It’s almost eleven o’clock. I’m still in my pajamas; I’ve been at the computer since daylight. The thermometer says eighty-six degrees outdoors but the humidity is unbearable and “feels like” ninety-six or one hundred degrees. Seriously, the Houston TV meteorologist’ push the heat index up ten degrees.
There is no rhyme or reason to the scanning project. I just process through a box, one item at a time. (In my defense, all was organized before I packed and moved from Lancaster, California, in November 2004.) This morning I found a spiral steno notebook with a story I wrote but probably was laid aside and forgotten. (12 noon and weatherman just said “feels like” one-hundred degrees.)
Cousins by the dozens
If I were a poet, I’d write a poem;
If I were a musician, I’d compose a song.
If I were an artist, I’d paint a masterpiece.
Since I’m none of the above, I’ll write a story describing my phenomenal vacation in Ohio.
I question whether my words can describe how the grass is greener, the sky is bluer. Maybe my soul was as parched as the soil in my native California (five years of drought).
In the Springfield, Ohio, area, I found the food tastier–and the families friendlier. Local fresh strawberries were redder–and sweeter–than their relatives in Southern California.
Everywhere I turned, I was introduced to a new “cousin.” Hospitality was warm and sincere.
My trip was planned around Old German Baptist Brethren Annual Meeting held over Pentecost Sunday weekend. From “tent raising” on Tuesday, May __ through Friday, May __, I met “cousins by the dozens.” You’d think my correspondence with family members–while doing genealogical research–would have given me a clue to the number of fourth and fifth cousins living in Clark County. Annual Meeting, of coarse, brought German Baptist from across the nation as I was able to renew old acquaintances and make new. The bond of love is so strong between these members. Can a word-picture illustrate Brethren greeting one another with a holy kiss? plus a warm welcome for extended family and visitors?
Southern California has a plethora of genealogical libraries but they are no match for personal contact with families that knew (or know) my ancestors. Almost at every corner I was introduced to a farm, a church, a cemetery or landmark attached to my Frantz family.
Like my earlier visit to Annual Meeting in Modesto, California (1989), I ate the simple traditional meals in the dining tent. I was permitted to help serve one meal. I joined more than five-thousand worshippers in the large Council Tent. I never tire of hearing the members sing their hymns a-cappella (an angel choir).
I was afforded the courtesy of displaying my compiled genealogy in the “Baggage Room.” Many members shared their information with me or identified others who might help with my research. Most members are very knowledgeable about their deep roots in this denomination that can trace their faith back to the time of Christ.
In the same spiral notebook, the following details.
May 16, 1991, 9:55 AM
It is a beehive of activity in the Dining Tent. The tables and benches are in place. White plastic has been stapled to the table top and scrubbed. Women are putting dinnerware at the end of each table. Eight-hundred pounds of potatoes have been peeled and “quartered” and will be served at the noon meal.
There is a “whir” of electric saws and drills as the men finish the installation of sinks. While tasks are being done with speed and skill, a hundred or more people are seated on the benches visiting with a friend or observing the parade of events. Most have been here since before seven AM so it’s time to “sit a spell.”
Nearby, in the Council Tent, stakes are being driven in the ground for plank seats. (An ambulance is at the Council Tent. I wonder if there was an accident.)
The women’s capes are waving gently in the strong breeze. The noise in the tent has raised to a “roar” as hundreds of people chat with one another. The “clink” of silverware joins the chorus of voices, the pounding of hammers and the annoying “rasp” of an electric sander smoothing the edges of the plank benches. Occasionally a baby cries. Small children are “fussy” and asking if it is time to eat.
It is still an hour until noon and I marvel at how remarkably fast the field was transformed from farm to conference ground. The Dining Tent went up precisely on schedule–7 AM.
Saturday, May 18: Four inches of rain the last couple of days. The temperature was quite chilly with a slight wind blowing. Frankly, it was too cool to be comfortable. Because the ground was too wet to park on, we had to park about one-half mile from the conference grounds. Prior to 10:00 AM worship service, a parade of brothers in dark suits and black hats–and sisters with black capes and bonnets–made the trek from their Upper Twin Church to the Brubaker farm (site of the 1991 Annual Meeting). Those less inclined to “hike” were conveyed by chartered buses.
At 1:45 PM, between services, it is cold as the wind whips in under the flaps of the Council Tent. Large crowds are still standing around outside, visiting with one another. Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for friends and families to “catch up” on one another’s activities and see how much the children have grown.
The amplification system was “cutting out” during the earlier worship service and the brothers are testing the system. “Testing one, two, three, four, five, testing, testing.” The addition of lapel microphones and loud speakers make it much easier to hear the ministers. It seems a curious mixture: “Plain people” who shun many modern conveniences–specifically television and radio–but use electronics. I’m told it is “controversial” and some members preferred to stay with the old ways.
Hymn #524, A Firm Foundation
Luke 1:64-80 “We are either saved or we’re lost. Either we please Him, or we don’t.” Verse 69 “and He hath raised up a horn…” (an authority for salvation).
John 1:30 “Let not your heart be troubled….”