This is our son, Kyle and our Pastor, Martha McCracken, on his confirmation day in July of 1996; we lived in Puerto Rico at that time and were members of Grace Lutheran Church in Santurce. Pastor Martha was a woman of many talents and was then, and always will be, a model of faith to me. I received word this morning that Pastor Martha unexpectedly passed away this week, I just know that she's having a glorious reunion in Heaven with friends that we have in common. Our English-speaking congregation in Puerto Rico truly operated on a shoe-string. Our weekly service bulletins were unapologetically photo-copied onto the back side of scrap paper. The church's most basic needs (paper towels, bathroom cleanser, coffee and cups) were always in demand and gratefully received on a weekly basis from members. Pastor Martha was eternally happy and upbeat, putting a smiling face on conditions and situations that could be frustrating and discouraging to most of us; they never seemed to get her down. Our church was located in a crime-ridden barrio, just on the outskirts of San Juan. One Sunday morning, on his way from the parking lot to the front door of our sanctuary, a fellow church member was beaten and mugged. Our fearless Pastor, witnessing what had just happened, took off on foot chasing the perpetrator down the street, she never caught up with him. When she walked in the front door a few minutes later, huffing and puffing from exhaustion, she continued down the aisle after checking on the victim who was, by this time, seated (albeit bruised and scraped up from the encounter) and ready for worship, she called us all into prayer... for the mugger! She prayed for his relief from drugs and panhandling, for a better life than the one he lived on the streets. I was dumbfounded, and in awe at the same time; she became my faith-hero on the spot. There were lots and lots of stories like this, living in Puerto Rico was an adventure on many levels, none of them were boring. Pastor Martha stayed in touch for years, she was faithful about sending the newsletter from Grace and keeping us abreast of the news and the needs of the congregation. She earned her halo. My heart is heavy this evening, her earthly journey was much too short, but I rejoice today in her heavenly reward; I am grateful to God for placing this woman of unshakable faith in my life, and in the lives of so many others. She lived God's love, she asked nothing in return. Thank you, God, for faith models~ every. step. of. the. way.