The trip Dave and Jan took recently to Prescott for the memorial service of Dr. Al and Sheila Diddams put them in contact with some other very special friends besides those in the Diddams family. Two people who have been close friends and ministry partners served as the Balsleys’ hosts after the hotel stay associated with the memorial service. Bill and LaVeta Sparks were the CAM International missionaries who moved from Mexico to Tucson to help care for aging parents and served in the pastoral role for the Hispanic congregation which was a part of Mission Park Baptist Church for many years. After moving from Tucson to a retirement community in Prescott, Bill and LaVeta became acquainted with the Diddams, so Dave and Jan enjoyed visiting with both families whenever their travels took them to Prescott. While they spent some time together during this visit in Prescott the Sparks introduced Dave and Jan to Lynx Lake in the hills near Prescott for a picnic and a short walk.
Jan also took a short hike up the trail to Thumb Butte for a few pictures.
Among the people who traveled to Prescott for the Diddams memorial there were a number who were a part of the Gallup Baptist Church family in New Mexico when the Balsleys were there in the 70’s and 80’s. Traveling the farthest for the occasion of the memorial service were Steve and Peggy King, founders of the UIM (United Indian Missions) International camp south of Gallup – Summer Park Ranch (now Broken Arrow Bible Ranch). Steve was also serving as pastor for the Gallup Church prior to the Balsleys’ arrival in Gallup,
After the King family moved from the Gallup area to Shingletown, California – and because their son Rusty was a Downs Syndrome son – Steve and Peggy founded another significant ministry for handicapped adults, Mountain Jewels Home (which became Mountain Jewels Ranch when the home moved from Shingletown to a ranch setting in Little Valley, California). The amazing story of the Kings’ lives and the significant ministries they founded is told in a book which Peggy wrote entitled “Like Salt and Pepper” which is probably available at firstname.lastname@example.org. Traveling with Steve King were his wife, Peggy, and their son Rusty – now living with them in their retirement years. So it was great to see Peggy and Rusty as well as Steve King in Prescott.
Of course, while Dave and Jan were in Prescott their first granddaughter, Erin Lauren Balsley, was born to Stephen and Meagan, so it has been fun getting acquainted with her since returning to Brea following the Prescott trip.
Jan enjoyed taking a picture of Erin in a doll crib which first held her dolls as a child – then years later son Stephen and daughter Alissa, and more recently grandson Ryan and now granddaughter Erin (lovingly guarded by Lola).
It has also been fun introducing grandson Ryan to his first bicycle – a skill which Dave hopes Ryan will master in days ahead so they can ride their bikes together!
Our lives have been enriched in so many ways over the years by the friends and the growing family the Lord has blessed us to enjoy. The joys and blessings of family life are among life’s best – and that certainly includes the joys and blessings which come from our experiences with people like the Diddams and the Sparks and the Kings who are a part, with us, of the family of God!