four years of marriage by driving to the dessert and visiting the Pastor and his wife who married us. Not only did they marry us, they helped us in our decisions for college, counseled us sometimes even at midnight when we went through rocky times, and gave us encouragement and great wisdom with raising kids.
They have recently retired and instead of enjoying the rich blessings of a life lived well with grown children and lots of grandchildren that live close by, they have decided to move to Kenya, Africa. For years they have taken trips in helping develop an orphanage and school, but have come to the conclusion they need to be there full time and 100% dedicate their lives so others can live. Or as our pastor put it during our visit,”I can’t watch one of them go hungry. I just can’t.” He looks away as if watching some of them locked away in his memory, “It breaks my heart.”
As Eric and I enter their home of old southwest grandeur we are amazed by the workmanship of carved beams, rock work, and cared for antiques throughout. What is even more impressive is our pastor built this home himself and his wife designed it. As we sat in the living room only days before they are about to leave it all behind (including 2 very loved dogs who were being picked up that evening to go to different families) you could feel the sadness at leaving behind children, grandchildren, and pets.
As the conversation progressed we heard about how our pastor came home for an emergency back surgery (from over working). Then through his laughter over an episode with bed bugs, equipment falling apart, and floods that washed away the crops, he explained how they didn’t even break even in supporting the orphanage. But in the time he has been there he has helped build 2 green houses, and gone from 30 acres to 170 acres of crops. He has built a teen boys home to add to the orphanage. All to provide for widows and orphans during times of famine. I was so honored and inspired to be able to share in the laughter and tears of the last few hours of their lives near us as they have shared for over 25 in ours.
He tells us a story about a man who had all of the worlds riches yet was the poorest and loneliest man he every knew. “To have real wealth,” He continues on, “You must know real poverty. Only then can you value what is truly rich.” After saying our goodbyes and driving away I thought about my pastor who I admire more than anyone else, who was a father to me when I lost mine, who is taking his wife to a nation of fatherless children to raise up and support them, while leaving a legacy behind. . . What a rich, rich man, knowing how to give away while reaping such eternal rewards.