This post was written on 26th of October 2014.
It’s been three weeks since I camped in Monte and Sharon’s house in Genesee, Idaho. Here is where I got to experience the US institutions: elementary school, day care for kindergarten children, church, library, university, doctor’s office and I even participated in a training for the US elections.
While travelling with my friend Bridget around the south west national parks and on the Californian coast, I got used to wearing the same clothes for days in a row, brushing teeth in gas station toilets and bathing in lakes and the Pacific. At night, we would stop at friends’ places and if we didn’t have another option, we would lie in the back of the van. Bridget would fall asleep immediately after she lay down, but I would try to read myself to sleep and get over my paranoia of something bad happening whenever I heard a noise. Most of my scenarios involved wild animals, drug cartels or armed thieves.
In Genesee, my rhythm changed. I had a daily schedule again, regular meals, and slept in my own room. No more strange noises. It took me a few days to get used to it. I was agitated, I wanted to do something, go somewhere, be on the road, see something exciting. For a while I was making adventurous plans about going to Alaska. I wanted to be out there in the wilderness, enduring the cold and keeping an eye for bear tracks and eagles. But I got my Alaskan experience last weekend in Montana: I hiked for five kilometres through snow, wind and drizzle.
And then I started to relax. I started reading more and really got into the small town life. Meeting the local people, going for workouts with the silver-haired ladies at the senior community center, walking, cycling and most of all exchanging travel stories. I even went horseriding and target shooting, both of which are recorded in my journal and will be part of some future articles.
Today I went to the local Lutheran church with Connie – the community librarian, and her husband Stan. Connie was really friendly from the first time we met and we’re both quite chatty so we talked continuously. Stan is more quiet but friendly too, and he told me the story of how his Polish parents met: his Mum was in the bus, her brother seated next to her. His Dad got on the bus, saw Stan’s Mum and told her brother to move so he can sit next to her. “And the rest is history”, he ended.
The service at the Lutheran church was very different from the one I’m used to. The christian orthodox Sunday service is quite sober and lasts for about three hours. It involves deep chanting and burning incense and people usually stand or kneel. The Lutheran service lasted for about an hour, we had cozy seats from which we raised now and then for songs and the overall atmosphere was very joyful. At the beginning of the service we all received flyers with the schedule and the Bible readings which followed.
One of the most interesting moments was the “Children’s Time”. After announcing it, the pastor sat down on the steps of the altar and all kids from the church came to join him along with a lady from the community. One of the kids brought a box with a ceramic kitten in it. The pastor took it in his hands: “A cat? I love cats!” The boy explained he made it at an art & crafts workshop.
Then the pastor went on saying said how there are cat people and dog people. Dog people like dogs because they’re friendly and come when you call them and stay on a leash when you take them out for walks. Cats are different — they’re more quiet and not always friendly. But they too can be really affectionate if you take care of them.
The pastor then spoke to the children about how people are like dogs and cats. Some people are very open and will connect with you instantly and some people are more quiet and take longer to get to know. And it’s important to give our time to cat people and listen to them patiently as they might become our friends too.
I loved how he was able to communicate with the children. Connie later told me that ‘Children’s Time’ happens every week at the Genesee church but it’s not something that all Lutheran churches do. The pastor gives the box to a child who will choose an object to put in the box and bring it at the church for the next service.
The pastor continued with his sermon while moving up and down and left and right in front of the altar. He was bubbly and his bright energy was expanding in the whole church. He was saying how sin is whatever takes away a person’s freedom. How heritage and righteousness and all our good ideas that we hold onto can be bad if they make us oblivious to changes in the world and to what other people say. He also said how important it is to listen to people in order to get to know them and find out how they want to be loved. And how all people make mistakes and it’s important to recognise those mistakes and also to love the people who do us wrong. “If your child would do something bad, you still love them.” That’s what my Jewish friend Seth said too in his article about relationships.
I spent the rest of the day with Connie and her amazing family. They told me I’m an “old soul”, which I haven’t heard before and I asked them what it means. “It means you’ve always been quite mature and you feel good in your skin”.
Connie’s family live a gluten and sugar free life and they look slim and beautiful. They have four daughters and their youngest one, Anna, is the only one who still stays with them. She’s in highschool, studies piano on her own and she knows lots about grains as her summer job was at the grain storage elevators. Did you know that pasta and bread are made from different types of wheat?
Anna is also a huge fan of Taylor Swift and she enjoyed her concert so much that she cried. She said Taylor Swift wasn’t always a pop star and she used to write and perform country music. I’ll leave you with Anna’s all time Taylor Swift favorite: