Let your beauty be not just the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on fine clothing; (1 Peter 3:3 WEB)
The concept of mission work was something new for our family as God called us into the ministry. Our daughter, Ellice, was young but interested in God and teaching other people about Jesus in her own childlike manner.
For three years we visited churches, shared with friends, and put hours each day into raising our support for the mission field. When asked we would tell Ellice, and later our son Joel, we were preparing to tell others about Jesus. Two years later we discovered we were headed to the Pacific to proclaim the Gospel into China and the Far East.
While we were still in the US we were thankful I had a boss who was understanding. Often I took afternoons off from work and disappeared over the weekend to share at churches in the area. Occasionally we would take a weekend to visit my parents in Illinois.
My father was always tinkering something together in the basement. It might be as simple as a pot holder or as complex as a nuclear power station. Well, maybe just a ham radio transceiver. While growing up I was always fascinated with the projects and tests he made in the basement. Everyone needs a basement to keep exciting things as volt meters, old record players, radio gear and assorted other odds and ends.
Bringing my children to visit Grandpa was always exciting. It didn’t take them long to discover the miraculous neat stuff in the basement. Grandpa was a genius! He could build or fix anything! No two ways about it, Ellice and Joel thought Grandpa was the world’s answer to anything electronic or mechanical, not to mention a bastion of wisdom.
Each visit my Dad would take one of the two children aside for a one-on-one experiment and construction project. There were flashing lights to be wired together, radios to listen to and even the occasional conversation with some ham radio operator across the globe while sitting in Grandpa’s lap. During one of these visits Grandpa decided his first and only granddaughter needed some jewelry.
My Dad took a heavy piece of copper wire and a ten cent coin then called to Ellice and headed to the marvelous, mystical, basement workshop. The two were gone for over a hour before they emerged. Dad was smiling and chuckling while Ellice was beaming and holding out her hand.
“See Daddy,” she said as she approached, “Grandpa made me a Dime on ring!”
The ten cent piece, a dime, soldered to a ring of copper perfectly fitted to my daughter’s finger could well have been a multi faceted diamond stone in her heart and eyes. It was hand made, with love, to a precise fit, for her only. What more could a granddaughter want from her Grandpa.
From that day on, the ring was worn on all occasions. Everywhere Ellice went, she was wearing her Dime on ring. On Sunday she wore it to church. In the lower classrooms of our church, a separate church service was held led by the Asian residents of our area. They were great people and dedicated to the proclaiming of God’s word.
However, children are children. One of the young children took a shine to Ellice’s special ring and it disappeared. It was never recovered but not forgotten. The memory would come to light as soon as we arrived on Guam.
Our first evening on the island we were guests of another missionary family. This was standard in the mission. Dealing with jet lag is difficult enough without trying to prepare an evening meal and not burn down the house. The first few evenings any missionary arrived or returned to the island they were guests of other staff families.
This evening we met and were hosted by the Chen family. Eddie and Ruby are wonderful people and delighted to help us with our first evening meal on the island. We found their home on our map, drove over, and knocked on the door.
Eddie opened the door welcomed us and entreated us to enter. As we passed through the door Ellice looked carefully at Eddie, then Ruby.
“I don’t like Chinese people!” she proclaimed as a simple statement.
Beth and I were aghast. Eddie and Ruby didn’t miss a lick and just kept right on being gracious and wonderful to this new missionary family. With apologies and a desire to strangle our daughter we sat down, and began to converse and learn about each other.
In the course of our conversation we had a chance for an aside chat with Ellice. We soon discovered she was still mad about her ring missing from the service at our home church. We praise the Lord for the careful and gracious treatment by our hosts. They welcomed us and made us feel at home.
In the years following, fourteen on Guam, we became close friends with the Chens and often recalled and laughed about this first evening. Ellice and Joel were friends with their children as well.
Children are honest about their feelings, not always timely, but honest. Ellice’s honesty allowed her to draw closer to the Chens as they discovered something of her missing treasure and she discovered something of the treasure in the new family she met.
As adults we might learn a lesson. We can learn a little better timing but be honest with one another. It sure keeps the air clear and the relationships honest and on solid ground. Our Lord was honest with those he met. Still, he loved them and gave himself up for them. Maybe we can learn to do the same.
Years later when I discussed the matter with my daughter, she reminded me of something I forgot. After the Dime on ring was lost my Dad compensated by creating a Penny Bracelet. Same general idea, a piece of wire, a coin and some solder. While I was writing this I received a note from Ellice telling me she sill has the bracelet. She discovered the best jewelry in the world in one of her boxes. As she remembered her Grandpa she cried with good memories of fun times. It doesn’t fit anymore but it is among her collected treasures. The simple things of life are often the things we cherish the most.