When our friends Tom and Dot were first married, he worked as an architect in New York City. She taught school at an exclusive all-girls school whose students included daughters of well-known Americans. Their lives in New York were quite a contrast to his childhood on a Texas ranch and hers on a farm in southeastern Ohio, where she had walked past her family’s farm animals and through the woods to a one-room school. While living in New York, Tom and Dot were part of a church and also worked in a program that reached out to very poor children.
From New York, they moved to Germany where Tom designed PX buildings for the U.S. military. There they were involved in a church with military families.
For a time Tom and Dot lived in East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh. There Tom helped to establish the area’s first school of architecture. They loved visiting various places in Asia. I was excited to hear about Tom’s visit to Harappa in Pakistan.
One of the early civilizations that we have written about in From Adam to Us (our new grades 5-8 world history course) is the Indus River Valley civilization. Westerners knew little about that ancient civilization until the British were building a railroad through the valley. While looking for rock to place under the railway, they began finding bricks. Locals told them about an ancient civilization there. Afterwards archaeologists began to study the ruins. Our lesson teaches about the two largest cities that have been discovered there: Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. You can imagine my excitement when Tom told me about walking around Harappa with a guide and seeing pottery fragments lying on the ground!
Eventually Tom and Dot settled in Urbana, Illinois. While he taught architecture and she taught elementary school there, they reached out to foreign students, teaching them the Bible. Their children have also been involved in missions, and Tom and Dot continue to support mission work.
When we lived in Urbana in the late 80s and early 90s, they invited us over one time when they were entertaining a family from Belarus. The family had a daughter near the ages of our daughters, and they gave us this doll from Belarus.
I have always remembered a conversation from that visit. Tom and Dot were talking about the birds in their backyard. The lady from Belarus said that at that time their land was so polluted, there were no birds in their backyards.
Aren’t we thankful that we live in a land where birds flit around in our backyards, where we have many opportunities to hear the good news of Jesus, and where we can learn from examples like Tom and Dot?
Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58