Friday, May 1, 2015

“Though miles may lie between us, we're never far apart, for friendship doesn't count the miles, it's measured by the heart.” — Elie Wiesel

One of the downsides of living a long time is the number of friends who die before you do.  I was a second-career pastor in Northwest Arkansas for my entire time as a United Methodist pastor.  Being a pastor is an extremely difficult thing to do well, fairly easy to do poorly.  Many of us second-career pastors would get together every Tuesday morning (mostly at Susan’s Restaurant in Springdale) and would keep each other up to date on what was happening in our lives and give comfort and support to each other.  It wasn’t a big group, just five or six mostly, but I couldn’t have made it through the tough times as a pastor without that group and those members.  Sadly, one of the men who gave me much comfort and with whom I had much in common died two days ago, Rev. Peter Kimball, still a young man in my book.  He and I had many long talks together that held both my spirit and my faith together.  His obituary follows:
Peter Hayes Kimball, 63 year old resident of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, died April 29, 2015 at his home. Born August 12, 1951 in Salem, Massachusetts, he was the son of Madison Dow Kimball and Elaine Hayes Kimball. Peter married Vickie Sweat on September 15, 1979 in England, Arkansas. Peter was a retired Methodist minister who had spent the last few years working as a rancher. He was a member of the Sequoyah United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Pete was a quiet and gentle man.  I never heard his voice raised in anger or heard him say a single unkind thing about other pastors (an unhappily common practice for many).  Pete was one of my rocks, the other being Sara Bainbridge.  We kept up with each other and I remember how proud he was of the new church building he oversaw in Prairie Grove.  His wife, Vickie helped raise numbers of books for our library here in Bunda.  Pete taught me many things about keeping my temper and working with instead of against the system.  He also taught me the value of buying old, rebuilt Mercedes and driving them for years.  I had one for which I paid $5,000, drove until we moved to Africa, sold it to another second-career pastor, and it’s still running.  My life was a fuller and better life because Pete was in it.  The world is a better place because Pete was in it.  I will miss you, my friend, but you will be here in my heart in Africa for as long as I live.  You meant a lot to me and I never told you how much.  Too late now, but you were special to me and always will be.  You were always there for me, and I can think of no greater words of praise.
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