Victorious Days, Glorious Tomorrows

2016, you were good to us.  The Chicago Cubs weren’t the only ones to hit it out of the park this year.  The Lord answered prayers, blessed us beyond expectations, opened doors that were shut, and He’s still working.  Now it’s up to us to keep this good thing going.

B. Robert Wadleigh and I are tag-teaming to wrap up the last post of 2016, so step off the treadmill and put down the new resolutions.  And that piece of leftover holiday candy 😉

Worth Celebrating

The end of last year gave us opportunities to expand our service and love beyond our family at The Church at Onslow.  Thanksgiving and Open House are traditions we look forward to sharing, and Elder gave both events this year two thumbs up!  Warm remembrances of meeting new friends in the community and fellowshipping with families were the greatest gifts.

We ended last year on a high note with everyone’s favorite:  Elder and Sister Jean’s Open House.  They host it every year for our congregations and visitors.  Sister Jean attends to each detail making sure the scene is set, no one leaves hungry, and every person gets to select a special gift.  Elder makes sure it all comes together and that no one leaves without some fun.  Can you say candy canes and silly string!?

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Ahhhh, The Memories

B. Bobby’s taking us on a stroll down memory lane looking back at special times since the first Open House.  At 45 years old (hey, he’s the who one tells it), he describes his first visits to Open House with the kind of anticipation only seen through the eyes of a child.

After his story, enjoy more Open House photos including Sister Jean making her famous secret-recipe chicken salad with her culinary assistants.  Plus a surprise that has to do with some teachers at Mike’s Farm.  Scratch that whole surprise part.

-S. Lisa LaFleur Meinhardt

Open Heart

Those who have spent any time here on the Bridge may know that we have some customs that have endured and have helped us to become a family.  You may recall our coverage of the 2016 Onslow Christian Academy graduation and OCA’s production of “Pilgrim”.

Today we are going to give you a peek at another of our customs.  Let’s talk about Elder LaFleur and Sister Jean’s Open House.

You may have noticed that I called it Elder and Sister Jean’s Open House.  That’s because this custom originated with their desire to welcome the saints into their home and share the season with God’s people in a very special way.

For me, Open House has always been special.

Back in the early 1980’s (yes, I am that old), I lived within walking distance of Elder LaFleur’s house.  I remember being glad that I lived close by for a couple of reasons.  I didn’t have to wait for Mom and Dad to take me; I could walk there, and since we walked we didn’t have to worry about parking.  Of course I didn’t drive, so I’m not sure why that mattered to me. Hmmm.

Back then, open house was set up to be float-in-float-out gathering in which we ate, talked, and laughed, but, from my recollection, most of us came and stayed.  We would come, eat, and eat some more.  There would be, what seemed to me as a child, hundreds of people there.  You could barely move, but we all stayed because we knew it was almost that time.

What time, you ask?

Well, as far as I know, it really wasn’t a particular time on the clock; it was whenever Elder LaFleur and Sister Jean opened their presents.  They opened them in front of their fireplace and made each person feel special for whatever they gave, but that wasn’t really important to me (remember, I was a kid).  What was important to me was the way the Elder acted for us.  The children would gather around him, he would show off his presents, and he would throw the bows and wrapping paper at us.  We would clamor to collect them and we were always happy to have a pile of bows on the floor in front of us at the end of the night.

It was just a festive time.  As I share this with you it may not seem like much, but if you were there, if you were on the floor in front of him, you understand what I am talking about.

As time went on Open House became more than Elder LaFleur’s home could hold and the customary passage of the season moved to the church.  Efforts were made to continue to the homey feel of the event and it remained as it was, but we had more room to enjoy each other and we didn’t have to leave.

Today, the annual event continues.  There is still more food than we can eat.  The Elder, now armed with “Silly String”, still entertains the kids.

When “the time” comes, the children still gather around and wait.  Once the Elder starts, the room becomes quite loud.

Even at forty-five years old, that is always the highlight of the night.

As I reflect on this custom, I see the wisdom of this tradition, both when it began and now.  It allows the Elder and Sister Jean to share their blessings with us.  It allows us to show them our appreciation for their hard work over the years.  It gives us an opportunity to share in each others lives.  It has helped us to become more of a family.

Open house has also helped me see the care Elder LaFleur and Sister Jean have for God’s people and these efforts have helped me understand how to treat my brothers and sisters.

While these lessons could be taught in a church service, seeing God’s love in the interaction of a people has had a profound effect on my life.

-B. Robert Wadleigh

Children Gathering ‘Round for the Last Hurrah of the Evening!

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Before It Begins

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Sister Jean’s Famous Chicken Salad

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Preparation and Waiting

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Gift Tables
Food and Fellowship

Sister Jean with Some of our Teachers at Mike’s Farm Christmas Outing

We love you all very much ❤

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10 thoughts on “WE HAD JOY, WE HAD FUN

  1. I love recalling the memories of Open House from a child’s perspective! This church has been the best place to raise a family for so many reasons and the wonderful tradition Elder and Sister Jean started over 30 years ago is one of them. There is nothing like Fellowship, Food and Fun to strengthen family bonds of love. Thanks for another great post!

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  2. This brings back some of the earliest memories I have of our Family here at the Church at Onslow, and all of them are pleasant. Though I’m not quite as old as B. Bobby 😜, I’m not too far behind. With my youngest child still interacting with the other children, I found myself grinning from ear to ear watching them and reminiscing of the years when I was doing the same thing and feeling the same excitement and joy as all of them.
    Thank you to Elder and S. Jean for all of those special occasions, as well as all the love and care you’ve not only taught, but shown for as far back as I can remember.
    We are WINNERS!!

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  3. Many wonderful memories come to mind as I read Bobby’s post. Elder LaFleur always made us kids feel special and we always looked forward to Open House. I was telling someone the other day how he used to let two of us kids dangle from his arms, one on each side. Lol! He and sister Jean both have always made all people feel loved and welcome. Well, I’m not a kid anymore at 42 and I can’t dangle from Elder’s arms, but I still love those times He spent with me. It’s been a wonderful life to be part of the family of God. We have some wonderful, loving and caring people. I am blessed beyond measure!

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  4. Reading Brother Bobby’s recollection of Open House as a child brings me right back to that moment. I found tears welled in my eyes and my face damp after reading it through! I remember the excitement I felt at going to help Sister Jean at her house early in the day and how that feeling just escalated through the evening until late that night. Elder and Sister Jean just knew how to make each person, especially each child (my perspective as I’m sure many will agree) feel important. As Brother Bobby said, if you were sitting on the floor of the den at Open House back in those days, you were likely filled with joy at having bows and maybe a candy cane at the end of the night. After growing up and venturing away into the military (missed too much time here!), I brought my children to the Open House here at the church as we now have it. I think it was in the gym at that time. My little girl was sitting with all the kids catching bows, singing, and being silly with the Elder, and I cried…happy, joyful tears! I realized in that moment how absolute my desire was for her (and my son) to have what I had as a child. There aren’t proper words really, but the Elder and Sister Jean, the spirit they exemplify, faith and teaching of the Word, the people…this is what I remember, what I hold dear…then and now. I have to agree that these experiences are so valuable to our growth as individuals as well as a group, and I am thankful for them and for Elder and Sister Jean!

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  5. So exciting to see the photos from Open House! I’ve enjoyed this tradition for years myself, and it’s always been inspiring and uplifting. That night my four year old wasn’t feeling well and we had to leave early. She was so disappointed she didn’t get to stay for the opening of presents and the children gathered around Elder’s feet. She is just now getting old enough to enjoy and remember the fun, and cried when we put her to bed because she left before the fun began. I’m so glad I have this church to raise my family in and a ministry to guide us along the way. Thank you Elder and Sister Jean for all you do to make the night a blessing for us all!

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  6. I got a chance to be a part of one of the last Open House in Elder and Sis. Jean’s home. I can remember Elder making everyone laugh, and seeing the joy in the young kids as He tossed bows and wrapping paper in their direction. I can remember how Sis Jean welcomed everyone in with all the love she has in her heart for God’s people! I got to witness the Love of the Body Of Christ, in seeing all the hard work that was put into this yearly event that we all look forward to being a part of. (Of course, I especially look forward to all the great food and desserts too, S. Sandy), and each year I’ve always appreciated the gift from Elder and Sis Jean! Thank you! And thanks for making each year more memorable! 🙂

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  7. I have been privileged to be able to attend many Open Houses over the years. They have grown immensely and are a lot of fun for all. The Elder and S. Jean have always enjoyed giving us this event. This was the first year that I have been able to bring our granddaughters to Open House and they really enjoyed it.
    I am looking forward to 2017. I know it will be a fantastic year. 2016 was great and the Lord really blessed. I am thankful for my church family and the fellowship of the people of God.

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  8. When you think about open house, you can’t help but think of all the love and unspeakable emotions you feel. This year was probably the best for me because it was a time of reflection and appreciation for a man and woman of God that truly have built people into the Lord and have a fervent love for one another. I was thankful because we’re together laughing, growing and expecting. Open house means open heart to me. Thank you Elder and Sis. Jean for opening your heart to me and my family and engrafting me into your family. You’ve made this home.

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  9. Open House has always been an exciting time for me. It’s time to enjoy each other in many ways. I love helping prepare surrounded by the loving family of God. We have been taught by Elder & S. Jean how to love one another and work together in unity. And that contagious spirit is there when we fellowship with one another the night of Open House, each person uplifting and enjoying one another. We are very blessed.

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  10. Reading the articles about our Thanksgiving meal and the open house fellowship just remind me of the love and joy we have, first for God and then for each other. These events are just ways that are a little less formal to express both. We have been taught these biblical principles for as long as I can remember. It brought to mind something one of our members told me “when I first came as young Marine I couldn’t believe the love and said these people have to be phoney, I’ll stick around until I find out that they’re not real. That was well over 20 years ago and I’m still here.” If you are searching for that love you read about in the Bible come and experience it first hand.
    I appreciate all the contributors to the bridge and your abilities to convey that love and joy through your articles. Keep up the good work. Oh yeah, I know that dessert bandit and you nailed her.
    I may be in trouble for that last comment. Please keep me in prayer. 😂

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