A letter to my parents on their 50th anniversary

September 7, 1968 – Chardon, OH
Jo & Gordon McDonald – 50 years together!

September  7, 2018

Dear Dad and Mom,

I’ve been meaning to write this letter for quite a long time, and today seems like the perfect day to actually sit down and write it.  We’re celebrating your 50th anniversary, and for 47 of those years I’ve had a front row seat in watching how a godly marriage works. 

I’ve also been privileged to live those 47 years as part of an amazing family, and for that, I am truly grateful.  

Our childhood years were so full of wonderful experiences and amazing memories that I could probably write an entire book about them, but I’ll save that aspiration for later, and just condense my thoughts into a shorter version for now.  

Some of my best memories center around growing up without a TV, which led to hours of exploration through literature, Mom reading aloud to us the entire Little House series, The Wind in the Willows, and many other good books and also borrowing a film projector from the public library so we could watch old Laurel and Hardy movies at home every now and then on a Friday night. 

And although at the time we thought we were making BAD memories, I now love recalling the days of planting a huge garden every year, and then learning to can and freeze and cook all of the things that grew there.  My very favorite garden memory is when Beck and I were tired of picking tomatoes, so she found the biggest, rottenest tomato possible and heaved it towards where Dad was bent over in a tomato row. He stood up just as the tomato reached the top of its trajectory, and the rotten tomato juice halo around Dad’s head is a sight I’ll never forget!

The sugarbush in Bucyrus, OH

I can still smell the sweet, boiling maple sap from the days when we helped Dad make syrup in the sugarbush in the woods behind our house in Bucyrus. 

Liz & Sarah collecting sap

And nothing is better than the remembered scent of cattle, horses and hay from when we took the little girls out to the barn at midnight on Christmas Eve to see if there was any truth to the legend that animals could talk at that magical hour.  

McDonald barn in Radnor, OH

I’m thankful that you let us have pets…

… a pony and horses,

dogs, cats,

puppies and kittens,

gerbils (just once – bad experience!),

racoons and even a possum.

pony cart rides with Grandma Viv and Ma & Pa Varney


I’m thankful for 4H, for learning how to raise animals and sew and refinish furniture, and even how to cut up a side of beef.  (I’ve used that skill several times in Peru!)  

I’m thankful that we had a close-knit family, and not just between the six of us, but also with our 16 aunts and uncles and 23 cousins. 

I’m thankful that we knew and loved three of our grandparents and three of our great grandparents.  

I’m thankful that you both came to know and love the Lord when Becky and I were very young, and that you brought us up in the church, taught us to pray and to read the Bible and memorize Scripture. 

Rach & Papa

You made a habit of praying with us for our extended family members to come to know God also.  I’ll never forget the day when Papa Hummel finally gave his life to God; we came home from school that day and heard mom singing “There’s a new name written down in glory!”  Now I sing that song whenever I know of someone whose name has just been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  

I’m thankful that you met Mark and Carol Hepner sometime in the early 1980’s, and that you began supporting their family when they joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and went to Papua New Guinea to translate the Bible for an indigenous people group there. 

That’s when I learned about Bible translation, and that’s what pointed me down the path that led to Peru.  I love living in Peru, and I love the family that God has given to me there.  But love for a foreign country and her people really wouldn’t have been enough to keep me there this long, because a love for our own family keeps drawing me home.  However, the unwavering knowledge of eternity, and the fact that we will spend it either in God’s presence or far away from him, is what took me overseas, and what keeps me there.  People need to know that truth, and they need to know how to make sure their eternity is spent with God.  You showed us how to do that, and taught us how to show others, and that’s why I went to Peru.  

Huaylas Quechua Bible dedication – Huaraz, Peru, 2019

The unwavering knowledge of eternity is also why I can stay there, even when I would love to live closer to home.  As David says, our life on earth really is just a breath, and I know that we have all of eternity to spend together.  Psalm 61:5, the verse we chose for your anniversary party, is my prayer of thanksgiving both to God and to you:  For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

The entire McDonald clan – Memorial Day 2021 – Radnor, OH

Thank you so much, Dad and Mom, for this heritage.

Love, Rach

Dad claims that this Corvette helped him “catch” Mom!

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