Adios and “Gratchets”
(San Pedro Sula, Honduras circa 2005)
When we decided to focus a part of the “around the world” ministry of Christ Church in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, I was excited. My dad had been a part of a mighty movement of God there and the city was in my blood. After making a couple of trips with No Greater Love Ministries, 2005 was our first official Christ Church trip. In the weeks leading up to our departure, my 72 year old Pastor of Visitation Ralph Philippe informed me that he wanted to join the expedition but I was less than enthusiastic. “Ralph you are older than six kinds of dirt and I can’t imagine one good thing that could happen.” His face turned red, his ears turned purple and he retorted, “I didn’t need a mother before I met you and I don’t need one now.” When I asked if he knew any Spanish he smiled and replied, Adios and “Gratchets.” Perfect. I had a roommate.
About half way through our trip, Marvin and Karen Steinke split us up into a medical mission traveling to Tela on the coast and a construction crew to stay in San Pedro Sula. I opted for the medical mission and encouraged Ralph to come with me. “I am not going to do it. I know how to do carpentry and if I were on the medical mission I would be as useless as you are going to be.” We laughed and parted company. While in Tela, I received word that Ralph had fallen off the roof of the church the team was repairing. He was in a comma and had suffered serious head injuries. To make a really long story short, Rev. Ralph eventually died from the injuries he sustained on that trip. Words cannot describe the depths of pain his injury and death brought to Christ Church. Words cannot describe how much I miss him. Every now and then I will run into somebody who knew Ralph and they will inquire if he is still alive. When I respond, “No,” they always follow up, “How did he die?” I remember and reply, “He died well.
-Excerpt from “Exactly As I Remember It” (2012)