One of the banes of growing up a missionary kid (MK) was living with the reality of an often absent dad. After my family returned to the USA when I was fifteen, Mom and Dad did some calculations and figured Dad was away from the family on ministry and pastoral trips about two-thirds of the time. It is not true of all MK’s, and I don’t lay claim to fame or declare any bragging rights, but it has been given to me to understand and even appreciate the sacrifices my parents made for the sake of the gospel.
Maybe it is Dad’s absences that make the times we did share together particularly memorable. I don’t know how the mission started work in Apolo, a small town of about 600 at about 6000 feet above sea level in the Andean foot hills an hour’s flight in a DC3 north of the capital city of La Paz. The mission had been vacant for some time when Dad was commissioned to make a visit to Apolo and to see if work should be started there again. Though I was only five, Dad chose to take me along for this trip of a lifetime. It is from this trip that I have my second set of strongest mental images: the dark musty tack room where a saddle was stored, the single pole bridge we crossed, and the green overgrown, lush vegetation along a path we traversed on our visit to the outlying villages where small congregations had been established.
After our short visit to Apolo, we made a quick six month trip to Minnesota. When we returned to Bolivia, our family was stationed in Apolo where we spent the next four years.
Pastor Paul was thankful for believers who understood the sacrifices that brought them the gospel. He thought of himself as a mother with a nursing child or a dad teaching his children. I’m thankful for godly parents who taught me of Jesus. I’m thankful that God used Pastor Paul to teach us of Himself. “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”