(Written on May 20, 2015, on my husband's 40th birthday.)
"He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length."
Today is my husband’s birthday. He has hit the big 4-0. Yep. But he’s still just as young at heart, lively, and fun-loving as the day I married him. He’s grown wiser and has learned a lot through experience.
I’ve known him for 25 years. That is a long time, you know? We’ve been married for 13 years, but have loved each other for probably about 20 years. (He’s loved me nearly half of his life!)
He was born in a small village, the 9th child (4th son) of the ten Lopez Children. His parents were poor farmers (his mother learned to keep bees, and that added to the family income). When he was not even two years old, he went into his daddy’s small store and, unknown to anyone around, ingested some of the petroleum oil that his daddy had in the store. His esophagus was badly burned, and he could not eat or drink. He came very close to death. God gave his Mamma wisdom, and she fed him drops of the pure honey she had. Drop after drop, his little throat was healed. When I heard my mother-in-law tell that story, I knew God had kept him alive for a purpose.
At the tender age of 11, after finishing 6th grade, he said goodbye to his Daddy and Mamma to go to the city. As was the custom, because there were no schools other than primary schools in the villages then, if a child wanted further education, he had to go to the city. So, with tears in her eyes, Mamma Lopez said goodbye to her young child. Because there was not enough money to travel frequently, my husband would not see his Mamma for months at a time, and at one time, three years passed before she saw him! He said that was such a hard time for him, being so far away from his parents!
It is a fact that God had his hand upon this young boy. He boarded with a man who was a miserable drunk, and who took advantage of this boy’s hard-working skills. He was given a “bed” under the chicken coop, and was made to rise at 4:00 A.M. to take corn to the market for selling. Rushing home, he had to be ready for school at 8:00 A.M.
Although my husband was unsaved then, God had His eye upon him. God protected him and kept him from the physical and emotional dangers that surrounded him.
God put a man named Paco in my husband’s path who took him from that awful situation in the old drunk’s home. Paco watched over him and looked after him like an older brother. He gave him 50 cents each day for his food. There was a kind lady who sold sandwiches and snacks at the school where my husband attended. My husband asked her if he could wash her dishes and sweep her floor every day for a sandwich at break time. She generously agreed. As this young man with a winning smile earned her confidence, she eventually allowed him to run the cash register and “upped” his salary. And so it was that he earned his meal through nurse’s school. He was only 14 years old when he entered nursing school.
But things were not well at Paco’s. One of the sisters who lived there was jealous of the attention that my husband got from Paco, and she told my husband that he had to leave. With tears in his eyes, Paco said, “Pal, you need to go.”
He had no where to go. Ahh...but God's providence was at work. A young man who went to nurse’s school with my husband heard of the hardship that he had to endure. So he told him, “I live at the home of a missionary. He gives me lodging and food, and I’m sure he will take you in.” At first, my husband was too shy to approach the missionary. Yet, at his friend’s urging, he got courage and went to the missionary’s house. The missionary’s son, Joel, was standing outside the gate eating an orange when my husband arrived. Friendly Joel offered my husband an orange. My husband said he'll never forget thinking how kind and generous this young man was. When hearing of my husband’s plight, Joel said, “I’ll speak to my father on your behalf. I’m sure we can give you a place to stay.”
That missionary was my Dad.
It was in December when my husband arrived the first time. My mother immediately noticed this boy’s smile. There was just something different about him.
Only one week after arriving at the missionary’s home, this young man accepted Christ as his Saviour and began to grow. Joel baptized him; and the missionary and his sons took part in helping to train this young man in the ministry. He continued his nurse’s training, but became a big help in the ministry: preaching, going soul-winning, helping with bus routes, and participating in every church activity possible.
He eventually became as one of the family. The little room provided for the boys (there were others besides my husband) was in a corner of the property, and their meals were served in the church building; so he did not live in the family home. But he participated in family games, church activities, and even had Christmas dinner with us one year.He was trained by my dad. That is such a blessing to me. My husband likes to tell of the days when he and my brothers played basketball together. After school, they’d ask Dad if they could go to a nearby ball court and play ball. My Dad would say, “You can go for thirty minutes. If you’re not back in thirty minutes, you can’t go for one week.” They’d run out the gate…for their thirty minutes began counting when my Dad gave them permission to go. Three minutes before their thirty minutes were up, they’d bid their friends “goodbye,” and they’d take off for home.
He was taught accountability, responsibility, obedience, and honesty by his godly father, but those qualities were further instilled in him by my own father. My husband loves my Dad as he loves his own father. My mother cooked his meals, prepared his school lunches for him, and cared for him as if he were her own son. Eventually, the affection for him in my parents’ hearts were as the affection toward one of their own children.
In 1994, when I left for Bible College, I missed him dearly. He had been like a brother to me for several years. I’m not sure when it happened, but I began to have feelings for him. I tried to dismiss them, and thought that my time away at college would take away this “crush” I had on him.
But when I graduated in 1998, it was evident to me that I indeed loved him. And he loved me. Many times, my husband spoke to my dad about courting me, but my dad was not in agreement. Eventually, my husband moved away. By then, he had started practicing his nursing skills in the villages, and was only in our city on the weekends.In 2001, (after much persuasion and prayer on our part) my Daddy agreed to allow my husband to court me. It was a precious time for us. Seven months later, with our parents’ blessings, we were united in holy matrimony. I must say how much I admire this man for his persistence. Although he “waited” for me for over 5 years, he proved to all that his love was pure and sincere.
What a great gift my husband is to me! God has given me wonderful in-laws. My father-in-law, who is now in Heaven, loved the Lord and was a great influence upon my children. I have a sweet, godly mother-in-law, and my husband’s brothers and sisters love and accept me, and we enjoy one another’s company.
One thing that is so special about having “grown up” with my husband is that he knows many of the people that I know; he understands me because he experienced many of my childhood experiences with me. He loves my brothers and sisters as his own. My brother, David, became one of his best friends, and was his best man at our wedding. It is just a special relationship that we share from so many years together.
The last few years of my dad’s life were hard ones for him because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease. I remember on so many occasions, my husband would go see how Dad was doing. He’d go back to his room. So often he got muscle cramps, and my husband would gently rub his arms and legs. Oh, how endearing that image of them together is to me today!
I remember the day that my Dad passed away. My mother called my husband immediately when she knew something was wrong. When he arrived, my husband instructed my brothers to place my Dad on the floor so he could work on him. My husband gave my Dad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as tears streamed down his own face. He worked furiously to revive him. But God was calling him home, and there was nothing anyone could do. When I arrived at my mother’s house, my husband met me outside. He had a stethoscope around his neck, and when he saw me, he shook his head and said, “He’s gone.” We wept together as he held me close.
When we entered the room where my dad was lying on the bed, my husband gently stroked my father’s head. “He just looks like he’s sleeping. I feel like any minute he could wake up.”
It was a Sunday afternoon, and it was decided that the evening church service be held as usual. My husband was the music director for our church, but he said, “I just don’t think that I can lead today.” He wept during the whole service. What love he showed toward my dad that day!
I believe one reason I love my husband so dearly today is because he loves my family as do I. God designed the formation of this man just for me. He knew exactly who I needed to guide me in my adulthood, and I must say that my husband has fulfilled that role quite well. He is not perfect, but he is the perfect man for me.
My husband works hard to provide for us, in the medical field; but his faith and dependence upon God sustains us. He leads with humility; he guides by example; he loves fiercely and is loyal.
So you can see why I love this man. It is my honor to be his wife. I cannot say how grateful I am to be his helper in this life.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my Sweetheart! I hope we live many more birthdays together.