It was the summer of 1961 and there were armed guards visible on the street of Paris.
It was the summer of 1961 and in one night East German soldiers laid down more than 30 miles of barbed wire through the city of Berlin closing off the passage between the East and West, creating what became known as the Berlin Wall.
It was the summer of 1961 and a 12 year old girl living in the small town of Newcastle, Wyoming decided she wanted to travel to Europe for 8 weeks, visiting 5 countries, attending a series of Bible conventions.
She announced her intention to all who would listen.
Her parents listened and nodded, all the while doubting. They had four children and lived quite humbly on the money the father made as a carpenter and there certainly wasn't any extra for a European adventure and besides, no one in the family had a passport. They knew their daughter was determined, independent and stubborn, not easily dissuaded, but the part they forgot was her magic.
There is much to this story. I remember it well. That young girl was me and that journey more than 50 years ago changed my life in ways I'm still understanding and it created a foundation for the work I do now as an elder in the community.
It really had nothing to do with Bible conventions or even the Bible or Christianity. It had everything to do with the fact that I was born a traveler who became a teacher and a storyteller.
I was so convinced I was going, I wrote to my Grandmother Irene Olson to tell her the exciting news.
Several weeks went by and I received a card in the mail that said Bon Voyage. I remember running to the kitchen to show the card to my mother, saying, "see, she believes I'm going!" Something dropped out of the folds of the card and when I picked it up I saw that it was a check made out to me for $350. This was the amount, almost to the penny, that I needed to buy the plane ticket.
It wasn't until years later when my grandma was dying that I learned she had sold a piece of the family ranch in Redding, California so I could make that journey.
There was no turning back now and as I imagine it happened, my parents decided late one night in quiet conversation to cash in my mother's war bonds so they could give me the rest of the money needed for food, train travel and lodging.
The magic is always there. I'm the one who forgets at times, thinking in my stubborn, independent way that I must do everything myself.
It is the memory of that journey made by a 12 year old girl that encouraged and inspired me to create a Go Fund Me Campaign for my Journey To The Missing Grandmothers.
What I learn and experience on this journey will come back with me and will be woven into the spiritual community I serve in ways I cannot know or understand.
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