“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
We sat in a memorial service last week for a really lovely family of three.
I don’t think I could say all the things we appreciated and valued about this family–and really, that’s what we’ve been discussing with friends all week.
But there are two things that struck me, and have stuck with me as we’ve tried to process and grieve this loss to our community.
The first is something Jeff wrote us in an email a couple weeks back. It was a continuation of something he & Stephen had discussed at Bible study, and he wrote us this long email encouraging us. He reminded us to “create Agape love in our souls for the hurting people in this world” and to be “seekers of truth.” He wrote line after line encouraging us, and then at the end seemed to apologize, “I am not trying to preach to you…I just seem to preach to everyone.”
I thought this was interesting: it’s as if he can’t help but speak truth into people’s lives. I think of the things most of us can’t help but do, or can’t help but let exit our mouths: gossip or swearing or complaining or judgements. And yet he can’t help but preach?
It has challenged me to consider what is oozing out of me.
For this family, they did ooze truth. They did love people well around them, challenging and encouraging and blessing people at every turn.
And as we sat among a large group gathered from Mae Sot, I realized the impact they had here. The group compiled of different ethnicities, different backgrounds, different ages, different stories–and yet all affected by this family who had moved here to serve.
And in the middle sat the small group of their family who came for the funeral. His brother and sister-in-law came from America; her mother & brother came from South Korea. All were Christians, and they seemed to really value the lives they lived and the sacrifices they made.
But they sat among this entire group that loved their son|sister|brother, and it was this odd dichotomy to me. So many of us here who wanted more time with Jeff & Jiin, but really, after their over twelve years abroad, we had more time with them than many of their families.
It was a very real picture of what our lives here mean for our families.
To see their families enter in to this foreign place that wasn’t foreign for Jeff & Jiin. They were so natural to the community–and yet their family was left simply observing the effects of the impact they had made, the life they lived here, the life that kept them so far away.
Per usual, I don’t have conclusions. I just have thoughts, rolling around in my head.
Some are thankful thoughts: thankful for the times we’ve had with family–regular trips back to America, visits England, or visitors coming to see us. I am giving thanks for the kindness and generosity our families have to support our lives here: to take time to Skype with us, to send us photos around the world, to be patient when I forgot to call on a birthday or send a package; their graciousness when we are spent and torn.
Some thoughts are also sorrowful, at the things we miss out on and the parts of our lives that they don’t know. What does our choice to live here really mean for us–and our families as well, I see–today? This year? In five years?
Until then, we’ll give thanks for the lives of Jeff, Jiin & Jasmine Roggenback. And we’ll also give thanks for their families, who were willing to share them.