A courageous spirit and a warm heart

‘I remember Joan’s first arrival.  Peter met her at the airport and brought her back to the Guest House (we were living in a flat above it at the time).  Joan called herself a refugee from the bordering country, and we admired her courageous spirit, being willing to adapt to another Asian country at the age of 62, after having to leave unexpectedly.

Joan immersed herself into local life with great enthusiasm. Peter remembers seeing her setting off in a rickshaw with Mrs Samuel (the widow of our pastor) to visit churches in the very poor areas. Joan went regularly on these visits. It was great for Mrs Samuel to have a companion, and Joan’s knowledge of the local language was very helpful.

Joan often made us laugh.  She had a good sense of fun.  I remember her saying that our son David looked like he was only just “out of the egg”.  He was a wee toddler at that time, without much hair, and I could see what she meant.  Joan was very good with our children Sam and David, and they loved being with her.

Joan with Sam and David

Joan was in charge of the BMMF Guest House for quite a while. Our family would often eat downstairs with her and the guests.  We had good chats round the table and enjoyed hearing news from different people and places.  

Workers from a Christian hospital would stay in the guest house quite frequently and talk about life in their little town on the edge of the desert.  Joan was very interested.  She suggested that I (Paula) go with her on a visit, so we could see it for ourselves, so we I went for a few days. It made a lovely break from city life and our usual routine.  People were very welcoming and it was a fascinating new experience for us.  Great to get a glimpse into that world, which was so different to where we were.  If it hadn’t been for Joan, I would never have gone.

After Joan had left Asia and returned to the Isle of Man, she invited us to visit her there. We had a lovely holiday, meeting her again and exploring that interesting island. Again, we would never have gone there if it hadn’t been for her. 

Joan also visited us in Sheffield in 2006. She was up for new experiences even at the age of 84 and came with us to the top of our local hill in the Peak District.

Joan with Paula and Spot the dog in the Peak District

My lasting memories of Joan are of a warm-hearted, supportive friend – lovely with the children.  She didn’t hesitate to speak her mind, and was a great person to have around. She was always ready to pray with people and see things from a spiritual perspective.  She was a great blessing to all our family and I’m grateful to God for having known her.

Joan, all the Smithers family thank God for you and wish you a wonderful 100th birthday.’ ~ Peter and Paula Smithers, former BMMF/Interserve Partners.