You know how when you’re chatting, one thought can lead to the next, and the next, and the next, and suddenly you’re on a rabbit trail? (I think that’s just how conversation works, actually, ha.) The other day, my mom was telling me that she had recently met someone we had gone to church with back in the early 1980s.
“Um no, I don’t know who you’re talking about,” I confessed.
This person is her peer, not mine.
“Once you see a picture, you’ll remember,” she said confidently, hurrying into her spare room. I heard some rummaging sounds, some papers shuffling, and she emerged with a curious little blue book: Grunthal E.M.B. Church 25th Anniversary 1956-1981.
She found the photo of the person she had met earlier in the week, and paused thoughtfully. “Oh, they look so different now.”
I too peered at the photo, and confirmed that I definitely did not remember this person. I was born in 1978. Likely my long-term memory had not quite kicked in by 1981. Also it’s doubtful that I interacted with someone 25 years my senior at this point in my life unless she had been volunteering in the church nursery.
“I’ll find a better picture!” mom announced, heading back into the spare room with determination.
I sat alone on the couch, holding this little book in my hands. As I paged through it, I realized I’d seen it before but paid little attention to it. Even when I was scouring mom’s condo for any and all history books, I’d still overlooked this slim volume.
At the beginning of the book, two important words caught my eye: Historical Sketch.
Suddenly I realized I knew nothing of this church’s history.
This was the church I’d grown up in, where I’d been baptized, taught Sunday School, et cetera… but I had no idea how the church had started out. How had I overlooked this?
I begun reading.
I learned about how this church grew from the New Barkfield (Neubergfeld) area, not too far from the Spencer school and church.
I read about how it was a sort of mission of Stuartburn Gospel Chapel, with the fledgling group beginning with D.V.B.S. in the Lister East School.
It was then that a particular line caught my eye: “Brother Heinrichs, the local storekeeper offered a lot next to his store. It was a beautiful location, on the banks of the Joubert Creek…”
I was staring at this line when my mom returned to the living room.
“Look what I’ve just read,” I said, pointing to the text. “Was ‘Brother Heinrichs’… Great-Grandpa? He donated the land where the church first had a building?”
She nodded and said, “Oh yes. You mean you didn’t know?”
“WHAAAAT?! Why did no one tell me?!”
“Oh, I could probably tell you a lot of things you don’t know.”
Good grief. I see this woman weekly. How has this fact never come up?
People will only tell you what occurs to them. Also, my mom probably never told me this because “everybody knows”. Except I didn’t.
Look. If you think you can avoid seeing your elders until they’re on their deathbed and then at that point you figure you’ll just hurry on over and to pester and extract your entire family history, you’re 100% lying to yourself.
It has to happen naturally, via these seemingly unimportant rabbit trails.
Take the time to sit with your loved ones. Follow the rabbit trail. See where it takes you.
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