To Loran and Merle Grant
Sixty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary
Because my work has taken me to many countries, people often ask me what my favourite country is. I always say, “My favourite country is Sri Lanka, and next comes the USA.” I have lived a lot in that country, been blessed by so many there, and I feel at home there. And my favourite place to stay in the USA is the little town of Wasco, CA. People who know anything about that area are quite surprised when I say that! But there are good reasons for this choice of Wasco as my favourite place.
I first visited the Grant’s home in the mid-1970s. As a lonely student away from home, I found a home where I was cared for and loved. Because it was so costly, I never even called home during my four-and-a-half years in USA as a student. I missed home, but I had a second home here. Then once I had gone back to Sri Lanka and was struggling to find opportunities to study and write, I found that I could go to the Grant’s home and be given the freedom to study without too much unnecessary hospitality. What I mean is that Loran and Merle knew that I wanted to study and they let me do that without playing host to me and taking my time!
That is what has endeared them to Nelun and me: they really wanted the best for us. They truly wanted to help us. The best and most exciting holidays we have had since our marriage was when we travelled with them to beautiful places in the USA. I chose to live on a Sri Lankan salary and not take any money from my books and preaching. But their generosity enabled us to meet many of our needs. It helped us to have a nice wedding for our daughter, to give a good education to our son, to repair and renovate our house, and help several YFC staff and friends.
Nelun remembers Loran often saying, “I am a simple farmer.” Indeed, he is a simple farmer, but that is simplicity in the best sense of the term—deep, unaffected, firm in convictions and practical: a great combination of qualities. What I now admire in Loran is his determination despite what he calls TMB—too many birthdays. He is fitter than me. I found that out when I tried to ride his exercise cycle. And I am ashamed to say that Merle is fitter than me too! Merle is a gracious host in the best sense of the term. She does what is best for her guest not what she thinks she would like to do. And, as my wife told me, she works so hard to serve us.
We admire Loran’s simple, childlike faith in God and his Word. I resonate with Merle’s devotion to the study of the Scriptures, and that is a real encouragement to me as a Bible teacher. We are grateful for the deep love they both have for God and for their desire to serve him.
We join with so many others to thank God for this couple.
Ajith Fernando with Nelun, who is beside me as I write.
The Fernando Family without our father
Asiri, his fiancé Cheryl, Nirmali and Refuge
Ajith and Nelun