Doug\'s Fingerprints

Today, I say, "See you later" to a friend of mine . . .
As I came in to the office today, I noticed like never before Doug Thorp's fingerprints are all over this church, and my life.
As I walked across the parking lot, I noticed the two buckets he had placed out there so that people who helped sweep the parking lot would through the heavier rocky material in them, so that Mrs. Kaneshiro wouldn't have to move rubbish cans that were "too heavy".
I gazed upon the recycling cans, I remember how he set up each collection can with an "example" tied to it so that the younger kids (and some hurried adults), would know that the plastic bottle tied to this one means you throw the plastic bottles here, and the aluminum can tied to this one means you would through the aluminum can in here.
As I peered into the kitchen I remember how he would come in before all of the workers during the remodeling process so that our time wouldn't be wasted on demolition and we could focus on the building of the kitchen.  (I actually think he liked hitting things with a hammer before I showed up so that his stress level was lower when I came in)
You see, Doug and I have known each other for decades, but our relationship was grown intentionally by God.  I think it would be fair to say that I could never have replaced our former Pastor, Pastor Dave Mitchell, as he was not only Doug's Pastor, but one of his closest friends.  As for me . . . not so much, and he let me know it.  He was never disrespectful, but was someone who was not afraid to say what was on his mind, and what was on his mind was that the church be the best that it can be.
He would buy me books so that my knowledge base would be more "well rounded".  In fact I'm looking at the chart of the letters to the churches within the Book of Revelation that he gave me only a couple of weeks ago.  He would sit me down and tell me to slow down in my speaking so that the older people could understand this rapid-fire Portuguese preacher.  But there was another whole side to Doug . . .
He visited me regularly to make sure I was ok and see if I needed help with things around the church.  (in fact, for the past couple of months we were hanging out at least a couple times a week outside of church services) Also, because my dog is usually in my office with me during the day, he would make sure he brought snacks for her whenever he'd pop in.  Because he knew I rode motorcycles, there are several models here in my office, both of metal and carved wood, that he would get for me as he was on his various vacations.  Many of the books that line my shelves and have influenced me greatly, are here as gifts from him.  You see, sometimes being in the ministry is a lonely thing, but God made sure I was never alone.  True, we were like sandpaper to each other in the beginning, but the more friction we receive from sandpaper, the smoother we become.  Or, as Scripture puts it:  "As iron sharpens iron,  So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17  While it's probably true, we may not have been the friends we would have chosen for each other, we were clearly the friends that we both needed.
Doug was many things . . . An refrigeration specialist, an Awana Leader, A Sunday School Teacher, A leader within the Prison Ministry, a handy man, a father, a husband, and a brother or sister to hundreds within the churches he attended . . . But to me, Doug was my friend.  And although some of the circumstances surround his passing are not clear, what is clear is that he truly loved The Lord Jesus and each one of us, and we truly loved him.

Therefore, I will say; "See you later . . . My friend"

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