About nine months ago, I took a break from blogging. I became too worried about what others thought, fearful of being judged for what I wrote – or didn’t write. I still feel uncomfortable with the desire to be real and yet knowing that anyone you have ever read could read this post…
But the recent experience of losing my dad and returning to the US for his funeral has made me want to process more, and blogging is a good outlet for me. This is also a way to not lose some thoughts and things that are personally worth keeping. So I’m going to share some about my dad.
I wanted to share first the meditation that Eric gave at my dad’s funeral – it was perhaps the best message I have ever heard him give. Alas, he is asleep now, victim to the wickedness of jet lag, so I will need to get his permission to do this another day. Our two youngest woke up at ONE a.m. last night, ready to start the day!
At the end of the funeral service after maybe 12 or so friends and family shared about my dad, I closed the sharing time. Here are the notes that I had prepared. I deviated a bit, but this is the basic message that I had been able to write that morning. For those of you who never met my dad, I hope this honors him and makes you feel like you knew him a little bit:
We were in Japan earlier this week when we got a call from my sisters that my dad’s health seemed to be rapidly declining. We waited a day or two for more news from the hospice care, all the way preparing our hearts and our lives to make the trip across the world. On our last morning in Ishinomaki, I skyped in with my sisters who were in the room with dad. I was in the Living room, and at one point Allison asked if I had any scripture to share with dad.
Our youngest son piped up and said, “Hey Gigi Bill, I know some verses!” And he began reciting his memory verses from the last month. He’s going to share them with you now too:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. Isaiah 41:10
I thought of the significance of these verses alot in the next couple of days. Bill Plumb over the past 87 years has certainly seen his share of troubles.
- He had near death experiences in the Korean war.
- He lost all three of his siblings in the first half of his life.
- Incredibly challenging four years in Rhodesia, in which he had malaria countless of times and disappointment after disappointment of being failed by their mission leaders and African co workers.
- His first wife died when he was a young 58 years old.
He has seen his share of troubles. But watching him first as a child and later as an adult, I have witnessed over and over and over again, his faith was his anchor that held him tight. It wasn’t a faith that was only theology or nice feelings, but a faith that was gritty, real, and consisted of the smartest thinker I know who found the promises of Jesus real and true. God really was His refuge. God was his strength.
Our family is now living in the disaster zone in Japan where the terrible earthquake and tsunami struck five years ago. Our kids are going to the local elementary school. It is a tall building that serves as a hinanjo, or an evacuation/refuge center. It was filled to the top of the first floor with tsunami water and debris five years ago. But 700 desperate and now-homeless people lived above it for the next six months on the second and 3rd floors. The building was hit hard, but it did not move, and it became a place of refuge for many. It was later fixed up, and serves again as a school for our children and the others in our community, as well as continues to be a refuge in case of emergency.
This was the best image I could think of for my dad. And this faith lived itself out in how he attended to people. He had a way of bringing people in. As he allowed God to be HIS refuge, he became that very thing to so many others.
Bill Plumb made God his refuge as he experienced the pain and sorrow that inevitably comes into all of our lives. And as he lived out his faith, his very being became a hinanjo for so many others. This room is full of people who have experienced Bill Plumb as an unmovable refuge in the midst of our life challenges.
But I guess what’s most important is the huge and irreplaceable presence He has been in my own life. His faith has tethered my own. He was the greatest influence on all of the big decisions in my life. His encouragement and his heart for the world is the biggest reason I first went to Japan, and am still there now.
The first time I went as a young 20 year old, he wrote these Words on a card that I still have: “Take a few chances, do things that are bizarre and fun, and don’t stay on the beaten path.”
He never held us tightly, but gave each of my sisters and me permission and freedom to be ourselves… to go further and higher and deeper. He was the most vocal women’s libber that I know. There should be no ceiling for women. He released me and my sisters to be who God wanted me to be.
He had such a heart for the people of the world! The last time that I could talk with him on the phone, his first question, like usual was, “How’s the Nozomi Project? How are your ladies doing?” He was always caring, even about those across the world.
On the plane coming back I read some of his letters from Rhodesia, and was struck with the many challenges he endured there. Here is one quote:
“Sometimes I have a really strong feeling that I want to stick it out here “until the light that shined in my heart will give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Sometimes as I speak to the students or bend over their wounds or see them as a poor, lost people without hope in this world or the world to come, I have the peace of the Christ who directed our steps here in these trying and discouraging days. Oh, that our witness will not be completely lost just because of the color of our skins. With Him, all things are possible, even this impossible thing…”
Your witness was not lost, Dad. Your light still shines brightly as your legacy lives through the hundreds of lives you have touched so deeply.