“What fascinates me about life is that now and then the past rises up and declares itself.” Anon
My involvement in Christian missions in Brazil and Haiti would never have happened except for one thing—Doris and I met and later married. As I think back over our years together I see how our lives have been tied together with the added spice of our time in Brazil. So I wondered if some details from my point of view might interest those who read this blog.
Our romance did not begin the evening a pretty teenager and I sat together in the parlor of my parent’s farm home. But those moments were the watershed that set the contours of our lives so those two streams would flow together. We had met a little over a year before but it was that evening I popped a strange but important question. We had been dating occasionally but that night I said, “Doris, will you go steady with me” Unclear thoughts had been forming in the back of my mind that she might be the one with whom I might spend my life. Of course all those hopes were not fully formed but I wanted to be tied close to her in some way.
I don’t recall the time or the place I asked her to marry me but of course, Doris has those details well in mind. For me, the moment that joined our lives together for more than 62 years began that night. Oh yes, we both dated others occasionally over the almost three years that followed the promise. But for me those words were a bond that I wished to maintain. There was no going back nor did I wish to.
Doris and I met in Bible School. We both came from farms though her parents lived near Manotick, a long ways from my home North of Gananoque. But I don’t believe the farm connection had much to do with our mutual interest. Doris had wanted to get into nurse’s training in Ottawa but she was too young. I’ve learned over the years that she wanted to strike out on her own so the Bible school was a fill-in option. After a year in many of the same classes, she was always on my mind–every waking hour. Infatuation? Puppy love? Perhaps, but for me I was given an injection of true love.
Within days of Doris graduating with her R.N, we married and headed off for seminary in Kentucky. Our daughter was born in Kentucky and a few years later our son in Brazil.
Doris always had a special ministry during our time in Brazil, some of those under very difficult conditions. She starting a youth group while in the interior of the State of São Paulo—the big attraction we found out years later was the cake she made for them each week. Then our transfer to Haiti! In my mind’s eye I see hundreds of our Haitian school children lined up by the porch of our home to get shots for typhoid fever and other contagious diseases. Her nursing experience fit into a plan beyond our small human understanding.
Doris has followed me around the world and encouraged me away from death’s door a couple of times. She tells of the day she watched as I was being taken from our home in Haiti to a hospital. Because of the seriousness of my illness, Dr. Bonhomme paused at the door and said to her, “I’m sure he has Typhoid Fever. But I am not sure we can save him.” During that period Doris took over the administration of the mission including all the finances and the orientation a large team from the U.S. that came to Haiti to direct a School program. Add to that she visited me every day in the hospital and brought along meals I could eat.
The story that began with, “Doris will you go steady with me” has unfolded into a marvelous adventure that has gone on for over 62 years. However I do not believe luck brought our lives together. I understand now that God had sent his angels to watch over the both of us and to direct our lives. Involvement in Christian missions became the central focus of both of our lives.
Yes, it is over 62 years since we were married. I understood years ago when I asked her to “go steady” that she was a strong person and would have her own ministry—in fact to needy people in two countries. Many in Brazil know her name and forgotten mine because of her key role in beginning and organizing a youth program for our churches. That program goes on strong still to-day.
Neither of us had any inkling what the future would hold as we sat together in my parent’s home. But I am sure of this–neither one of us ever regretted for a moment the night she said, “Yes, I’ll be your steady.”