It’s her birthday today! My wife is 35. I won’t be taking her out for a fancy birthday dinner though. I won’t be giving her a gift. In fact, I won’t even get to see her. Thousands of miles stretch between us while I am at meetings this week in Thailand for church planting and she is back in Papua New Guinea with our girls. Without a phone and the unfortunate incident of my computer hard drive failing, I was so excited just to be able to send her an email saying, “Happy Birthday.”
Customarily gifts are given to the one having the birthday, but if I could talk to her today I would thank her for the gift she has given to me. She has given her life for a far greater purpose. She has spent what some people call “the prime of her life” in a village far away from the ‘American dream’. Her desires and dreams right now are not for a big home, a new car, or fancy clothes, but rather to develop an advanced literacy course for the Patpatar so the can become better readers in order to more fully understand God’s Word. Her mornings are not spent in front of the mirror trying to hold back time in her appearance, but is preparing breakfast from scratch, planning out schooling for 3 different grade levels for the day, figuring what other areas she can be involved in ministry, and taking care of a baby that won’t sleep late.
There are no malls, no nights out on the town, no microwaves or dishwashers. There are however, continual battles with humidity, mold, allergies and infections. Yet her purpose is not the physical, the economical, or the social. Her purpose is the eternal. She is my partner who has sacrificed for a greater purpose to see the Patpatar church grow and become equipped.
I miss you Lori. I wish I could be with you today and celebrate your birthday with you. I wish I could give you a gift to show my love and appreciation for you. But I want to tell you thank you for the model you have been to me, to the Patpatar, and to people all over the world of what a woman who gives herself to God can accomplish for Him. You are a gift! Happy Birthday, I love you.