Phil is 95 and Margaret is 94. They have been married 71 years. They are Karen’s parents. They served as missionaries in Japan 38 years. Karen grew up in Japan (3-17 years old).
1 Phil, what were you impressed with in Margaret?
I could tell she was a solid Christian. No matter what we talked about, she brought it back to the center of Christ. Her answers to my questions were helpful to me as a future pastor and missionary.
2 Phil, how long did it take to know she was the one?
First date I felt strongly. She was not only beautiful but dutiful, sticking with the Lord no matter what. She wasn’t just looking for a husband; she was looking for the Lord’s will.
Margaret: Alma Hagen helped me to realize that marriage was not the goal. The Lord’s plan was the goal. If this included marriage, so be it. No matter how good looking, I would not have married him if he didn’t desire to follow the Lord.
3 Margaret, what qualities did you like most about Phil?
He was fun to be with. He had a scintillating personality, but I did not want to be blinded by charm or good looks, because I wanted us to serve the Lord together.
4 Margaret, any disappointments in marriage?
Only that I could not be more loving and kind to him and to our children. Phil said, I remember my own shortcomings. She was right on. Her solid commitment pulled me along.
5 Margaret, did you see your shortcomings?
Yes, I knew I had to look to my own. Alma taught me not to think of myself. I never thought, “Aren’t you lucky to have me?” I thought, “He is so kind to me.”
6 Margaret, were you ready for children when you married or did you want to wait? Rather than get in a selfish groove, we decided to have children right away. It was exciting to be a parent. God made us co-creators. He taught us that we couldn’t do it ourselves. We looked to the Lord for our marriage and our family. To be a parent was to me the most wonderful thing in the world.
7 Margaret, was it difficult to send your two oldest kids (10 & 8) away to school for several months at a time? It was the most terrible thing in the world, like having a baby, then sending her away.
8 Phil, was it hard to travel around the country in the summer in your car with four kids and a bunch of musical instruments?
I don’t think so. So you didn’t have a lot of fighting among the kids? No.
9 Phil, what was most difficult for you as a parent?
Being a missionary didn’t give me enough time to be a father. It was a joy to teach the kids about faith. God enabled me to do what was clear in Scripture—raising them up in the Lord. Some missionaries came back because of difficulties. They had a tough time living in Japan and the children couldn’t handle the different style of life. I get that. God gave us grace, for which we are thankful. Karen added this: I remember one time I ran into my room in anger. I knew I was wrong. Dad came to the door and knocked softly and said, “Do you want to talk?” I knew he was not rejecting me. It was a kind and gentle response. Grateful for wonderful parents!