Monday, June 22, 2009

Good Days in Smithville: Thinking of Ruben Whitfield

DSCN5553 At some time or another, this young fella and his wife dragged themselves right into the middle of Texas, not quite knowing the difference between barbequed or grilled, poor things.  So there they are, trying to get themselves an education when they up and realize that the canned food they brought with them wasn’t going to last all that long.

Turns out, this church in a very famous movie-making town just outside of Austin needed some help for their crazy preacher.  So this ol’ boy drags his wife out to this little town and tries out on a Sunday night, preaching his heart out on some such thing.  Poor kid never preached a sermon in his life, tripped over every other word, kept dabbing his forehead with his sleeve only partially because of the late summer heat.

Well, after that pitiful attempt at preaching, these two elders hauled him off to a little room in the church.  One was named Ruben, the other Don.  Don kept eyeing this young fella like he’d never seen anybody from Oregon before and wondering if he’d last the summer, what with all the bugs and snakes and lizards and such.  The young fella wondered the same thing.  But ol’ Ruben, he was as cool as a cucumber and looked that young fella up and down.  Says to himself, this poor man’s wife needs to eat, and maybe we can teach him a thing or two about preaching and helping folks and doing the good Lord’s work.  Right then and there, they offered him a job, and that young fella’s life has never been the same since.

Ol’ Ruben did that young fella and his wife some real good.  He and his wife Naomi had them over for coffee in the afternoons when those pesky youth group types wouldn’t get with the program.  Fed them roast beef and butter beans after they couldn’t see straight from taking finals all week.  Gave helpful advice in elder’s meetings, and even more helpful advice in those quiet moments before everyone else got to church on Sunday mornings.  Ruben was like that, often as not the first one at the building, making things ready for folks who’d come to catch a glimpse of God’s goodness.  Ruben himself, now wasn’t he just the kind of glimpse people looked for?

Seems the Good Lord has called Ruben to his rest.  For my part, I have a hard time picturing Ruben sitting still very long.  I figure he’s helping out around the place, taking care of things that need doing, a small smile on his face and hands busy.  Isn’t that just the sort of rest Ruben would enjoy?  I know one thing for sure.  This young fella and his wife sure are glad to have known him.  Ruben, see you soon.


Anonymous said...

Appreciate your thoughts and comments on Ruben. Your work is an inspiration to us all and you can see the seeds that were planted by Ruben during your tenure here in Smithville.


Lynn said...

Thank you for loving my daddy. He loved you much in return along with the little wife. You just be sure to pick up the slack his absence will leave.

Tom Nuckels said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I've known Ruben for about forty years and all that you have said is true! He was a true servant worthy of emulating. Blessings on your work in the Northwest!

Naomi said...

Jason, Thank you for those sweet words. We had just celebrated our 67th anniversary. He loved you and Melissa so much and Ruben knew you would touch many lives in Oregon. Love you both so much. Naomi