Thursday, April 24, 2008

Never Forget Your Roots

A few days ago a friend in England sent me an email saying that she had located another friend we both knew while growing up in South Africa. She said I should join Facebook. I did, and within 2 days I have been networked all over 5 countries and have emailed or spoken to a bunch of people that I grew up with or went to school with in South Africa. Yesterday I heard from my best friend in High School – we did EVERYTHING together (including getting into a LOT of trouble). We lost track of each other 14 years ago! Back then, if I wanted to be in contact with someone “back home in the old country” I would have to write a letter and go down to the post office, have it weighed for international postage, and 7 days later they would receive the letter. Has the world really changed that much so quickly??

As I have established contact with a lot of people from my past, a lot of memories have flooded over me. I have come a VERY long way in 14 years, and often I come close to forgetting my roots. But trips to South Africa, and news from family and friends remind me of where I came from – and that’s good. I don’t ever want to forget those roots.

When I go through my closet I often look at my suits. I don’t wear them much anymore, but there is one in particular that caught my attention the other day. It's a sharp-looking charcoal Nieman Marcus suit. It's worn out now, but I'll bet it cost $500 new. Twelve years ago I got my first preaching assignment when I knew nothing and had nothing. When I showed up in Dallas at age 19 I had a visitor's visa that expired in 6 months and $230 in my pocket. As a foreign student I was not allowed to work. I had nothing - nada. I would go out to Mexican restaurants with my classmates and order water. While they ate enchiladas I ate the free chips and salsa! Where was I going to get a suit? A member of the Preston Road Church of Christ gave me his Nieman Marcus suit - gave, not loaned. I was so proud of that suit! I wish I could still fit in it. But I'll never give it away or throw it away. It will always be a reminder to me that I am either the luckiest man ever born, or God has smiled on me! Twelve years ago I was a kid from South Africa with no money and no way to earn money. Today I'm an American, I live in a big house, and I preach at a nice church. God has used so many kind people to bless me. I was reminded this week of the life I left and the new life I now lead. I thank God, I thank all those kind people, and I thank Mr. Nieman Marcus for making the best suit in the world!


jenn said...

That's a cool post! We take a lot of things for granted in this world and sometimes we don't appreciate the "finer" things in life. I think it's neat that you hold on to the suit, just like I think it's neat that you hang the American flag in your matter what. They have meaning to you, special meaning, and if it weren't for Mr. Nieman Marcus who knows where you'd be or what you'd be doing. :)

Of course, I do think you should wear a suit more when you preach. It's the old fashioned side of me. Sorry!! (just had to add that in) hee hee

Anonymous said...

It always amazes me when people do not take advantage of the opportunities that God offers us here in America. There are so many stories like yours!

I know in my life, I have seen the opportunities that America offers. I had flunked out of college after two years. I had no prospects for a job. But, thanks to God (through my military service), I met my wife, knocked out two degrees... That's a long way from that semester of Fs in '92.

While I don't have the suit, I do have the first pair of boots from basic training. They are worn out from miles of marching. But, they still shine. Those boots will always be special to me.