Monday, October 19, 2009

Things Our Father Taught Us

Song Stuck on the Brain: Behold the Kingdom by Brother John. (Dad's favorite song.)

Thank you all so much for your prayers and kind words. Shortly after I wrote the post asking for prayers, my father passed away. It has been a very busy and emotional time for all of our family, so this post is a little slow in coming.

His service was very touching. We wanted it to center on praising God and showing Dad's love for his Savior and the gospel. I wrote an essay on behalf of me and my siblings to be read during the service. I've included it below. Dad was a very special man.

Things Our Father Taught Us

Dad taught us many things in his lifetime. He was a great father with a big heart and a love for God that kept our family strong.

He Taught Us To Laugh

Anyone who knew Dad knew his sense of humor. He knew when to be serious and when to focus on ministry and comfort, but he could also find the funny even when it didn’t seem possible. He passed that ability on to all of us.

There was the ever present ‘Daddy Joke’. The bad pun or silly joke he made up on the spot that made us all groan and chuckle at the same time. He liked to take words and mix them up just to make us giggle. Dad never missed an opportunity to make a silly face or crack a joke, and yet he was never hurtful or mean in what he said. Dad loved to make people laugh, to lighten their hearts and see them smile.

He Taught Us To Dream Big

Dad was a dreamer. He always had a new idea or a new plan to create something great. He enjoyed photography and had a good eye for the beauty in everything around him. Dad would take pictures of everything and we have the photo albums to prove it. He started as a photographer and later worked as a photo lab technician. He followed his dream, and passed his love of photography on to the rest of us. He was a great teacher.

Dad had many hobbies. He loved knives and wanted to learn to make his own. So he did. He wanted to learn locksmithing, so he went back to school and got his license. Dad’s dreaming didn’t always become reality, but that never stopped his imagination. He used that same ability to dream big, to encourage all of us. There was never a time when Dad said, “That’s too big or too hard, find something else to do.” He believed in us and encouraged every dream we had. If sometimes we failed, he’d encourage us to find a new dream and keep going. There was always some way for us to serve God with our talents and he reminded us of that often.

He Taught Us To Always Be Prepared

For someone who was never a boy scout, he took their motto, always be prepared, to heart. He always wore shirts with two pockets, because he needed all the room to carry his gear. All his pockets were full and he had at least seven pocket knives on him at all times. They were different sizes with different blades, and there was always a Swiss army knife with tools included. Why carry so many? Because each knife would serve a different purpose and you never know when you would need them. For Christmas and birthdays he often received pocket gear. Anything pocket sized intrigued him. A mini flashlight or magnifying glass; a tiny measuring tape or screw driver, every new item was added to his pockets.

We teased him about his pocket gear, but if you ever needed anything, you could count on Dad to have something in his pockets that could do the job. As one friend said, “If there was a flood, I’d want to be around Duane Erwin. I bet he would have an inflatable raft in his pocket.”

He carried that need to be prepared into all areas of his life and not just for this physical world. He taught us to be prepared for tribulations that would come, and for Zion’s return. All of life is a challenge and preparation is key.

He Taught Us To Be Curious

Dad had an insatiable curiosity. He wanted to know how things worked. From the inside of a car, to inventions old and knew. He read voraciously. He loved magazines and books, fiction or non fiction, they were all exciting. His curiosity brought him knowledge. Some people know a lot about one or two things, Dad knew a little bit about everything. If you had a question about how to do something, chances were good that Dad knew enough to help you through.

He loved science and nature and his curiosity drove him to understand it better. Many conversations revolved around how God created things so intricately. He wanted to understand the mystery behind everything. Space and astronomy, biology and botany, electricity and magnetism; it all fascinated him. In turn it opened our minds to the miracles in creation and the world around us. He encouraged us to seek truth and answers to our own questions, simply by example.

He Taught Us To Have Faith

Dad’s faith was very strong and it grew everyday. We all grew up hearing the testimonies that he and Mom had over the years. Prayer was important in all areas of life and miracles were to be expected.

Once, when we were attending Center Branch, he was helping a friend repair a wheel chair lift. By accident, the lift was activated and Dad’s foot was pulled between the concrete step and the metal platform. With less than the width of a pencil, Dad’s foot was crushed and rolled between them. It only took seconds and they quickly pulled Dad’s foot free. Across the top, his toes were black. The elders administered to him and the blackness went away. Not a bone was broken. What should have removed his foot completely didn’t harm a bone.

There were healings and blessings to be found at all times. If we were sick or upset, scared or hurt, Dad’s prayers and faith always made us stronger. It was a gift that God blessed him with and he used it well.

He Taught Us To Trust

With great faith comes great trust. Dad learned to trust God for all of life’s needs. As newlyweds, he and Mom often were down to their last dollar with no more money in sight. God always provided when asked. One testimony they often shared was of a time early in their marriage. They were renting a trailer. The rent was due that day and they had no money to pay it. With no idea of how they would keep their home, they decided to take a drive and put it in God’s hands. Finally they returned to the trailer with no clear answer in mind. They opened the locked trailer door and there on the floor was a sealed envelope with their names written on the front. Opening it, they found exactly enough money to pay the rent. Shocked they tried to figure out who had left the money and how they’d gotten it into the trailer. They tried sliding it under the door, but it sealed too tight. They tried the window slats, but nothing they tried would land the envelope any where near the same spot. It was clear to them that God put the money there to not only provide for them, but to show that they could always trust him to provide and protect.

Mom and Dad were foster parents and there always seemed to be at least six of us kids in the house at all times. Money was often tight. They never let that stop them. Somehow there was always enough to provide, whether it was food left by a church friend that said God told them we were in need, or money given anonymously at just the right moment. Sometimes the blessings weren’t seen immediately, but we always knew that even if we didn’t understand the reasons, God had a plan and we could trust that His plan was best.

He Taught Us To Love

Some people say blood is thicker than water. Mom and Dad never believed that. They fostered more than 28 children during their marriage and loved every one, no matter how difficult it might be. Because of their love, they expanded their family, their home and their hearts. Love is taught by example and they continued to love and support anyone that God placed in their home.

There was never any doubt that Dad would do anything for his children, whether they were his by birth, by adoption, or by love. He stood up for us, protected us, and never, ever failed to love us. Sometimes it felt like love and faith were all that held us together, but it was enough. He taught us to love our family, our friends, and the gospel. More than anything else, he taught us to love our Savior Jesus with all our hearts.

He Taught Us To Hope

Dad studied his scriptures regularly, often looking up the meaning of words to find the greater understanding. Hope is a word used as a form of wishing today, but Dad found that the archaic form was to put one’s trust in something greater. He knew that hope was putting your trust in Jesus.

His greatest hope was in seeing God’s kingdom return to earth. He wanted to see his Savior and walk with him through the streets of Zion. Many times he would talk about how evil the world had become and how he longed for Zion to come soon. His hope and prayers for Zion guided his life and in turn, ours. He showed us that despite our determination to keep our covenant, we often fail. The hope that we find in God’s mercy and forgiveness is a gift like no other. Dad clung to that gift and taught us all to keep hope alive in our hearts.

We could not have asked for a better earthly father. He was a simple man that allowed his heart and his life to reflect our Heavenly Father every day. And because of all that our father taught us, we know that we will never be fatherless. Dad taught us that no matter where we are in life, we have a Father in Jesus and he will never leave us alone.

Thanks, Dad; your lessons will never be forgotten.

Dad and I in 1978

Dad in 2007



Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

April, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I know his death must leave a hole in your life. May you find God to be the one who holds your hand as you walk through this difficult valley.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your Dad, I know how hard it is and how big a hole you and your family have in your hearts. May God bless you and your family each and every day. My prayers are with you.Blessings.

Donna Alice said...

April, that was a beautiful tribute to your dad. He sounds like a wonderful man and father and I can see by his fun-loving face that he sure loved life! Wish I could have had the opportunity to know him in this world.

Praying God holds you in the palm of His hand during this difficult time.

April Erwin said...

Thank you all for your support and encouragment. I truly appreciate it. :)