I Never Got To Say, “Thank You.”
Over the years of knowing Mike, Drenna, Amy, Molly, Calvin, and Simi Heiser, Pete and I have been blessed by their friendship, their generosity, and their hospitality. Those are things I’d thanked Mike and Drenna for in person.
The thing I never thanked Mike for is the blessing that was my husband. Pete met the Heisers when he was in seminary in Minnesota 30+ years ago. He would tell me how much the Heisers meant to him, as he was able to hang out with the family at their home for meals. But, I literally was blessed with 25 years of marriage to Pete, because of Mike.
Pete was in an independent study course with Mike as his professor and it changed the whole trajectory of Pete’s life. In that class, Mike taught Pete to take everything that he knew about the religious tradition they were in and compare it to what’s in the Bible. No discussion was off-limits and this time in Pete’s life changed him into the man that I met and married years later.
When I got to meet the Heisers, and see Mike’s profound impact on Pete in person, years later, it brought me so much joy. Pete would pontificate on something he knew nothing about and Mike would print out a list of books and say, “Let me know when you’ve read these” so you can have an intellectual conversation with me about it. He was never condescending about it but because he had such an amazing relationship with Pete, I knew what Pete would be doing. Pete would be reading those books, soaking up all the knowledge that he could, so he could get back “into the arena” and learn more from Mike.
Once I was privy to a debate between the two of them and I thought it got pretty heated. Then, they literally changed the subject to the football draft or what his son was learning in baseball. They had the most beautiful mentor-mentee relationship I’d ever seen, because of Mike’s heart to teach Pete, Mike’s loving patience towards Pete when questioning his faith, and Mike always being a learner himself.
As Pete had gotten cancer before Mike, Pete would text Mike and tell him that he needed to eat or listen to Mike’s update after his last visit to Mayo. They would act like no time had passed in their relationship, even though they hadn’t lived in the same state for several years.
That class in Minnesota forever changed my life and, subsequently, the lives of our children and the lives of anyone who knew Pete. Pete had strong opinions about everything but he was patient with those questioning their faith. He would delve into those hard conversations and be okay with saying that he didn’t have it all figured out. His biggest love was teaching the layperson to fall in love with the Bible. He would do it several days a week and never tire from the joy of influencing others to love studying and learning about God. He would insist on our girls knowing why they believed something instead of blindly following what anyone taught, including himself.
So, Mike, I am eternally grateful for the impact you had on my husband and how that turned into blessing me, my family, and all of the lives that Pete reached in his lifetime. We are all forever changed.