Cross of Christ Lutheran Church - Welch, Minnesota -
Ministry Notes                                 February 2019

Happy New Year!
We don’t know what we don’t know...  That’s always a reminder to me that it’s better to be humble, than to be judgmental.
When I was growing up the Fourth of July was an important holiday for my Dad’s family.  My Grandma Portinga got together with her sisters and brothers.  There were eight siblings in that family, four sisters and four brothers.  All born of Dutch immigrants, and grew up in Raymond, Minnesota.  They were the Knott family and very close to one another. 
My dad had a lot of cousins.  And when he was growing up they got together every Sunday afternoon.  I think my dad’s cousins were some of his closest friends.  So, getting together on the Fourth of July was always a huge family reunion.  Most of the time we got together at Art and Hazel’s dairy farm just north of Green Lake.  We’d watch the fireworks from Spicer. 
I admit I didn’t like to go.  When I was teenager, it was painful to go to those family reunions.  These were people I barely knew.  Kids of my generation were all second cousins and many of them seemed to know each other, my brothers and I often huddled together. And not only that, my Grandma would take great pride in showing us off, “Look how tall he’s getting.”  It was awkward...  
I really didn’t want to hang out with those people, and I was very judgmental about it.  I couldn’t understand why it was so important for these people to get together!  The last couple of years when I was in High School I begged and pleaded with my parents not to go.  All my friends were going to parties and doing all those things teenagers did... 
And in truth, I don’t think I’ve been to that family reunion since high school.  And astonishingly, they still get together!  My Dad is 88 and he’s losing many of his cousins.  His cousin, Don passed away recently.  Don was a friend.  He lived his entire life in Raymond, across the street where the original family lived.
This past week I read a book called, Alamo Doughboy, by Jennifer Rude Klett.  She’s one of those second cousins of mine...  It’s the story of her Grandfather, Judge Knott, my Grandmother’s brother.  I remember Judge; he was tall with curly red hair and always the life of the party.  He was one person at the family reunions I liked.  Always quick with a joke, he seemed to know how awkward those reunions were and made it his mission to make us feel welcome.
Well, lo and behold, Judge and two of his brothers, Ten and Bill were in the infantry in World War one.  Fighting in France, in trenches so close to the Germans they could hear them breathe!  The three brothers often fought side by side but never knew it until after the war.  They went “over the top” several times running towards the enemy amidst heavy machine gun fire.  They were part of the 90 Division from Texas that saw some of the fiercest fighting.
Judge was there when the fighting stopped.  German soldiers came up to them and offered hay to sleep on-- to get out of the wet mud.
All three brothers returned home alive and all within a month of each other in June of 1919.  Can you imagine the celebration of that family?  And of course, that next Fourth of July was the first Knott family reunion, that’s still going on today, one hundred years later...
We don’t know what we don’t know...  And now that I do, I feel pretty foolish about my attitude about that family reunion-- another reminder that it’s better to be humble, than to be judgmental.  Maybe I should go this year.
Blessings my friends,
Deacon Todd Portinga

Church Phone: 651-388-3464 
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