Thursday, April 07, 2011

Oklahoma Winds

The wind blew the whole time I was in Oklahoma.

By "blew" I mean, every flag straight out from the pole, the car changing lanes on Interstate 40 if I tried to read a text from home, my flared skirt blowing lots of regions it had never been before while I tried to buy gas in Weatherford.

Thank goodness I wore a slip.

"This is a normal landing for Oklahoma City," said the guy beside me on the plane as we jerked and rocked downward and I felt as queasy as I've ever felt on a big plane. He was nonchalant about the landing, and about everything else in life, I gathered. I chose that seat because the plane was almost full and because he was holding a baby and had a little boy beside him. As I was getting settled he started talking to the lady behind me who was also holding a baby.

Twins! And they couldn't sit in the same row because there aren't enough oxygen masks. So I sat there and held the baby a bit and rummaged in his blue backpack for the cheerios that he couldn't reach.

The calm and smiling dad told me they had had trouble conceiving and the first child was the result of a "scientific experiment" in which they had been told they would almost certainly have multiple babies. But they had only one, and figured finances and biological limitations meant they were done. And two years later Mrs. was unexpectedly pregnant. With identical twins.

"You can be anyone you want on a plane," said Lisa, my brother's wife's nephew's sweet wife who reads Life in the Shoe (Hi Lisa!). "I could be a doctor or anything I want on a plane. People always tell you these wild stories of what they do and I don't believe half of what they say."

Maybe like the guy who told me one time how he won and lost a quarter-million dollars.

But not like the young dad. He had evidence for his stories crawling all over his lap.

The sun shone and the wind blew as I left OKC and headed east toward Prague. . . pronounced like it rhymes with "plague," but evidently named for the original because they have a kolache festival coming up.

I had expected vast wheat fields but instead saw lots of rolling land with scruffy brush and trees, all in a rather bleak brown with a slight tinge of green and the occasional surprising purple-flowered tree. Redbud, someone told me. The state tree.

Years ago Paul was on the missions committee so we would visit the mission in Mexico near the Jagueyes (or something) colony, a big bunch of Mennonites whose history divided from ours centuries ago, winding through Russia and Canada and Low German, as opposed to our Alsace and Ohio and Pennsylvania Dutch.

A bunch of these Mennonites came to Oklahoma in the last 30-ish years, and an offshoot of this group, now affiliated with Bible Mennonite Alliance, asked me to come speak for their annual Ladies' Day.

So I drove to Prague and then the back ways to Edwin and Irma Loewen's house, but first I went too far, and the road dipped down and went right through a little creek, then I found the right house, where I had a tour of their parakeet business--thousands of birds in re-configured semi trailers--and slept in the bedroom of the pretty, feminine teenage daughter who had a camo-and-pink hat on the wall and also a hunting rifle.

Saturday was spent at the "Ladies' Day" at the church which drew a hundred ladies from Oklahoma and Kansas, from Beachy Amish to Charity to varieties I can't remember. I recognized my childhood friend Joyce whom I hadn't seen in about 35 years, and saw old friends of Mom's, and people I had known only online.

It was a wonderful audience who listened well, especially Jewel who sat in the front row and whose laughter at my stories was like a B-12 shot of courage. I spoke four times which normally kills my voice but this time it stayed strong. Then the ladies had a chance to tell their own stories during the testimony time, from Margaret who didn't get flowers for her anniversary after all, but then she got a van instead, to little "Amanda" who had to grow up way too fast when she had a baby at 13.

I stayed at Erna Dueck's house that evening, and after supper she and I took a long rambling walk out in the pasture and the summery air, down cow paths and across the creek and around the bull and over cow pies and through the brushy woods. And we talked nonstop and laughed a lot and it was the best possible unwinding after a day of being up front.

Sunday I taught the ladies' Sunday school class, from teenagers to grandmas, and had lunch with a wonderful young family, the Ungers, whose 7-year-old daughter showed me her new pink and yellow room and talked about sporangium at the dinner table.

And then I got in my rental car and bucked the wind all the way to Fred and Loraine's house in Corn, the nicest depressing town in the country.


  1. 'the nicest depressing town in the country' Lady, you kill me!

  2. was so nice to have you speak here at Ladies' Day, and sorry about the wind, but thats Oklahoma. And by the way, its still blowing its furry.

  3. It was a pleasure to listen on Sat.! Your story about the ending of your retreat several years ago made me appreciate my husband (who doesn't nearly always "do it right"). That very morning he had sent me off with a sweet blessing, and welcomed me home with a huge hug and kiss and listened to me relate my day for as long as I wanted to talk. Joy to you!

  4. Löwen and Dück (Loewen and Dueck)... typical names for Russian-Germans! This is like Yoder and Mast ;-)

  5. I'm wondering how to get your daughter Emily's book. I have a friend Emily who also has ongoing health issues and I thought she might enjoy the book. Please let me know at Thanks!

  6. i was in the audience on Saturday,and the whole day was special...this was my 2nd year going to that church for ladies retreat,those church ladies do a super-duper job of hosting,they make us all feel special,all the decorations,food,and just the welcome,....i loved it all,thanx for speaking