Our church body, the Evengelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), has a meeting each June in Mankato, on the campus of Bethany Lutheran College. The pastors of every congregation, plus two delegates, are the official attendees, but others can attend and listen to the papers and the business discussion.
It's a time of reunion. Many people bring their families. There is also a music camp and art camp that week on the BLC campus, so older kids often attend one of those.
We haven't attended for years. For a variety of reasons, but the one that's easiest to explain is that it's hard for Joe, with his Gluten Free diet, to stay in a hotel and eat restaurant or cafeteria food for a week. The first year he was GF, he did attend, and camped in our little trailer and grilled on a little grill right in the parking lot. That worked well.
But that was many years ago now. Many things have changed.
Joe is planning to attend again this summer.
The kids and I will not be joining him.
But thinking about convention, and hearing other friends on fb talk of it, reminded me of this fun story of the the last time all of us went. At least it's fun now. At the time, spending the week camping in 90+ degree heat and humidity, being six months pregnant, chasing after six small children... well, it was more frustrating than fun.
But like many things in life, it makes a good story years later.
The last time we all went, I was expecting John in September. So Sophie would have been 1 1/2; Clara 3; Elsie 5; Louisa 7; Matt 8; and Jeremy 10. We camped at the Land of Memories campground. It was extremely hot and humid, which it always seems to be during convention.
The kids and I bummed around in the park during the days. I had two umbrella strollers, which helped to contain the littlest ones. We took walks and explored. We also had an enforced quiet time in the afternoons with books and quiet activities planned. We spent a day at the playground at Sibley Park with several other young moms and kids who we had known when Joe taught at Bethany.
By by Wednesday, I was pretty fried. Kids were naughty and whiney. Joe was frustrated, between trying to help me with kids and also spend time relaxing with his friends, plus the stress of whatever was going on at convention that year.
We decided to go out for supper that night to get a little air conditioning. This was before GF days, so we could still do that more easily than now. We went to the Wagon Wheel. If I remember right we were pleasantly surprised by the quality/quantity vs price for feeding a family such as ours.
After a supper of trying to keep the passel of little ones in line, in a public place, we sent the four oldest into the restroom to wash up. Jeremy and Matt to the mens' room. Louisa and Elsie into the womens'. After a while, we realized that Matt and Jeremy had not returned in an acceptable amount of time. Joe went in to check on them, to see what was going on.
They were playing.
With the soap.
I don't remember for sure if it was a foaming soap, or if they had simply foamed up the regular soap.
At any rate there was a sinkful of foam. A sinkful! Bubbling out to other surfaces. On floors and walls and mirrors.
Joe sent them out to me. And he cleaned up their mess.
After which we went immediately back to the campground, in a heat of anger and frustration.
And we packed up to leave. We left Mankato at about 8:00 pm and drove home that night. Joe just skipped the last day of the convention.
I remember that the Northern Lights were phenomenal that night. Really. I've never seen anything like them since.
I also remember that I had to wake Joe up after Akeley. I missed the corner heading north. In my inexperience of puling a trailer, I didn't slow down quite enough, soon enough to make the corner. I came to a stop a few yards past the intersection.
"No problem. I can just back up that little ways and then head north. There's no traffic out here at this time of night," thought I to myself. "Besides, I used to drive tractors with trailers on Steve and Collete's dairy farm. How different could this be?" I figured I could handle it without waking Joe.
Yes, well, such was not the case. In my attempt to back up those few yards, I nearly jackknifed the trailer. So I did have to wake up Joe so he could fix the problem in his fog of sleep.
I don't think that really helped his mood.
We made it home and all was well.
But did I mention that we've not been to convention as a family since then.