Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old . . .

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.


Diane said...


The photos turned out so beautiful! That art work is amazingly beautiful. What a talent!

You have inspired me to catch up with childhood friends! How rare indeed! If I could only remember their last names! Sadly, my family moved so frequently, that I often knew only the first names of my favorite school mates. Neighborhood friends were scarce as my Dad was always drunk--and their parents did not allow them to come over to my house to play. And of course, being the only Protestant girl in primarily Catholic neighborhoods (remember, it was the 60's).....served as yet another division.

Still, I am blessed to have discovered many new friendships along the way--not the least of which is yours! God not only heals what is broken, he takes the brokenness and through it....brings joy! Yes, make new friends....but keep the old, indeed! I look forward to the day that we will post about our OLD friendship while sharing new friendships in the making! Of course, it needs to be said we may be having that 'old friend' reunion in our wheelchairs.....but we won't let THAT get in our way!


Diane J. said...

Boy, y'all did cram a lot into those 4 days, Dawn! I'd need a vacation after I got home to recover from my vacation. :-)

Looking forward to part 2 now.

Love and hugs,


Linds said...

Wow, Dawn, that art work is unbelievable! Does she sell her creations?
I just loved reading about the trip and your photos are great. My Mum is also 81, and is quite amazing. Mind like a razor too!

Kristen said...

Great pictures! Ann is really talented.

I think airport security may have gone a little overboard with your jam...what a bummer.

I'm anxious to read about your time with know, since you haven't really told me about it yet. ;-)

Susie said...

What a sweetheart you were to give your aisle seat to that poor terrified girl. You overcame your fear to comfort her...
Your trip sounds jam packed with such wonderful experiences. Glad you enjoyed yourself so much and am looking forward to reading more and seeing your pictures..

Yellow Mama said...

It seems you had quite a good time. Being around older people like your Uncle and my Dad...well it is rather interesting because they have so much to offer and so many great stories. Glad you enjoyed your time.

Linda said...

Dawn - what a joy to connect with an old friend like that. It must have been such fun catching up.
Your pictures are just great. Your Dad looks very well. The bracelets and other crafts are amazing. Their faithful service for all those years is so admirable. We take our religious freedom so for granted.
You were not far off about my Dad. It turns out it was bronchitis that has just grown into a bacterial infection. He has all sorts of new medicines and they feel so much better having a diagnosis. Thank you so much for your prayers dear friend.
I'm looking forward to Part 2

PEA said...

Hi Dawn:-) I so enjoyed reading this first part of your trip...the pictures are all terrific and look at all those smiling faces:-) I'm in awe of all that African crafts, how amazing they are!! Ann has certainly experienced quite a life so far and I would love to be able to sit down and listen to her stories!! As well as those of your Uncle Al! I'm terrified of flying so I can well imagine myself being that young woman on the plane...see, there was a reason she ended up sitting with you:-) Other people might not have cared about her!! xoxo

Barb said...

I can't imagine seeing a childhood friend I hadn't seen in 47 years, Dawn. How wonderful that must have been. And I can't believe they confiscated that at the airport. Ridiculous. I understand the need for tight security, but honestly, a can that requires a can opener?

The artwork is beautiful. She's got amazing talent.

And I'm looking forward to the next part, the part where you meet Diane. :-)

Sharon Lynne said...

Thanks for sharing about your trip. "Family" seems to get more dearer as time goes by. What a wonderful family God has given you!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Oh that was wonderful! I really enjoyed all the photos! Thanks!

groovyoldlady said...

Ooooo. I want that 3rd piece of artwork. It's mega groovy!

I wonder what they do with all the liquids they confiscate at the airport? Perhaps the staff get to take them home and give them as gifts to THEIR visitors!

Maine Mom said...

Glad your back! How nice that you were able to chat during the plane ride and help that poor woman!

I loved looking at all the pictures you posted and hearing about this part of your trip. :-)

the night owl said...

Hi Dawn, what a great visit you had with your friend and family.You are blessed to have all of them in your life. Baba