•••••••••••• A milestone in anniversaries •••••••••••••
Anniversaries come and go, life goes on from year to year, month to month, day to day, but when you get as old as we are, you note every moment as a special gift from God.
Such was the date last week, July 28 to be exact, when at six in the evening Dr. Joseph McClain, Bible professor at Howard Payne University, said all the right words that united Jody and I as one. It was under the steps of the First Methodist Church, Fisk at Austin, Brownwood, Texas. Under the steps because the church had a tiny chapel hidden away there.
I have no idea how long ago the church moved from that wonderful spot to the suburbs, Nor who razed the building (my guess it was probably Herman Bennett’s company).
The wedding went fast. Mother and dad and sister were there as well as Jody’s mother and sister. Ann Self (a year later to become Mrs. Richard D. Baker) and life-long friend John Robnett (still an active dentist in Dallas and a son and family and grandson still in Brownwood. --- I don’t hear from John but once a decade, so may or may not have facts straight regarding his offspring.)
These 60 years have found us celebrating the event many places. We celebrated in the usual Texas places, like Rio Frio and Pecan Bayou as well as some larger streams: Brazos, Trinity, and the Concho. Add to that the dried-up San Pedro River in Arizona.
The tenth anniversary was in central Taiwan at Sun Moon Lake, where the missionaries held a conference of all Protestant groups. That was the real beginning of appreciating the faith and practices of people from England, Denmark, Finland, Canada, India and even Minnesota.
Sun Moon Lake, a beautiful merging of two lakes, one like a full moon and one a half moon, was the place we met many interesting people: Former U.S. military chaplain, Oz Quick, who hit the beaches of Iwo Jima during WWII, also imprisoned by the Japanese in Hong Kong; Josephine Ward and Ola Lea spent time under house arrest in Japan’s invasion of China. Pearl Johnson interrogated by PLA in Qingdao, China; Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision; Major Ian Thomas, outstanding Bible teacher; Dr. Berg, whose husband was killed by the Chinese communists, just for being different.
In Hong Kong we had tea on the roof of the YMCA when it was the tallest building around, overlooking the Kowloon Railway Station, the harbor and a seven-minute Star Ferry ride away, the island of Hong Kong.
Hearing the teen-age son of George and Beth Wilson playing the piano in the historic Peninsula Hotel lobby at teatime will always be special for us. That young kid, Dale Wilson, is now Dr. Dale Wilson (Yale and Columbia) music professor and composer at Connecticut College.
(It was not our anniversary, but at the Peninsula we visited with Steve McQueen. He was in Hong Kong making the film “Sand Pebbles.”)
But the most memorable of all the places where we observed July 28, was in 1985, worshipping with the people of the newly-re-opened St. Paul’s Church in Nanjing, China. It had been an Anglican church before the Cultural Revolution. A part of the post-denominational era; churches sprouting up all over the land. (Post denominational means they no longer carry foreign names like Baptist, Anglican, Methodist or Presbyterian. They are only Christian churches retaining the best of each former missionary founded churches. A good example for the rest of the world.)
Anniversary number 60 was a simple Mexican lunch, just the two of us and our memories of so many friends, places and good times. Jody is a SAINT, to put up with me this long. Don't send gifts, just an e-mail will be find.