Remember that song? One is silver and the other gold. It's been a week already since I left for my whirlwind trip to my roots in Minnesota. What a wonderful trip it was. We crammed more "remembering" into 4 days than you can imagine.
The first adventure began on the airplane. I always try to get an aisle seat, because I have a problem with claustrophobia (not to mention the need to be able to get to that tiny little room in the back of the plane without requiring the other people in the row to put away their laptops, books, sodas, etc). I was the first one in my row, then the middle occupant arrived. Shortly, the young woman with the window seat made her entrance - and promptly asked if I would mind trading seats with her. I did mind. I specifically asked for an aisle seat. But when I looked at her white face, and saw her heading for the back in a hurry, I decided I would rather be cramped and uncomfortable than covered with you-know-what. She began to chatter uncontrollably and said, "I feel better when I'm talking, but I promise I'll quit when we get in the air." As it turned out, the 3 of us talked the entire hour and 26 minutes. She really had a panic problem and thanked us for the conversation, saying she could not have been in a better row if she'd picked it out herself. It was fun.
My sis (I'll call her V) and I stayed with my cousin Ann (remember this?), who has spent 25 years in Mali, Africa, living in huts in the desert, with R&R trips in to the capital city of Bamako. They have seen 79 conversions in all of this time, but they are Muslims who have found Christ and are living for Him, often secretly. Their lives could be in danger if their families knew of their new faith. They pray with the family at the appointed times, but they pray to God instead of Allah. It is an amazing story they live.
V, Ann, and I suddenly realized it was 12:45 and we'd better get some sleep if we were going to have any fun the next day (her husband, Larry, was up at their cabin in the northern part of the state).
My next adventure was a lunch date with my grade school friend when we lived in International Falls. Both Mary and I realized as we talked that we were pretty "nerdy" and really needed each other. She was friendless for a semester after her long-time best friend moved away. She was waiting for me to arrive, and I really was in need of a friend in this new, intimidating school. We loved reading, and we both remembered being the last one picked for any given sports team at recess - I know we couldn't both have been last, but that's the way we felt about our athletic abilities! She grew up to be a librarian, and I, well you know, I have a book in my hand at all times, in case I might find a spare minute to fill.
That is my sister on the left. The necklace she is wearing was a gift from Ann with a brass African carving and a beaded necklace holding it.
It's amazing how much you can find to talk about with a childhood friend whom you have not seen for 47 years! She was so kind to go up to her home town and take pictures of things she knew we'd like to see - our church, our elementary and junior high schools, the library, the gigantic Paul Bunyan, downtown streets. She brought me a package of Canadian caramels and a nice can of Canadian strawberry jam. Unfortunately, I decided to leave the jam in my carry-on bag instead of trying to cram it into my already very heavy suitcase. Mistake - they confiscated it at the security gate - more than 3.4 ounces of "liquid." I'm not aware of any way that someone could have put something dangerous in an unopened can, which would require a can opener to use - but I was very sad at the loss of this thoughtful gift.
That evening, we had the get-together of those from my dad's family who live in the Twin Cities area and were able to get together.
My dad on the left (age 81) and his oldest brother, Ann's dad (age 86). Uncle Al was a missionary in Africa for 45 years. He told in detail the story of their first trip over in the 1940s, which I had never heard before. He has become very forgetful about present-day things, though, and introduced my dad to their sister and his children.
Ann and one of her grandchildren.
Ann's husband, Larry.
Ann's brother, my cousin Rich, his wife, Sini, and their son, Alain. They met in boarding school.
Dad's only sister and her granddaughter.
The following shots are all of Ann's artistry - she makes wonderful jewelry, weavings, displays of ancient beads and rocks, and the first one is a collection of bracelets made by some of the Africans they have worked with.
Stay tuned for Part 2 - more reunions and a new friendship.