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My Heroes Can’t Fly

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My Heroes Can’t Fly

In the seventh grade I heard about a baseball player named Mickey Mantle during gym class. Although I knew nothing about sports, I became impressed with stories of his ability from listening to the guys in my class talk. My family never got into sports, so I had no sports heroes, although Mickey Mantle came the closest in 1957.

I was a voracious reader. I read whole sections of books in the school libraries. I went to 26 schools growing up, so I had a great supply. Early on, I developed a taste for history. I read of Kings, knights, inventors, discoverers, countrymen and statesmen. I was amazed by their abilities, but they never made it to the hero department of my heart.

Then I found an interest in early American history. I loved reading about explorers and trailblazers. Indian stories especially held me captive. I also found great delight in reading cowboy stories. I especially liked Bro. Louis L’Amour.

They put me in a college literature class when I was in then 10th grade. I was pushed to read the classics and was delighted by what I’d read. All of those authors and poets enlightened me with their pens, but there weren’t any of them I could call my ‘hero’.

I never read comic books as a kid, so the efforts of Marvel’s Comic Books to create heroes that could fly, scale tall buildings and have X-Ray vision were lost on me. Oh sure, I heard about Superman, Spiderman and the like. But they weren’t my heroes either.

My father was the man who stood out the most in my life. To this day I quote him. Actually, every sermon I preach I do my best to include something my “dad use to say.” He was a prince among preachers. A pulpiteer, yes, but an anointed pulpiteer. He surrounded himself with quality men. Each one capable of preaching in anybody’s conference. Yes, my Dad is still my Hero. There are some others that are too. Most of my heroes were preachers, and they still are.

That brings me to my present day heroes. (I am considered by most to be an old man by now, but I still have heroes.) You might be caught off guard when I honestly tell you that my heroes today are heroes that can’t fly like superman.

My baby sister, Nila and her husband Eric Marxer are my heroes!

They will probably be mortified just to see their names in print. They would NEVER consider themselves in that class at all. Nevertheless, I’ve put them on my heart’s pedestal, and I won’t take them down.

Let me tell you why. I don’t wish to give out too much information, nor bore you with a few of the facts.

The things people overcome in life determine the achievement of their hero status. Heroes are familiar with fighting battles.

Eric Marxer: Let me tell you a little bit about him.

  • He was born into a single parent home.
  • The oldest of two boys
  • Never knew anything about his father, not even his name.
  • Was treated harshly by his male relatives and made to work harder on their farms than a child should.
  • He was never shown love and affection like most children.
  • Had a thirst for knowledge and went to college.
  • Played football for his State University.
  • After graduation he joined the Marines.
  • He rose quickly in rank.
  • A fellow Marine named Paul Blotto won him to the Lord, which further alienated him from his Lutheran family.
  • While still in the Marines, he married my sister Nila.

    Wedding of Eric & Nila Marxer

  • He felt his call into the ministry, and is a wonderful minister of the Gospel.
  • Soon after his discharge from the military, he became self-employed.
  • He started his own company and sold (and repaired) copiers and office equipment.
  • His ability to read schematics later landed him a job working in the aircraft industry.
  • His military aircraft training and understanding plus his teaching ability soon found him flying around the world teaching others how to repair the electronics of commercial aircraft.
  • Most commercial planes have a repair manual that is at least 12 chapters in length. Each chapter is a minimum of 2,000 pages. Every chapter is written by an engineer.
  • Eric is the only non-engineer known to be given his own chapter to write.
  • Each chapter is graded and tested for accuracy.
  • Eric’s chapters have had the highest rating of them all… 99.99% accuracy.
  • His was so good, that the President of Boeing Aircraft flew down to Southern California just to take him out to lunch and say thanks.
  • Eric has amazing recall of what he has read.
  • He is an amazing teacher in church and out.
  • He rises by about 4:00 am and is soon out the door to go to work, hoping to beat most of the SoCal traffic.
  • His youngest child, Erica, graduates with her second degree in a couple of days.
  • His two sons have already graduated.
  • Eric has had a problem with high blood pressure that no doctor has been able to keep under control in over 25 years.
  • He also has major problems with sugar diabetes.
  • He has spent more days in the hospital than he wants to remember.
  • A year or so ago, due to complications, he went into kidney failure.
  • Eric was then put on dialysis.
  • With Peritoneal dialysis. (A port is inserted in the stomach cavity.) This dialysis can be performed at home. Even while you sleep.
  • All was well, but then the procedure ruptured, sending him into emergency surgery.
  • Hemodialysis was the next option. (A port was inserted in the jugular vein for dialysis and stayed there until the rupture in the stomach cavity healed.)
  • This required him going to the hospital three or more times a week spending five-hour sessions each time.
  • In the meantime, Eric went through procedures and operations to prepare him for a kidney transplant.
  • (In the Los Angeles area, the average waiting list time for a kidney transplant is 8 years.) Many have died on a waiting list that long.
  • After the rupture healed, he was put on the Peritoneal dialysis again.
  • It ruptured after a few weeks.
  • Back then to the Hemodialysis.
  • As of today, we’re back on the Peritoneal again.
  • I don’t know how much Eric makes where he works, but it is not what he is worth, I’m sure.
  • It’s probably a modest amount by some Los Angles area standards.
  • The insurance co-pay keeps eating away at his paycheck several times a week. It’s more than you would believe.
  • Times are not easy for Eric.
  • Money, strength and time have become precious commodities.
  • He knows he needs a miracle to survive.
  • He knows he needs a miracle to get another kidney.
  • He knows he just needs a miracle.
  • But no one ever sees him complain.
  • His body often is so wracked with pain he can hardly stand up straight.
  • Eric hasn’t lived a normal, pain-free life for years.
  • He has the kindest and best spirit of any man you ever want to meet.
  • With all his amazing gifts, he never promotes himself and seems to be content to let others have the limelight.
  • He’s a man of many talents and he keeps a sweet spirit through his painful trial, but he still can’t fly.

Nila Marxer – Just look at the load she carries.

  • As busy wives and mothers go, Nila works about the hardest.
  • Most women would struggle to keep up with Nila or walk in her shoes for a day.
  • She gets up early with her husband to assist in getting him off to work; hours before the sun come up.

    Nila Marxer

  • She helps care for Eric, who although very independent in caring for himself, sometimes is too weak to get out of bed.
  • Our 89-year-old Mother, Content Ballestero lives in their remodeled garage. A bedroom, bathroom and sitting make up her apartment.
  • Nila is the Care Giver for Mom.
  • Mother has dementia. Her short-term memory is gone.
  • Mother can no longer carry on a normal conversation.
  • All of Mother’s personal needs and grooming fall Nila’s responsibility.
  • Mother constantly wants to take her hair down, or run her fingers or even a comb through her hair.
  • If left alone Mom may do it for an hour or two. The hard combing makes her hair come out and it’s already too thin.
  • Nila may comb Mother’s hair for church, then go dress herself, come back in 15 minutes and find that Mom has taken her hair down again. Then she has to comb Mom’s hair one more time for church, making her late.
  • The short-term memory is so bad that Nila will have to answer the same questions dozens of times a day. Questions like: What day is it? Is there church tonight? What’s going on?
  • At Mom’s 89th birthday, April the 10th of this year, she didn’t know any of her children’s names.
  • Mom didn’t even know her own name.

    Mom And Nila

  • When she saw me sitting in the room, she asked Nila, “Who’s that man?”
  • Nila has to help Mom in and out of her sitting chair many times a day.
  • After sitting only a few moments in her chair she will struggle to get back up. Not remembering that she has just sat down.
  • Nila is a first class cook. The girl knows how to bake. She always seems to have something cooking or baking.
  • She has learned how to manage and make do.
  • To help supplement the family income and try to fight against rising costs of the needs of her children, her husband and her mom, Nila takes in sewing.
  • There is no finer seamstress than Nila.
  • Bridal Shops have sent her clients that want a custom gown (no pattern) and Nila will design it in grand style. She has sewn for weddings for years.
  • Still needing more money because of medical needs, tuition, mortgage, food, and other needs, Nila works an outside job when she can, and if she can find someone to watch Mom for a few hours that day.
  • Nila doesn’t know what it’s like to walk around Wal-Mart by herself or go shopping at a leisurely pace. She has no personal time. She gives herself completely to others.
  • Her personal batteries seem to have no visible way to be recharged.
  • It even has fallen her lot to do the plumbing repairs and other home maintenance.
  • She had to handle the home mortgage refinancing recently.
  • Nila is on rotation to play the piano at her church.
  • She has even written Musicals and Easter plays for the church.
  • Nila is the last one to go to bed at night. Making sure that her loved ones are taken care of.
  • In all of her labors of love, Nila tries to smile. She is so patient with our Mom.
  • She is very attentive to her husband and her children.
  • She doesn’t complain, even when it seems like she sure has a right to.
  • Nila has performed amazingly under stress and duress. She is highly gifted and can do anything, but she can’t fly.

No, Neither Eric Marxer Nor His Beautiful Wife Nila Can Fly. But Someday They Will!

My Heroes: Nila & Eric Marxer

Written by Martyn Ballestero

May 1, 2011 at 1:11 am

Posted in Heroes

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19 Responses

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  1. Having been a long term caregiver for my now deceased husband who died at age 42, I can totally relate t o your sister & I am so thankful she has you to be there for her, support & pray for her. I am sorry to say that I did not always carry out my duties without complaint. Kudos! Y the load was just to difficult for me personally. Please never let her lack of complaint lead other to think she is not bearing a great load. Trying to be super woman over 10 years affected me to the extent I now have physical disease processes myself resulting from chronic stress. I admire thissister for what she is doing &I pray for Gods hand to rest upon her thru all she is called upon to do. Blessings!


    May 1, 2011 at 2:01 am

  2. I concur with this beautiful written tribute! I stand amazed at how much they have been through, and uplifted that thier attitudes are never bitter, but actually all the more loving towards God and his people. They are really heros. I love my Aunt & Uncle and am thankful for there Faith in God, what a testimony!

    Marisa Hartzell

    May 1, 2011 at 7:38 am

  3. OK….I am totally reduced to blubbering tears. Marty, that was soooo beautifully written. You are so right…they are my hero’s too. We are praying for an awesome miracle in Eric’s life. Thanks for writing this post and giving honor to whom honor is due!

    Love you!

    Ramona Yandris

    May 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

  4. Oh my…you Ballestero’s are the WORD MASTERS OF THE WORLD! Actually, I think Nila is a SECRET angel who flies when no one’s looking because surely it’s not earthly possible for her to be a regular human and do all she does and still be fun-loving and smiling…I love Nila. She’s been my friend since…….and she is a TRUE friend indeed. Love that girl!

    Kathy Sorah

    May 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm

  5. I am overwhelmed by your kindness to us, Marty. I don’t deserve the spotlight; I do what anyone else would do if they were given the care of such a precious person as our mother. She has always been the heroine of my life.
    I am also thankful to God for letting me marry my hero. I’m so glad to be there for him when he needs me.
    The other day when I felt overwhelmed by negative news from the doctor, and mom’s situation, my eyes started to water. It seemed like God chose that exact moment to put a song in mom’s heart, because she started singing, “He’s Helping Me Carry My Load”. (Then I really did start to cry!) Then she went back into the fog she lives in most of the time.
    Life isn’t easy, but God really does help us carry our load.
    Thank you and my sweet sisters for all the care and support you have given to Eric, mom and me. I love you sooo much!

    Nila Marxer

    May 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

  6. Elder Ballestero, this post reveals the real man whom you are! Thank you so much for writing this. I have long been a fan of telling people how you REALLY feel about them BEFORE they are gone! What a man and what a lady that Bro. and Sis. Marxer are. I can almost “know them” from your words. Way to go!!!! Thanks for the “reality check”.

    james self

    May 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

  7. I am so overwhelmed with emotions by this beautiful tribute. I was a caregiver for a short while to my mother who had succumbed to dementia. The experience was a learning experience for me but was not without complaint. How I look up to anyone who is capable of this stressful experience.

    Wyonna Smith

    May 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

  8. Bro Ballestero, Thank you for honoring your Bro. & Siter Marxer, I personally dont know Bro. Marxer, but I feel now I know him, by the way that you wrote about him. Your sister I do know, from seeing her with your mom either at West Coast Conference, or even in Ontario Cal church when it was under Bro Herbert Buxton, Thank you for the special tribute to them both, they are blessed to call you family, Yes they are important to your family and also to the Kingdom of God.
    God Bless,
    Cheri Bagato,
    Glendale Az, Pastor Garrett’s Church

    Cheri Bagato

    May 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm

  9. Because I haven’t been online very much lately, I just now read this blog & feel like Ramona. I am a blubbering mess of tears!! Thank you for saying what I don’t have the words to say. I agree 100%. Both Nila & Eric are amazing people and I can only hope to be half the people they are. I will be forever grateful to them for the care given to our mother by them. Nila is truly amazing & I don’t know how she does it. I worry so about her!!! And now for her to be on a cross country trip……..alone with Mother……to be able to attend her daughters graduation!! Wow!!

    Carlene Branham

    May 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm

  10. Now I’m crying too. Can’t wait to see Nyla and Sis Ballestero tomorrow as they pass through Joplin on their way to St Louis. I’m cooking dinner for them at Bishop Garrett’s house. I feel so honored to do this. It will be a special evening. I love All the Ballestero family.

    Belinda Spell

    May 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

  11. I have had the opportunity to spend time with these two and they are a first class couple! Their strong love for the Lord and for each other is clearly seen! Love them sooo much! 🙂

    jen lord

    May 3, 2011 at 1:17 am

  12. Eric and Nila Marxer are THE most amazing couple. God has given them a special gift in each other, and He gave me a very special gift when they came into my life. They have both had lasting impacts on me that will never fade. I struggle to find words adequate enough to show my admiration and love for these two people, so I’ll leave it at this: this is an amazing tribute to an amazing couple. God bless the Marxers! 🙂

    Bekki Menzies

    May 3, 2011 at 2:04 am

  13. Bro. and Sis. Marxer are truly incredible people.
    Bro. Ballestero, you have written this tribute so beautifully.
    Sis. Nila, you indeed deserve this tribute to your incredible strength and patience. You and Bro. Eric are heroes to those of us who know and love you at Inland Lighthouse. Thank you for giving to the Lord and for caring for your sweet Mama! Our prayers are with you as you travel and for God to work a miracle for Bro. Eric’s health. With love, the McVay family

    Jana McVay

    May 3, 2011 at 2:19 am

  14. Permanent immortal “Hero” status! If we were Catholics we would burn candles to them.

    kenneth bow

    May 3, 2011 at 11:06 am

  15. That was such a beautiful post and so so so true. The marxers are amazing people, and like you, Sis. Marxer is a hero to me also.

    sarrah dillon

    May 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

  16. Awesome article, in honor of a couple of God’s awesome people, who have always had, and continue to have, my heartfelt admiration (as do you, Bro. Ballestero)! God bless and keep..

    Dale White

    May 4, 2011 at 1:18 am

  17. What a loving tribute to your sister and her husband. Brought tears to my eyes. I know that God has special rewards for them both. 🙂


    May 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

  18. And just when they thought no one was watching 😉 This is so true and beautifully written. I’d only begun to talk to the Marxers via Everyone’s Apostolic & FB a short time before Bro. Marxer received his devestating news. I’ve yet to meet a couple that serves the Lord under so much pressure with so much faith…always taking time out to pour into others, loving little ‘strays’ like me, encouraging, teaching, reaching in a thousand miniscule ways. Definitely on my hero list as well ’cause (quoting a song) “I sware there’s wings tucked up [their sleeves]” 😉


    May 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  19. Thank you, Bro. Ballestero, for writing this masterpiece about your bother-in-law and your sister, Sis. Nila. This is so very inspiring to me.

    You mentioned how Sis. Nila cares so lovingly for your mother. I remember when your parents came to ABI while I was a student there. We young women students absolutely LOVED your mother, Sis. Constance. She was so happy, so loving, so willing to share her time with us.

    Your family is a blessing, a wonderful example to God’s people everywhere.

    Sandra Runkle

    December 9, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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