Debbie Wilhite – Africa’s Ambassadors

In Australia's Ambassadors by Debbie Wilhite1 Comment

By Debbie Wilhite

Coffee…and a box of tissues

(or Reminders…and Remainders)

“The memory of the just shall be blessed…”  (Proverbs 10:7)

For this article I reached for a cup of coffee.  The real stuff — Nescafé rich and full-flavored.  I was going to drink it black for added intensity, but instead pampered myself with the addition of real cream instead!  Extremes, I know.  Coffee…and a box of tissues.

Tears don’t always come on a schedule, or when I expect them and am prepared.  They will surface at the most unexpected times when it seems nothing triggers them.  But that’s how I’m wired, anyway.

Little did we know after Dyanna’s 6-week trip to the States that 10 weeks later she’d be on a one-way trip back.  I’m extremely grateful for the 23 years the Lord gave us with Dyanna, more years than most moms have with their daughters.  Knowing how God led us to such a decision makes parting easier.  The variety of communication available today seems to shorten the distance and definitely the time between contact.  Who would have thought one could “chat” with someone around the world, have a face-to-face conversation, or “phone” someone through a computer?!

The days preceding Dyanna’s departure became punctuated with “last” memories such as the last supper, lunch, trip, shower, hug… We wanted to make them last as well as make them lasting.  At our final gathering around the table at devotions, we were all to share one memory of Dyanna.

“I remember a service out where we parked the van at our first house here…”

“No, Mom, it was inside the house.”

“Well, the message about hell made her think…”

“It was about the return of Christ,” corrected Dyanna again.  I guess she should know.  I’m glad her spiritual decisions don’t rest on my memory of them…

Our Thanksgiving was, as one friend worded, quite an unusual sort between saying goodbyes and saying hellos.  We transported the Castner family to and from the airport to spend a happy day with us and a few other missionary families.  That was also the day we bid a teary“see ya later” to our fourth daughter.

At devotions the day after Dyanna left we were singing “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  One by one we reached for the tissues, while some voices grew softer till silenced.  A few of us were still harmonizing until the middle of the third verse where I read “brother, sister, parent, child.”  That did it for me.  Poor Juli carried the melody till the end.  Debrianna, singing and observing the action, finally asked, “Why’s everyone crying??!”

Even while going through the motions of  schooling the kids, sweeping, doing laundry, hanging it out, washing dishes, my heart was a thousand miles away …wondering… Our minds tracked her plane across the Atlantic.  Watching the clock we prayed for her at lunch as she neared Washington/Dulles Airport for a layover.  We wonder if Aron and Deanna would have the 3 little girls along to get Dy?  How soon before she’ll see her other siblings?

Now that there’s an ocean between us, I’m thinking that memories have a way of softening things, dwelling on the good we want to remember, or even the lessons learned from hard times.  Perhaps Dyanna’s perception of me as a mom will take on an idyllic tone, making me into the super-mom I strive to be, yet too often fail!  I guess you could say we become “better” (in memories, anyway) than what we might really be.  Or maybe we just become more forgiving, understanding, thankful, and especially prayerful.

Dyanna’s far away physically, yet so many reminders of her remain: the gifts she made for many of us; clothes left behind for Julianna; secretarial spot Jerry and Juli now manage; decorations; even the aroma of shampoos and soaps that were familiarly hers, and, of course, photos.

Does it get any easier when yet another one leaves?  No, just a little different each time.  And for that I’m grateful.  If it were exactly the same, it might be harder because we would know what’s coming!  This way everything’s new and unique, yet familiar. After a while, not having her here will become the new “normal.”  We’ll adjust to the change and growth.  Moreover, God also gives the gifts of His presence, strength, and grace.

Dyanna will have her share of blessings on “the far side” as well.  🙂  We rejoice that she is with our dear friends the Anger family, at our home church, among family (2 brothers in town, 2 sisters/families a few hours away, grandparents and cousins in the midwest), friends, with a good job that will stretch her.  She’s there “for such a time as this,” purposed to be a blessing.  I’m anticipating the Lord working great things in and through all our children wherever they are.

Looks like the next thing on my agenda will be to update the background picture on my computer screen to include Dyanna in the collage of our Stateside children and grandkids.  So glad for these reminders…as well as the remainders of yet 6 offspring here to fill my heart with smiles.

Rejoicing in the Lord,

Debbie

Debbie Wilhite
Debbie and her husband, Jerry, are missionaries to South Africa. They have 11 children, 3 of whom still live at home, and 11 grandchildren.

You can read more about their ministry here and read Debbie’s testimony here.

Comments

  1. Tears were flowing as I read. Debbie, the first time I met you was a hospital visit after you gave birth to Dyanna, your fourth daughter. Praising God for his faithfulness.

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