This afternoon I learned the heartbreaking news that Ruth Graham passed away. Though we didn’t know each other incredibly well, Ruth has forever impacted my life. We met briefly before Chase and I moved to Nicaragua, but we really got to know her via e-mail when she and her 3-year-old son Ethan began to send us e-mails. First, we received this one.
Dear Julie and Chase,
Hello to you from OK! My son and and I have only met you once briefly just before you left. (I graduated from JBU, if that helps!) We read your emails together and talk about how you help the children in Nicaragua.
" Do you have any play-doh. Do you have any food? Do you have a computer? Is the weather hot and muggy in Nic? It is hot and muggy here. Do you have chairs and a fireplace? I have a big map in my room " (when he says big, he means floor to ceiling wall paper that covers half the room!) "and we can see Nica. on the map. We are praying for you. Maybe we'll see you at church when you are home on vacation."
ethan < he typed his own name!! : )
Hope you are well!
Ethan became our youngest pen pal and we immediately fell in love with him. I was amazed at how Ruth was building into her children from such a young age how important it was to be involved in missions, to pray for, communicate with, and encourage missionaries. A few months later, Ruth and Ethan wrote us again.
(hey there!! just a quick note from Ethan and me (Ruth). I typed and Ethan dictated!)
Dear Chase and Julie,
Did you go to the store and buy any play-dough? Are you having fun in Nicaragua? I gave the coffee we bought to my Papa. My Papa liked the coffee. When will you go to church with us again?
I will be 4 on my birthday next month. I am 3 right now.
(We enjoyed seeing you at WCC in July! Hope you are well! -R)
And then they wrote us again…I’m guessing that Ethan really loved play-doh at this point in his life. We actually thought it was a good idea and we bought some play-doh to bring back to Nicaragua.
Hey there Chase and Julie! Ethan and I wanted to send you an email!
Ethan- "Dear Chase and Julie- do you have any play-doh now? Is it sun shiney and nice where you are? Are you getting too wet? I love you Chase and Julie. Do you have a magnifying glass?
I had a great birthday. I'm four now. We have fire breathing dragons that live in our fireplace. They came to my birthday.
I hope you feel well,
Hello again!! I hope that you are well! Try and stay dry :(
In January of 2011, I spent a few weeks in the hospital and I received this encouraging message from my sweet pen pals Ruth and Ethan.
Dear Julie, Ethan and I are so sorry to hear that you are in the hospital. We've been praying for you all week since we heard the news. We are glad that your body is healing up!
Ethan has a few words to say as well- "Dear Julie, How did you get sick? I don't feel good, I have a cough still. gehh9jkjhrjuhfssgj6uifjkhvm.lkkjhggtty6789321jjjgghjjjjhghjg (that was actually Ethan typing. Aren't you glad I do most of the typing? : ) Do you have a cat? I hope you feel better soon. We are praying for you. Ethan rreefdgirstog"
Ah, the little darling!
Seriously though, we are happy to hear how God is healing your body. We will continue to pray for healing and for the 'new normal' in your life.
You probably don't know, but my ladies Sunday school class is doing a bake sale tomorrow morning at church to raise money for the Refuge Project. I am excited to send you something that will help the boys of Nicaragua.
I wanted to surprise you, I thought you could use the encouragement!
Hugs to you,
Soon afterwards, they wrote again to share how the bake sale went.
From ethan uj;jhio];kllggjhhhhhhhhhhhhwesulmmmmjujpkpjjeq8gtwtysyujilmbnfe456804
Roughly translated, Ethan says "Did you get your curtains up today? Mom and I read your notes every day. We love you! We have been praying for you. We got snow! It is very very cold and the wind is blowing. Really hard! There is snow on my window sill. Mia and Poppie are my Daddy's momma and daddy. Have a good day!"
Hey there Julie!! we are so glad to hear that you are feeling better each day. We are praying for you. You are a blessing to us. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and allowing us to pray and participate in your life.
Wildwood had a bake sale for you last week, and we raised nearly $500 for the refuge project! I know that it will put to good use, and we can't wait to see how God works!
Love to you and Chase,
Ruth and Ethan
Ruth cared for others. She was intentional in reaching out, showing people they mattered, and teaching her kids to do the same. Chase and I loved receiving messages from Ruth and Ethan and it’s hard to believe that Ruth is gone now. I hope that if the Lord entrusts me with children one day that I can be the kind of mother that Ruth was to Ethan, Katherine and Jonathan.
Ruth, you prayed for God to heal my body. And He did. I’m not sure why He didn’t heal yours. I trust that you are in Heaven and that that is better for you, but selfishly, for the sake of those who loved you, for your three little ones, I wish that you were still here.
Brian, Ethan, Katherine and Jonathan – I can’t imagine your loss. My heart is broken for you. I wish I could take your pain away but instead I will ask the One who can to be near, to dry your tears, to sustain you in the dark days to come. I’ve seen Him bring life from death, and I pray, whatever that looks like here, that He would do it again.
Marc and Carolyn – My prayers are for you as well. Your daughter means so much to so many. Thank you for raising a daughter who served God, who blessed others and who loved well. She will be missed.