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26 November, 2016

Remembering, with Gratitude in My Heart

 Today I cut up a mango. Three of them, actually. And as I did so, I remembered this conversation.

“You live in Africa. Please, tell me the perfect way to cut a mango.” (Said with a friendly smile.)

“Well, I don’t know if there is a perfect way. I just cut them like this because it works for me.” (Laughing.)

“Yes, well, I guess there really isn’t a perfect way for much of anything, is there? Not much perfection this side of heaven.” (Said with a slight sigh as she watched me cut the mango.)

“So true. But one day we will know perfection and it will likely astound us.”

Janette Stoltzfus and daughter Melissa
The friend with whom I shared this conversation, the one looking to find the perfect way to cut up a mango, left for heaven a year ago. She knows perfection. I have no doubt she was initially astounded.

But then again, I doubt she was all that astonished. At least not for long. I mean, I doubt she experienced culture shock in any great degree. She had been practicing the culture of heaven for as long as I have known her, which was not nearly long enough.

My friend, she gave. And gave. And gave some more. And actually she is still giving, for through her generosity others learned to give and as generosity became her culture so it continues in her family and friends and through her community-at-large. She is still somehow giving us all so much.

She loved. And loved. And loved some more. She is still loving, actually, through all she taught her family and her friends, loving in how she established the culture of her home and her life. Yes, she still loves. Love never stops. It just keeps on giving, keeps on living.

She worshiped God. A lot. She worshiped our God and Savior as naturally as she welcomed people into her home. She led us in worship. She showed us living is an act of worship to the God who made us, who died for us, the very one who created heaven for us. She trusted God and served Him with her whole being. I find great joy in knowing she is still worshiping God, wholly and truly and without any hindrance or distraction. I feel eager to do the same one day, where she is, with her, smiling together as we worship our God.

She prayed as she was taught, “Your kingdom come and Your will be done here as it is in heaven.” I heard her. We wept and prayed it together; around the table in her home in Oregon, around the table in our home in Kenya, at church….she prayed, praising God for His faithfulness. And God answered, by the way. His Kingdom is at hand. My friend lived there even as she is now living there.

And so, having lived in the Kingdom of God for most of her life, I know my friend may have been astounded at the first glance of perfection, but then I presume she recognized the Kingdom right away and felt quite at home. I have no doubt it was but a moment before she turned and smiled, ready to welcome the next one in.

I cut a mango today. Three of them, actually. And I dripped a tear or two as I remembered my friend, grateful for her in my life. I remain grateful Janette is still giving and loving and worshiping and praising.