Ramblings from the Cove...

November 13, 2013

By Lars Gren

Recently I received two letters with the first asking if I could elaborate a bit on the Shepherd family whereabouts. I guess that came from having mentioned meeting Elisabeth in Edinburgh Scotland this past August. So I’ll try t go down the list.

Young Walter or Walter the III—well not so young anymore heading towards the forty mark in a couple of years—in his first year as a married man—to a lovely lady who is a runway designer for Ralph Lauren a name known in the fashion world. They met at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City where Tim Keller is the pastor who incidentally with his future wife took a Seminary class together taught by Elisabeth, called, “Christian Expression in Speech, Writing and Behavior.” One of her sayings in that class was, “You can’t deliver the milk without the carton.” Tim at a later date during a service said that that was the most important class that he had during his four years of study for the ministry—well that’s off the path from Walter but as a unbiased fellow concerning Elisabeth—I felt compelled to add that tidbit. So back to the task—Walter I think has now lived in the NYC area for well over 12 years—years are getting away—having had work in construction and some time with a cabinet/furniture maker—the latest being the maintenance man in a museum. Recently he took his wife Kelly through the New England area where he spent a number of summers with us as a base when the family lived in Southern CA. They were here for lunch and I expect he told or showed Kelly where he stood on the rocks fishing and reeled in a Bluefish. They are delicious but use lime or lemon juice on them before you bake them. Of the five married Shepards their wedding will be the most memorable for they wanted a very quiet, private wedding and accomplished that by having it in the garden of friends of ours in NYC and attended by the four parents and the Foote family as hosts.

Then there is Elisabeth who as my Elisabeth has been a mimic from the age of ten or even younger and could do a perfect Joyce Grenfell imitation of her Visit to the Nursery School of course she picked it up from her Granny who had it turn shared it with the folks who came to some of the EE retreats. So Elisabeth was an Anglophile from early on and it came as no surprise that while attending Wheaton College she was attracted to Mat Martin a Brit who was attending Wheaton—well of course it was not just the accent but it didn’t hurt either. Their marriage took place on the Campus shortly after her graduation and a few years later they packed up and settled in Northern England. Mat had made her aware that is where they would settle, if relationship led to marriage, which was fine with Elisabeth. By the time they left the US they had also received Valerie as the first born followed by David and since returning to England Jimmy and Jennifer has been added to the quiver. (Perhaps there is something with the cool, foggy, moist air of England.) Mat although having a PHD degree in Particle Physics from Oxford University worked as an associate pastor for a church in northern England. At present they are making a move from Northern England to Manchester where Mat will be working for a computer company—(ask yourself is there anyone left not working for such companies)—at least for a year and at that time hoping to return to ministry in a Church plant.

Jim is third in line and grew up mainly in MS, CA and SC where Walt had pastorates. It was during the years in Simpsonville that he attended Clemson University on a ROTC scholarship. We remember going to his graduation a very formal affair as each cadet had their officers bars pinned on. It was indeed Pomp and Circumstance as it should be. Jim who has a good voice and sang all his life was part of a—trio or was it a quartet—well whatever, sang the National Anthem archepela and I doubt that there was a dry eye. A General—I believe it was-- gave the charge of what would lie ahead for the new officers and the opportunities that they would have in serving their country. There was one new officer who was pinned by his father who was retired military. The son was what is called a “Mustang” one who had come up through the ranks. Then when the bars were in place the son received his first salute from his father and in turn gave his father a silver dollar a military tradition that he who first gives a salute to the newly commissioned officer is given a silver dollar. There could have been no finer ceremony for me for I could very easily have made a career of the Navy—why the Navy?—well I never slept in a pup tent or any overnights in tents so the Navy at least a bunk to lie in—while the Army—no appeal there. I remember walking out and talking to Jim telling him that he had the makings of being the officer at the podium speaking to a new group of cadets. When his commitment in the service is ended he would have nearly half the years required for retirement. There are a lot of extras in the service. After graduation he received a pilots slot and went on to receive his wings. At the end of training he was assigned to fly the huge aerial refueling tankers making month long trips to the Mideast. Now he is in the Philadelphia area training other pilots I assume to make their journeys to whatever area there is a need. Jim also met his wife Ashley at Clemson. She is employed in government work in DC but is able with the computer—where would we be without it—to work from home.

Christiana finished her schooling at Trevecca College in Nashville, TN. She was always one with a great imagination for the arts or one might say the stage. Always eager to be part of church plays or the yearly talent shows,—eager to get the call, “Your on”—nothing embarrassed her—she and her sister would do some Broadway song all dressed in proper costumes perhaps she would be part of a production staff somewhere or church theater but rather than that some time after graduation she joined Walt and Val in the Congo who were there with the two youngest siblings as Walt was called to pastor the English speaking Church in Kinshasa. There Christiana practiced some of her skills by teaching drama in the English school. Two years later they returned to the States and settled in Pasadena CA and while there met David her husband to be who worked—yes with computers and having something to do with advertising. After a wedding in VA where David was from they returned to CA where unfortunately David recently was caught in the “downtrend” and is now in between opportunities—perhaps you can pray for the two of them—while Christiana retains a job as the receptionist for physical therapy in a local hospital. Back to her wedding and most memorable part was when David and she departed the church in full wedding dress on two bicycles—didn’t ask why not one bicycle built for two—as the guest threw the traditional rice or whatever the substitute was.

Colleen was next to enter college and she chose Erskine College in Due West SC. She was headed for a psychology and after graduation worked for a time in a hospital in Asheville, NC. It seemed that after thinking of a lifetime in counseling that it might not be her forte and so returned to CA where she is now making her living as a waitress in two different restaurants. When Elisabeth and I were last there we stopped in hoping to have her serve us a meal but unfortunately it was her day off. She is very much of a scuba diver and such is desirous of obtaining a scuba diving internship—don’t ask me what that is—in Fl. On the last report she was diving near San Clemente or some “Point” not far from there enjoying the company of seals “that are so cute” as well as a big ol’ ray of some kind and unspecified fish but I assume not a walrus or whale in sight. In any case we assume she will spend a lot of time in the water meeting new creatures.

Evangeline graduated from Gordon College not far from Magnolia where Elisabeth years ago had been Writer in Residence, not that we lived there but she spoke at a few of the College sponsored events. As with young Elisabeth, opposed to my Elisabeth but not the very youngest Elisabeth,(that’s enough to make ones head spin) Evangeline met her husband to be Colby Smith while attending Gordon. She did beat her sister in the time interval between graduation and her marriage. Evangeline graduated in May and the wedding was performed on a typical sunny hot humid June day in Alabama not far from Birmingham at a boarding school that Colby’s father runs. It is a beautiful spot with a lake and lots of woods well kept grounds. Since the wedding was set up outdoors with chairs those in the shade were much sought after. Everyone survived the heat for the ceremony was not overly long and a good message was given to the couple on their new life in becoming “one.” Jim sitting in the front row who is somewhat of a “wag” and loves to bounce babies around had taken Elisabeth’s youngest as she was in the wedding and began by entertaining the tot. This he did for some time lifting him up a bit—then a bounce-followed by some sideway motion and a lie down on the lap. Well this continued for a bit and perhaps Jim forgot that he was in the front row but just at the proper time when there was a pregnant moment of silence the wee bairn let out a sound which was no mystery to even those in the back row. I watched Jim as his back and shoulders shook as he tried to contain his laughter. It put a stop with his “up and downs” of the wee one and all ended well. After their honeymoon they lived in Lynn MA and recently moved to Salem the city which historians associate with the infamous Salem Witch Trials of Colonial days. Evangeline has become a commuter via train to Boston where she is in PR work while Colby busies himself with sales of machinery to manufacturing companies.

If you have waded through this far the last two of Valerie’s will be rather short. Theo is in his third year at Catawba College in North Carolina and has loved it since day number one. He is by far the busiest and most involved one of the eight in Campus life and in touting the school to others. Along with carrying a full load with high marks if you go to see the school he may be the one who gives the guided tour. He loves the PR work of being with people and giving aid to any and all. He is pressing on to graduate early and then on to some exciting internship and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were not some NC. Politician’s headquarters. Time will tell.

Sarah the “end of the line” is enjoying college life in CA at Biola University, where her favorite subject I think is swimming—particularly the Backstroke—for which she swam with the team last year at The Nationals. Not sure what that is but guess it is sort of the World Series of swimming with team against team from various schools. Having from early on had a passion for playing nurse she may he heading for something in that field. Time will tell.

Now if you have scanned to this point please stay with me for the 2nd question I received. It was to the point that I had not added to the Ramblings so the deduction was made that there was something wrong with either Elisabeth or myself. Not so Elisabeth carries on as she has done in these last years—her cycle is to snooze off and on after breakfast in the rocking chair being warmed by the morning sun—when shining—and now with winters shroud—we turn the rocker to face the Jotul wood stove with its deliciously warming air making it easy to slip into “slumber land.” In the afternoon she perks up so that if you are ever in our area stop by but best after lunch for that is her active time until supper after which the bed calls. As to being ill we can’t complain we are blessed with no aches, pains or ills and no replacements parts. Perhaps Elisabeth answered the question best in the middle of the night when she woke with some odd coughing and so I said, “Are you OK?” lengthy pause “What” “Are you OK? Pause then a sort of irritated voice responded, “Yes, of course, of course” and, with that off to sleep. Perhaps there is no reason for my not adding to the Ramblings except that I am way behind on answering mail or since we are pretty stationary I have little to visually observe in order to pen a few lines while to pull something from my mind alone is near impossible.

Oooopppss—I was about to say, And that’s...

When I had nary a word of the two that began the line. As most know they are no longer in the Congo and on their return they settled in the Pasadena CA area for a bit over a year after which their move was East again to Southport , NC. where Walt began a church plant sponsored by another Presbyterian Church, across town from their location. Now during the past three years Valerie with the last two children in school has been accepting some speaking engagements for retreats and often to like minded homeschoolers. Along the way Vision Forum published her book of memories as a youngster growing up with the Quichua and Auca in Ecuador’s Amazon Jungle. The title is Pilipinto’s Happiness.

God bless y’all and that’s it from The Cove.


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