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 😉
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!?
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
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!
Before It Begins
Sister Jean’s Famous Chicken Salad
Preparation and Waiting
Food and Fellowship
Sister Jean with Some of our Teachers at Mike’s Farm Christmas Outing
We love you all very much <3