She Served with Joy
By Amy Uecker
If you ever had the opportunity of meeting or knowing Ruthie Diane Howell, I imagine you shared some joyful moments, sensed her passion for missions, felt loved, and may have even received gifts from her. That was my mom. She lived life with a commitment to the kingdom of God and served with joy. If you never met her, allow me to share my tribute to a lady whose example inspires me to pursue a call to serve overseas.
Memories flood back to me of times spent with her in wholesale stores as she bargained to buy kitchen wares to award top-giving churches of Mothers Memorial. Or the times we sold tamales in the market across the street from our home church in San Salvador where you would hear everyone calling her “Doña Diana.” Her smile was genuine as she loved and served people in every season of her life: El Salvador, Central America and the Caribbean, and the Global Missions family. And she was loyal and protective of that family—just ask any MK (missionary kid) who felt her dedication to seeing them flourish and be who God called them to be.
She was committed to the gifting and talents God gave her, and she served with passion.
Mom was committed. She was committed to God and following His call. She knew the path God had set her and my dad on and walked it faithfully. Her no-nonsense approach meant that she would find a way to get the job done—and have fun doing it. It’s what I think inspired her to lead the Ladies’ Ministry of El Salvador with such enthusiasm and vision for growth. That commitment pushed her to start a school in our church neighborhood for children in need of better education. She was committed to the gifting and talents God gave her, and she served with passion.
Mom loved. She loved her family, and they were her priority. Her three children will attest to that. She loved her church family and made sure they knew it as she served them. No person was ever above or beneath her in station. Those whom she loved felt valued; they knew they were seen and heard. Hospitality was her ministry, and she was the best hostess I’ve known. Whether in her home, at the church, or at the Global Missions offices, she loved serving others. Her selfless approach to loving and serving people resounds in my heart and inspires me to follow her example.
In my eyes, my mom was fearless. She went with her young family to a country in civil war. I can see her smiling and matter-of-factly saying, “It’s where God called us. Just jump in and learn that new language!” Not sure where your kids will go to school or how your family will fulfill the calling on your life? I’m pretty sure she’d say, “It will be OK. God has called you, and He will make a way.”
Thank you, Mom, for being confident of the calling you had and fully working in the giftings and talents God gave you.
I remember my first Associates In Missions trip in 2003. I called her crying. To my surprise, I wasn’t immune to jetlag and homesickness, even though I had some overseas experience. Mom wasn’t surprised; after all, I was the child who called my parents to be picked up from a sleepover at 10:00 pm because I missed home. In her loving, practical way, she spoke words of encouragement and told me, “You’ll be OK.” She could say that because she knew it was true.
Thank you, Mom, for being confident of the calling you had and fully working in the giftings and talents God gave you. It’s why you remained committed to the call of missions. It’s how you ministered and made people feel loved and part of the body of Christ—all over the world. I’ll forever miss walking through the food markets with you and listening to you explain (once again) what cut of meat that was and how best to cook it. Each time I recall how you served in His Kingdom and lived life joyfully, I’m compelled to keep giving my all; to love my family and make them a priority; to serve the country and people where He has called me to live; to wholeheartedly jump into the giftings and talents God gave me; and to stretch myself to serve in whatever capacity is needed. And to find joy in living life for the Lord, and not to major on the things we can’t change.
Amy Uecker, her husband, Dennis, and son, Elliott, live in eastern Europe where they lead the Robert K. Rodenbush Global Training Center. Dennis and Amy served in several countries as AIMers before becoming fully appointed missionaries in 2015. They are currently on deputation in North America where you will mostly find her on the road listening to Thomas the Train podcasts and looking up good local eats.