|George and Dorothy, many years ago|
A dear old friend of ours, Dorothy Waterhouse Smoker, passed away in January and I'd like to honor her memory here. Dorothy was 97 when she passed and I hadn't seen her in many, many years. Still, my memories of her are close and vital.
"Uncle George" and "Aunt Dorothy" worked in Tanzania from 1943-1970 but Byron and I met them during their "retirement" to Nairobi in 1984. I say "retirement" because, after ten years back in the US, George and Dorothy relocated themselves to Africa to continue serving as extremely helpful volunteers living on their retirement income.
Picture this: Byron and Lisa are 25 and 22 while George and Dorothy are both about 67. We made an unlikely but fabulous foursome :)
Let me tell you why...
Byron and I were newly arrived in Nairobi. The organization we had come with was undergoing traumas and dramas and we were left to find our own way forward. George and Dorothy had decades of experience to draw on and tons of love and care to give. They lived around the corner from us and took us under their wings. We would bomb around Nairobi in their tiny car, laughing and soaking up their wisdom, sense of wonder and guidance. We had about three months as neighbors before we transitioned to a new organization "up country."
One evening, when we were back in Nairobi, we popped round to say hello and found them in the throes of leaving for the airport. George's health had suddenly taken a very serious turn and doctors were recommending their immediate return to the States. After all the help they had been to us in our first few confusing months in Kenya, we were thankful to be able to help them close their bags and get off to the airport. Cleaning up their little place before handing the key over to their landlord the next day was a small thing we could do for them that eased their minds as they hurried away.
Uncle George's condition was serious and he passed away not long after their return to California. To this day, we quote George when we get into a conversation with someone about giving or not giving to beggars, how to make better compressed soil bricks and mortar, or how easy it is to make peanut butter. And I had just quoted some of Dorothy's bush medicine advice the day before I heard she was gone.
Thirty years ago, George and Dorothy offered us friendship, counsel, laughter, wisdom, prayer and insight. Our window of time as neighbors was short but it has impacted the whole of our lives. We are two of the MANY who were blessed by them.