Last year was the last I got to spend with my dad. It was also the last time we were together before he went on to be with the Lord. We prayed, we believed and in the end we accepted that God is good always and regardless of how things turn out. My family has been blessed to have had my dad’s company for the past 70 years. What a legacy! We have been oh, so blessed.
Thanksgiving will now be even more special and perhaps a bit nostalgic to me personally, because I know what it took for my dad to come out of the house and spend a few hours with us at the Abante house in Dorado last Thanksgiving. He was quiet, but always smiling. He shared his testimony with my help, and I remember thinking to myself that this would most likely be the last time I would hear him share the story. Little did I know…
Two days later, before I left the island, I stopped by to say goodbye and we had a most beautiful and unforgettable exchange. The words he shared with me were brief but nevertheless special. He kissed my forehead and prayed for me, and then he blessed me. When I walked out of his room, I knew deep in my heart we would not be seeing each other again, not like this, not until eternity’s next stop.
On my flight home that afternoon, I was thinking about the things my dad and I talked about. I’ve always known that my sisters and I had no bigger fan that our dad. I mean, he was such a big supporter of our dreams and even when we struggled he offered such great wisdom to get us on the right track again. My dad was the first person to see me as a missionary, he was the one person who encouraged my passion for seeking God and studying the word. He truly believed in my gifting and helped me feel comfortable as a leader. When my husband, Brian and I shared our vision for our organization, He was genuinely excited for us.
When he blessed me that day, he also blessed my husband and my children and he blessed our future and our vision. I felt as though he was looking right into my heart because my faith was honestly shaking for the future of the organization. I was experiencing some fears and we were looking at giving up everything we owned to follow this vision. This was heavy on my heart and though I never expressed it, he encouraged me tremendously. He told me, “Beba, my daughter, listen to me, I believe in your vision, don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Don’t worry about what others say or do, you remain faithful. I just see it, you know? I just know it here in my heart. God is going to take you to many places, not only physically…” I will keep the rest for myself, but needless to say, he gave me courage to move forward with our plans.
Since last Thanksgiving, there have been many changes for my family. Obviously, the biggest change is my father’s absence. Personally, we have truly left everything behind to follow God’s calling for our lives. It has not been easy, and sometimes it is a very lonely road. Thankfully, I have my dad’s words sealed in my heart and in my mind to remind me that someone believed in me enough to see something amazing that has yet to happen. He saw it. I’m beginning to see it.
I am truly amazed. Humbled by it all, but truly amazed.
And so, it is Thanksgiving day today. We had turkey and all the side dishes. We’ve had prayer together and we have shared what we are thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, my husband, my two boys, my team of colleagues with Abante and my missionary friends all over the world. I am thankful for all the connections we’ve made in several countries and all over the united States and at home in Puerto Rico. I am thankful for my beautiful and loving sisters, who like my father always encourage me to follow God’s leading. Also for my mother who is such a strong woman with many, many talents. And my dad…What can I say? I’m thankful for lifelong memories, meaningful conversations, hugs and kisses and the words that today, even through my grief, lift me up to see a little further down the road he described to me.