“Givim siksti” (Go 60mph=fast) is a Tok Pisin expression that is meant to convey speed—not just to hurry up but to, as the idiom goes, “put the pedal to the metal”. Don’t fool around!
We have just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary and as the man says in Gilead (p. 115) “Remembering my youth makes me aware that I never really had enough of it, it was over before I was done with it.”
Of course, neither Joice nor I were in our youth when we got married: I had just turned 23 and she was just a week away from becoming 25 (she didn’t want to marry at the young age of 24!). We probably thought that we were more mature than we were or we wouldn’t have married at all.
Our Waco family decided that they would help us celebrate and they did it in grand style. They sent out invitations to many of our Wycliffe and SIL colleagues and to friends from our church. And many came—over 60—which was fitting to those who are numerology buffs.
The occasion took place at Mike and Karol’s, our son-in-law and daughter’s house, and their three children, Kirsten, Evan and Cam, helped out by greeting people, steering them towards the food, and recording their names and even some video interviews. Also on hand was our son, Kirk, from Australia and his daughter, Alissa, whom we had not seen for six years.
There was a generous supply of food of all kinds and the company could be heard belching for hours afterward. Many were retired missionaries so they graciously took as much food as their plates would hold. Who knows where the next free meal was to come from? There was chicken meat, cow meat, pig meat, but no goat or lamb. There were all kinds of vegetables and savories—a word that includes everything I didn’t know the name for, which was considerable. There was also desert and drinks, but no hard stuff—our church is historically derived from the Southern Baptist denomination.
It was a mixed group: old friends from Dallas; three anthropologists, but only one who looked the part; two lawyers, neither still practicing, so no lawyer stories; a few university professors, well disguised; some doctors without stethoscopes; missionary translators (telling weird stories about snakes and natives) and lay people, listening. For our blessing, it could not have been better unless our pastors (he and she—there are two of them), who were at other functions, had come and said a few words.
My anthropologist friends have got to be more careful. One of my lawyer friends told me he heard two of them discussing how language came about and they had decided the Neanderthals had something to do with it. I was glad that other guests had not heard the remark because we had a lot of meat on the table and to utilize protein the Neanderthals had developed “enlarged livers and kidneys, and chests and pelvises” and also probably “specialized in hunting gigantic animals like mammoths” (Smithsonian magazine, June 2016, p. 16) which were, of course, once native to Waco. I hoped no one was on a Paleo diet. Similar intellectual conversations flowed around the room.
Towards the end of the afternoon someone said that they would like to hear from Joice and Karl (why is her name always first?), so Karol had people ask us questions. Like politicians, our answers generally had nothing to do with the questions. Rather, they ignited our feeble, but fertile, imaginations and we began to tell stories. One thing led to another and soon we were entertaining the crowd with our recollections of the past.
The main story, one called for by some knowing colleagues was for Joice to tell how she had lost her skirt while speaking at a church meeting. It is a hilarious story and only she can tell it. It is too embarrassing for me to repeat here. And then there were her surgeries, especially the one about the doctor with the big hands, and hence her big incision. Or swatting a mosquito on the head of one of the pastors we were visiting. And so on…
Momentarily our memories returned and we were flush with episodes from the last 60 years of our marriage: Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Oklahoma, Texas, New York, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea—name your state or country and we had one or more events that took place there. Fortunately for everyone, we selected only a few.
People were stunned at our humorous collective reminiscences but, as we reflected later, we may have set the missionary cause back 60 years. Just two old people telling things that happened in their lives, and no Scripture verses to authenticate them.
Well, we could have given reams of verses and maybe we should have. On the other hand, maybe just showing that we had lived together 60 years, and seemed to enjoy it was still enough proof of God’s divine wisdom, patience and blessing.
But we will be glad to come and speak at your church anytime.
May 26, 2016