Activated - - NEWS - By W.P. Sch­midt W.P. Sch­midt is a mis­sion­ary in Europe and Africa.

My dad lived un­til he was 101, my mom un­til she was 99, and they were mar­ried for over 75 years! They sur­vived two world wars and had nine chil­dren, though the twins, who were born right af­ter World War II, went back to heaven at birth. They had 19 grand­chil­dren and 19 great grand­chil­dren.

As they got older and weaker, ev­ery­body who knew them was amazed at how well they kept go­ing. They lived in their own home with the help of an aide, and my brothers and sis­ters who did the shop­ping, mowed the lawn, etc., un­til they moved to a re­tire­ment home in their last months. They had a beau­ti­ful statue of Je­sus’ mother Mary built into the front wall of their house, and on the en­trance door, my dad, who was a med­i­cal doc­tor, had Moses’ rod with the snake em­broi­dered in it.

In a ve­randa on the back of the house, they had a col­or­ful stone mo­saic in­laid into the wall, de­pict­ing the first mir­a­cle of Je­sus, when He turned wa­ter into wine. My par­ents used to drink wine ev­ery evening un­til the last few years. They lived in one of the best wine ar­eas along the Rhine. They’d go to the vint­ner with fam­ily and friends to buy and taste wines. Ev­ery­one would get a lit­tle glass, taste the wine, and try to guess which area and year it was from, which type of grape, and as many de­tails as they could with­out see­ing the la­bel.

When my dad re­tired, he be­gan study­ing his­tory. He said he had to do some­thing to keep his brain func­tion­ing. He col­lected coins and stamps from the Vat­i­can, so he de­cided to study the his­tory of the popes. He also worked ev­ery day in his gar­den. He used to say, “If it hadn’t been for my gar­den, I’d have been dead a long time ago.” My mother went for daily walks with her walker, and she read books ev­ery day.

One time, a close friend of our fam­ily asked her, “With such a big fam­ily, you must face a lot of prob­lems. How do you han­dle them?” My mother replied, “At home I have a chest of draw­ers. One drawer I call my ‘tol­er­ance

drawer.’ If a prob­lem comes up, I just stick it into that drawer and move on.” Her friend said, “But af­ter some time that drawer is full, isn’t it? Then what do you do?” Her re­ply, “It al­ways set­tles so that there is room for more.”

It was a lot of work for my mother to raise seven kids—in­clud­ing five rowdy boys—and deal with the crazy things some of us did, but I can’t remember a sin­gle time she yelled at us. Our par­ents were thrifty. We would “in­herit” leder­ho­sen down from one brother to the next. And we wouldn’t waste food.

My par­ents be­lieved in Je­sus all their lives, and He helped them sur­vive wars, hard­ships, and de­pri­va­tion. My dad al­ways gave God the credit. “It’s just His grace!” he’d say.

A few years ago, I asked them if there was any­thing in their lives that they would have liked to have been dif­fer­ent. Both of them im­me­di­ately an­swered, “Noth­ing!” To which my dad added, “We have seven chil­dren who get along with each other. What more could we want?” My par­ents love kids! When my wife and I adopted an or­phaned Con­golese baby, at first some of my sib­lings re­jected the idea, but my par­ents im­me­di­ately ac­cepted her.

My par­ents loved each other a lot. Their last wish in life was that when one goes, the other can fol­low soon af­ter. And that’s ex­actly what hap­pened, three weeks apart. They also wished that peo­ple wouldn’t spend a lot of money on wreathes and flowers for their grave. “Why would you?” they asked. “We’ll be in heaven! We won’t need those flowers.” In­stead of buy­ing flowers, peo­ple do­nated to sup­port a hos­pi­tal in Beth­le­hem and our school project in Congo. I remember my dad say­ing many years ago, “My suit­case is packed. I’m ready to go.”

Although it wasn’t easy for them to let one of their sons leave home to be a mis­sion­ary, they were even­tu­ally happy about it and sup­ported me in my call­ing. I’m sure their prayers helped me out of many a messy sit­u­a­tion.

Peo­ple ad­mired how they kept smil­ing and mak­ing jokes all the time. My dad loved to tell jokes, one af­ter another, even if he’d told them to you be­fore. Af­ter all, he’d lived all his life in Mainz, the birth­place of Guten­berg, and a city fa­mous in Ger­many for its hu­mor.

In his last years, I no­ticed how dif­fi­cult it was for him to put on his jacket, but when I tried to help him he said, “No thanks, I need to do it my­self.” It made me want to never give up ei­ther.

The Bi­ble says, “My child, never for­get the things I have taught you. Store my com­mands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be sat­is­fy­ing.” That’s cer­tainly proven true for my par­ents.


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