Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Faith Heritage

One advantage we enjoyed as a family that came from my father working for an airlines was free airfare for our entire family on a space available basis. During our ten years living in Juneau, we took three trips by air back to Philadelphia to visit my father's parents and other relatives. I remember flying in the belly of the Pam Am "Strato" Clipper in its comfortable lounge on one occasion when the passenger section was full. Another time, we were "bumped" in Detroit and spent the night sleeping in the airport. These trips gave my Philadelphia grandparents the opportunity to get to know their Alaska grandchildren.

During those trips we also visited our many relatives in Lancaster County, my mother's and grandmother's birthplace, where our ancestor was the first white settler in 1712. Isaac LeFevre, at age 16, was the only member of his family to escape martyrdom at the Revocation of the Edit of Nantes. They were French Protestants, nicknamed Huguenots. Isaac fled with the family Bible baked in a loaf of bread to the Feree home in Strasburg, France, then with them to Holland, and eventually to England, where they met William Penn, who deeded to them a tract of land in Pennsylvania in the Pequea Valley, 55 miles west of Philadelphia. They named their new settlement "Paradise," because they had finally found a place where they could worship God freely. The name of the town remains to this day, and a monument to them stands by the railroad tracks near the spot where U. S. Route 30 crosses Pequea Creek.

We spent many happy hours with my Grandma's youngest brother and his wife in the 28-room mansion, the home in which Grandma grew up, built on Isaac LeFevre's land in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Our trips always took place in October. A favorite memory is of riding in the wagon behind the harvester and catching the ears of corn that slid through the machinery with the husks still intact. We loved to pull off "the paper," as we called it. Meals made almost entirely of fresh corn on the cob were a special treat to us Alaskans who only ate corn from a can at home.

In Lancaster, we also came to know my Grandma Personeus's sisters and brother who had given their lives in service to God as missionaries. Thus, the seeds of God's call on my life to full-time ministry were planted. And one aunt, associate editor of the Sunday School Times for many years, had also written nine novels, kindling my desire to write books.

Those trips also widened my understanding of our American heritage. In Philadelphia, we visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross's House, Christ's Church, the Philadelphia Mint, and the Franklin Institute. We sat in George Washington's pew, read the Declaration of Independence, and brought home a copy, along with our miniature Liberty Bells. The stories of America's fight for religious and political liberty came alive. 

On one trip, we traveled by car to Washington D. C., where we toured the White House, the Capitol building, all the presidential monuments, the statue of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. 

My heart still swells with patriotic pride as I pledge my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and sing the national anthem. As I read the writings of our Founding Fathers, I learned of the great sacrifices they made for the cause of freedom and their dependence on prayer and the Bible to encourage and guide them. How much we have lost as the history taught in our schools has been rewritten! How thankful I am for my godly heritage and the religious freedom we still enjoy here in America!

Do you have a faith heritage? Are you passing it down to your children?

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