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Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t think you would enjoy, so you said “no?” The following is my “I don’t want to but I’m really glad I did” fact and very little fiction story.

Pastor Matt of East and Central Freeborn Lutheran Churches scheduled a youth trip to the Twin Cities on an all-day Friday home 10 p.m. Saturday outing for teenagers of the two churches. The purpose was to expose the kids to other religions.

Pastor Matt contacted Genie as a female chaperone to go along and also drive a vehicle, as there were too many going to fit in his vehicle. Genie said “yes” but she wouldn’t drive. The two of them (Pastor and Genie) gave me the old song and dance of “you have to” because. I bent a little and said, “okay, I’d drive only as a case of last resort.” Guess who got booked to go as the “last resort?”

Two days prior to leaving, I was given a schedule with certain do’s and don’ts. For example, Friday dress was informal with dress pants and collared shirt for the guys. Long pants or long dress with shoulders and ankles covered with a scarf to cover their head for the gals. Saturday dress was informal with common sense. We would be sleeping at a church Friday night. We were to each chip in $10 to cover mainly meals. A good attitude was required.

We departed from East Freeborn Lutheran at the early hour of 7 a.m. Pastor Matt, Genie and I were the adults with teenagers Jessie, Jarod, Hunter, Chris, Brennon, Nikki and Nichole for a total of ten. Pastor Matt warned me that one of the ten might be a problem and to do the best I could keeping this person in line! The two girls rode with us as Genie was the female chaperone and the five guys rode with Pastor as he was the male chaperone.

Our first visit was at Luther Seminary with a tour, chapel at 11 a.m. and lunch provided by Luther in the cafeteria. It was a very impressive college-type campus.

Next stop was at the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Columbia Heights. We listened and watched a Muslim service led by Abukhadra Masjid. After the service, he explained their beliefs to us as visitors.

Next stop was the 6 p.m. service at the Jewish Temple Israel in Minneapolis. A member gave us a tour with questions and answers after the service.

Friday evening we stayed at Hope Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. The ladies camped out in the youth room, the guys in the gym, and me in the deer hunter’s head pastor quarters where his unexpected radio music started at 7:15 a.m.

After a quick McDonalds breakfast, it was off to Patrika (the Hindu temple of Minnesota) in Maple Grove for a tour. The tour guide was very interesting — especially his wife being Irish Catholic.

Our next stop was the 5 p.m. Church of the Open Door service in Maple Grove. (After touring MOA — that is the modern name for Mall of America.) This is a good-sized church with a $4.6 million budget.

We headed back to I-35 and home via East Freeborn. All the attendees agreed it was a very good experience but the Twin Cities was a bit too big for them.

From Genie and I, thanks to the various places for hosting us. A special thanks to the parents for letting us go along with your teenagers as it helped us understand and appreciate the younger generation.

Remember reading Pastor Matt warning me that one of the ten attendees might be a problem? I asked him the next day who, as I thought the teenagers were very well behaved. His answer, “the person looking back at you in the mirror!”

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Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. This is the Hanson’s 37th summer at Beaver Lake. They leave the lake in mid-October to go south — to Albert Lea — and return in April. Bob says if you enjoy his article, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of Wisdom: There is always room for God. 

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