This post is written with a heavy heart and mixed emotions. Let me explain. On Sunday, November 20th, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving meal with the staff here at Peru Projects. An early celebration was necessary due to the return of our missionaries to the base for a weekend retreat. The meal involved two days of cooking with Brad’s help, several weeks' worth of our food budget, and singing along with Christmas music. This was a time of joy to share our American traditions with our family and friends here. Yet as I write this, it seems like Sunday was forever ago, and it feels odd that today is Thanksgiving Day.
We received word on Wednesday, November 23rd, that Bradley’s Grandma Church was on her deathbed and not expected to last much longer. The family was gathering to say their final goodbyes. And then, this morning, we received the message that she had passed away. She was 99 years old and about five weeks from her 100th birthday. This woman was amazing! She was so many things, but a big highlight was being a missionary for 20-plus years in Africa, something I have a whole new respect for now. Missionary life has so many ups and downs now that I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like 50-60 years ago. She raised six strong children, loved their spouses, and touched the lives of dozens of grandchildren; whether you were a grandchild through blood, adoption, or marriage, she loved them all! Grandma Church had seen so much and experienced many fantastic and heartbreaking things. If you close your eyes, I am sure you can imagine the stories told and the memories made in those nearly 100 years of life.
My biggest fear of being a missionary has always been being separated from our family. It is a considerable cost that we have to count and one we must face every time we get a chance to return to the states. You cherish every moment and memory you get with friends and family. It can be very emotionally draining, especially when you have a grandparent or close friend that is older. Bradley mentally says/said goodbye to both grandmas every time he sees them, knowing that it could easily be his last time to hug them and kiss their foreheads. You always hope that time will never come, but you mentally know it will.
So, as you can imagine, today has been a rough day. Brad described it best this morning, “2022 sucks!”. In eight months, we lost two people who have been vital cornerstones in our lives. First, we lost my (our) Grandpa Curran in March, and then Brad’s (our) Grandma Church today. One was a quicker and more unexpected end, and the other was much longer and anticipated. Both are loved more than words can ever express, and both are still very fresh in our minds.
We are emotionally weary. We hope that someday, we can go on a much-needed little trip, just the two of us, for a week or two to get away, relax, laugh, rejuvenate, and spend quality time together. Life is so precious, and time together is a treasure. If funds allow, we hope to set aside a little from each month's stipend towards our trip. It may take a while, but we look forward to that day.
I am sorry that this was not the joyful Happy Thanksgiving post I had initially intended to post; life changes. We both genuinely wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season filled with blessings and joy. Make sure to make to most of your time together, making memories that will last a lifetime!
Updates & Notes from Brad:
The Lake Amphibian is sitting around waiting for paperwork to get processed. It’s not fun when the paperwork we have been waiting for is things that organizations outside of Peru Projects could have dealt with at any point within the past year. But waiting is the name of the game around here. I started the installation of the brackets for the main landing gear on the Cessna. The holes have to be drilled perfectly, and they are not easy to reach, so it’s taking me longer than expected, but I’m close to finishing getting the brackets installed. Then some corrosion needs to get removed and everything put back together. It will take some time, but it’s finally moving forward!
Also, this weekend all of the missionaries serving in the jungle communities returned to the base. Half of them have been in the communities for a year now and will have the option to go home. The other half has only been out for a few months, so they will return to the communities they have been serving once this weekend is over. It is truly a high weekend here on base, and it is always exciting to hear how the Lord has worked through those involved in friendship evangelism in the smaller communities.