My dad was a journeyman sheet metal worker (tinner). Anything that was broken, Dad could repair it—with sheet metal. Sheet metal appeared in so many places in my childhood home. The edge of a drawer would start to separate and soon the repair would be done as a 90-degree corner of sheet metal with the appropriate rivets or screws would secure it. The leg of a wooden stool would start to splinter and a silver sheet metal “cast” would be meticulously placed to prevent further fracture. One of my favorites was when our baby girl’s changing table was starting to bow in the middle and was becoming weak. Dad wanted to make sure nothing, absolutely nothing, could hurt his granddaughter or break that table. I’m not sure, but I believe that after Dad “sheet metaled” that changing table, we could have used it to change diapers or as a ramp for our truck. I loved my Dad and his abilities to fix anything using what he knew and what he had. He attempted to pass that on to me, but my attempts are never as good as Dad’s were. He was a good teacher but I probably wasn’t the best student. I am thankful for his speaking into my life as a father, a mentor, and a teacher.
This year has not only been beyond comparison with things such as COVID, hurricanes, “murder hornets”, racial division awareness, economic upheavals and political divisiveness, but God has called home several friends. They, like my dad, left indelible marks on my life.
- Over the years as we worked in Haiti using the US as our base, a gentleman named Dick Hird lifted us in his prayers, with his encouragement, with his finances, with his singing, and with his heart. We always knew that Dick would be a good listening ear and offer the words we needed to hear.
- During our first trip to Haiti, and for the years following it, the Church of God suggested that we speak to and learn from a family named “Ackerman”. We didn’t meet them until a few “semesters” into our Haiti journey, but as we were led deeper and deeper into God’s call to move to Haiti, it became apparent that they knew the ropes. When we moved to Haiti, John Ackerman showed us where/how to get our residency permits, our driver’s licenses, grocery stores, restaurants, hardwares, and just generally how to navigate in this new place. John was straightforward, loved the shock value of a questionable comment and could be “crusty”, and beneath that crust was a man of wisdom and caring, and a man who spoke into our lives in a wonderful way.
- Some of our best friends in the world are Jill and Terry Bernard. Jill’s mom, Mary Lou Ackley, not only asked us appropriate questions about our lives and ministry, but she was willing to listen to our long, tedious stories. While Mrs. Ackley was not a close friend, she raised a daughter who became a confidante, a friend, a prayer warrior, and a support to Kathy and me in ways that are truly indescribable. Jill and her husband, Terry, remain people who continue to speak into our lives valuably, prayerfully, and powerfully.
As we draw to the close of this strange, unique year, I think back on not just the problems of 2020, but the legacies and the lessons that remain with us through individuals like Dick Hird, John Ackerman, and Mary Lou Ackley. I am a better person because of all of them and I am a better person because of how they allowed God to use them. I pray that all of us can focus on what we can do as individuals to leave a legacy behind that will better someone else. I am blessed and thankful for all of you who are creating your legacy for someone else. Maybe we should all ponder what our legacy will be. What are we doing to speak into the lives of others?
As for me, I need to go and cut some sheet metal and try to repair our drawer. Sorry, Kathy, it won’t be as sturdy as when my dad did it. I’m still a work in process.
– Dr. Mark Fulton