Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)
- TITLE: One Tale Among Millions
By Glynis Becker
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The “keeper” pile on her left was much thinner. Only a few recipes, especially an apple pie recipe she had been delighted to rediscover, and some family letters had found their way onto that one. But Meg looked through it all. If it was important enough for Grandma to keep, she felt she should at least give it a glance before trashing it.
After three more stacks of paper, a tattered book distinguished itself from the rubbish. The gilt-edged pages were falling out and the spine was broken, so she carefully turned the fragile treasure over in her hands. Dust had collected on the cover and she wiped at it delicately. A faint musty smell, not unpleasant, emanated from the volume and she was intrigued.
Opening the front cover, the same excitement overtook her as when the lights dim in a movie theater. Spidery handwriting showed the name “Karl Friesen”, her father’s grandfather. The date on the first entry was May 1899.
Meg settled herself against the attic wall and began to read, thankful now for the years she’d paid attention during Frau Katte’s German classes. Her understanding of the language was not advanced, but proficient enough to translate much as she skimmed the jagged, formal script of an earlier time.
I have heard a rumor around the ship that we will reach America within the week. I pray to God that Maria will live to see it. Her heart suffers greatly with the loss of Pieter. This voyage has stolen our son, yet I tell her we cannot allow our hope to be stolen as well. God will show us His grace, His love and His mercy. We have each other and we have little Katje and dear Tomas. God hears our prayers and I know He will bless our life in America. This journey has been difficult, but I have to believe that He has planned a future for us as He did for the Israelites in Jeremiah’s day. Daily I ask our Heavenly Father to guide the steps of my family.
And another, dated mid-1900: The land is much the same as what we left in Ukraine. But it does not feel the same. It does not smell the same. This dirt convinces me of its newness, as if God just finished breathing His word over it. And today I heard my Maria sing again. Through this dirt God has restored her hope.
Meg absorbed page after page, remembering the little she knew of her family’s background. Her grandfather, Tomas, had come to America from Russia as a boy. The Friesens had been German Mennonites farming in Ukraine until they moved to America with a number of their brothers and sisters of the faith. Just a bit of dry, largely irrelevant history, if you had asked Meg last week. But seeing that history played out so intimately, its vivid color splashing across the yellowed pages of a ragged journal, made it not just Karl’s story or even just her family’s story. She realized with a start that this was America’s story, if only a portion of it. A story in God’s unmistakable handwriting, the flourishes of grace and providence evident in every word. A story that must be told.
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