Picture her emerging wrung-out soul new-bodied whole entering Light breathing Air strong delicious free strong sustaining oxygen-hunger left behind with shrinking bones and all the long weakness long waiting She lifts hands high (no more trembling) laughing voice full of strength and song tripling joy song rippling She’s running meeting loved ones painted indelibly in her heart lost and missed gone before now new-found She’s wrapped by arms finding precious wife, Beloved Elva, Mom, sister -- she whirls and pearled tears run rivers down cheeks blushing for joy And then she sees Jesus coming – worlds swirl and stop – centering . . . He holds her close, wipes the wet away cups her chin smiles with delight dawn Sonlight glows dawn forever
This is how I imagine a scene that took place in heaven yesterday. True, I wasn’t there. But I know that Mom Boese entered there, because she truly loved her Lord and longed to be with him, and he loved her and had shepherded her all her long 100 years of life on earth. I can only imagine . . .
Her husband, Ralph, preceded her there by 10 years. And two of her children are already there: Dan and Diane, the two on the left in the photo (taken 18 years ago). She longed to be re-united with all of them, too.
The confidence we have that our Lord will receive us in this way changes death into the gateway to a wonderful new life.
Jesus himself said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?“ (Jn. 14:1 NIV)
And Paul explained: “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:20 NLT)
It breaks my heart that so many people have no such hope of life forever in that special place, in the company of our Lord. Many picture us becoming a part of the universe, the starry sky. Others say it is all over, a complete end of everything. This lack of hope shows up all over the world.
Mom and Dad Boese came to Côte d’Ivoire twice, spending several months each time. They adapted beautifully and learned to love the people there. Ever since, Mom has prayed for the Nyarafolo constantly, especially for our houseworker, Sikatchi, who she had helped train in our style of housekeeping. They had developed a very special attachment, so it was not a surprise that when we asked that a Nyarafolo name be chosen for her, it was “Siɛncɛnwɛ,” which means “beautiful person.” They shared no common language, but actions, kindness and facial expressions speak volumes. That smile!
One of the things she excelled in was saying “Thank you!” I remember hearing that response in many circumstances, but especially in her last days of her life, when she was still lucid. Whatever any of us did to help her, we heard “Thank you!” It was one of the characteristics that made her a “beautiful person.”
Names matter more to the Nyarafolo than they do to most of us in American culture. Every name has a carefully chosen meaning. In our early days there, I asked my closest Nyarafolo friends to choose a name for me, since “Linn” was unknown to them, and many were calling me just “madame.” Saly, a close friend, consulted other women, and they named me “Penyuɔnɛkuɔ.” When I asked the meaning they told me that it says that after you help people, they forget to be grateful. “Really?” I said. “I wanted a good name!” “It is a good name,” they assured me. “It’s so true!”
It took me a while to realize that it is like a proverb, which is loved in that culture, and that it appears all over in the Bible. I began to write my name next to verses that underlined how often we humans forget what we owe to our Rescuer, and are ungrateful. Israel often forgot and turned away from him; this led to disaster. So the Lord said: “I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.” (Jer. 2:7 NIV)
We are often so wrapped up on our own plans that we forget to even thank our Rescuer, our Healer, like the nine men that Jesus cleansed of their skin disease or leprosy, who ran off to rejoin their community without acknowledging who had healed them at all. Only one man returned to thank Jesus, falling down before him, when he realized the healing that had taken place (Luke 17:12-19).
Do we forget to be grateful to God for all he has done for us? It is all too easy to fall into that trap. So today I want to thank him for the gracious favor he gave me in this mother-in-law named Elva Boese.
The gift of her son, Glenn, is the first thank-you that I owe her. I am so glad that she raised him to be responsible and loving, and encouraged him to be a cook! She truly accepted me as her daughter, caring for me and my children in many loving ways – even taking us in to live with her and Dad Boese for three months in 1983, doing the cooking, cleaning and much childcare while I wrote my master’s thesis. She told me that after the time she spent with us in Côte d’Ivoire she no longer was hoping that we would only stay there a few years; no, she knew it was the best place for us to serve our mutual Master and she completely released us to keep on keeping on. She gave us some of her handmade items, keepsakes. She openly shared her spiritual journey and her prayers. And this past year, she was the one who incited me to publish some of my poetry by telling me that the only gifts she wanted from us for her birthday and Christmas were books of my poems. Sorting them, deciding which ones to print for her, led me to notice the theme that I published this year as When He Whispers: Learning to Listen on the Journey. The Lord used her to prompt me, and I am grateful!
I could say more, but that gives a sampling of the gift that Mom Boese was to us. I’m glad that now she is receiving her reward from the One who loves her more than any of us can.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It is an annual prompt to remember to be grateful, not only for all that we enjoy but also for the One who made us, and loves us:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Ps. 107:1 NIV)