Notes from Jan

Once Upon a Time

June 27, 2022

Yesterday Maggie and Poco took up residence at Camp Something-or-Other. The name’s escaped me. The day before I watched Maggie meticulously choose, fold and pack for camp. Poco probably shoved hers in a backpack, last minute, and hoped for the best. She’ll probably be camper of the week.

As for me, while Maggie packed, I unpacked a memory. I went to camp once upon a time. We were living in DeKalb, Illinois and like my Grand’s camp, I don’t recall the name. But what marked me wasn’t the place. It was the gift.

As a preacher’s kid, money fell into one pot marked: Essentials. Camp didn’t meet the criteria, at least, outwardly. God only knows, sometimes, what someone really needs. But I was friends with Nancy and Ruthie, the two adopted daughters of Amanda and Rasmus. And during the time Daddy pastored that small Baptist Church, it felt like Amanda and Rasmus adopted me, too. Nancy and I were the same age. I loved going to their farm, sitting under Sycamore trees, having “tea” parties, sipping fresh cherry juice, nibbling frosted graham crackers, when homemade cookies weren’t available.

Rasmus, ruddy-faced Norwegian, never said much. Neither did Amanda. They just quietly went about doing good. On Wednesday or Sunday evenings when we had testimony time, Rasmus never spoke up, that I can remember. But he stood out. Like the times he just stood, looking down, hunting words. After awhile, he’d look up, wipe his eyes, then sit down. He stood for something. Words didn’t matter. He lived grateful.

And generous. Which is how I came to go to camp. It was my last summer before we moved to Georgia. I was nine. Like I said, it wasn’t the camp I remember but that somebody thought I was worth the cost. It represented such lavish love to me, and for me.

The best testimonies aren’t always how we say something. It happened for me once upon a time, at a no-name camp. Since then, I learned Rasmus, a common name in Norway, is a form of Erasmus, which means “beloved.” And 73 years ago, without a word, a Norwegian farmer’s kndness marked me as beloved.

Still does.

Tusen Takk, Rasmus. (A thousand thank-yous in Norwegian.)

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20 Comments

  • Reply Sharon Wolgemuth June 27, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    Love this story Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you, Sharon. One of the gifts of memory and this season, less filled with duties, is time to reflect on people who helped
      you become who you are. Most never knew. Someday they will.

  • Reply Radina Welton June 28, 2022 at 7:07 am

    Just a short comment as I am desperately unloading, unpacking, and packing for Oregon and new adventures. Your story is sweet, characters like the people I used to know as a child, loving, generous, not quick with words, but free to quickly tear up in expressing their feelings. Still waters run deep.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 12:41 pm

      Your story, like mine, dear Radina, connects to immigrants. We owe so much to humble, hardworking folks who risked leaving the familiar to give “a begtter life” to others through their leap of faith. Your family must be ecstatic your’re heading west. Moves are never without risk but there comes a time to take the leap and discover a familiar net caught you. Hope you’ll keep in touch. Hug those Petrocellis for me, please.

  • Reply Nancy Buffalini June 28, 2022 at 9:01 am

    I got goosebumps at the end! Beautiful story.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      Me, too, dear Nancy. Writing helped me relive it all over again. Perhaps it nudged you, as it did me, to be a Rasmus to someone who
      could use a week at camp or some way to let them know they are “beloved.”

      • Reply Nancy Buffalini June 28, 2022 at 8:45 pm

        I am looking for a way to make someone feel blessed. I’m sure God will show me. Karen Langlais shared your blog with me. I met her at Venice Presbyterian here in Florida. Keep writing!

        • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2022 at 12:19 pm

          How encouraging to read this, Nancy. Please thank Karen, for sharikng the blog with you. Happy hunting someone to bless.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate June 28, 2022 at 10:35 am

    What a marvelous story, Jan, and great questions for us all to ponder…when has someone made us feel beloved…and when have we done the same for someone else?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 12:56 pm

      Yes, dear Shirley, it raised questions for me, too. Well, I’m confident that as a teacher and in other roles you were tapped to play, you’ve been a Rasmus to many. While your Aunt Fonnie was such an encourager to you and your children, I’m sure you also made her feel “beloved” as she was to so many during her years as Registrar at Gordon College.

  • Reply Irv June 28, 2022 at 11:26 am

    This story was wonderful and brought tears to my eyes

    Tusen Takk, Jan

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      You’re so welcome, dear Irv. You and Kathy are beloved and have touched others with that same kindness. Keep at it. We need your good hearts, minds and hospitable and green ways.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood June 28, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    What a precious memory. They just quietly did good things for others. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2022 at 1:03 pm

      Some need applause, recognition, buildings named after them but often the ones who touch us most go unnoticed. They just “quietly go about doing good.” You may be one of those, dear Toni.

  • Reply Wendy June 29, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Oh I just want to give Rasmus a great big hug!!! What a beautiful story. Did I ever tell you my Mom was an immigrant? From Russia (what is now part of Ukraine). After she and Daddy got married, her life changed dramatically financially – even with 7 children. She was constantly giving things away, making people meals, and helping others. I have to admit, I didn’t always appreciate that growing up, but I am forever thankful now. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      There’s much we forget or fail to appreciate when we’re younger. That is part of why growing older can be such a gift. Thank you for sharing your story, Wendy. It’s apt to prompt others to look back and remember with gratitude and then extend a hand to the next generation. You and Steve are good at that.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood June 29, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Jan,
    I believe God gives us daily opportunities to be an encouragement to others on this journey. I want to recognize a college professor that was an instructor at Lee College. His name was Dr. Martin Baldree. I had several classes under him. A wise teacher makes learning a joy and he did. As students, we had church services six times a week and prayer when each class started. Dr. Baldree entered the room and to set our hearts on God he sang a little chorus. That chorus has been a guide for me. He never knew the profound influence he had on me and many others.
    “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow,
    My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow.
    Strength for today is thine own way, and all that I need for tomorrow,
    My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow.”
    When many times I wasn’t sure what road to take it has been such comfort that He knows the way and all I have to do is follow.
    Thanks for bringing this happy memory to my mind this week.
    Toni

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 30, 2022 at 1:50 pm

      What a special musical memory, dear Toni. I sang that song to my Mama in the weeks before she died, when life sometimes looked like a confusing wilderness. And speaking of music, that’s one of the hallmarks of Lee University. Jud and I had a warm connection to Lee through our friends, Dr. Paul and Darlia Conn. Paul’s no longer President at Lee but he and Darlia continue to be my friends. And I’m confident their legacy lives on, as does their commitment to mark those they connect with as “beloved.”

  • Reply dale June 29, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    God knows it’s our long-term memory that matters. Hopefully, there is someone, somewhere, discussing what Dale (cannot remember his last name) did for them.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 30, 2022 at 1:57 pm

      Well, you and Marty, can count me and Jud as two you marked as “beloved” over the years. I don’t even have to “tink” long to know so many have been blessed by you through your involvement with Young Life, Community Bible Study, mission work in Poland, BioLogos and so much more. Tusen Takk, my beloved friends, Dale and Marty.

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