A Hero, A Heroine, and A Half Marathon pt. 1

A short time ago, I had a blast from the past posted on my Facebook page. Deanna asked if it would be possible for Dana and I to meet her and her parents for a cup of coffee. I knew this young lady when she was an MK (Missionary Kid) in East Africa. I was privileged to serve with her family on the Tukuyu Station nestled in the rain forest of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Her parents, Eucled and Janelle, were a great encouragement to me, and I shared many meals with them in their home before they moved their family to the Baptist Seminary in Arusha. I jumped at the chance to reconnect with one of my heroes. There is always a Starbucks close enough to meet up with old friends.

Eucled Moore was a great missionary. He applied himself to learn the language, and became one of the premier communicators of the Baptist Mission of East Africa. He served as a field evangelist, a Bible School Principal, and a professor at the Baptist Seminary. His last assignment was that of director of the language school for new missionaries. He was highly respected by his peers and the people of East Africa. These two achievements are not mutually exclusive, but were no easy accomplishment. Missionary relationships are often afflicted with the "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" mind set, and the local people you are serving are expecting you to work yourself out of a job, and leave your nice house to them. It is a challenging work environment to say the least.

I remember Eucled as a crack shot, and I enjoyed hunting with him on the flats outside of Rungwe District. I was with him when he brought down an Eland. I soon discovered that the thrill of the hunt passes very quickly, and that it takes days to carve a carcass the size of a Brahma bull into freezer sized packages of meat. It almost turned me into a vegetarian. I think it took me a week before I could even look at a piece of meat. I recall on another occasion hanging two Zebras from his carport and butchering them with a kitchen knife. I had a whole new respect for the guy behind the meat section of the Piggly Wiggly.

Eucled was a master carpenter and a wizard on a lathe. He would often work with the exotic, unnamed woods the rain forest supplied and turn out beautiful furniture, dominoes and chess pieces. One of my prized possessions is a gavel that came out of his wood shop in Tukuyu.

What I remember best about Eucled is his listening ear. I was new to the journey, and I was finding my way into the Presence of God, as I responded to the calling that He had given me. I had alot of questions, made alot of mistakes, but could always count on Eucled to provide a listening ear, and wise counsel. He had a quick wit, a musical talent, and a great family that he shared with me while I was a single guy fresh out of college. I will never forget the hospitality that he and his family offered to me. I was treated like one of the family. To this day we can pick up where we left off in a conversation, even if years have interrupted the opportunity for continuous communication.

One of the hazards of my work in East Africa was the constant threat of malaria. Working in the high altitudes of the Rungwe and Njombe mountains of Tanzania kept it at bay most of the time. However, when I had to travel to the Lake Nyasa region to check on one of the churches I was building, I became a victim. My first experience with this disease was pretty frightening. I lived alone, and for two days, I was trapped in my bed racked with raging fever, and freezing spasms. The yo-yo effect of the ebb and flow of fever and shakes left me too weak to get up and to go get help. I heard Eucled's voice outside my small living quarters calling my name. At first I thought I was hallucinating, but the sound grew louder and more persistent. Eventually he broke into my house and found me. It was not a pretty sight. He didn't panic. He looked at me with his best "42 Face."

For the uniformed, "42" is a domino game that makes Texas Hold Em poker look like "Go Fish" when it is played by rabid missionaries plowing their way through a tournament. One of the marks of passage in my life was being selected by Eucled to be his partner. This meant he placed great confidence in your ability to play the game, or it meant the person next to you was worse than you were. I always liked to think that I had measured up a little bit in his eyes.

With a matter of fact voice, Eucled said, "You've got it now. Makes you feel like you are going to have to die to get better doesn't it?" His calm in the midst of my storm gave me the courage to believe I was going to be OK. He made sure I had what I needed, and I was taken to his home to recover.

This man is one of my heroes. He served faithfully in one of the most challenging places of the world, and returned to Texas and started a great church in New Braunfels. His effort became such a success that he was asked to write a "How To" booklet to tell men how to start a church the right way. He paused to think about it, but came to the conclusion that God had more to do with it than he did, and all he would say was, "I was just there." That is what I like to remember the most about Eucled. He always worked hard at the task he was given, but gave God the elbow room to get it done and made sure God got all the credit for what happened. Eucled Moore did not strive to make a name for himself, but he has made a difference in my life.

The short time Dana and I were able to spend with the Moores unleashed a flood of memories. I was grateful to Deanna for making this reunion possible. Eucled is fighting a courageous battle against Parkinsons, and recent heart surgery has complicated this, but he is still the man of God that I remember in East Africa. He remains my hero because he is still running the race, and his stamina gives me the courage to continue my journey of service that I began 38 years ago. Eucled, thanks for being my mentor, a listening ear, a hunting partner, and a crisis care giver. I still want to be like you when I grow up. In my eyes you are still, Bwana Mkubwa! The great man!