Day Six: The Big Day

Today is Friday.

The Big Day. The culmination of years of prayer, planning, giving, and hard work. Our team has worked incredibly hard to get the facility as nice as possible. Today is the climax our our trip–the dedication of Hope.

We were a bit slow getting together for our morning announcements and devotions. But despite our slightly ragged beginning and the cumulative exhaustion of the week, everyone opted to leave for Hope right away despite being given the opportunity to spend a few extra hours at the hotel and come later.

The team had already accomplished a lot. 54 sets of bunk beds. Counters and  for the kitchen. Shelving for the pantry. Bookcases for the library. Power throughout three buildings. Plumbing for 7 sinks, 12 showers, 12 toilets…two stoves…and much more. And every building has been swept out at least 13 times. Just for good measure.image

There is always more to do…and the men were determined to get as much as possible done this last day before the kids finished school and joined us for our dedication celebration and dinner.

So that was the plan.

No clinics. No kids. All hands on deck as we got as far as we could making tables, benches, and cubby holes for flip flops and belongings. Then final set up and clean up and fun time with the kids–giving them their sponsor gifts and watching their excited faces as they saw their new home for the first time.

Yummy Gummy and Light & Shine rolled out of the resort something around 8:30. I was hoping this day would be a lot more profitable than the day before. There were a number of items on our shopping list to finish putting up fixtures and furnishings.

Somewhere in the course of the morning, I heard some rumblings about the day being a Bhuddhist holiday. But it was no big deal. We aren’t Buddhist.

Light & Shine was softly paying one of its three songs in its selection when we started noticing that we sure weren’t moving very fast. We were inching our way down the same roads we had been traveling all week. But rain the night before had flooded many of the streets and we found ourselves amazed at the cars forging the flooded streets. Some people were even bathing in the street. A few were washing their cars–using the street as a bucket.

A few times, we were concerned that we would get stuck, but we shouldn’t have been. These bus drivers are something else!

Finally, we reached what seemed to be the other side of the flood. That was encouraging. But if we thought we were going to be able to pick up the pace, we were wrong. Time ticked by with us just sitting in the road being passed by people on foot. It was a mess.

The busses were close enough and the pace was slow enough that we were able to go back and forth between the busses. It was then that we learned that the traffic mess had something to do with the BHuddhist holiday. School was out. People were out. It was a mess.

Pastor Paul, the linchpin of our local contacts also kept calling excitedly. There was some kind of intense storm due to hit Rangoon later that day. It was going to be even more of a mess.

We started doing the math in our heads. It was already 11:00. We had been on the road three and a half hours already and there was no end in sight. The road was combination parking lot and swimming pool. After dropping us off, the busses would have to return to pick up the kids. And then after the dedication celebration, they would have to reverse the process for us before taking us to the airport–a drive that by itself could prove to be an all day affair in this traffic. What a mess.

Our flights out Friday night and the wee hours of Saturday morning suddenly seemed to be approaching rapidly. Our work time was disappearing rapidly. In fact, the only thing not moving rapidly was us.

We hated not being able to see the kids again and not being there when the kids saw Hope for the first time, but between the ridiculous traffic and the impending storm, it was becoming increasingly clear that our plan was just not going to work.

So…We had to cancel the celebration and figure out how to turn busses around in the crowed street. It was about noon.

I was disappointed. But I didn’t feel bad for myself as much as for the kids, who had been looking forward to this; for the construction team who had worked so hard all week without getting to see much of the kids; and for the rest of the team who had traveled to the other side of the world to be ready for this big day.

But there didn’t seem to be any easy way out of this and the best plan seemed to be to stop the traffic and turn Yummy Gummy and Light & Shine toward the barn. As it was, we didn’t expect to get back until around 3:00.

The Agape home was near the resort, so we took the time to stop there, give the kids our gifts, and play with them for a few minutes. They sang for us in English–“Shout to the Lord!” and we were reminded by innocent voices of the incredible power of our God. We didn’t know the day would go like this, but He knew. “I sing for joy at the work of your hand. Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand…nothing compares with the promise I have with You.”

It was a tough afternoon. It was tough leaving with projects undone that we really wanted to finishIt was tough not having the closure of watching everyone get to spend time, take pictures, and give gifts to their sponsor kids. It was tough not having the climax of watching the kids see their new home. It was tough feeling like our best efforts in planning ended in a mess.

But the maturity of this team came through this afternoon in incredible ways. It wasn’t what we wanted, but people accepted the circumstances and the decision and made the best of a day that turned out exactly how God–in His wisdom–knew it would. To me, it was a mess. To God, it was a rainy Friday, but not the least bit outside of His control.

We finished by praying with the kids, then loaded back on the bus to leave Agape. I tried to let go of the regrets and rejoice in the work of His hand. The girls were crying. We said our goodbyes. We took some photos. We hugged. We waived. We hugged. We waived. We took photos. We said goodbye.

And I thanked God that even though we couldn’t take the kids to Hope, we were still able to share with them the Hope we have as an anchor of our souls. These kids know about storms. They know about floods. They know about unpleasant circumstances. So more than anything, after each time we come, I want them to know a little bit more about Hope.

P.S. – the worst news is, I lost track of the score, but I’m pretty sure we lost. I saw two huge rodents scurrying around my room in broad daylight today.  Guess I didn’t make much of an impression.

Day Five: Women at Work…sort of

It went something like this. All week, Geno–our videographer–has been trying to get a quick interview of me and some of our other team members. All week, it just hasn’t worked. I had told him that first thing in the morning would be best. I’m not good on camera, so at the very least, I’d like to do it when I’m clean, fresh, and looking a little more like a Remember board member and a little less like a refugee.

So this morning, before we did anything else, we tried to set up for an interview.  But, alas, our chosen location of the open air breakfast rendezvous proved too noisy because of the busy street right in front. Oh well, there would be time later and if I looked like a drowned rat, it would be so much more authentic.

When we arrived at Hope, I was given the important task of “a quick run into town” to get some fresh pineapples for everyone–including some local talent who were helping finish the trash task we had started yesterday.

I recruited Gino to go with me to keep it safe. Then I found the bus driver. Then I hunted for a translator to tell the bus driver where to go. The translator suggested we take the truck rather than the bus since the truck driver knew the local area better.  Probably a great idea since it can be difficult to maneuver the tight corners and narrow streets lined with bamboo huts selling various trinkets.  Our bus driver has proved it can be done, but no need to push it. Literally.

So I hunted down Curtis who said the truck was needed to haul trash so I better stick with the bus. But…I needed to be sure to take a translator with me.  The only person I found who could speak English couldn’t go but he could call someone else who could go. We would just have to wait for him to come from Faith.

While we were waiting, Geno thought we should give the interview another try.  With the generator running, it was too loud near the buildings, so we took a plastic chair and headed toward the front of the property. But just as we got there, and got set up, someone started running a weed eater. So…we dragged the chair, myself, Gino’s camera equipment, and my blue bag of everything important to me–through the orchard to find a quiet place for an interview.

It had rained pretty heavily the night before so the fire ants weren’t out in force, but I still rather gingerly picked my way through the muddy grass in my flip flops while dodging leaves and Jack fruit.   We reached a quiet spot and arranged the chair, the camera, and the microphone. Geno opened his mouth to ask the first question and a drop of rain hit.

In seconds, it was a steady pelt. We ran for the shelter of the trees, but it was basically like trying to use a dozen spatulas as an umbrella. Just not a great plan. I hunted around in my trusty blue bag for plastic to cover the camera with. And we tried to wait it out  –more just so we could feel like we accomplished something.  But after a while, not only was I getting passed the drowned rat stage, but Geno’s equipment was going to get ruined. Foiled again. 

Pastor Khar, the leader at Faith needed to speak with Curtis and I, so the newly arrived shopping translator, the bus driver, and my escort disbursed so I could have the fun of finding them again in a little while. So much for the quick run into town.

It was nearly noon by the time we finished and I re-recruited the bus driver, the translator, Geno, and Mary Lou for our quick run into town. Unfortunately, the bus was stuck.  In an ordeal that nearly took out the generator, one wall, and the rest of Rick Jackson’s non-gray hair (and involved four men pushing) , we got the bus turned around and we were on our way.  I had some other shopping to do, but this was just the quick run…we would do the real shopping later.

We have two busses–the Yummy Gummy and Light & Shine. We were in Light & Shine, but apparently, Yummy Gummy was feeling left out, because the next thing we knew, it was me, the escort, the translator, Mary Lou, the bus driver, the back up bus driver, and the back up bus and its two man crew threading our way through the narrow streets to get pineapple.      Seizing the moment, I did bend the rules a bit to buy the trash cans, brooms, and a few chairs. The translator did come in quite handy and just to make sure everyone had something to do, they loaded the chairs in the Yummy Gummy.

We did manage to get back to Hope with enough daylight left to make another stab at the interview. Because of sound issues, we had to head back to the orchard. The sound issues followed us when our Burmese help  turned on a radio to entertain the trash pickers. As an aside–We’ve been treated to our share of Burmese music during our daily rides in Light & Shine.  We all have at least one of the three songs on the rotation memorized.

So here we were–me in the chair; Geno with the camera; and the soft background music wafting through the damp air.

Why do you do this? He asked me.

Fair question. I knew I must be quite a sight. Wet, dirty, and a bit frazzled–feeling like my day wasn’t amounting to much.

Why do I do this?

I didn’t say it well. Maybe I can’t put it into words that do it anything like justice. But I do it for Zaw U. I do it for Kyi Yom. I do it for Naw Li.  I do it for Friday.  I do it for Hope. I do it for Jesus.

And I do it for me. Because it’s good for me to pick up trash. To go pineapple shopping. To sweep floors. To move beds. And to pick up beads.  Some days it doesn’t look like much. But maybe that’s the perfect thing to help me understand these people so I can love them a little bit more.
     P.S – the rats and mice have figured out this rat thing. The score is now 8 – 8.

Day Four: Men at Work

Picture this: 30 plus construction workers on one site. Picture those workers living at that site for weeks. Now picture that in Burma…a place where cleanliness is next to godliness…right at the bottom of the list of priorities for human existence. 

Then let me back up and tell you about Hope. 

Remember’s work with persecuted Christians in Burma actually started about 10 years ago with Freedom house orphanage.  But after the children were relocated (and some killed) about five years ago, we began supporting Agape Children’s Home–a place for children of Karen and Kachin believers who needed a home. Some of these kids lost their lives directly due to Christian persecution. 

After Agape came Faith.  We supported about 50 more children at a second location.  

After meeting the kids, it was love at first sight. After visiting the facilities, not so much. No room for beds, no ventilation, no place to play soccer. Flooding at Faith. Over development around Agape. It was time to move. 

And that is why we needed Hope. God has blessed, and over the past few years, He provided the funds to purchase seven acres and build a new concrete structure that will not flood in anything short of Noah’s flood. 

This week is a major milestone in the  dream of Hope coming to life!  And God has put together a truly remarkable team of skilled craftsman. I’ve seen less hard working hills of ants. Today, in fact. 

The generator was already humming when I arrived at Hope this morning. Men were measuring. Cutting. Carrying. Pulling wire. Building stoves. Framing cabinets. Installing plumbing.  Assembling beds, beds, and beds. All of you with husbands and sons over here should be very proud. I mean that. 




 Since I don’t have any skills, I busied myself by grabbing empty cement bags and filling them with trash.  There was an endless supply of empty cement bags, the downer was having to dig them out of the mud and then flick off the worms. While getting eaten by fire ants.  But I really didn’t want our kids to start out life at their new home living inside a perimeter of construction garbage.  

It probably didn’t look much like a dream come true at that moment. Years of fundraising, planning, praying, working (and even days of going barefoot!) and here I am…finally at Hope stuffing empty bottles, cigarette packs, plastic candy wrappers, and various articles of muddy clothing into cement bags while slapping at fire ants and dodging rain drops. 

But that’s the stuff dreams are made of. Lots of praying. Lots of giving. Lots of hard work.  Lots of picking up garbage. 

Of course, without the blessing of God–all of this amounts to nothing.

So…thanks to everyone who has had a part in making this dream come true.  Those who travel and work; and those who stay and pray. 

In just two days, we plan to bring the kids to see their new home. And we have already been telling them about the people in the United States who love them and the Lord enough to sacrifice to make Hope a reality.  

But in the meantime, there is a whole lot of work to be done.  And a whole lot of prayers to be prayed. And a whole lot of trash to be bagged.  Unfortunately, I got fired from that job and I’ll have to find something else to do tomorrow. Bummer. 

P.S – this is Wade. Electrician and rat Cather extraordinaire. The score: Wade 6, Rats 3. 

Day Three: Me at Play

The kids. A lot can be summed up in those two words. That’s why Remember supports the Faith and Agape homes. That’s why we come. That’s why we bring doctors. That’s why we are building bunk beds. That’s why we send money every month. That’s why we have Hope…But I’ll tell you about that in a later blog. 

The children’s ministry contingent of our team was at Agape for day three. The kids welcomed us with fanfare and sang even sang for us–One of the most beautiful choirs I’ve ever heard. Our phones and cameras fog up in the humidity making it difficult to get a good shot…or maybe it is just my eyes fogging up. 

  It was a little tough getting started. Our translators had not arrived which makes for a lot of fun. I’ll remain very greatful for Naw Li and a few other kids willing to exercise their mad English skills. 
We have a large team this time and everyone jumped in and made fast friends of the children.  For me, there was a good mixture of old and new faces–some we’ve seen grow into handsome young men and women. 

Because of the clinic set up, we moved our activities into the boys dorm– a thatched building with a patched floor that covers the mud and standing water below; and a thin roof that seems to amplify the sound of the beating rain.  It is hot in there–even with the windows open to let in the breeze and squares of light.  I cannot wait to see these children go to Hope–but I’ll tell you about that in a later blog. 

We played. We painted. We tried to communicate. We watched in despair as puzzle pieces fell through the cracks in the floor. We decorated bags. We painted boxes. Then I looked at the clock. It had been about an hour. Time to get creative!

We made bracelets. My, but we made bracelets!  There was not a soul among the 40+ kids that didn’t seem to enjoy twisting colored bands into bracelets.  To all of you who donated bands and looms–God bless you!

I believe we accomplished our goal of sharing the love of Christ and encouraging these kids to seek Him. Or perhaps that is never a goal you accomplish. Just a field you keep farming. 

Time seems to fly and crawl when we are there and we reached the end of our visit all too soon. If you hate long goodbyes, never come with us to Butma. You will say goodbye, get pictures, give hugs, waive. Then do it all again. Then get on the bus. Then do it all again.

    If we were allowed to take them with us, there would not be any kids at Agape children’s home. Or Hope for that matter…but more on that in a later blog. 

P.S–if you followed the last story, just want you to know the score is now Wade-5, Rats-2.

Day Two: Rats at Play

So…if you read my last blog, you may have choked on the first sentence.      

I know how I think. 

And when I read “we arrived at the resort/hotel”...  I think sandy beaches and five star accommodations.  I don’t think mission trip. And you might be the same way. 

So let me just clarify something.  This isn’t the kind of resort where you get unlimited fluffy towels, soap, and toilet paper. But to give you the best picture, I’ll just start by telling you what happened after we said said our goodbyes to the kids Sunday night and worked our way back to our rooms.  Mind you, I have a very nice room and it does overlook a large pond/small lake and if I had time, it might be fun to sit out on the porch and enjoy the view. 

Mind you, it is also true that about 10:30 pm when I and a few others had finished repacking bags for the next day and were ready to call it a night, I was very grateful to see Wade Jackson show up with rat traps. 

Even though I had slept hard the night before, the one thing I remembered is the russle of tiny bodies in various locations around my room. 

The Jackson’s had warned us not to keep food out and they did NOT have to tell me twice. But if I was in for I repeat appearance of the furry little monsters, I was not opposed to it being their last. 

Wade had no sooner set the traps and headed for the door than we heard one snap. Hmm…probably wasn’t set quite right. I figured. 

It was me that was wrong. 

One down, an undefined number to go. 

With that boost of confidence that we were winning the rat war, I clicked off the light, laid my tired self in bed, and listened to the almost immediate scampering of my furry friends. I thanked God for teenage boys who are willing to set rat traps and I drifted to sleep. 

It was not long later when I was awakened by a snap! followed by a thump, thump, thump, thump…as that particular creature refused to give in to the jaws of death. I laid still, not about to intervene unless absolutely necessary. Things were eventually quiet and I fell back asleep believing that perhaps his friends would wise up and just go away. 

It was about 1:30 when I heard the other Snap! followed by its own thumping. 

Score: Wade 3, Rats…?  I didn’t know. 

That was all of the traps however. It would be quiet the rest on the night. 

Not so much. It was like their stories had been published in the obits and their friends came to pay their respects or something. I kept hearing rustling, scampering, gnawing…I even turned on the light at one point but the only rats I saw were the two with their heads on the chopping blocks. 

Sleep still evaded me.  It was the ones under my bed that really kept me on edge. At one point, I was sure I felt one creeping along the end of my bed and while I didn’t scream, I did start kicking wildly–listening intently for the sound of a rat flying across the room before thumping on to the floor. But it never came. It was just me and the realization that that particular critter was in my head and not in my bed. 


 They were not all in my head and Wade can testify to that.  Because when he got there the next morning to empty the traps, at least one of them had already been disposed of by his ex-friends. They left just enough behind to make his prior existence undeniable. We’ll leave it at that. 

So, I’m not complaining. I’m just explaining.  We have it great and we are honored to be here. But if you hear the terms “resort” and “hotel,” don’t think about white sand and five star accommodations. Think about me getting two hours of sleep.   

And definitely not about fluffy towels, soap, or unlimited toilet paper. 

Day One: Kids at Play

Me, Benjamin, and my super-cool Burma hair do. Try not to be jealous…

We arrived at our “hotel/resort” at 3:00 am. I guess you could call that the start of day one. We were just finishing about 36 hours of travel. I suspect it is safe to say that we were a pretty tired bunch. Especially since any sleep you get on planes can be chalked right up into the worthless category.

I had to be woken up at 12:30 pm. The pillow next to me was exactly how I’d left it. My bed was untouched except for the corner I had slipped into. I must have slept like a dead man. Don’t grudge me. I needed it.

Kids from Faith and Agape children’s homes were to arrive at the “resort” where we are staying about 2:00 so we tried to rally our group and get organized. We are a pretty diverse team—ranging in age from about 10 to 60 something. We have plumbers, carpenters, doctors, nurses, students, mechanics, teachers, pastors, a title searcher…and, of course, attorneys. (What can I say, we can’t all be skilled labor!)

Our plan was for all 100 kids to be seen by a doctor as well as to generally have a good time and be shown the love of Christ. The resort had some cool peddle boats and other activities and I had brought a few things for crafts and games including innovative pumps with biodegrable water balloons. The biodegrable thing sounded like potential genius and potential disaster but hey, life is boring if you aren’t willing to take some risks.

While we waited for the kids—who were about an hour late—I talked with Benjamin, one of the young men that works at Faith. He told me the kids had been so excited the night before, he had a hard time getting them to sleep. Benjamin looks like a kid himself—maybe 14 or so, but he’s actually been to Bible college in Burma and India, teaches at the Bible school nearby, is married, and helps with the kids at Faith…always with a smile on his face.

Everyone was quick to pitch in and help, so we divided into three groups and one headed for the clinic while the others went their various ways. I didn’t suspect we would have much trouble keeping track of the kids…turns out we lost whole groups…but that’s another story.

As the kids waited for the clinic, I stayed with them and intended to keep them occupied with some crafts and games. They had designated a nice space for us on a brick patio outside the clinic building. But the first thing to happen was rain. So, we ended cramped in a storage room/office for resort workers.

The second thing that happened was that we lost our translator.

And maybe it was because they were sleep deprived, or maybe because Benjamin had just been summoned elsewhere, or maybe because they were about to see the doctor, but the Faith kids seemed a little tense and quiet. It was harder than I remembered to break the ice with a sweet group of kids who haven’t a clue what I’m saying. And even though I recognized a number of their faces, I felt like I was starting back at zero trying to remember names. Aung Thun Kyaw and Siang Khun Tial just don’t stick in my head like I wish they did.

The kids in these children’s homes are generally from Christian families and are taught the Bible, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to share the gospel. Unfortunately, without the translators and with kids coming and go, some of my attempts were not altogether successful and others were just plain dismal failures. But, we have four more days, so we will just keep giving it our all.

I stayed in the hot storage room most of the afternoon, so I didn’t get to see all of the goings on, but from what I heard, the kids had a lot of fun in the swan boats while our team generally had strokes watching them and worrying that their life vests might be too big. And from what I hear, had it been the World Cup, the score would have been something like Burma 19, USA 1.

It took a while to get all of the kids through the clinic and it was dark by the time we gathered the groups to load the buses. Just as we prepared to say our goodbyes, the skies opened up one final time, giving us a parting drenching. We wasted no time swarming the small outdoor “restaurant” which was now devoid of customers. As we stood and watched the downpour in soft glow of the restaurant lights, the electricity went out. Then we just stood.

The lights flickered on and off a few times, but Pastor Khar had the idea of getting the kids to sing—so my final memories of the evening were 100 voices lifted up in praise to our God. Those kids sing about like they play soccer. Incredible.

And I’m sure all of the rain was just God’s way of helping me out with “bio-degrading” all of those little water balloon pieces. Thanks, God!

You Are So Beautiful

They met at a honky tonk. He was fifteen. She was fourteen. And he married her only one year later.

Most stories that begin that way don’t end well.

And for a while, it didn’t look like this one would be any different. He had a drinking problem that landed him in jail repeatedly.

The couple had no money and the young wife found it increasingly difficult to bail her wayward husband out of jail. The only way she knew to get money was to ask her husband’s dad for a loan.

But even his own father was losing hope that his son would amount to anything and one day he told Lucy that was it. It was the last time. He would never again pay to bail his son out of jail. Don’t even ask.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Willard was out working on a water well drilling site (where he would be for weeks at a time) and he got to drinking…and fighting…and once again landed himself in jail.

Lucy had no money. She had no way of making any. She didn’t even know anyone who could lend her any. Except one person: her father-in-law. And he had told her never to come back.

With fear and trepidation, she approached her father-in-law again. And he was furious. When he found the words, he told her, “Lucy, I told you I wouldn’t give you any more money to bail Willard out of jail. And I won’t.”

But he wasn’t quite finished. He said, “But…you deserve better than this. I’m going to give you some money, but not to bail him out. It is your money. You can do whatever you want with it. You can take it and go back to your family if you want. It’s your money and your choice.”

Lucy took the money.   And immediately went to the courthouse and bailed Willard out. Even though she didn’t know then that it was going to be the last time.

But while drying out in a jail cell away from home, Willard had realized his need for a Savior. He trusted Christ to change his heart and his life. He purposed never to touch another drop of alcohol. And he never did.

That didn’t necessarily mean that life was easy from that point on. Two uneducated teenagers living in the hills of Kentucky. Three of their five sons died in infancy.   And there would be plenty of other bumps and bruises, ups and downs. But they faced life together—both bright, hardworking, and willing to take risks—qualities that paid off at first in small ways as their entrepreneurial spirit provided jobs for many well-deserving Kentuckians…and even a few undeserving ones.

And that was only the beginning.

In fact, another thing Lucy never could have foreseen the day she scraped and begged enough money to bail her delinquent, teenage husband out of jail—was that he would one day be one of the richest men in Eastern Kentucky. Fortunately, not only one of the richest, but also one of the kindest, most generous, and most unpretentious.

In fact, I had the privilege of being there on their sixty fifth anniversary. They celebrated by eating bologna sandwiches with some friends in the lunch room of their drilling company. He wore his usual khakis and a collared shirt; she wore jeans and her signature long, blond ponytail—I never saw her without it.

And I’ve seen them give millions of dollars to schools, colleges, performing arts centers, and one of her favorite causes, Hope in the Mountains—a home for young women overcoming addictions.

That’s not to say they gave it all away. They spent some of their earnings on themselves and their hobbies. Any they had the right to. They earned it. It was theirs to invest as they chose. Fast cars, fast jets, or bologna sandwiches.

As the years ticked by, she began to have some aches and pains that slowed her down more and more. It was hard—even with her chipper disposition—for her not to show pain. But when someone would comment on how beautiful she looked, she’d give a mischievous grin and say, “Well, I can’t help that!”

I was also privileged to know them when they celebrated their seventieth anniversary. Yep, seventy years together. They celebrated by going to church and then to a local restaurant with their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Because they were rich in ways other than money.

This week, Mrs. Lucy Kinzer was laid to rest and Willard planned her service. The church was packed for the celebration of the life of this remarkable woman. At the end, a soloist sang, “You are so Beautiful.” The music box Willard had bought her for her last birthday—only a few weeks ago—plays that song. “You are so beautiful to me…”

As the last notes faded, Willard kissed her gently on the forehead for the last time. “The last ten years of our marriage were the best!” He had told us. And in that moment, I believed it. If you had been there, you would too.

It was seventy one years since he had first seen her dancing in a honky tonk. And the last decade had been the best. Because God redeems and rewards some of the least expectant lives.

So that’s their story.

Humble beginnings. Rocky moments. Bad days for sure.

But “You Are So Beautiful” was a fitting summary of the life of a young mountain bride sporting a blonde ponytail and an unquenchable loyalty—and a fitting climax to one of the greatest love stories I’ve ever heard.

After seventy one years, he still thought she was beautiful. But even as I type those words, I can see that sly grin and hear her fun retort, “Well, I can’t help that!”willardandlucy