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On a balmy Saturday, December 5, with a temperature of 43 degrees, 43 people boarded a coach bus in Albert Lea with Dale Matson at the helm. The bus, sponsored by Fully Rely on God (F.R.O.G.) of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church, headed south of the border on I-35.

Fifteen games of “Deal or No Deal” were played on the bus. Winners were Betty Gulbrandson, Rhonda Jacobson, Carol Bertelson, Dorothy Kirsch, Darlene Tue, Nancy Harris, Donna Stolaas, Jodie Johnson, Sandra Johnson, Cindy Olson, Dominic Olson, Jerry Jensen, Stacy Jacobson, Olivia Harris and Janice Dempewolf.

A Christmas stocking shaped like a litter bag from the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau was given to each person on the bus. In the bag were coupons from Keith at Slumberland, Jamie at Dairy Queen south, Gayla at KFC, Debbie at Arby’s, and Andrew at Pizza Ranch, all in Albert Lea.

We reached our destination of “Christmas by the Lake” and Dale parked the bus in such a way that we could see the lighted Christmas parade and the fireworks shot over the lake from the bus. We even had about an hour to tour Main Street with all the Christmas activities.

After the excellent fireworks display, with very loud fireballs at the end, we boarded the bus and headed back to Albert Lea (destination: Pizza Ranch).

By now most of you have figured out that the bus went south of the border to Clear Lake, Iowa, and back. The Chamber of Commerce staff in Clear Lake is rated “best of the best of the bunch.” Libby helped us with arrangements (she even had an SUV holding the parking stall for our bus) and prizes. (The Chamber Character “Kweenbe” informed us of their rating!)

We stopped at the Pizza Ranch in Albert Lea with our tummy gauges at empty. After the gauge read full, Lowell Elmer led us in singing, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to the staff.

The next Christmas by the Lake bus is planned for December 3, 2016 (it is always the first Saturday in December).

The next planned F.R.O.G. party is a Valentine’s Day party with pizza and pop, followed by twelve games of fast-moving Norwegian Bingo and ending with an ice cream buffet at Central Freeborn Lutheran Church on Saturday evening, February 6.

Many, many moons ago at this time, Mary and Joseph were really in a bind, as she was about ready to deliver a son and they couldn’t find an inn to stay at. The little feller born in a manger was named Jesus. Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season.


Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. 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. Bob says if you enjoy his column, 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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