Monday, August 06, 2007

Family Reunion Fun

It's always a fun time when the Roelofs family gets together. Before I was even born, my father's parents started a tradition of taking the whole family "Up North" for a week in the summer. (That means northern Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, for all of you non-midwesterners.) At first the group just consisted of Grandpa and Grandma Roelofs, my dad and mom (no kids yet), my aunt Judy and her husband (also no kids yet), and my Uncle John, who I believe was not even married when the tradition began. The destination was always the same: Melahn's resort on beautiful Lake George, about 30 minutes outside Park Rapids, Minnesota. They stayed in cabins and fished, swam in the lake, played sand volleyball and horseshoes (Grandpa's favorite), went for boat rides and walked in the woods, looking for deer and the occasional patch of wild berries.

As the years passed, the families grew. New babies were celebrated over, hard times were prayed over, and everyone got caught up on each others' news since Judy's family was in Missouri and John's family lived in Memphis, Tennessee. Grandma kept everybody well fed and stocked with chex mix and chocolate chip cookies, Grandpa and the guys went fishing so we could have a fish fry, and everybody tried to avoid the mosquitos. Some years it would be chilly, even in late July, so we always packed sweatshirts. I can remember times where it barely got warm enough to get our bathing suits on! But no matter, then we just lit an enormous fire in the fireplace and made S'mores.

After more than 30 years, the tradition became more difficult to maintain. Our families had grown so large, with most of the cousins married and having children, that it was difficult to find space for everyone. The resort owner sold off the cabins, and though he assured us we could still come back, we would have to negotiate that with the new owners, a difficult proposition at best. As well, more and more people in general wanted to vacation up north, so the prices for the cabins became a bit prohibitive. So though the family tried for a few years to find other resorts that were comparable, it wasn't the same as "Lake George."

This last week, however, we had a taste--just a taste--of Lake George again. My mom organized a gathering at a nearby college for a long weekend so that everybody could spend a little time together again. It actually worked quite well--we slept in dorm rooms, hung out in the end lounges (a nice large one which was recently decorated to look like a lodge), and went out for our meals. We celebrated my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, we had a wonderful worship service together with some great singing, and we were blessed to catch up with family whom we haven't seen in four years, especially introducing our daughters to them! There were more than 40 people at our first meal together! It was quite the crew!

Here's a few highlights from the time together:
Seeing my sister-in-law Tammy again was a huge highlight. After my brother Dan died, she and the boys continued living in their home in Minnesota until a wonderful thing happened: she married a great guy named Scott. They then followed the Lord to Washington State, where they are now living and ministering. We are so thankful that they could come to the reunion since John and I couldn't make it out to Washington while were were back in the States. Here's Tammy with my nephew Reid at--where else?--the Pizza Ranch. These two adorable girls are my brother Mark's children, Marin (the redhead) and Annika (the blonde). Marin was only 3 months old when we left for Asia. What fun to see Clara Anne claim them as her friends and for them to play together! Here they're enjoying breakfast at my parents' house.Though there wasn't a lake to swim in, directly across the street from the campus was a fabulous indoor-outdoor pool with water slides, all sorts of fun splash equipment, and fountains galore. Here Marin, Annika, and Chloe are enjoying the water as Mark and Beth look on.
And here I am with the woman who started it all--my Grandma Roelofs. She is 84 now, and still in fairly good health. Along with our whole family, I am thankful for her godly influence in our lives. Though she misses Grandpa terribly (he went to be with the Lord in 1999), she continues on praying for all of us. She now has 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, who call her "Grandma Great." She lives up to her name! This last week was a precious time and makes me so thankful for the legacy of faith in my family. "I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth." Psalm 89:1.

2 comments:

Sandra said...

This post made me miss home & I don't know why because we don't have any kind of "Lake George" tradition. You write so well!

Monty and Germaine said...

Rachel,

What a beautiful family and beautiful blog! Oh how much I miss you!!!! When are you coming "home"? Your time in the states has inspired me to really make the most of mine next year. To truly seek out opportunities with family and friends even if they seem too busy:). You are such a blessing.

Germaine