Greetings students from Echo Bay and Bar River United Churches.  From time to time we’ll send you a snail mail from Algoma just to let you know you are thought about and we hope you have a great year!




The following story is titled “The Stranger”

A few months before I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town.  From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family.  The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.  As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family.  In my young mind, he had a special niche.  My parents were complementary instructors:  Mom taught me the word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger, he was our storyteller.  He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.  If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!  He took my family to the first major league ball game.  He made me laugh, and he made me cry.  The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind.  Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to her room and read her books (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)  Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them.  Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home … not from us, our friends or any visitors.  Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my Dad squirm and my mother blush.  My Dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in the home, not even for cooking.  But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis.  He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.  He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex.  His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.  I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger.  Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked … and NEVER asked to leave.  More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family.  He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.  Still, if you were to walk into my parents’ den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.  His name?  We just call him, “TV.” 

(He has a younger sister now.  We call her, “Computer.”)




When you find yourself lost and alone, may you be comforted by the God who created you and whose beloved child you are.  When dry winds parch your soul, may you be refreshed by Jesus Christ, the living water.  When you do not know where to run, may you be guided on sacred paths by the gentle breath of God’s Holy Spirit. 

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.                          Jim Carrey




Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young engineer who was fresh out of  University, “What starting salary were you thinking about?”  The Engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $125,000.00 a year, depending on the benefits package.”  The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50 % of salary and a company car leased every 2 years – say, a red Corvette?”  The Engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow!  Are you kidding?”  The interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.” 




A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and four-year-old grandson.  The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.  The family ate together at the table.  But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult.  Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.  When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.  The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.  “We must do something about father,” said the son.  “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”  So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.  There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.  Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.  When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.  Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.  The four-year-old watched it all in silence.  One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.  He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”  Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.”  The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.  The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless.  Then tears started to stream down their cheeks.  Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.  That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.  For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family.  And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. 


If you think it doesn’t pay to stick together, consider the banana.  As soon as it leaves the bunch,

 it gets skinned.


TIP FOR NEXT YEAR:  While planting your garden, don’t forget to plant – A Garden of Life.

·        plant 3 rows of peas:  peace of mind, peace of heart & peace of soul

·        plant 4 rows of squash:  squash gossip, squash indifference, squash grumbling & squash selfishness

·        plant 4 rows of lettuce: lettuce be faithful, lettuce be kind, lettuce be happy & lettuce love one another

·        plant 3 rows of turnips: turnip for service when needed, turnip to help one another & turnip the music and dance

·        no garden should be without thyme: thyme for fun, thyme for rest & thyme for ourselves

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love.  There is much fruit in your garden.

Remember, you reap what you sow. 


“Pilot to tower, pilot to tower ….. I am 300 miles from land, 600 feet over water and running out of fuel  .please instruct!”

“Tower to pilot, tower to pilot:  Repeat after me,  Our Father, who art in heaven ….”


On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.  I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles 3 things:  a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.  I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.  I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a life.  I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.  I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.  You need to be able to throw something back.  I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.  But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.  I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.  I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.  I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.  People love that human touch, holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.  I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn!


Talk to you soon.  Take care and God Bless!


                                                            Love and prayers,


                                  Bar River and Echo Bay United Churches