25+ years ago
Dear Oma and Opa,
This year, you have both turned 81. Congratulations! The Lord has blessed you with a great many years with which to serve Him so far.
I am thankful that He has blessed me with a great many years with YOU. I want to write down how important you are, how much I love you both, but I find it is hard to find the right words!
Oma and Opa with my sister, Sarah (L), and me (R).
I have so many memories of great times with you over the years. Sleep-overs at your house; Opa playing the mouth organ to us before we went to sleep; fighting over who would get to sleep in the bed with the curtain; playing with the knitted teddy family that Oma made; playing with the Barbies who lived in an old biscuit box; sitting at the wooden table and chairs that Opa made when Mum was little (that MY children now sit in too!); Oma's giant meatballs - the best in the land! - and her delicious soup (still my favourite!); pineapple flan; giant feijoas from Opa's tree; playing hide and seek and always hiding under Opa's big desk in the rumpus room; thinking the laundry chute was a little bit magical; chocolate hail on open sandwiches eaten with a knife and fork; playing endless, ENDLESS, games of Rummikub, Monopoly, Tri-ominos, Snakes and Ladders, and Ludo together; making huts with the plastic furniture in the rumpus room; driving to Wellington with you, listening to Joni Eareckson Tada's tape in the tape player.
I remember the outings you took us on when we were younger: Waingaro Hot Pools, Hamilton Lake, Parana Park, Hilldale Game Farm (now known as Hamilton Zoo, of course). Oma would pack her stripy bag with a picnic lunch or morning tea. A stack of plastic cups in their Tupperware containers; individual packets of sandwiches with our names written on top - because Oma knew we all liked them different: Sarah with no butter, me with no tomato. You would set up 'base' on a picnic table somewhere while we would go off and play or swim, knowing you would be ready for us when we ran back to you, with a warm towel, or a drink or something to eat, whatever we needed.
Here we are at Waingaro Hot Pools
Playing at the Hamilton Lake (L) and Waingaro Hot Pools again (R).
On Sundays, you always sit in the same pew at church. I like this. I like it because it's like a little piece of home. We used to sit next to you every week when we were growing up. I knew it was time for the sermon when Oma passed along her special purse with Oddfellows and aniseed lollies in it! Sarah always chose an Oddfellow and I always had the aniseed. Then there was a time when I didn't come to church anymore, and I forget how long that lasted, but I knew that you would still be there. When the Lord did bring me back, I sat next to you again, even though I was no longer a child. And I knew you were so proud to have me there next to you. When I knew I wanted to be back at church, but felt unsure of my welcome, I felt safe knowing that there was always a space next to you, in the same pew every week.
The cousins at Oma and Opa's 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.
Over the years, you have often told me that you pray for me. I want you to know how much this comforts me. I know that not only do you pray when there is a particular need, but every day you pray for me. Not only me, but every member of your family. Every day, whether I have managed to carve out time in my own day to come before the Lord or not, I know I am brought before His face by your faithful prayers.
Your faith in our Heavenly Father is strong - and evident. We see your trust in Him in everything that you do. You encourage me in my faith by helping me to see the that there is blessing in every situation, by showing me that you cling tightly to Him in times of sorrow and trouble, by reading the Bible and praying with me as I grew, by showing me how integral He is to you in every part of your life.
Oma and Opa, even with all these words I've just written, all these precious memories I have of you, I still feel that I want to tell you more just how much you mean to me. I just don't think there will ever be enough words!
So I will just say I love you. I treasure you. I thank God for you. As you have always told me I am precious to you, so you are precious to me.