To our dear friends at Redeemer Bible Church: We wanted to stop for just a minute and tell you thank you for your love and care for us over these past seven months. We thought we should back up and tell you a little bit about ourselves for those of you who we haven’t been able to get to know us yet.
Marinajo grew up here in Brighton and is proud to call herself a native Coloradoan. She lived in Brighton from the time she was born until she graduated Brighton High School in 1986, when she went up to Fort Collins to attend college at Colorado State University.
Dave lived all over the place as a kid, but lived in Brighton from 1983 to 1987 where he graduated from Brighton High School and (you guessed it) went up to Fort Collins to attend college at CSU.
Even though we both went to Brighton High, we didn’t meet until college; a fact in which we both agree was clearly God’s timing. We were married in 1990 and lived in the Fort Collins and Windsor area until 2005 when we embarked upon our calling as missionaries.
We have two children –
Mariah is 20 years old and spent her formative years in Honduras, where she calls home. After graduating high school she moved to Nashville to work in an internship with a church, study music, and this spring began college there.
Ben, who is 15 yrs old, grew up in Honduras and lives there with us. He is a high school freshman who loves riding motorcycles, shooting, reading, computer games and anything to do with Dr. Who or Sherlock.
We started doing missions work in 2005 in Mississippi where we served the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We were there until 2008 at which time we moved to Honduras to serve at Loma de Luz: a missions hospital, bilingual school, and children’s center. We have lived and served for the past eight years at Loma de Luz. One difficult thing about international missions is the time away from family and friends, which is what brought us back to Brighton this past summer.
In the last year God had been putting a huge burden on both of our hearts to visit Marinajo’s mother, Mary, who had lived here in Brighton most of her life. We didn’t know at the time that she was sick, but God was certainly preparing our hearts to hear that news in a big way. We made plans for Marinajo and Ben to come to visit “Grandma” in August for two weeks and then at Christmastime to have the whole family together here in Brighton. When Marinajo arrived here in August Mary revealed to her that she had received a cancer diagnosis just a few days prior to her arrival. Marinajo had been visiting our daughter, Mariah, in Tennessee before her visit with Mary when they had heard the news. Thoughtful as always, Grandma waited to tell her until she arrived in Brighton so that it wouldn’t ruin her time with Mariah. We came to find out that the cancer diagnosis was grave; it was a late diagnosis and the cancer was well advanced. Mary made the decision, with all of our support, to forego chemo and enter hospice. I (Dave) came up and visited for a couple of weeks as soon as I could after we got the news, but then returned with Ben to Honduras for several months, leaving Marinajo here by herself to care for Mary in September, October, and part of November. But indeed, she was not alone: God had prepared a special group of angels for her from Redeemer Bible Church.
As soon as she realized that she was going to be here for more than two weeks Marinajo knew that she would need a place to worship and be fed on Sunday mornings. You see, she did not grow up in a Christian home and indeed her mother was not saved. This became our biggest burden and a burden that you, as a church, decided to bear with us and walk with us through right up until the end of Mary’s life. After seeing a sign somewhere for Redeemer Bible Church, Marinajo looked the church up on line. When she saw the solid Biblical stance that the church took on the issues on the website – open and unapologetic – she felt like this was the place for her to worship. When she came to visit, she did indeed find a group of people that were open and biblical and unapologetic in their doctrine, but that is not why I am writing to thank you today – I am up here today to say thank you because you were caring and loving and you wrapped your arms around us and Mary and Archie, my mother in law and brother in law, and you showed us beautiful Christ-like love.
So we embarked on this seven month’s journey with two weeks of clothes in the suitcase and a life and responsibilities in Honduras as well as this heavy burden here in Brighton. Marinajo and I were apart longer during this time than any other time in our 26 years of marriage and we went through various terrible trials. Marinajo fell and sprained her ankle and couldn’t walk for a time. She was terribly sick for the first three weeks in December and couldn’t help herself, much less anyone else. Instead of taking care of her mom, she had to be taken care of by others. Throughout this time, ladies from the church would stop by with food (oh, the food) or send Marinajo a text message of encouragement. The ladies joined Marinajo, in her childhood home, to share a bible study together with she and Mary. Through all of this love and care and study together Mary saw a side of our Lord that she had never seen before. Had she accepted Christ before she died? We think so. She said she did and even though her sickness made it hard for her to show a changed heart and changed life, we know that she both heard and SAW the gospel being played out in front of her in the most real way possible and we trust the Lord that it did have eternal consequences.
On Feb 10th Mary died peacefully after a swift downturn that left her completely bedridden and unable to communicate. As she died, we continued to tell her of the Lord’s love for her and this church just continued to love us. Little did we know that you weren’t done loving us – you were just getting started. You visited and prayed with us over the phone right after her death – you brought food (did I mention the food??) and you loved on us through this period of mourning. You hosted our extended family for a dinner the night before the funeral without having any idea what the term “extended family” meant to a hispanic family that has been in the area since the 40’s! Todd stood beside us and served us by preaching a clear call from the gospel at Mary’s funeral and, at the graveside, he reminded us of the hope we have in the resurrection of the body.
You’ve had us into your homes and fed us and cried with us and in every way you have been the embodiment of Christ to us. We’ll never be able to thank you enough for your kindness and your love. We hope that going forward, you will be encouraged to know that you helped these Christian workers at a time of tremendous need and then sent us back into the mission field well and whole. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.