I met Elsie when I was 16, while serving as a mission intern at a school on the Texas-Mexican border. She was single and only in her early 50's at the time, but she seemed older because she struggled with debilitating arthritis. She moved slowly, couldn't have air conditioning in her apartment (in Texas!), and had to watch her diet closely lest something make her pain worse. She served as a missionary for years in the West Indies, Papua New Guinea, and Texas until she retired.
I love being around successful people - those who get more out of life than we mere mortals. But it's the courageous people who inspire me. Courageous people aren't always the most 'successful'. They might 'win' by simply getting their shoes on in the morning while they're in pain. They might be a faithful servant in the back of the church who cares for a parent or spouse with Alzheimer's, instead of the person up front in the spotlight.
I have to admit something - I'm a wimp. I scream like a little girl over a paper cut. Okay, that may be overstating it, but not by much. When I'm in pain, I want to solved, dealt with, cured, finished, over. But people go on every day raising families, going to work, making life happen while they're in physical, spiritual, emotional or financial pain. I admire them.
I have far less obstacles to overcome in my life than many of the people I do life with. I have been truly blessed. But if I had their courage and determination - I can't imagine what I could accomplish.
Elsie retired from the mission field and married a pastor from back home. She passed away just 4 years ago at the age of 78. She didn't let anything stop her until she was ready to take her last trip to where there is no more pain.
May her tribe increase.