Saturday morning we drove over to Querétaro for a breakfast “despedida” (“goodbye”) with our good friends Art and Marita Mikesell. To call them “our good friends” is probably not an honest description. They’ve known the Hanna family for decades and “Uncle Art” was perhaps the best of friends of Bethie’s father. I can’t call them peers by any stretch. We’re more than honored to know them.
This couple has served faithfully and fervently, and I know that I don’t qualify to even recount what they’ve done for God’s glory…the thousands upon thousands of Gospel seeds sown, the countless professions of faith they’ve led others to make. Eternity will reveal more than we’ll ever know.
Now, before I get teary-eyed over this, let me clarify, they haven’t died! I’m not giving a eulogy! However, they are (this very day) moving away from their beloved Mexico to southern Texas. Health issues and I’m sure many other considerations have finally led them to a new phase of their lives and ministries so that Mexico is no longer the place to permanently (in this life) call “home.” They plan to come back about every 6 months and they left some furniture and things for that very purpose. We sure hope they do.
A photo really doesn’t tell the story, so let me tell a story…a true story:
One of the first times I recall being up close and personal in getting to know Art and Marita was when we were studying language in Cuernavaca. We had driven up to San Juan del Rio to visit with Beth’s mother and to attend the inauguration of Camp Koinonia near here.
Turns out that Art and Marita were also visiting here for the inauguration service. To our surprise, they were on their way to Cuernavaca to attend a conference and so we offered to squeeze them in and give them a ride back with us. They took us up on our offer and so the 6 of us piled into our old Grand Marquis and headed down the highway to Cuernavaca.
At that time, we had newly discovered a way to drive to and from Cuernavaca and San Juan del Rio without driving through Mexico City. This meant we drove some smaller highways through a smaller city, Toluca and through some mountain roads down into Cuernavaca. Of course, Toluca is a massive city in its own right, but when you’re comparing the size of cities to Mexico City, there just isn’t any way to compare them!
Anyway, this story was supposed to be about Art & Marita, wasn’t it? As we drove through Toluca Art said they’d like to stop and get some lunch, perhaps chicken from a local chicken rotisserie. We didn’t really see any of those but we did come across a nicer “Pollo Feliz” (“Happy Chicken”). Can’t beat a place called Happy Chicken in my opinion! I could tell that this wasn’t exactly what Art had in mind but we were leaving the city and it didn’t appear there was much chance of seeing a small and cheap rotisserie shop.
So, we walked in. It was a Sunday and thus a busy lunchtime. We were seated and the large restaurant was rapidly filling up and easily seated over 100. It may have been about half full but it was still a little early for lunch. There were families and couples and old people all seated and talking and the noise level was really buzzing.
I took the boys to the bathroom to wash our hands and left Bethie and Art and Marita seated at the table. We found the bathroom and washed up and came back out to the large room. It was dead silent. Eerily silent for all the people in there. I thought…”Oh no…the place is being robbed.”
I looked around. No robbers in sight. No one crying. I looked from table to table as we slowly walked back to our table. Everyone in the restaurant…EVERYONE…in the restaurant was READING. Even the workers were reading! I looked more closely. What was it they had in their hands? Ahhh…of course. They were were reading evangelistic tracts!
Bethie told me later (if I recall this correctly), Uncle Art stood up and in a loud voice thanked everyone from coming to the restaurant today and that it was obvious that God had wanted to bless them for having them come there. He then proceeded to reach into his ever-present fanny pack and pulled out a stack of tracts and handed them out to everyone!
And God gave “some to be evangelists.” (Eph. 4:11b) I can assure you, God gave to the Church, Art and Marita Mikesell, and that this verse is quite fitting in describing some of their gifting in the body of Christ.
We will miss Art and Marita’s presence in Mexico. I can only think to say one other thing…”watch out Texas…they’re on their way or rather YOU’RE on their way!”
May we learn how to share the Gospel with their passion and their faithful fervency. God bless you Art and Marita! We’ll miss having you here but hope you’ll visit and be back when the Lord enables and leads.