A couple of weeks ago, my grandpa passed away. This past weekend, I boarded a plane and flew north to attend his memorial service. Seeing all the pictures of his life and hearing person after person share stories and testimonies of who he was and what he did to bless their lives, my heart just soaked it all in.
Grandpa served the Lord as a pastor for 45 years. He had served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and after his discharge, he became a very successful insurance agent. He was making very good money and was the top in his field in the entire country, but he could not shake the unrlenting tug of God calling him into the ministry, so thus he followed and obeyed the call of his Lord.
But what impressed me most about Grandpa was how much he loved people. I sat for hours Saturday with tears in my eyes hearing story after story of how Grandpa touched others lives.
During the memorial service, they had a time when anyone who wanted could come forward and share a memory about Grandpa or just share what he meant to them. I didn't know that they were going to do this and so I didn't have anything prepared. But as I sat there hearing one after another come up to share, my mind began to fill with what I would say if I could. I was so very nervous. There were so many people there and I sometimes get nervous just playing piano or teaching children's Sunday School in our little church here. I didn't even realize how much I was shaking until my cousin's wife who was sitting next to me reached over and gently placed her hand on my knee.
As my thoughts quickly gathered, I prayed and asked the Lord for help. I asked Him if He wanted me to share that He would give me that peace and give me the courage to take that first step out of my seat.
Finally the thought came to me that I was never able to give very much to my Grandpa, but on this day, I wanted to give him what I could...all that was in my heart.
I don't remember word for word what I said, but I want to write down what I remember.
I am the oldest granddaughter of my Grandpa and mommy to 12 of his 20 great grandchildren.
I am so thankful to be able to be here today at his memorial service.
I remember the summer I was 12 turning 13 that I spent at Grandpa and Grandma's house. That time was one of my most wonderful childhood memories! I had so much fun and loved them both so much. I'm so thankful for the time I had with them that summer.
I remember this church building so well. Grandpa was pastoring here that summer and I remember a funny story I want to share. One service, it was time to serve communion. I had taken communion in my Baptist church, but never in a Lutheran one. Grandma told me I could take it, so I went forward when our row was called. I knelt down in the front and first Grandpa passed out the bread and but rather than passing out little individual cups for the grape juice like we did in my church, Grandpa went person to person having each sip out of one large cup. It was my turn, and I took quite a large sip and as soon as it hit my tongue, I realized that the grape juice was not grape juice...it was wine! It surprised me so much, I spit it right back out into the cup! :) I can only imagine what my Grandpa must have thought; he never mentioned it and I don't think I brought it up either. When I got back to my seat, Grandma was chuckling and handed me a package of breath mints. :)
Sadly, after that summer, I don't have any more memories of my Grandpa or Grandma. But as I have sat here today and heard the many testimonies shared, I know Grandpa was a man of prayer. And I praise the Lord so much knowing how much my Grandpa prayed because in January of this year, I was able to see my Grandpa again for the first time in almost 25 years. And it was as if we had never been apart. He got to meet his great grandson, little 2 year old Eliseo too. What a joyous, blessed reunion it was! He hugged me, cried, and told me how much he missed me and loved me.
We live in Mexico about 800 miles below the USA border where we serve the Lord as missionaries. My Grandpa, who I'm sure didn't know very much about computers, took the time and effort to email me. And I have every one of those emails. He told me how proud he was of me and how much he loved me. And in the last email he ever sent me before he got too sick to write, he encouraged me to always love, forgive, and reach out to help others. What true words that I want to always follow. I'm so thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation we have through Him alone. I know how much Grandpa loved music and loved to sing, and someday, we will all be together in the presence of the Lord forever and I want to hold Grandpa's hand and sing next to him before the Lord.