¡Te vamos a extrañar, Jeff!

Jeff Hefele, a member of my home church (St. Paul’s Des Peres) and a good friend of my family and I, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, October 7, 2008. He was 38 and is survived by his wife Amie and their 3 daughters: Abbie, Julianna, and Isabelle. His obituary as it appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch can be read here: http://www.legacy.com/stltoday/DeathNotices.asp?Page=SearchResults.

The reason I put this on here is that it was obvious Jeff had a heart for missions—YLM in particular. On four of my five previous trips to Ysleta, I have been accompanied by either Jeff or Amie, sometimes both. Many of my memories of Jeff are consequently things he did while on these trips: Jeff and his invaluable construction expertise, Jeff teaching me to use a Sawzall, Jeff eyeing the dancers onstage at Ajuua! alongside the high school boys on the trip, Jeff and his “pimpin” hat (my friend Katherine crimped the edges of his cowboy hat and stuck a purple feather in the front—Jeff added some girly sunglasses and struck a model pose to complete the ensemble), Jeff and Amie distributing costume jewelry to some Mexican kids who were hanging around our construction site, Jeff leading (and usually playing!) games at VBS even though he spoke no Spanish, Jeff’s “white-boy” dance, Jeff letting Katie Schumacher paint his face like a cat, Jeff doing a handstand with a Mexican kid when we were messing around after church at San Lucas, Jeff getting his picture taken with the Diablo girls at the El Paso Diablos baseball game, Jeff making Rotel dip in the evenings, Jeff buying beef jerky (the kind with cheese...gross!) EVERY time we went to Wal-Mart, and Jeff letting me tune into the Cardinals game on his iPhone even though he could care less about baseball.

Here are some images that pretty much sum up how I will remember Jeff:

I went to his visitation and funeral this past weekend, and something I will never forget is when, at his graveside, the song “Shine” by the Newsboys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiMamfnL4ZE) was played while everyone in attendance participated in a balloon launch. That is exactly what Jeff did with his life: shine. He made it obvious that he loved his family, his friends, youth ministry, missions, YLM, and GOD. His faith was incredible, I looked up to him with utmost respect, and no trip to YLM will ever be the same without him. I know confidently that he’s in heaven with Jesus, though, and I can’t wait to begin my work at the place he loved so much...3 months from today!