Cliff and Connie Gardner
Wayne and Midge Olson as pioneer missionaries to Lebanon
We buried my mom and dad today. No, they did not just pass away. Mom died just over four years ago and Dad died last September, but this was the first chance we had to have Jon and Lindsay in the country at the same time so we could have the interment of their ashes. A year and a half ago Dad picked out a plot in the Collegedale Cemetery next to Southern Adventist University where Lindsay goes to school. He purposely picked out a plot in the same cemetery Wayne and Midge Olson, Bekki’s parents are buried. And it is only a few feet from the plot Bekki and I have. So on resurrection morning, should we die before Jesus comes, we will all be together.
We were blessed by their close presence for the last 12 years. In 2000 they moved to Tillamook, Oregon and lived just across the valley from us. In 2006 they followed us to Clarkston, Washington and lived less than a mile away. After my mother-in law, Midge Olson, died in 2010 Dad moved in with us, taking over her part of the house. Those last 2 1/2 years were some of the most precious of our lives.
Having that time together is a privilege I would not trade for anything. For those of us who come from families that move a lot and are scattered all over, we rarely get a chance to fully understand what really great people our parents are.
Bekki and I were able to live near her mom and my folks. We got to really know them, far better than we did as kids or as young adults. We had the opportunity to work with them on church boards and committees, we got to see first hand what a difference they made in their communities.
We were also privileged to be with them as their lives closed. We could see how they handled the challenges they faced with dignity and grace. We had the chance to care for them and hear their last words. And although losing each of them was very difficult I think being with them at the end made it easier. I catch myself thinking, “I have got to tell Dad about this or that…” and I realize that I can’t. I am glad that I was close enough to my dad that I still want to talk with him. And I hope I never outgrow it.
And so I would like to honor our parents. It is because of them, all four of them, that we are Seventh-day Adventist Christians, and are going to the mission field. It is because of them that we love and want to serve Jesus. And it is because of them, their influence, their guidance, their love, their example that we look forward to the soon coming day when the dead in Christ will be raised and we will be with them again.
A year ago when Bekki and I became orphans at the tender age of 52 we realized that you never stop needing a mom and dad. And we have been more than blessed by the presence of Archie and RBD Willis in our lives. They have adopted us as their kids, and have become our surrogate parents. This last year would have been infinitely more difficult if it wasn’t for them. For those of you that have parents still alive, tell them how much you love them. For those of you who are orphans as we are I hope you are able to find surrogate parents so you can continue enjoying the blessings of being someone’s kid.
Us with Archie and RBD
For those of you new to our blog, read about us and our upcoming mission to Africa in the “About Us” page, then there is a “Timeline” page that tells you where we will be this year, and finally a “Definitions” page that explains some terms that may be unfamiliar to some of you. Also check out the links to other Mission Hospitals to find other missionary blogs.
– Scott Gardner