It’s truly hard to even describe our hearts and feelings the last couple of days.
I’m ready for Richard to come home. I miss him…and right now–he is on the 18 hour flight from South Africa to Atlanta. Tomorrow this time–he’ll be home. And I’m sure for weeks and months…and years even…he’ll be processing this last week in Africa. YET–we look forward.
My mother-in-law came by to get Parker and Laney to take them to a pumpkin patch and corn maize earlier today. The babies were sleeping…and I was going through pictures from the last 5 years of our work with Wiphan. Every picture of Labstone that I came across–made the reality of the change in our Wiphan family just seem like a bad dream. I smiled at the silly faces in pictures…the passion as he led orphans…the love as he showed off his family to us.
I called my mom to just check in–and I was sharing how frustrated I was by the medical system in the third world…and I started with all the “ifs”. What IF we had known this…what IF we could have done that. Yet we must also rest in the Lord’s will and His timing. I told her it was so frustrating to know there are hundreds in the hospital but service is hard to come by…I mean–with insurance out of the picture so few can actually pay their bill up front…so very few neurosurgeons even exist in third world countries. And if they are going to take the risk in serving some that may or may not pay the bill–for their own well being of survival they serve the ones that are sure to make it. If there are 100 in the hospital–but only 10 can be served well–you have a choice to make as a doctor I guess. And I broke into tears saying, “He may have been a statistic to them–but he was our friend.” How we all will miss him…and do already.
Later, I heard little footsteps coming down the stairs and I could tell there were tears. Little Frankie baby was crying and he is done with daddy being gone, “I need my daddy. I miss daddy,” he cried.
I held him tightly and couldn’t help but think of Labstone’s children.
How many times in the next days, weeks, months and even years will sweet Sarah have her children come down the hall to ask her this SAME question.
Only–for us…daddy is coming home. My children have just gone a little over the week without daddy and they are starting to become unwound. Mommy is tired and on edge. Mommy is ready to share the load with the one who built this family with me. This family…is forever changed. And while their daddy stepped out years ago and took a risk by leaving his government teaching job to serve a small ministry in a compound to serve orphans and widows…his own children and wife now become like the ones he committed his life to serve.
But–we will not forget them. Instead–we want to grab their hands and look forward…as their daddy do beautifully did.
These precious children–who we love and know by name–will never see their daddy again on this side of heaven. The boisterous laughter and silly nature of a man we have all loved…we will miss. But I am quite sure we will see his smile, hear his laughter and see little funny quirks in the years ahead…through the three precious children he leaves behind. I know in my heart we will hear Sarah laugh again…and one day even join us in telling stories of our most favorite memories. We are going to trust and believe that God can use us to love her and their children in the way Labstone did the orphans and widows at Wiphan Care Ministry for so long.
James 1:27 tells us to look after widows and orphans in their distress. Some of you have emailed me asking me how you can tangibly serve, love and care for Labstone’s family. We have created a fund that will help us to continue to look after them and meet their immediate and even long term needs. If you feel this is something you would like to join us in–we would be honored to have you join us in serving in this way. I can hear Labstone’s voice saying thank you in my mind. He was a humble, gentle and kind man. He loved life and loved his family. If you are a blog follower–keep following along as I’m sure on every visit we post about you will catch glimpses of his children growing up. And so many of us–can’t wait to tell them how amazing their daddy was.
If you would like to contribute, the information is posted HERE.
If you would like to give monthly (or one time here and there) to the fund, you may also do either by simply going to the Wiphan website at www.wiphan.org and go to the donations tab to choose one-time or monthly giving. In the memo please write: “Chanda Fund”
Thank you for praying for Labstone this past week…it meant the world to the Wiphan family to have so many of you lifting him up in prayer. Thank you for joining us in loving him and serving his family. May God bless each of you as you serve with us.
Please visit the Sole Hope blog here to read a beautiful tribute to Labstone. SOLE HOPE BLOG
To make a donation to go toward the family fund, please go HERE.