200 Year Trip - September 16, 2019
We spent our last night together in Albany and awoke to steady, persistent rain; the first real ‘Oregon Rain’ we had experienced on our trip. The tarp saved us last Sunday on our drive to Seattle and today it was again a necessity. We left in time to detour to Oregon City to see the Falls on the Willamette River. Jim could not remember ever seeing the last navigable water of the Willamette. He must have been sick the day of the obligatory fourth grade field trip. We stopped briefly and got a few pictures; but not enough time and too much rain to do it justice. We had to get to church!
My father became a Christian on August 1, 1950. His entrance into God’s family took place at one of Billy Graham’s earliest crusades in Portland, Oregon. He and our young family started attending another neighborhood church, but early on, we joined University Park Baptist Church. It was our home church during most of our childhood and youth. We were baptized in the old building on Fiske Street, before the congregation outgrew that site. We all helped with the construction of the new church building on Lombard Street, next to Columbia Park.
We shared many funny memories – I’ll relate two.
The church sits directly above a railroad tunnel that connects the Columbia River side of North Portland with the Willamette River side. Visitors were always brought under extra ‘conviction’ when the 12:05 freight train made the pews quiver and the lights flicker during the alter call! No train today.
Paul recalled that the night he was baptized at the old church. Some visitors, who had no church background, happened to attend the service. One boy was from his class at Portsmouth Grade School. The boy later told Paul that he knew just enough about the Bible to be traumatized thinking that Paul was about to become a human sacrifice!
Of the eighty or so in attendance today, there were still a few people old enough to remember the Bolin Boys. Most were too young, too new, or too forgetful. However, the ones who remembered us seemed genuinely delighted we had returned. We too enjoyed renewing acquaintances with several childhood friends and remembering so many people who invested in our lives during those formative years.
Both our parents’ funerals were in that auditorium. Lots of fond memories, many good people. A fitting end to our great adventure.
University Park Baptist
Neptune State Park
The other day I watched the sun set from the Taft Dock and reflected on the day. My quiet moment was interrupted by a retired church-planting couple. During this providential encounter, I learned that they started nine churches over their career and were still active in ministry.
After that delightful conversation, a dad and his 7-year-old son came out to watch a harbor seal fish for dinner. We talked about the salmon run and the beach-full of seals across the bay.
They left and I wondered if the boy would sit here in 60 years reflecting on the good-old-days.