They had gathered to honor her memory, to celebrate a life well lived. Before they all returned to their homes, distant places far from the elder who remained, they decided to visit a place that would give them comfort and inspiration; possibly in order to take their minds off of their recent loss. Either way, they came to find solace and hope that their remaining parent would be blessed; after all, it was his wish for them to come.
I knew in advance of their upcoming tour. Unfortunately, our retired pastor, whom would have been a perfect match for this group, was unavailable, leaving only myself to lead them. Before they arrived, I prayed for guidance, strength and God’s will to speak through me in spite of myself; something I seem to do more often that naught. When they arrived, the man to whom needed their sympathy most, seemed to beam brightly as he led them into the visitor center. I soon found that their faith had allowed them to say goodbye to their mother, grandmother, and wife, but knowing that she would be with them in Glory allowed them to almost celebrate her final victory.
This was going to be another blessed day.
We began the introduction as we normally do, at the map. I had given them some of my personal testimony but was planning to deliver the remainder of it as we traveled further upon our journey. In the back of my mind, I wanted to share with them the story about the new ax we had received as a donation from Bill Bradshaw but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right at this point. Part of me felt as if I had already shared too much and we needed to move on. Also, I still had Ms. Regina’s message in mind about discernment, and how that we should be able to know if God wants us to do something or not, if we have matured enough in our faith; so I resolved that if it was God’s will, He would let me know if it needed to be told. We were about to walk into the movie room when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I caught the glimpse of our realtor from ProTrust Realty, Christi, standing at the door waiting to enter. Christi lives in Cary, nearly three hours’ drive away. We had been in contact via email the past week as we continue to find another way to get our farm sold. All of a sudden, she was here, out of the blue.
Another Godly moment, another chance to feel his Holy Spirit.
It was at this point that I shared with the family in my tour who Christi was and the amazing moment I was experiencing with her being here. It was then I realized, I had to share the rest of the story with them, and include the ax as Christi and her family joined our ongoing tour group.
Now, I must back up at this point and share another miracle that had transpired this week, which would become very relevant at this point.
As I wrote earlier, Bill Bradshaw had donated an ax to the Trail of Faith. Bill’s father, Dwight E. Bradshaw received the ax from an old Waldensian in Valdese, possibly a Refour family member. The head of the ax had an imprint, “Italy” stamped on it. Bill had shared with me how he had wanted to donate it to the museum, but it had just never felt right; not until he met me. Bill had taken the old head to a handle expert in the mountains nearby in order to get the old missing handle replaced. The handle luthier explained to Bill how this required a “special” handle, not one many people would know. As I held the beautiful antique in my hands, I couldn’t help feel deeply honored to accept this gift on behalf of the Trail. Later that evening, as I walked out into the dark, a street lamp lit my way and as I walked I could see the “Italy” stamp clearly marked, but the odd angle of the light also provided another engraving I had missed earlier. Carefully, I tilted the ax at different angles toward the streetlight and could make out the letters, “OURE,” with the “O” partially worn off. Instantly, the name of my ancestor’s village in the Chisone valley popped into my head, “ROURE?”
Could this ax head have been from Roure, in the Chisone valley?
How profound, if that was the case, for this ax to make into the hands of someone in Valdese who would have ties to this exact village, especially when the inhabitants of Valdese all came from the neighboring valleys! It wasn’t until later the next day that I was able to confirm, the second stamp was undoubtedly the “Roure” as I had expected, and quickly put it into our display case for safe keeping. This was another Godly moment that was going to take time to sink in.
So, as Christi joined our tour, I shared with the tour family of God’s confirmation once again. To this they replied, “as it is His will.”
I would later find out that the patriarch of the family was going to be celebrating his 90th birthday this Tuesday. He had been a missionary for 60 years, traveling the globe, serving the Lord, he and his late wife. As we stood at the foot of the path to exile, one of the exhibits on the Trail, I stood next to him and felt a special moment pass as he looked up at his family climbing the pathway to the platform overhead; his pride of bringing them all to this point, his love going onto Glory, and this beautiful day to share with is family. We stood for a moment in silence and took it all in, he and I. It was then he turned to me and said that he would be celebrating his 90th. I exclaimed to him how amazing he looked for a man of his years, his appearance being nothing more that someone in their late 60s at best. He smiled broadly, thanking me for the bad judgment of age.
We turned to join the others as they returned and continued on our journey.
It was then that it struck me. Here was a man nearing the end of his mission and me just beginning, both of us walking together at this moment, but soon we would part. Although our time together is brief, we shall walk together again someday on the other side of glory, and then, we can share the many tales of our times here on earth once more, those many missions, those lives touched.
Yes, it was just another Saturday, a day to revel in life lived and just one more to remember for eternity.
To God be the Glory!