Thirty years prior to the M.O.V.E. mission’s trip(see Friday’s John 14 Soul journal) my mother and her two little rascals were trying to make ends meet in Kailua, Hawaii. Recently divorced from her career naval husband we moved to the other side of the island and tried to make a go of it. She was able to find a job that she enjoyed, but soon realized it was not enough to set up house. So, we packed up and headed to Lake View Terrace, California. Why? To be close to her sister, my aunt Christine, Uncle Ben and their four children. By the time we settled into the foothills of Los Angeles, we had bounced around quite a bit; which is quite common for any military family. The divorce added two additional relocations. One notable memory of our time in Hawaii was attending Admiral Nimitz Elementary School in Honolulu. On August 21, 1959 the entire school was ushered out to the playground. Our attention was directed to the flagpole and the American flag was hoisted. We were told that the 50th star was us. Truthfully, I was a six year old hustling marbles for a living. This was cutting into my “income stream”. Soon my hustling days came to an abrupt halt. As I mentioned, we were California bound. Many years later I asked my mother why we left “paradise’? The first reason was we had no family, military or otherwise. There was nobody on the margin to turn to. If one of us were sick guess who had to stay at home? And second, her two little boys were starting to speak pigeon English. It was time to pack it up and go. With both propellers a blazing we made the flight into LAX.
That would prove to be a watershed moment. The Cross was coming into view. Today my wife and I live just a few miles from the dilapidated rock house my mom was able to rent. But God had more than a roof in mind. It would be decades before I realized that my uncle was the first of a handful of men God sovereignly placed along side of me to mentor me in two critical areas. First, to fill the gap left by my non-resident father and later to mentor me in the Faith. . . a faith that was still in the future.
One of the many activities my brother and I enjoyed while growing up across the street from Uncle Ben was church; Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Tujunga. Honestly, at the very best, we tolerated church because of the fun things we did afterwards. My mother and aunt relished the quiet when all six of us kids packed into the car and off we went. Uncle Ben . . . imagine. . . Ernest Hemmingway, robust, hard working, loved his pipe, a storyteller, and he always made time for the novel he was writing. We never missed a chance to be around my uncle. So, it was fitting that on the day of my wedding that the reception took place in his back yard. In preparation he poured a slab for the band and for dancing. The place looked incredible. But, at the same time uncle Ben was packing to leave the country. Due to a sluggish economy he accepted an engineering position with an international construction firm.
Over the next ten years, my wife, followed by my children and finally myself, were each baptized into the family of God. As my own discipleship began to take shape it became very clear that God had strategically placed people in my life that would ultimately lead me to his purposes. Which brings me back Barcelona, Spain. I had planned to visit Uncle Ben at the end of the mission’s project. He had recently purchased a pensione in Nerja, Spain (something he had always talked about doing when he retired). He had Spanish blood on his “fathers” side, he spoke fluent Spanish, and he loved Spain. In fact, Uncle Ben loved every country and every people group he was ever assigned, which included Saigon, Vietnam, Jubal , Saudi Arabia, Bangkok, Thailand to name a few. Ironically, he and the family never came back to live in Southern California; only to visit No one ever expected his first trip oversees to be anything but temporary. I will wrap up my three part illustration tomorrow. Grace and Peace.
1) Both John and Paul emphasize the connection which exists between the disciples and their Teacher (INSTE 112). Can you identify people that have mentored you? Are you mentoring someone at the moment? How can a commitment to a GROWfacilitate the mentoring process?Are you in a GROW group? If not, would you be willing to share your reasons with me? (note, call the office, take me to lunch, jot it down on a COMMCRD Sunday?