To Michigan and Back – Guest Blog by Sherrie Wolthuis

This post is part of journeya series called Journeys. It is a continuation of the story posted by Sherrie Wolters titled 1214 S. Kedzie St.   A journey can be an  actual trip or it can be a pathway to spiritual or emotional growth.It can be a life-story passed down to children or grandchildren. A journey can detail the change of a relationship, the sharing or ending of a marriage, the details of a career, the recognition of a calling. It can describe the faithfulness of God’s work in a life or the dark night of a soul in that same life. It can even describe our paradigm shifts, the changes in thinking and the unlearning we go we have to do throughout our lives. Several guest bloggers will be featured in this series. Join us as we share the journeys of our hearts.

While I was living and working in Chicago during the summer of 1964, I was continually confronted with the incredible disparity between the lives of my new friends and my life “back home” in Michigan.  The children especially touched my heart.  I began to imagine them swimming, learning to water ski, riding a bike, playing games on a large green lawn, and so many other “fun” activities possible during a Michigan summer.  Although these children lived in an area called Lawndale, there really were no lawns or parks or places to swim.  Most of them had nothing to do all day except watch TV in a sweltering house.

I wondered if my dream could become a reality. Might it be possible for some of the children to come to Michigan for a week or two and stay with families who could give them a real vacation? Almost as soon as I thought of this plan, I became aware of several potential “problems” or challenges.  If only a few children were selected to go, how would the others feel? How would I find families willing to take the children?  What about the transportation? Was it even wise to expose them to what they were missing and then return them to their bleak surroundings?  At least now, they probably didn’t know about the way others were able to live life.

This last question actually became the largest potential obstacle to my plan. My own parents were willing to take some children but did question the wisdom of doing so.  After several discussions about the logistics, I found three families who were willing to take the children.  I was most concerned about the children who would be staying with a family in a very small, conservative town. I knew that they would be the only black people in that whole town.

With God, all things are possible.  Eight children were able to travel to Michigan and enjoy a fun-filled, week-long vacation. It was the first time most of theblack children-playingm had been out of the Chicago area. The families loved these dear children and were able to introduce them to their friends and neighbors and people at church.  Since my parents hosted three of the children, I was able to spend time with them and introduce them to some favorite people, places, and activities. They, in turn, were great ambassadors for the diversity that God designed and expects in His kingdom.

Yes, bringing them back to their homes again was difficult, but the overall experience was such a blessing that we repeated it again the next summer and were able to include some of the children who had not been able to have that experience the first year.  I’d like to think that, as is often the case, what the children received from the experience may not have been as important as what the hosting families gained.  It was, after all, the 1960’s.

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