This day, five score and some years ago, was very exciting for three little girls in Osorno, South Chile. My parents delivered us a little brother! He was at once our “Pepito,” which later became “Pepe”!
I’m sitting at the mechanics reminiscing about this my “oldest” brother. I’ve already written about my other siblings this year and now it’s his turn. Pepe, I’m proud to be your sister, and I’m very proud to be the aunt of your gorgeous four children.
It’s a good place to be at a mechanics writing this piece. Pepe is a mechanic at heart, a surgeon by trade, and a pilot by love. Did I get that right?
Many years ago, in Chicago I think it was, Pepe got his hands dirty and helped a lady fix her car. I guess she was kind of surprised when she asked him if he was a mechanic and he told her he was a surgeon! Same principle! Both cars and people need fixing and in both cases you have to get your hands dirty. Of course, in the operating room the hands are gloved.
I think Pepe was only three when he constructed his first car made of scraps of wood Dad had given him. He was nine when he fixed an old vacuum cleaner my mom had given up on. Ever since, he’s been fixing and building. I said he is a pilot by love, and that love has taken him to build his own plane. Maybe he’s built more than one. I can’t keep up with this diverse and creative brother of mine.
His very first “own” vehicle he got as an answer to prayer. He was just a little boy wanting what little boys want: a tricycle. But my parents had no money to buy one. We resorted to prayer. Mom was a little worried that her boy would be disappointed, but with God we need not worry. He is the Creative Creator that can make worlds just by saying a word. What’s a tricycle dilemma to him? None, of course!
One day a neighbor asked my dad if he could use a tricycle for his kids. This man’s children had outgrown theirs. Could he ever! And so my little brother got his first vehicle and his first answer to prayer.
When Pepe was a kid Dad would take him everywhere he went, on all his errands. When my little brother Lars came along, Dad was not as willing to take him places. Lars was too mischievous. But that’s another story. I’m not writing about Lars today.
To say the honest truth, Pepe was not very kind to me when he was a kid. He probably didn’t appreciate his big sister bossing over him. At times I had to take on the role of “mom” and that probably got on his nerves. I did my best to show a Christ-like spirit, even so he embarrassed me big time when I taught a Sunday school class for boys and he was one of my students. I was talking about being kind, when he blurted out, “Why don’t you practice it yourself!” He got a reprimand at home, because my parents knew I was practicing it!
Pepe got along well with my husband. Bengt was not as handsome as a girl would wish her Prince Charming to be, and I might have mentioned that to Pepe, because he said his looks didn’t matter just so he was a nice guy. And my late husband was a very kind guy!
Because of my missionary life, we’ve been far apart most of the time, but Pepe is a very missions-minded guy and he’s helped us out on several occasions. I will never forget when we needed a vehicle in Bolivia. Pepe made contact with some churches and managed to get us some good offerings to help pay for it.
Pepe and I are the “Americans” in our family. As a young man, wondering about his future, a telegram came to him in Peru, reading something like this: “Front room empty. Welcome.” He took it as a sign and left Peru for the States. Probably his most nerve-racking experience was when he was crossing the border from Mexico to the US and was sent back to Mexico because he had no student visa.
I should write a book about his adventures, of how he managed to enter the US, make his way to Chicago, study medicine, find a beautiful bride during the process, and finish as a surgeon who together with some colleagues built a hospital.
Pepe has been very blessed by God. He has worked hard and been very generous in giving to missions. When we were kids and talked about the future, Pepe was going to be a missionary doctor and fly into the jungle. Our brother Lars was going to go with him as a preacher, and “bury those who died”! It didn’t turn out exactly that way, but he’s got “flying” in his blood.
What I appreciate very much is that he “flew” his family to be with me on the two saddest occasions in my life, when we buried our oldest daughter and when I buried my husband.
Pepe “flew” to us when our daughter got married. When Pepe’s daughter got married this summer we didn’t “fly” there, but as I have related in my July blog, we drove a van to be with him as he walk his daughter to the altar to give her away.
I’m glad Pepe is having another birthday. I hope he has many more. I’m proud and happy that he’s my brother. My only regret is the geographical distance that has keeps us apart most of our lives. But we have eternity to look forward to, where there will be no distance or separation.
Happy Birthday, Per Roland!
My brother and his wife, Sherryl
(I “stole” this photo from Sherryl’s Facebook page. Thanks, Sherryl!)