There have been a few defining moments for me as a father and a husband. They were very special moments when I caught a glimpse of what marriage could be, the companionship, the intimacy and the joy of what was available if I wanted it. The question was, Would I work for it? I decided I would. There were times that I had blown it and had to ask God to help me to change. Those same kinds of moments happened for me as a father too. It first happened when I held those little lives for the first time and felt the awesome responsibility of those precious lives. Looking down into the face of these beautiful little people and realizing their future would be impacted by how I lived my life was an awesome moment for me.
Another example of what I am talking about was our return to Argentina for our second term as missionaries. I went alone to prepare the way. I had to find us a place to live and then move our furniture and belongings 600 miles from Tucuman to Corrientes and get the house set up. Our year in the States had been saddened by the loss of Marilyn’s father but also overjoyed with the birth of our third child. When it was time for Marilyn, the 2 older kids and a baby to arrive, I flew to Buenos Aires to meet them. It was always a hassle to get through customs, and I could do nothing but watch through the glass as they struggled through customs. After the long and tiring trip, we stayed in Buenos Aires for the night and left the next day for Corrientes.
When we arrived in Corrientes, we knew no one, so we took a taxi with our suitcases to the house. When my family walked into the strange house in a strange city after leaving our families in the States, I could see they were overwhelmed. I told them I had found a good place to get empanadas and I would go get some because everyone was hungry. Eric went with me, and as I was driving there, I prayed that God would help my family because I knew they all felt very alone right then. I did not always discern those key moments, but the more I asked God to help me be there for them in moments like that, the more he helped me. I think God allowed me to feel the responsibility for my little family that day in a marked way. Although I would fail many times, I would never give up. I knew it was my job to protect them both physically and spiritually and to provide for them. That meant not only providing a place to live and food to eat but also provide a model of how to live, how to love, how to forgive, and how to follow God. I realized I could never do this without God’s help.