God gives us gifts we don’t understand at the time. Little did we know how significant getting a hair permanent would be. Thursday, October 15, we arranged for Lisa to get her hair done and time together with Art’s family in Michigan. All five siblings were together, which turns out to be the last time until eternity. We laughed and had a sweet time before our planned departure for Russia.
Sunday was a precious time also with close friends for lunch and a round of memories and fellowship. These dear friends have linked arm and arm with us for years, our bond with them helps us during these times of separation.
On Tuesday as we finished packing things and weighing suitcases preparing for our flight on Friday, we had little warning of the week that lay ahead. We had planned to leave after Anna came home from work and travel to Indianapolis for time with Lisa’s brother and family. I (Art) had a difficult emotional time saying goodbye and finally had to turn away and just go. With eyes full of tears, we managed to drive to Indianapolis. Dinner was fine and time to talk was enjoyable.
The next morning, Wednesday, we received a phone call from my sister saying that my oldest brother Wayne had a heart attack at work, was rushed to the hospital, and had died. What a shock, we quickly traveled to Michigan, mostly legally, and helped with funeral and emotional needs with my family. My brother’s two children are grown but it is still heart wrenching. Leslie, my niece, was looking through drawers at Wayne’s house and “randomly” found his high school class ring, just one of several little love notes sent from heaven on a very hard day. We cried together and prayed together a lot on Wednesday and Thursday. Please pray for Leslie as a few other emotional events from the summer are making this time especially hard for her. Ralphie, my nephew, is the name bearer as he is Ralph the third and now alone carries the name.
Through all of that day, the one central comfort was knowing that Wayne had put his faith in Jesus. Although he wasn’t perfect, he did love the Savior. Since he did, NOW he IS perfect, and one day we will see him that way.
We had to leave before all the final services and get on a plane to return here to Ulan-Ude. Although we can Skype in, it is still difficult to leave behind those so dear to us. Our trip was uneventful which is good because God knows how much we can bear. Praise the Lord for his blessings. In these times you can choose to look at the loss of your dreams and plans with a family member or reflect on the blessing of the time you had, I am sure we will do both. So for now, I bless the Lord for my 52 years with my brother who was only 57 laughing a little, crying a lot and looking forward in hope to a time when I will never need to say goodbye again. Thanks to all who pray for us. Please carry us especially in the next few days.