Friday, December 30, 2005

Check out my brother Tom

My youngest brother, Tom, just started his blog...

You'll want to read his tribute to our mom.

And thanks to all of you for your wonderful and kind words. Such an outpouring of love and support is amazing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Celebration

(this is a pic of my brothers Bud, Steve and Tom and moi--I'm the good looking one--and our dear dad)

That's just what her funeral was. A Grand Celebration.

Mom's funeral was one of the happiest occasions of laying one to rest that I've ever attended.

That's because she was ready. She had lived for Jesus, had sung his praises all of her life--and now is singing a new song over in glory...

She wasn't perfect, not at all. But was perfect by the Blood of Jesus. Her sins were forgiven. She walked in peace and joy knowing she belonged to Christ.

There was no reason to grieve. That would have been selfish. So we sang instead.

We told stories. We shared fun times, funny times, happy things, grand occasions, memorable events. And we sang.

Mom had a song for every event. She sang while she worked, she sang while she played. And we played a recording of her singing, "I'll Sing A New Song Over in Glory" as the PowerPoint went through memorable photos of her.

As a family, growing up, we used to sing and play our instruments together. The first song we learned, and it became our family theme song, was "Mansion Over the Hilltop."

She had taught us all to sing. Music is in our blood. It just seemed appropriate for us to sing our family theme song at her promotion to Heaven.

And as my brothers and I stood on the platform at New Hope Assembly of God in Urbandale, Iowa, singing for Mom, we looked down at our dear Dad, sitting in his wheel chair in the center aisle next to the second row, smiling up at us and directing us with his hand, like he used to do when we played our instruments together so many, many years ago.

Alzheimers just can't take everything from your heart.

We all miss Mom. Especially Dad--he's grieving for her. But it's so wonderful to have the promise of Eternal Life. That's why Jesus died for us--to give us heaven and a New Song.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Mom

I just received word from my brother that my mom has died.

I'm sad. But I'm glad for her.

She went quietly, in her sleep--the way we all sort of hope to cross over into eternity.

She was a solidly born again believer--for over 76 years.

Dad and Mom have been in a care facility for about a year. Both having memory problems.

But they knew both of us (Dave and me) when we last visited shortly before coming to Swaziland. Mom had trouble putting words together to form a sentence, but I could almost always help her by figuring out what she was trying to say (I think it's that female thing).

They had celebrated their 70th anniversary in April this year. She was 88.

I learned the basic stuff daughters learn from moms--cooking (though I've never been as good a cook as she was), cleaning (you could eat off the floor, but you'd better not try!), shopping, driving, mothering my babies, and most importantly of all, serving Jesus.

My three brothers and I played musical instruments along with Mom on the guitar, Dad on the saxophone. Our first family "performance" was at Berean Assembly of God, in the basement before the upstairs was finished, playing "Mansion Over the Hilltop."

Although Mom ministred mostly in music, she was also a servant of giving...she'd do laundry, bake cakes, take meals to widows, babysit for young moms needing a break...

I'm sitting here in Africa wishing I could be there with the family right now. We have a call in to the travel agent, hoping to find a seat or two on a flight going to Iowa (hard time of the year to do so). But I know being here as a missionary is with the blessing of both parents. They have been our biggest spiritual supporters. I'll miss her prayers...

When she fell and broke her hip a over year ago now, I went to the hospital to see her. It was other visitors were there. I gave her a handful of little love gifts, a magazine of cookie recipes, some warm socks, a nighty, and some chocolate candy. She was glad to see me, but very tired. I held her hand and prayed with her, patted her head, stroked her gray hair, and sang to her as she went to sleep. "All night, all day, angels watching over me..." When I left the room, she was sleeping.

The next few times I saw them both was at the care center. I'm so glad the people there are loving and kind. They really showed tenderness and love to my parents. For that I am grateful. It's so hard not being so far away when I thnk of that.

My concern goes to my 91-year-old dad now. Questions arise...will he understand that she died? How will he handle it? How long do we have him? Will he just grieve to death? God is still God...He is able and will help my dad through this.

And then I think of Mom...she doesn't have the problems with forming sentences now. She's praising God in perfect words. She's not hobbling around on a patched-up hip. I can almost hear her singing...

And just maybe she's finally getting to sing with Vestal Goodman!

Christmas Shopping in South Africa

You want to know what's really weird?

Christmas shopping in the summer time.

Susan and I were in this really nice "Bed, Bath and Beyond" sort of place, but South African, called Mr Price Home.

It is one of those places that makes me drool, just like BB&B does.

The crazy thing that my mind had a hard time getting around was this: One display of lovely Christmas stockings, pine greenery, wreaths, miscellaneous ornaments (including snowmen), and the like, were situated right next to the beautiful display of neon greens and oranges and yellows--lawn chairs, outdoor cookery equipment, sunshade bonnets, umbrellas and plastic picnic dishes.

Being born and raised in Iowa where the Christmases are extremely WINTER and COLD, this summer display was hard for my brain to accept.

To confuse me further, the shopping music from the store's sound system was playing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas..." But dream was all anyone here could do.

One step outside confirmed the summer. One glance at the calendar confirmed Christmas.

Not too bad. I think I could get used to it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jumping Castle Fun

Happy faces at the CarePoint Christmas party…kids are wearing themselves out in the “Jumping Castles” at Ngwane Park.

After the wild jumping, there were games (including pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and a very wet water balloon toss), and then after the older kids put on a nativity skit for everyone to enjoy, we served dinner that included the rare treat: fried chicken!

Last of all, gifts were given to everyone, including the grandmothers who cook the meals everyday for the children.

Everybody went home very, very tired, and very, very happy.

(Even the missionaries.)

The Painted Face

The Children's Cup CarePoint Christmas parties here in Swaziland have many aspects to them…one being the line up for painted faces (what’s a party without painted faces?). Here’s one of my favorites from a place called Moneni. This child was in wide-eyed amazement of the whole event.


English as a second language always presents odd situations. Dave and I were at one of the Swaziland "super markets" where we snapped this memorable ad in their window.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ah, Those Christmas Lights

Following is condensed version of a recent email I received from daughter-in-law Shannon (wife of our youngest son, Josh) about our grandkids Vaughn, 5, and his three-year-old twin sisters, Monroe and Monet:

"Josh finished putting up the Christmas lights last night. We took the kids outside to see them and when Josh turned them on, Monet let out this really excited giggle. Then I asked them all what they liked best. Vaughn said he liked it all. Monroe said she liked the orange lights, which were really the red ones. Her favorite color is still orange. Monet pointed next door to the neighbor’s array of big random colored bulbs, and said, 'I like those!'”

Monday, December 05, 2005

A New Pal

We are in Swaziland now. The calendar says December. The weather says July.

Today we celebrated the first of several Children's Cup CarePoint Christmas Parties. This campus is the biggest of all that we have in Swaziland. Several hundred kids are fed here daily. Today there were two jumping castles (like the space walk blowup jumping things) filled with giggling, shouting kids.

There were games and fried chicken and presents for everyone, including gifts for the grandmothers and other volunteers who help make it all work to help the kids. And, of course, plenty of candy to wire up everyone.

There was this one little kid...a baby girl, just learning to walk. She stole my heart. At first, when I tried to take her picture, she burst into tears. But, if you know me, you know I didn't give up. I kept peeking at her and waving and smiling. Finally she worked her way closer. And then came to me! I held her on my lap, and she let me hug and pat her.

Before long, she was my pal, even putting her head on my shoulder and cuddling.

I had no idea who she belonged to. It seemed she had been passed from one big kid to another during the time I'd been there. So I just carried her around with me while I took pictures of the stuff going on at the party. Soon she began to pat back...I had finger-printed glasses to prove it!

When we had to leave, I hated to just put her down on the grass. I asked around and found she was there with her grandmother who is one of the volunteer cooks.

Reluctuantly, I gave her up, into the arms of a loving granny.

But most of the kids there today are without parents...without someone to hold them, wipe their noses, tell them that they are important. They have no one to tuck them into bed at night and help them say their prayers. No one to kiss the hurts...

That's why Children's Cup is here in Swaziland. Not to physically remove them from their lives, (even though that sounds like a good idea sometimes!) but to help them and teach them about Someone who cares about them, and loves them. One who will give them hope for tomorrow. Who will bring peace and joy.

Isn't that what Christmas is about? That awesome Joy and Peace that comes with knowing Jesus.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who help make Hope available to them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Frank & Julie Turner

Frank and Julie Turner are angels.

These are the people who gave Kayla the dress we told you about in a previous post entitled, "Kayla's Dress."

They have kept our missionary kids, Kayla, Levi, and Trinity, in clothes for several years. Not just any clothes, mind you, but very fine things, from their really beautiful shop, Meghan's Closet.

At HPC's Pioneer's meeting a few nights ago, we got to visit with them again. I was privileged to tell Julie the story of how Kayla gave one of those favorite dresses to a Swazi mother in which to bury her little daughter who had just died from AIDS.

It had been the Turner's hearts to be givers. Not just to our kids, but to many, many others who were blessed by their generosity. And now that gift has continued to bless little ones overseas.

When our grandchildren outgrow their lovely clothes, their mom passes them on to the needy ones in Swaziland. You've never seen such well-dressed orphans! These kids have never anything so beautiful in their lives.

Julie told me that after Frank's recent heart attack they had to make the very difficult decision to sell their shop, and that now they don't have the privilege of giving clothing like they used to do. You could tell that it was a tough thing to deal with--giving was their way of life!

I know you cannot outgive God. God keeps perfect books. Frank and Julie will be rewarded one day.

Until that day, I just want to honor them with this note of thanks. Thanks from my own missionary-grandchildren and thanks from the OVC's in Africa.

The gift that keeps on giving...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Behind Every Great Man...

There is an old saying that behind every great man, there's a (great) woman.

This is true for Kevin Donaldson. Only he has three of them.

We knew he was a cool guy, number one at Mission of Mercy. And now I know some of reasons he is that way.

This week I was honored to meet his really lovely wife, Lucy. How warm and friendly she is. It isn't easy to be married to an "itinerant missionary"--how well I know. But there she was by his side as gracious and kind as could be. Quite beautiful, making proud-she-is-his-Kevin smile all the time.

And Glenda. The voice on the telephone. Every successful man has a good right arm. I finally got to meet Glenda, who puts all the right things in the right place at the right time for Kevin's ministry. What a cool lady.

I understand that there is one more woman in his life whom I haven't met--yet. And he talks about her all the time...his precious daughter, Grace.

Maybe some day he'll bring all those ladies to Swaziland to visit us there.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nice things to think about (Think on these things)

• my husband’s loving arms around me

• seeing the dew drops on the meadow next door from my kitchen window at dawn…

• holding a brand new baby, being in awe of the marvelous creation of God

• being called “Meemaw”

• joy in the midst of a hard place, contentment in the middle of a trial, the peace that passes all understanding…

• dasani

• watching the neighbor’s horse running in his pasture with total abandonment, mane flying in the breeze…

• having a scripture come alive to me when I need it most

• chocolate

• the old hymns: Joy Unspeakable, Showers of Blessing, Changed in the Twinkling of an Eye, He’s Coming Soon, The Lily of the Valley, Homesick for Heaven, Fill My Cup…to name only a few

• playing my marimba while Dave plays his accordian…just for God’s and our own pleasure

• little gifts from the grand kids: dandelions, hugs, love notes, crayoned drawings for the refrigerator door

• four empty seats in the middle--just for me--on that looooong flight overseas

• Bill Gaither’s Homecoming music

Tori, JD, David 3, Kayla, Lincoln, Levi, Vaughn, Monroe, Monet, Trinity, Rhodes, Rhett

• God’s great love for even me

The Hedge

A few weeks ago, as we were driving through St Louis, Mo., in heavy five-lane traffic, we encountered a huge, bouncing, steel pipe in our center lane--headed right for us. With no where to dodge it, Dave steadied himself and held the steering wheel tight. I prayed.

Our little red PT Cruiser was no match for the 3 or 4 foot long, 6 inches wide pipe. Wham! But Dave held tight. Our tire blew. The little car held steady. I held my breath. Suddenly the lanes to our right opened up and Dave could edge our injured little car, limping and grinding, over to the shoulder.

As he pulled to a stop, I noticed another vehicle a few yards behind us, parked on the shoulder also. They too had encountered something deadly on the highway.

Between the Good Sam Rescue service and the efficient, quick-responding Missouri highway patrolman, we got the tire changed and directions to a service repair area.

The other car that had been stuck by this flying, bouncing debris, had to be hauled off by a tow truck.

Thank God for the kind manager of the Chrysler dealership maintenence department. He took us right in and not only checked out our vehicle immediately, he also saw to it that we were conntected with a car rental for the next few days while our car was getting repaired. At least we were physically okay, and could continue our journey.

As we pulled back onto the same highway, we were more than a bit wary of road debris. But we were more aware of the special Hedge of Protection God keeps around us.

The many thoughts of "what could have been" flooded our minds, but the knowledge of the Lord's strong guardian angels looking after us brought us courage for the next mile, and the next.

Isn't that the way life is? Plenty of debris on the way. The enemy of our souls would try to stop us in our journey--try to make us give up. But we are aware that God is always there to protect us. He lets us go through enough stuff to know how much we need him, and how powerful he is to rescue us.

He gives us enough grace to go the next mile, knowing that Awesome Hedge of Protection is alway there.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

With These Words

We recently visited my parents in Iowa. They are both dealing with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s. However, outside of the common old-age ailments, both are in great health. We took them in wheelchairs out to the patio of the care center where they now live. It’s hard to carry on an in-depth conversation with them now. Dad says he just doesn’t remember…and Mom can’t quite put a sentence together properly.

So we chatted about non-essential things while I filed their fingernails and patted their soft faces. I told them about their grandchildren and great-grandchildren they don’t get to see very often. Of course, they can’t remember who all I’m talking about, except that they are proud to have so many offspring. The important thing was we were together.

One of the things we do like to talk about is Jesus. That subject always brings smiles. And in the midst of their muddled minds, the awareness of His soon coming is topmost.

I remember them telling me in my growing up years how they had heard the Orson Welles’ tale on the radio that crazy day when people believed his drama to be an actual news report that the world was being attacked by aliens. They, too, were taken in by the report, but were not panicked by fear. Instead, they ran outside, and looking toward the skies, checked to see if Jesus was on the clouds, coming back as He promised…

Another time Mom and Dad told of a wonderfully awesome display of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). It was so spectacular that they scanned the skies for Jesus.

They still live in that expectation even now, at ages 90 and 88. They are looking for Jesus to come back any moment. It’s an exciting thought, filling them with hope.

Early in my life I learned the passage of scripture that has been alive in my heart ever since: I Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

The last words of that passage, “wherefore comfort one another with these words,” just explain it. My wonderful parents, even in this time of foggy memories, clearly remember the promises of the Word of God. And it brings comfort to them just talking about it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

70 Years of Marriage

Last week we helped my parents celebrate 70 years of marriage. Wow. 70 years.

It wasn’t like all the other times we celebrated. This year it was different.

Last October, my mother fell and broke her hip. She ended up in a rehab center in West Des Moines, Iowa. A few weeks later, my dad was moved to USA healthcare Center in Urbandale, Iowa. He has Alzheimer’s. She suffers from a form of dementia.

The red tap slowing the process of putting them in the same facility was unbelievable. Although there was an empty bed in dad’s room that his center was holding for mom, nothing was happening to expedite the process. Finally, after several months of effort, my brothers contacted the local newspaper and told them the story. Staff writer, Tom Alex, wrote a report that touched the hearts of so many Iowans that state Senator Charles Grassley stepped up. Within the space of about 30 minutes, the “red tape” was unraveled and my parents were given the go ahead to be in the same care center.

Even a local TV news story was videoed and run on the 10pm news.

The news article and TV coverage alerted people who had known my parents for many years and they came to visit. The family had a party with cake and ice cream and lots of noise in one of the social rooms at the care center. As they sat side-by-side in their wheel chairs, mom held dad’s hand and sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” I know we wore them out because dad fell asleep while she sang it. Maybe he thought it was a lullaby.

Next day a fancy restaurant where one of the grandchildren works as a chef gave them a free meal. Then supper was free at Ryan’s. Ryan’s knows them from their many years of eating there on Sunday after church. So the “specials” signboard gave them a greeting, “Happy 70th Anniversary Vera Mae and Harry Bougher” (to which dad said, “that’s nice.”) and then in the party room there was a dozen red roses (mom really liked that) and the baker brought in a yummy valentine-shaped cake he had made and decorated for them. The manager and the baker had us take photos of them with the folks.

Someone pulled out a video camera as we shared some warm and some crazy events of the past while we fed ourselves. Twenty-five members of the family were there that night. If you know the Boughers, you know we were not quiet.

When we asked mom to sing again, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” was at the top of the list. I went and knelt between them as she sang (kind of helping her remember the words) and asked if the two of them would sing one of their old duets that I grew up hearing them sing. Dad hasn’t sung for many years now as he really has little voice left. But as mom began, he joined in and although in a very soft voice, he didn’t miss a beat.

I cried.

And to top it off, she sang the song that she was singing when dad first laid eyes on her and announced to his pal “I want a date with her. I think I’d like to marry her.” She was singing in a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting at the “Old Princess Theater” in downtown Des Moines, “Homesick for Heaven.”

This time he didn’t go to sleep as she sang. He just smiled at her.

They were worn out when the brothers took them home. Home to the care center where they can eat together and hold hands whenever they want.

Seventy years. He’s 90, she’s 87.

They have served God, raised us four kids, been blessed with 13 grands and 28 greats. They ministered in song in church, on street corners, at old folks homes, at weddings and funerals. They helped old people and blessed needy folks. I can’t tell you how many people they have led to the Lord. They have lived Godly lives.

They are true examples of servants of the King.

And I thank God for my awesome parents.