ANATOMY OF A FRIENDSHIP
Victor first knocked on our door in September 1977. It was 7:30 a.m., and there he stood, baggage in hand. He had come to attend the Bible Institute in Quito, Ecuador. This was our second year in Ecuador, and I was becoming accustomed to unannounced arrivals coming for dinner, for the weekend, for the year, or for a lifetime. Victor acclimated well; the Bible School students were housed on the 3rd floor of our home. He made friends instantly with everyone, including my young sons, ages 6 and 4. Within a matter of days, both boys met him after school each day with a soccer ball in hand, begging to be taught another juggling move. He always took time to show them just one more trick, to practice just one more time.
He turned out to be an outstanding student and a good speaker. He frequently was asked to other churches to speak on the weekends. He was also a most welcome addition to the Bible School choir. I was the music teacher in those days, and the students were just learning to sing in harmony. Victor was an apt student. Not only did he learn to sing tenor, but he was able to lead the section, teaching others. He was also an accomplished soloist.
We left Ecuador in 1979. Victor finished his final year and returned to Peru to help with church work there. We didn’t hear directly from Victor for several years. (No internet in those days! There were only bulletin boards with telephone modems, and I was not tech-savvy, nor was South America wired for that technology. In Quito one was fortunate to have electricity for 6 days a week and phones would occasionally work.)
Then one Saturday morning in 1982, the phone rang. It was a minister friend in California who said he had a “very lonely young man” there. Victor had accompanied another missionary to the U.S., then had been encouraged to branch out on his own for speaking engagements and had run out of places to go. Again, in those days there were not many Spanish-speaking churches within our fellowship circle. Victor’s English was not adequate to manage a sermon in English. My husband got on the phone and arranged 4 weekends of services for Victor between Pasadena and Chicago, wired Victor some money for transportation, and said we’d see him here in a month to help him plan for the future.
Victor became part of the family. My boys were delighted; soccer lessons resumed. Victor remained in Elgin for several years, studying English, working with us in the church, and sometimes fulfilling speaking engagements on weekends. He was a protégé to Bob, a little brother to me and a big brother to my boys. Then, he decided his English was sufficient to attend college here in the U.S. He headed off to St. Paul, Minnesota to complete his education. He maintained an exemplary record there. On graduation, he resumed evangelizing, this time not limited by language. He traveled the U.S. and Canada over the course of several years, maintaining contact with us on a regular basis. He returned here at various points in time, spending some Christmases with us, attending soccer games, just doing the normal family stuff.
Victor had many close friends here, so when he found the love of his life, his wife Marta, they settled in Elgin. He became a real estate agent, got married and, the joy of his life, his son, Sammy was born. That part of the story is not mine to tell. However, they have remained close friends and are faithful members of the church.
Then Victor’s illness began. (For the rest of the story, see this blog, December 19)
All who knew him will feel his loss. We will miss his sense of humor, his quick wit, his wonderful singing voice, his calm disposition. My life has been enriched by knowing him.