He felt their deep goodness and he understood that they blessed him far more than he could ever hope to be able to bless them. But he wanted to try.
During the year before he died, Gavin worked to help provide home care for a young mentally and physically handicapped boy. The little boy lived with his mom and grandma, and because there was no dad or grandpa in the picture, they’d sometimes ask Gav to help out with various ‘guy jobs’ around the place. He was always happy to be able to pitch in, and as the boy's mom told me in a note she sent after she learned that Gavin had passed away, he’d never let them pay him for this extra work. This didn’t surprise me. It was just Gavin. Whether it was scooping up the homeless guys on the beach and helping them get a meal or to a church service, or racing home through the pouring rain to grab someone else an umbrella, or simply taking the time to stop and sit with someone who needed an ear, he was always searching for a chance to serve in whatever way he could find. So, when this little boy's mom asked Gav if he’d clean some junk out of a corner of their garage, I’m sure he was happy to be able to do it. Only this time, after he finished up, he wondered if they might be willing to ‘pay’ him. He’d found something he hoped they’d let him keep. It was a dog-eared, smudged little card that held the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive . . .
And it is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.
From that day on, Gavin carried that little card with him everywhere. Other than his Scriptures, I think it was his most loved possession.
One afternoon in the heat and bustle of the chaotic streets of Seam Reap (Angkor Wat), he and I got separated while searching for a place to eat lunch. I tried not to get too frantic and traced my way back through the string of restaurants we’d walked past. I laughed with relief when I finally spotted him. There he sat at a linen covered restaurant table, with a ragged little tuk-tuk driver he’d found and brought in from the street. The two of them were laughing and talking as easily as if they’d been friends for a hundred years. He’d bought the man lunch and was sitting with him while he ate (he’d only had enough to pay for one meal), trying to give the driver ideas for how he might be able to attract more tourists than the other tuk-tuk drivers. I still smile when I think of that beautiful sight. Gav’s face was literally shining with joy.
Gavin loved Cambodia. He loved the Khmer people from every corner of his beautiful heart. He felt their deep goodness and he understood that they blessed him far more than he could ever hope to be able to bless them. But he wanted to try. He worked and saved and the following summer, returned to Phnom Penn to build homes with Margret and the Tabitha team. He dreamed of going back to serve again and again, but by the time the next building team left for Cambodia, he was already gone.
Every time a new ‘Tabitha’ home rises up in one of those Khmer villages, I’m sure Gavin watches and helps—in whatever ways angels can. I can only imagine he weeps to think that we would even consider doing such loving service in his memory.
And I am certain, with each donation, each new home raised, each Khmer life touched for good, he gratefully whispers, “Thank you, my friends.” And so do I.
(by Annie Link, Gavin's Mother)