Roxane B. Salonen
FARGO — When Peter Mehl checked his blood pressure shortly after arriving in the Ukraine on May 11, something seemed off. "He had me take mine, because he wasn't sure it was reading right," recounts his wife, Jill, co-founder of Russian Harvest Ministries, a Christian outreach the local couple founded 25 years ago. It would be their last conversation. Just as Jill turned away to check her own blood pressure, Peter stood up, and collapsed. An autopsy showed the 61-year-old died instantly.
Recently, my 17-year-old daughter, two of her good friends, their mothers, and I embarked on a trip to Chicago that turned truly unforgettable, in every way, as Nat King Cole once sang. Our journey had been planned around the wildly popular, modern, rap musical "Hamilton," based on Alexander Hamilton's dramatic, historically-significant life.
FARGO — When Billy Graham came to town in June 1987, Wayne Hoglund was already a Christian, but he was intrigued by meeting someone he considered a hero. "It was exciting. There was electricity in the air, and it was a holy moment," Hoglund says. "A lot of people went forward, and all those lives changed in some way." His father was one who went up for the altar call. "That was an answer to prayer," says Hoglund, who was 33 at the time, and one of many trained counselors there to assist those with questions.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
FARGO — From an early age, Susan Vitalis began grappling with God's purpose for her life. She was only a sophomore when she gave a student chapel talk at Oak Grove High School, where her father was the campus pastor, posing questions about life. On Sunday, May 28, she'll return to her former school to give a commencement address to graduating seniors, sharing what she's learned since her own youthful time there.
This past Mother's Day, I found myself fondly reflecting on my first Mother's Day. That day, some 22 years ago, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my husband, with a handwritten note: "Happy Mother's Day." It was the first time I'd been called a mom, and a moment I've held close ever since. I'd only learned of my first pregnancy a few weeks earlier, and was still settling into the idea that in just a few months, my life would be rearranged around a small human being.
FARGO — When the Christian Brothers religious order came to teach at Shanley High School in 1964, Sandy Thiel found not only a new wardrobe — school uniforms marked by pleated skirts and "knee highs" — but also a calling. "That first year, we did 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown,'" she says of the school's inaugural musical in 1967, her junior year. At Brother Andrew's encouragement, Thiel says, she helped with props, and something stuck.
For years now, Shanley High School has offered an annual retreat for its junior class, but I'm assuming few of these two-day events — if any — have happened in the snow. This year's outing, however, began with a spring splattering of the white stuff, which threatened to dampen the experience.
Susie Larson preview Variety/April 22 396 (main) +84 ("If You Go") IF YOU GO: What: "Extraordinary Expectations" event with speaker and author Susie Larson When: General public: 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, May 5, "Living the Promised Life;" and women only: 9 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, May 6, "She is Wise" and "She's an Heir." Where: First Assembly Church, 3401 25th St. S., Fargo. Cost: $40 for both days; $30 for one day; $10 additional for VIP tickets
FARMINGTON, N.M. — Krisxan "Krickitt" Pappas Carpenter can tell you about the day her aunt nicknamed her based on her wiggly ways at age 2. "You're like a cricket," she'd said of the tiny gymnast. But don't ask Krickitt to offer details about her wedding to Kim. "I can't remember marrying my husband," says the wife and mother of two, who, after a car accident following her 1993 wedding, lost all memory of her courtship and marriage.