- Liz Ortiz
My Grandpa: A man who loved God, family, and everything Old West
Being 9 years old, the one thing I wanted more than anything in the world was to be able to ride a bike without training wheels. My younger brother had mastered the skill when he was 5, but I struggled with balance and hand-eye coordination. Although I had gone to physical therapy to help strengthen those skills and had seen improvement, I still couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels. It was a beautiful day and my grandparents were visiting us. Grandpa smiled at me and said, “Come on, Littlebit, let’s go ride your bike.” After I got on my bike, he said, “Okay, I’ll hold the back of the seat and steady you as you pedal. Ready?” I put one foot on the pedal and firmly grasped the handlebars. “Ready!” I nodded. I pushed off and began to pedal. My grandpa ran beside me as he steadied me. “You got this Littlebit, keep pedaling!” he said as he let me go. “Don’t let go! I need you!” My eyes got big as I struggled to steer and pedal. A few moments later I fell. “You almost had it, Littlebit! Let’s try it again.” I looked up and him and smiled, “Okay.” I kept trying as hard as I could but kept falling. “It’s okay Littlebit, you’ll get it. Don’t give up.” During the following weeks, I kept practicing. I fell repeatedly, crashed into mailboxes and fences, but I didn’t give up! I will never forget the day I was finally able to ride my bike without training wheels. It felt like magic! The next time I talked with my grandparents I was excited to tell them that I didn’t give up and could ride my bike.
My family took a lot of trips out to Minnesota to visit my grandparents while I was growing up. I loved those visits. My grandpa had a special impact on my life. Even though I couldn’t take trips out west as often the past few years, my grandpa wasn’t far from my heart and mind, and I could always call him. There are many things that he taught me that I will not forget. Three of those were: work hard, don’t give up, and most importantly, love God. I will cherish these and the memories I have with my grandpa forever.
I was devastated to learn the news of Grandpa’s passing. However, thinking back at memories has brought comfort and encouragement. My grandpa was excited and proud of the mission work I am doing. Even though trying to learn French and grieve the loss of my grandpa is hard, I know my grandpa would not want me to give up. I am sure he is looking down from Heaven with my other grandparents cheering me on and saying, “You can do it, Littlebit! Don’t give up!”
Another semester of French language school has ended. I am now entering into a short semester focused on conversation skills in French. This semester will finish at the end of June. Beginning of July starts camp season at Word of Life. I am excited because I am going to be in charge of the arts and crafts time! It’s going to be a fun but challenging role, because I will be doing it in French! But I am up to the challenge and looking forward to it! When I was a kid, my grandpa enjoyed leading the craft time at his church’s VBS. There was one time when he used his woodworking skills and had the kids make real working 2-foot-long sailboats. They were the envy of other VBS crafts! We probably won’t do wood working at camp, but I am determined for it to be a fun and memorable experience for the campers: Something that my grandpa would be proud of.
· Pray for Jonas, read below for a special update on him!*
· Pray for the preparations of summer camp and that many would come to know the Lord through the camp!
· Pray for my family as continue to grieve the loss of my Grandpa Strand.
· Pray that I would not be anxious about French
· Pray for Léonie and me as we share an apartment
· Pray for patience and diligence as I study and learn the French language.
· Pray for an ASL interpreter for Togo – big opportunity for one!
· Praise God for my grandpa, Eric Strand, and the life he lived for the Lord!
· Praise God that I did well on my French exams!
· Praise God for the opportunity to serve at summer camp here in Quebec!
· Praise God for my 31st birthday this month! Praise God for another year of life.
· Praise God for the apartment!
· Praise God for progress in the language
· Praise God for the wonderful community here at Parole de Vie.
· Praise God for all my wonderful partners!
· Praise God that Jonas is doing well in school
*I have a Jonas update and a recent picture of him! He is getting so big!
A few weeks ago, Jonas was taken to get his hearing tested. His teacher went with him so she could sign to him the directions. He can't hear anything in his right ear, however, it looks like he can hear some in his left ear!
They said he could be a candidate for hearing aids but they are out of stock. A team from Germany is coming on May 13th-20th and they promised to call them so they could see Jonas. Also, Jonas just celebrated his 12th birthday this month. I look forward to celebrating his next one with him in Togo!