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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Facing Life’s Trials: Death of Friends

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17. (NIV).

Last week I helped bury one of my closest friends. I have known Nona for 43 years. Over the years we had some real adventures and comical episodes together. We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, argued and comforted one another during many of life’s crises.

We became friends when our children were small. Her family joined our church and became active in all the young adult activities. They went on our church’s first mission trip, about 1970, to Spain. During the preparation time for this trip we got to know them better and after the trip to Spain, our families became active in a group that went to other churches and helped with week-end revivals. These were family events so we took all five children along. Staying in homes during these revivals could get really challenging, but we overcame all obstacles. At one point we were talking of buying some land out in the country and building adjoining homes in the hope that some of our children would marry one another. Just one of those silly dreams that mothers have when their children are young and think that her wishes will command what they will do when they are older. God knew that we did not need to be neighbors, or in-laws!

We confided everything to one another, as good friends do. We did not always agree, and did not always get along in peace. I compare our friendship to one of sisters as neither of us had a sister. After her mother died, Nona often went to Arkansas with me to visit my mother and father and just really adopting them as her own. She loved them and they loved her. Our husbands hunted, fished, and golfed together, so accepted our little excursions for our forbearance of their men’s activities!

One time we went to Arkansas to dig for diamonds in the only diamond mine in the USA. We took digging equipment and decided to spend the night in a motel so we could start as soon as it was light enough to see. We were so excited that we talked the whole night. Oh, we went to bed, just not to sleep. Talking was what we did best. One time we were talking so much that we did not realize that we had driven right through Texarkana, not seeing it, not knowing we had missed the turn to my parents until we were almost to Little Rock. We only went about 100 miles out of the way, but that is another story.

We toiled all day long in the diamond mine, digging holes we could have fallen into, and never saw a hint of a diamond. Since it was wet and the dirt was very thick and sticky, we had mud caked to the waist and our feet were one big glob of messy mud. We labored all day, with hope undiminished. The journey was the reward. We drove all over Texas and Arkansas, getting lost and loving it. Every road trip together was an adventure. We ran out of gas, got lost, found our way, got lost again, and laughed uproariously during it all.

We went to Israel together and prayed at the Wailing Wall together. We shopped in London, me paying for all of her purchases because her husband cancelled her credit card when the bank called him and told him that her card might be stolen because it was being used a lot in a foreign country! We had some choice words for him when we returned!

Good memories. I will miss her forever, until we meet again! Thank you Jesus, for Nona. Amen.

Pat Eppler

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