I met her on a Sunday morning. I can tell you exactly where I was standing when she walked by.

“Oh, Linda,” Ken said, “I want you to meet Barb. She’s the one who wrote the letter to us.”

This was my first Sunday at Tuscola, but Ken’s second. He had been to Tusocola by himself to pulpit supply – but because we had two little kids, I had stayed home. But now he was back to candidate and we had all come to Michigan to see the church and meet the people. As church clerk, Barb was the one who had sent us the needed info.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” she said back.

I remember her calling me a few weeks after we moved in. “The kids up at the Vassar schools have a parade on Halloween,” she told me.” I thought maybe your kids would like to see it.”  And so we went.

I don’t exactly remember when we started the bike rides – but that’s what we did. That’s what our friendship was all about. Every day during the warm springs, during the hot summers, during the cool falls – we rode between five and ten miles down the windy, hilly country roads. (I remember one early December day, riding down Ormes Road and a car stopped and the driver asked for directions to the school. We were a little concerned – it was Santa.)

Oh, we laughed together, but we were serious, too. We discussed everything from discipline to doctrine to daisys. And we welcomed anyone who wanted to come with us to come, but no one was quite as excited as we were to take endless bike rides.

I remember the year we were decorating for the Ladies Spring Banquet and someone had the not-so-bright ideas to bring in dead branches and wrap them in crepe paper, but then everyone had to go home and it was just the two of us and we looked at the dead branches and started laughing so hard, we were rolling on the floor, crying – because what we had was just that – a room full of dead branches, wrapped in crepe paper and it all looked rather horrible.

And then there was the year we messed up the Christmas candy …

(Tomorrow – part 2)

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