Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quote of the Day:  “Death can only end a life--not a relationship.” ― Mitch Albom

My friend, Bill Whitfield, has died.  Bill and his wife, Jimmye, were the United Methodist missionaries in Musoma from 1996 to 2003.  In 2002, when I was preaching at a small, African-American, Methodist church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I told the congregation about my trip to the Peruvian Amazon where I had led a team that built a church in the jungle overlooking the Amazon.  After the service, one of the women came up to me and asked me if I would lead a team to Africa to build a church.  My wife said yes before I did.  The woman was Jimmye Whitfield who was in Arkansas visiting her sick mother.  In February, 2003, my wife and I led a team to Tanzania where we built churches in Musoma, Tireme, Bunda, and Magu.  Bill Whitfield was our host and teacher especially about the culture and societal structure.  Bill was an agronomist and was teaching local farmers how to get better crops.  He and his wife were inspirations to us and when we decided to come back to Tanzania to be permanent, volunteer missionaries, Bill and Jimmye helped us and even came back after their retirement.  Bill and Jimmye hosted at least four mission trips of ours before we moved here for good in 2005.  Moving back to Arkansas after their retirement, Bill had developed Parkinsons and his health steadily deteriorated over the years.  He was a special friend who taught me a lot.  He was also a good friend of my friend, Pete Oneal, in Arusha.  He was a gentle, quiet man who taught more with his life and actions than with his words.  He will be missed, but his work will live on long after people have forgotten his name.  

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