Mary Lou and Gary celebrate a 40th anniversary today, February 5, 2015. It was 40 years ago we sat down together in a stairwell of the North Park College Mellander Memorial Library and talked with each other for the first time. We had said “Hello” to one another and smiled at each other in passing on the North Park campus for a few months, but had never stopped to talk. Gary finally got up the courage to ask Mary Lou if she would like to “talk and get to know each other”. We couldn’t talk in the library—rules of silence and all—and we didn’t think our conversation would last as long as it did, so the stairwell suited us well. As we got to know each other for the first time that afternoon, Gary shared that when he was six years old he had responded to a call to a career as a missionary. He saw missions as a way to stay connected to the Church while being able to live far from home. Mary Lou, 40 years ago, did not sense that call to a career in missions. In fact on that February 5th afternoon she told Gary, “That’s great! I will look you up in the Covenant Missionary Prayer Book and pray for you.” At least the commitment to pray for one another was made—and has continued for these 40 years!
After getting married in 1979, starting our family and moving to Kingsburg, CA, in 1983, where Gary served as Pastor to Youth, and having the occasional conversation regarding doing “something in missions”, Mary Lou sensed God’s call on her life to pursue missions as a career. It was after our last child, Skye was born, and after having many conversations and prayer times about going into missions, God confirmed his call and we said yes to a long term commitment in Missions. Two years later we began our missionary career and are now in our 25th year in Colombia.
Through these past 40 years we have done a lot of talking with, and to, one another and we are still getting to know each other—with no plans to stop that love, growth and process. We continue to be committed to pray for one another and with each other—with no plans to stop that either.
A favorite worship song that we sing in Colombia asks the question, “Where would I be without God’s love and grace in my life?” I, Gary, shudder to think of what my life would have been like if I hadn’t acted on my desire to talk to Mary Lou that afternoon. I shudder to think of what my life would be like without Mary Lou fulfilling her promise to “look me up and pray for me”. I, Mary Lou, shudder to think of what my life would be like without Gary and his prayers and patience in waiting for the call to Missions to be truly mine as well.
“Where would I be without God’s love and grace in my life?”