Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reflections on associating with Calvin alumni

As we sit here in the comfort of the home of Pastor Dan and Ida Tigchelaar in London, Ontario, Canada, after a lovely meal of roast, potatoes, beans, corn, peach cobbler with ice cream and peppermint tea, I wonder why I'm so blessed to be treated this well. Today was a very difficult day of cycling. I was drained of energy after 20 miles, but we had 57 more to go before getting to our destination for the day so when we were surprised by these fine friends about 10 miles from the planned camp site with an offer to spend the night in a real bed, after taking a real shower, and doing some laundry, how do you think we responded? Dan and Ida have been friends of Claire for a long time, but Dan and his twin Dave went to Calvin when I did, and they both went on to seminary and served churches in Canada until just recently. Other friends, also alumni from that era, were here for supper as well. So Hank and Claire, Rich and I, Dan and Ida, and John and Marg Hagans had a mini Calvin reunion right here.

I also had a chance to check my e-mail and other signs of energy from the real world. Was pleased to note that David Hoekema, philosophy professor at Calvin, had sent out an e-mail to Calvin folks that was very supportive of the Sea to Sea venture. It read, in part, as follows:

"Every week.... we read about another "I'm going to walk across Tasmania / bike across the Alps / swim the Arctic in order to cure the common cold / feed all the hungry in Mexico / build six new churches in St Ignace" project. Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical, but I grow weary of these, since the causes often seem worthy but unconnected with the particular athletic feat proposed. (And I know from experience in Africa what they sometimes produce: fifty different little projects side by side, not talking to each other or to local churches or agencies, kept afloat by a steady stream of checks from the US but having zero overall impact....)But a wonderfully inspiring counterexample swept through Calvin's campus this weekend: the Sea to Sea ride, which has not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for carefully selected agencies (CRC-related and many others) addressing the root causes of poverty and patterns of persistent injustice, but has also brought the riders and support crew to observe and assist some of the most effective church and nonprofit agencies in the cities visited. It's an amazingly well-organized effort. I'm sorry I couldn't arrange my summer obligations in order to ride with them for more than the one-day Saturday trek from Grand Haven to the campus (which was a wonderful experience all the same--new conversations with new people every few miles along the way, fantastic baked goods at the rest stops, etc.)The group rode off into the sunrise this morning, with..........Rich and Carol Rienstra among the third-segment riders who will touch tire to ocean in New Jersey in two weeks. (I believe Carol is the only Calvin staff or faculty member on the ride--but I may have overlooked someone. Seminary retiree Hank Zwaanstra is doing the entire coast-to-coast ride.)I have no official connection with the ride, only personal ties to a number of riders, but I want to invite all my colleagues to take a moment to give thanks for the dream that possessed a few people in the CRCNA and bore fruit in this ride (and the earlier one across Canada); to Carol for all her work to plan the Calvin stop and the uplifting rally yesterday at Fifth Third Park; and to the denomination that supports us. On occasions like this I feel honored and grateful to be a member of the CRCNA."

Another Calvin connection: when we stopped at the Forks in London for a watermelon break, who should say, "Carol? Is it you?" but Hannah Hoogendam who used to work (four years ago already!) in the APR office when she was a student. She loves teaches music at the Christian school in London and attends First CRC. It was so good to see her.

So, in spite of my low energy levels and sore muscles, it was an amazing day of surprises and good connections. We have so many stories, but I want to visit a little longer with Dan and Ida, so if you want to read more related to our experiences, and see some pictures, go to Claire Elgersma's blog.

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