Returning to Newberg and NFC in 2010 after being gone since 1956 was like coming home. My family moved here in 1941 so my elder sister, Marion, could live at home while attending the least expensive Christian college in the state. Earnest Christians, my family had no knowledge of Quakers. After several weeks at another church, we braved the unknown and visited NFC. That week Levi Pennington showed up for a pastoral visit at our home on West Illinois Street. He brought tricks and candy in his pockets for my younger brother and me, and his warm, engaging presence let us know we had found our church home. Mother taught a ladies’ Sunday school class, and my brother Paul and I grew up with Sunday school, Christian Endeavor, and Twin Rocks. I knelt at this altar more than once; one time Gervas Carey gave me advice I have treasured, “Keep short accounts with God.”
I sang my first sacred solo, “O Rest in the Lord,” in the NFC sanctuary and directed my first choir there as well. This happened the year before Leon and I were married in the same sanctuary, and I am grateful for the formative years, the spiritual growth, encouragement, and opportunity this church afforded.
Mother was librarian at Pacific College while the men were in alternative service during World War II, and I often went to Wood-Mar after school to browse and select books to read. I was a book and library devotee beginning around age five but resisted the idea of a career so tame and bland. My resistance lasted until age 35 when Kent (WA) School District pulled me from a fifth-grade classroom to be the first elementary librarian in the district. It was a wonderful career for me, serving everyone, helping children and teachers find what they wanted, answering questions, teaching how to use libraries, reading (and singing) picture books to little ones, encouraging all to read.
When I was a senior at Newberg High School, a teacher said, “Oh, don’t go to Pacific College! You’ll marry an Idaho farmer!” I did both, but my Idaho farmer became an elementary school teacher, as I was. We raised three sons and now have eight grands and two great grandchildren. In retirement we built a home together in Riggins, Idaho, enjoying 15 years there before Leon’s heart attack in 2007.
My birth family was missionary-minded, with one sister in Irian Jaya (now West Papua) 40 years as a translator, and the other in Belgian Congo 25 years, nursing. Leon and I had 5 and 3, respectively, two-week work trips to Latin America with World Gospel Mission’s Men With a Vision, with the encouragement and leadership of Gene Hockett—high points in our lives. Missions are a primary focus for me.
It has been a blessed life with many interesting experiences. What engages me today is the immanence of God. He is so present, so actively involved in my life that I am frequently laughing in wonder and surprise. I do not know whether to call it God’s Choreography or Random Acts of Godly Kindness, but day after day he lets me know he is there, taking care of things. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
With compromised eyesight, I must be selective with reading, and now choose mostly what will enrich my spirit, my connection to God. Favorite authors include C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, Wendell Berry. I am learning to follow Jesus Christ more closely. He walks with us, and we walk in his joy. My joy is enhanced by being part of NFC, expanding his kingdom as we enjoy and glorify God together.