The Reality I Didn't Anticipate: Monday, July 18, 2016
I knew that today would be frantic, busy, crazy, and eventful. But I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.
We all had an early start. The men, Mark, John, Tom, and Austin all left after breakfast to go work at El Tunal. They are working on the roof of the main multi-purpose building. The women, Serena, Joni, Christine, Hannah, and myself, and the two boys, Zach and Jonah, began preparing for VBS tonight. We went shopping for VBS supplies, then for groceries for this week. By the time we returned to the house we needed to eat lunch and then do some last minute preparations and be on our way to the church. So far, my day was just as I anticipated: lots to do and little time to do it in.
After lunch my last minute preparation was to practice playing the songs for tonight. But just as I made it to the keyboard up in my room, I received a call from Mom. At first I ignored it, thinking I needed to practice and I would call her later. So I at least sent her a message reading that I would call her back soon. Then a voice message came through that I don’t think she meant to send. She wasn’t even talking to me. She was talking to Gram and her voice sounded shaken. So I decided that I should call her back right then.
That’s when the unanticipated happened. Reality came crashing down as Mom told me that my Great Uncle Gussie Crum passed away this morning. I had no words. I had no response. I had no breath. I only had tears.
It’s easier to think that life stops while you’re gone. That your family and friends are on pause when you’re not there to enjoy life with them. But the reality is that life on earth begins, continues, and ends whether you’re there and ready or not.
And that’s what makes it so hard. It’s being gone and missing out on the things that you know you shouldn’t be missing. It’s experiencing something surrounded by people who have absolutely no idea what’s going on, while your family experiences it together without you. It’s a loss that no one around you feels, along with a lack of comfort that only a family can provide.
When a family member passes away the typical question is, “Were you close?” I guess it’s a legitimate question for some people. But I always kind of laugh and say, “You have no idea.” See my family isn’t just close. We’re obnoxiously close. Ridiculously close. It’s kind of weird how close we actually are. But I know that none of us would have it any other way. I know I certainly wouldn’t.
So my Great Uncle Gussie Crum is Papaw’s brother (Mom’s uncle). He was 87 years old and would’ve been 88 in less than a month. Gussie was a family farmer through and through. When I was a kid he was the relative that lived in the farm house and fed the baby calves. When we spent the night with Gram and Papaw getting to feed the calves with Gussie was always a treat. Sometimes he would let us mix up the milk. Then he would fill the bottles and send us out to the calves, warning us not to spill the milk everywhere or spook the calves. The image of Gussie that will stay in my mind forever is a skinny man with white hair, wearing a farm hat, a flannel shirt, jeans, and giant muck boots, carrying buckets of milk for the calves. Gussie’s love for farming was great. But his love for family was even greater. And his love for the Lord was even greater still.
Gussie knew that he was going home to be with his Heavenly Father, and he made sure that everyone else knew it also. He was ready to go home. Gussie could no longer do what he loved to do here on earth, (farm), but knew that he would be restored in Heaven. I don’t know all the details of Heaven. I don’t know if there are farms in Heaven. But if there are then I know that’s right where Gussie will be. He is where his soul belongs. Gussie is with his Savior, with no more pain, no more sorrow, only never-ending joy.
While it’s hard on the rest of us, the real obstacle right now is to mourn our loss yes, but thank God for taking Gussie home. We must celebrate his life and the joy that he spread during his time with us.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Immediately after I talked to Mom earlier we had to leave for VBS. So I dried my tears and went on with the work I was supposed to be doing. I had prayed that the most challenging part of this trip was over. That it came and went when I was homesick in Texas and God had brought me through it. But the worst was yet to come.
I didn’t tell anyone here until long after dinner when I told Serena. She fully understands what I’m experiencing right now because, well being a missionary she’s been through similar situations. God provided Serena with the precise words that I needed for comfort. She let me cry while she hugged me until the moment came to an abrupt end when she whispered, “avocado fingers.” It was so creepy that I burst into awkward laughter. Apparently my green nail polish reminds her of avocados. But it was just the laugh I needed.
Comfort has been a challenge of this trip. Meaning that I’ve learned a significant amount about comfort since I’ve been here, and I’m still learning more every day. God has used so many different people and so many different circumstances to teach me that He is the ultimate comforter, and He will provide for me no matter where I am. God will Always provide. Always. He is constantly watching over me and protecting me. In my time in Saltillo I have learned a new dependency on God and how to seek Him and His comfort in new ways. It’s truly a humbling experience when you find that God is your everything. He is your comfort. He is your strength. He is your guidance. He is your hope. He is your joy. He is your love. He is your everything. In times of weakness or strength, in times of fear or confidence, in times of sadness or joy, I am His and He is mine.