Category Archives: “Morning Has Broken”

Love Started at Vacation Bible School


My parents had several couples that they were close to over their

years of marriage. I mentioned my godparents in a story of their

having to testify in a court murder trial concerning a boy I knew

growing up. I also have two more stories that would be of interest

when examining life’s crazy foibles and love matters.

This story is about Amelia and Orrin. They met at Vacation Bible

School at age 11. This is special because their lives led away from

each other and then back to each other. I love it when there are no

perfect beginnings or endings; almost as much as stories with the

happily ever after right from the start!

My parents had this couple many times to our house and I reached

out to them when I was 16 while they were sitting in the living room

talking about some of their memories. I asked them, “When did you

meet?” When I found out they met at age 11, I was very happy because

I was still stuck on my most serious (second) crush ever! (I have

recounted my First Crush and Second Crush in posts.) I felt hope lifting

and rising in my chest as I sat enchanted by their love story.

When the two young people met, Amy and Orrin, they were as different

as night from day. Amy wore a long skirt and a ruffled blouse with her

sleeves rolled up. She had knee socks on, that covered the gap between

the skirt and her shoes. She wore plain black worn leather mary jane’s.

Some people may have had shiny black mary jane’s made of patent

leather for church. These were Amy’s only pair of shoes, along with a

pair of tan leather boots she wore with skirts for everyday wear.

Orrin was a tough and tumble boy who had been begged, prodded and

tricked into coming to Bible school by his grandmother. His parents

were having a “rough patch” and he was sent away with his younger

sister for a month. He had raggedy jean shorts that his grandma had

just cut from his pair of jeans this morning and he had a plain white

(at the moment) t-shirt tucked into his pants. His hair was slicked back

and he had a comb in his back pocket. Amy mused out loud during this

recounting the story, “I figure he must have seen an early James Dean

movie and took it from there!” (But James Dean was not yet popular!)

The Vacation Bible School was held at a Methodist campground and

once the kids loaded up at the church, they had a ride for about 20

minutes before arriving there. Amy sat with a friend that she knew from

her church and who also went to her school. She noticed the awkward

boy who did not seem to know anyone to sit with and watched as he

sulkily shuffled down the bus aisle and sat by himself.

Orrin was already regretting this but noticed his sister, Sue, was very

happy and chattering away with her newly found ‘best friend.’ He felt

a little tension ease from his shoulders and his heavy heart. He was

the oldest and felt compelled to worry a lot, especially about how his

parents would be once they went home later that month.

The first day, church volunteer members became teachers and the

bus load of children was divided into age groups so that there were

four groups. Sue was in the next younger group from Amy’s and

Orrin’s youth group.

The beginning of each day there was a big cluster of all the children.

They were asked to hold hands and join together to make the circle.

They would hear a prayer delivered by the minister. The songs were

easy, light church songs. One that Orrin and Amy liked, which they

mentioned to me, was “Morning Has Broken.” I was excited to tell

them that (at the time his name was this), “Cat Stevens sings that

song!” We all laughed at my excitement and rapt attention.

Do you remember family gatherings and someone older, a member of

the family sharing and telling stories of the past? I was a mature 16

year old who often would get these stories rolling, memories opened

and renewed. Maybe I was meant to write these down….

Anyway, as the week progressed, Orrin became the little troublemaker

or “class clown,” especially when the Bible was being passed around.

There was no way they would make him read that book aloud! His

thoughts were, “It is bad enough I have to listen, but would be so much

worse, if I had to try to read it!”

Amy loved to read and she made the words pour out fluidly and beautifully.

When it was her turn, Orrin paid attention and somehow, at age 11, his

heart started to care and melt for a young girl his age.

At the end of Vacation Bible School, a printed list of the children’s names

with their addresses and phone numbers was stapled together and passed

out. The minister said, “I have met some young people in my 25 years of

preaching that wrote as pen pals and stayed in touch. I would encourage

you to think about God, Jesus Christ and your fellow friends that you have

made this week as lifelong parts of a chain reaching from this city to

others as you grow, move and go off to college, possibly, someday.”

Those words sunk into Orrin’s head and he somehow thought about

Amelia at that time, too. Wondering if she had even glanced or

noticed him while he valiantly tried to stay awake at the camp!

On the last bus ride home from camp, Orrin turned to look back at

Amy and gave her a big smile. She had been chattering away with

her friend, only to look up at the toothy smile. Amy did what any girl

in their right mind would do, she smiled back!

There were only three weeks more to stay at his grandparents until

Orrin could go home and ask his mother what she thought of him

writing to Amy. He knew his father could care less and would not

give him good advice. His mother would listen, think, put a wrinkled

brow look on her face and then, agree with him that he should write

his new friend. He just knew that they would be able to communicate

better on paper than they had during the supervised, group setting of

church camp. He would need to use the dictionary or ask for help, but

it was on his mind even as his grandparents drove him the hour’s drive

back home. The house was all closed up, no windows open, but he could

see off on the farm field, his father on his tractor. Since the crops were in,

Orrin surmised he was probably bored and checking how high the corn

was up. His Dad would not be drinking this early in the day… yet.

When they got out of the car, their  grandparents hugged and started to talk

at the same time, “Now if for any reason you want to come back to spend the

rest of the summer with us, just get your mother to call us!” Since their mother

was off working at the dimestore as a clerk, Orrin said, “Now you need to get

back on the road, no need to come in the house.” For some reason, he felt

compelled to tell his only living grandparents that. He wonders why now,

from time to time, remembering how mature he was at that moment.

When Orrin and his sister, Sue, went into their home, it was a house still

in turmoil. A month without the children had not repaired their parents’

marriage nor did it seem to have helped anything at all. The house looked

like a disaster and the children worked together to wash the dishes while

they waited for their mother to come home. They went into their rooms and

unpacked what little they had taken that was all nicely laundered and smelled

of sunshine and light. Granny had hung their clothes on her clothes line.

Sue came into Orrin’s room and sat on his bed. She had been talking in the

car to their grandparents about her friend, Heather. She had written a letter

already mailed from her grandparents’ mailbox. They had put the flag up and

seen it picked up one day while sitting on the porch swing. They were drinking

the truly delicious cold lemonade Granny had made.

This story is going to take a wide curve so brace yourself. I have told stories

with no forewarning to the readers that everything seemed all ‘hunky dory’ and

later, got a little worried about the comments of shock or dismay. (The one about

my summer friend I made at the park, called “An Existential Man,” is an example

that I gave no forewarning about its ending.)

Their parents had a horrible fight after dinner. So, just as quickly as they could,

Sue and Orrin slipped back to their rooms. They were lying in their own beds,

sadly worried. Not too long later, Sue crept into Orrin’s bed and he held her

with a big, warm hug. He could hear her whimpering and tears were getting

his pajama top wet where she lay her head. He had tried to intervene before,

almost 2 months ago. In a similar argument, he had been slapped soundly

across the face by his father, as a result.

When the night got later, their house in the country got very dark. There were

lots of stars in the sky but no moon that night. Sue fell asleep, not too long

after in the quiet of the night, Orrin fell asleep, restless and stirring from time

to time.

Orrin heard a car engine turn over, he heard the car glide down the cement drive

until it turned into a gravel road where the distant sound was a little crackly and

then, silence.

Orrin retold this part with tears in his eyes. He heard a loud resounding shot in

the barn!

Orrin ran to the phone and called the operator, saying in a throaty scared voice,

“I am scared! Can you connect me to the police?” The operator asked his address.

She said, “Honey, don’t worry I will get the sheriff to come out that county road to

check on you and your family. You don’t know if anything has happened, do you?”

Orrin answered, “My Dad just shot his shotgun off, I have been hunting for over 4

years with him and I recognize a shotgun’s sound.”

Orrin made Sue sit on a chair in the living room, he did not really think about it

but handed her the Bible from its shelf. He said, “Read this and try to find the

passages from the Corinthians about love. Find something to get your mind off

of  this. It may still be okay!”

In his running across the back yard and through the wet grass, Orrin felt a cold

shiver spreading across his shoulders. He reached the barn and the eeriest thing

was; it was pitch black! Darn, he would have to find a flashlight or lantern. He

managed to open the doors of the barn, front and back. Still not enough light

to see, he yelled, “DAD!!” Where are you?!”

It seemed like an eternity but moments later, the sirens of both the sheriff’s

and ambulance’s vehicles raised a cacophony of sound waves. The sheriff drove

right up to the barn door with his headlamps blazing into every crevice of the


Orrin’s father was hanging from a beam of the barn and below him, laying dead,

was his faithful hunting hound dog, Pepper.

After the funeral, Orrin, Sue and their mother moved down the street from her

parents’ house. They had found her a nice and neat little bungalow to rent, with

her first six months’ rent paid up from her parents’ savings. They said that once

the life insurance policy money came it would be needed to help catch up with the

bills that had fallen behind. Orrin’s mother became a waitress at a local diner

which was only 2 blocks from Orrin and Sue’s schools. Sue would be in 4th

grade and Orrin would be in 6th grade. Life had taken such a toll on these

young people but there was still a lot of love and caring going on.

Years passed on, Orrin applied for colleges and was thinking about University

of Cincinnati with pursuing science and the school of education.

While in the area of the young girl who he met at Vacation Bible School, he had

never attended church nor another Bible school camp. Despite his Granny trying

her hardest to persuade him to join Sue and her at church. He had felt he “lost

his faith in God.”

His sister had gone but Orrin was sure he was never going to pray again. Nor

would he need prayer since he would be a scientist or an engineer when he grew


Senior year at U. of C. Orrin met my parents. He was the same age as my Dad

who was the “punk” who kept harassing my mother from when he had spied

her across campus, wet red hair and fiery green eyes. Her sister, Amelia, was

studying with my mother to become a teacher. My mother became a Spanish

and English high school teacher. Her sister, Amy,  became a high school Math

teacher. The two men finished their degrees, My Dad became a scientist and

engineer at NASA and my future uncle, Orrin, became a Science teacher to high


Amelia went on a “blind” date with Orrin as a double date with my parents.

You can do the math and put one and one together. Out of the tragic loss of his

father, Orrin grew stronger and more willing to help his mother and grandparents.

He learned to allow his sister, Sue, to bring a little giggling and happiness into his

heart. Orrin ended up being a very fine teacher, father and husband.

Orrin bought and  lived in a nice country home with his wife, Amelia. Their house

was always filled with three girls’ (my cousins) giggles and laughter.

By the way, my mother was older and chose to be one of the counselors at the Methodist

Bible School that year that Amy and Orrin first met.

Their blessed, long lasting marriage started from what they believe, allowing the “root

of Jesus” to take root and grow in their young hearts.

And they lived “happily ever after!”