Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Love Story

Michael and Meryl Stathis have been married for 45 years today.  They are volunteering at Nazarene Hospital for the fourth time. 

Michael is a general surgeon, the old-fashioned kind--truly general, with a wide range of skills, careful and systematic as a diagnostician, steady and precise as an operator.  He is simply wonderful to have around.

Meryl is a sort of combination of big sister, mother and doting aunt--gentle, witty, concerned.  Great cook, too.

Some of you will remember a couple of years ago when we took an emergency trip to Australia for medical assistance for Judy.  The Stathises were some of the people that took care of us then--we stayed in their home, they fed us, prayed for us, drove us to medical appointments.

Michael was raised in a traditional Greek Orthodox home.  His family was faithful to church, and believed that if they were good enough, they would go to heaven.  As a teenager Michael fell in love with Jesus through reading the New Testament.  Although his parents opposed it, they eventually allowed him to go to an evangelical church once a week.  Through the church he met Meryl, and although they weren't really able to date, over a period of five years a deep friendship developed.  Michael knew that he could only marry a woman who shared his faith in Jesus, and knew that God had led him to Meryl.

The elder Stathises were heart-broken that Michael should marry outside the Greek Orthodox Church, but eventually came to accept, and eventually love Meryl.  But best of all, they eventually came to accept and love Jesus, too.

Today we celebrated with Michael and Meryl.  We'd planned to drive to Randan Ridge, high above Mount Hagen town, to eat at what may be the nicest restaurant in the Highlands.  As we headed out of Mount Hagen and up the narrow road, people by the road flagged us down to warn us that the road had washed away.  Judy had been to Randan just a couple of weeks ago, and commented on the narrow road cut into the hillside, that then was barely passable.  So we went back into Mount Hagen, and had a nice lunch at the Hagen Squash Club.  The surroundings and the food were not quite what they would have been at Randan Ridge, but the fellowship was great, and the story of the courtship that culminated 45 years ago today was priceless.

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