I promised an excerpt from a letter we received last week from a man who is now the parent of teens. I’m going to add/substitute a few words [within brackets] to make the whole thing clearer to those of you who don’t know the cast of characters:

“It was the summer of 1972 or 1973. [Our local church-sponsored camp] needed the skills and abilities of [my DH and his brother]. This left quite a dilemma for Allan who of course needed his sons for the farm. But, Allan released his sons to work at camp and in return he got a replacement farm hand [incidentally, son of that camp’s director.] In place of his two strong, knowledgeable and hard working boys, he got a skinny, wiry, weak, inexperienced, unskilled, unmotivated, often distracted lazy 16 year old kid. You don’t really have to think at all to realize who got the poor end of that deal!”

“Early on Allan must have been frustrated with the poor help he had, but he never revealed that to me in any form. He continually encouraged me and extended much grace and mercy. Over the summers, and later during three years of full time employment, I learned so many things. I learned how to work hard. I learned to be optimistic in tough situations. I learned that if others say it can’t be done, it probably can be done. I learned that if someone built it, we can modify it and make it better. I learned that chaos or disaster are just preconditions to creativity. I learned that improvising often makes the impossible possible. I learned that honoring God comes first. I learned that others are important. I learned about extravagant giving. I witnessed characteristics of Jesus being lived out. I learned that honoring the Sabbath did not put you behind or diminish your harvest. The list goes on and on. I am certain that my being mentored by Allan was part of God’s intentional plan for my life.”

The writer went on to say that thankfully he was able to share the above with my FIL a few years ago while his mind was still alert and “he thanked me for sharing [the above] with him, and presented me with that famous smile and twinkle in his eye that said “I approve”.”

As I said last week, I’ve only known Allan for the 20 years since I married his son and many of those years were affected by his various medical problems, so this gives me some insight into what he was like before I joined the family. Wouldn’t it be neat if there were people who could say similar things about each of us as they look back at past or present positive influences on their lives?