Tribute to a Father

Andrew Hale

(Don Hale was a respected teacher and elder in the Seattle assembly. This tribute was read at his funeral.)

Dear Pa,

When I was a little boy you filled my mind with wonder. I wondered at your knowledge of trees, of birds, of rocks, and the human body. Where did you learn all that stuff? You explained to me how a seed germinates to become a tree, and when I asked, you told me how God could create a baby chick inside of an egg from just a speck. One day I fell from the rafters in the barn, and you explained to me what happened inside my body when my wind was knocked out. You taught me to identify rocks; pyrite, quartz, mica and agate.

I wondered at your knowledge of engines and electricity. You said things like intake, compression, flywheels and gear ratios. You said things like single phase, two phase, single pole and double pole. What were you talking about?

I wondered how you could fix things. You fixed a well pump with a piece of leather from a shoe, and you fixed a duck's leg. When the duck broke it's leg, it could have become our supper that night. But we cried, and you fixed the duck's leg with two thin sticks and some black tape.

You had a book I wondered about, too. You read it and reread it. You studied it, you made notes about it. Often you quoted it. Sometimes you would say "This is a Proverb." As I grew older, some of your own words sounded like Proverbs.

I wondered why you spoke to strangers about Jesus. Why you always gave them little papers you called tracts. I listened to deep conversations you had with your best friends. You said words like redemption and justification; and phrases like "eternal purposes of grace. "

I wondered why your hands were rough and callused. I should have wondered why you were tired at night – but I didn't. Today I looked into an old ledger book of yours. I was seven years old when you made the entries in the "Farmers Pocket Ledger". You were employed at the Valley Gem Farm working 60 - 70 hours a week. You had to, I guess. You were earning only $1 per hour.

One day I overheard a man criticize you for buying a Bible for someone when you didn't have enough money to buy clothes for your family. Pa, we didn't need any more clothes, the hand-me-downs I got from my older brothers were just fine.

One day I heard you speaking words in the Portuguese language, and I wondered what this was about. You told me that there were people in the jungles of Brazil who had never heard the name of Jesus. It was your burning desire to serve the Lord in Brazil. But because of the size of your family, others advised you not to go. You were not discouraged, but continued to support the work in Brazil, sending gifts of money and letters of encouragement to missionaries already in that land.

One day you told me you were going to study electronics. Soon after, a box of study material arrived from a correspondence school. I wonder how you could have worked so hard at your job and still found energy to study at night.

Pa, a big day came in 1958 when you were hired by Boeing. When you told us that we were moving to the city, you could see the fear in our eyes. When we packed the truck, I cried. You said the move was for our best. You were right, Pa.

Pa, were you a genius? I thought you were at times. Do you remember when Grandpa became so deaf that hearing aids would not help? You designed and assembled an electronic marvel. The hearing aid you made for Grandpa was so powerful that the decibels coming out of the earpiece sounded more like a loudspeaker. You never said "Look what I have made," you were just pleased that Grandpa could hear again.

In your later years God blessed you. He gave you and Ma a chance to relax, and to enjoy your lives together. I cherish the memory of those years.

Pa, I cherish the memory of your consistent godly life. You loved God, you loved truth, and you valued prayer. You were down-to-earth, always humble and never flashy. No one will remember a tie you wore or a car you drove. But they will remember you.

Thank you Pa, for teaching me about trees and birds and rocks and for helping me understand engines, flywheels and gears. But thank you most of all for teaching me about the Book, for showing me the wisdom of God, for teaching me about the love of God and the cross of Jesus. Thank you for explaining redemption and justification.

I still wonder about many things, but I don't wonder where you are today. And I understand a little better the phrase "eternal purposes of grace."

Your son,

Andrew Hale