Thirty years ago this summer. June 1, 1985, right after my fifth grade year, I began writing a journal. The project lasted the summer then went on hiatus until the following spring of 1986, when I began writing again. I haven't stopped since.
Over the next 10 months, I'll be sharing "Flashback" entries from my paper and pen journal.
|The Superdome in New Orleans, LA, site of the 1985 General Conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was there.|
As the 60th General Conference session continues this week, it seems appropriate that my first Flashback entry recounts one of the highlights of the summer of 1985, our family's trip to the 54th General Conference session in New Orleans, Louisiana. There are some interesting parallels between that General Conference session thirty years ago and the one going on now in Texas. Neal C. Wilson had just been reelected president of the world church for another five years. This past Friday his son, Ted N.C. Wilson was reelected president of the church. The church had recently been racked by controversy over the ideas of "FDR", (Ford, Davenport, and Rea, a trio of men who had introduced radical challenges to established Adventist orthodoxy). Thirty years later, our church is once again in the throes of controversy, with a key vote on the ordination of women to pastoral ministry to go to a vote today. The session was held in the Superdome--a site that would gain infamy in another twenty years as a place of chaotic refuge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This year, the church convenes another "dome", the AlamoDome in San Antonio, Texas.
But in the summer of 1985, I was just 11 years old and had no idea of or interest in the business of our church. For me, it was just an exciting road trip with family.
Herewith the final weekend of the 1985 General Conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as seen through the eyes of an eleven year old kid:
I remember well leaving in the dead of night, sleeping and waking and sleeping on the bench front seat of my grandparents Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I'm guessing we left in the middle of the night so that my aunt and uncle could work a full day and we'd arrive in New Orleans in time to check in to our hotel.
This entry was typical of those written during this period of my life. Terse, factual sentences. Little to no overt emotion, reflection, or commentary, and virtually no description. In short: pretty dull reading. Mercifully, the entries are short. And if you read carefully you can learn a lot about what was going on with me. See if you can guess what I was really excited about in regards to this trip (Hint: It was worshiping with 60,000 other fellow church members, though there might have been some hero worship going on).
I've left the original spelling, punctuation, and grammar intact.
Friday, July 5, 85
I am in Louisana now. Last night we played mad till Uncle Roland and Aunt Colleen came to pick us up. Then we left. I sat in the front. Every time we stopped to get gas I woke up. Finally when it was 6:00 o clock in the morning we stopped again, but I went back to sleep. We stopped at rest area and then went on. We ate breakfast in Alabama at McDonalds. Then we went on we had a little snack. We went into Mississippi then into Louisiana. It was about 1:00 o clock when we got to New Orleans. We went to N.O. airport so Lois [my mother's cousin in law] could rent a car. Then we went to our hotel. our room had 2 beds a tv and desk and more. We ate lunch at our hotel at about 3 Then we went to the Superdome. We wandered around waiting for Nabih and William [my cousins, Nabih 3 years older than me and 14 at the time, and William two months older than me and thus already 12. Those two months seemed like years, as William always seemed so much more sophisticated than me]. We found seats. Then William came he lead us to the rest of the family. Then we ate supper then we went to a meeting. I showed William my Transformers.
"It Was All Boring"
I guess I was #notimpressed. Tens of thousands of voices raised in united song? A sermon by one the church's most dynamic speakers? The parade of nations? "It was all boring." The only excitement seemed to be the various harassers who always seemed to be "bothering" us (One can only wonder how much we bothered others, especially during one of the prayers--I think this was actually Friday night--given in a foreign language, which had my brother and cousin and me in stitches. I had never found anything quite so funny as this person praying with a straight face in what sounded to my childish mind like total gibberish).
Saturday July 6, 85
This morning after breakfast we got ready to go to the Superdome. Then we left. We met Nabih and William. William took me to the junior services. First there was Sabbath school then a Junior church service. There was a freckle-face behind us he was bothering us. We played with Transformers. It was all boring. We ate lunch in the parking lot. After lunch we were going back to the meetings. William and me didnt want to go. First we went to see William's uncle. He was staying in an RV. Then we went to the Superdome. We saw a boring musical while these people behind us were bothering us. Then we saw the parade of nations. Then we went to Williams hotel. We ate supper and played games with grandma while the adults were at a banquet. We're going to spend the night [at William's hotel].
A Rushed Departure and "Some Street Called Bourbon"
To this day I'm not sure why the sleepover was cancelled, or why breakfast and supper were skipped. Bourbon Street, though, is burned on my brain to this day. I guess the family was entirely aware of what one might find in the French Quarter. They figured, hey this is THE tourist site of New Orleans; we have to see it. Among the many NSFC sights I saw that day the one that sticks with me the most was the souvenir t-shirt depicting a garrulous looking man wearing a white lab coat with flaps you could open and close. Innocently I opened the flaps of the lab coat to reveal a massive, highly detailed penis, voluminous pubic hair and all. I still can't unsee that.
Sunday, July 7, 85
Last night we went back to our hotel instead of spending the [night] I never got to say bye to William he was asleep. We didn't eat breakfast. . .Then we went to some street called Bourbon. It was "smutty." Then we ate lunch and started traveling. I went to sleep. I woke up when we were in Alabama. We saw the USS Alabama. Then in Florida we got refreshments. Vincy and Dawny got comic books. Then we lost Lois car mummy was in it I was worried about her. We had no supper. I went to sleep. I woke up in Gainesville. We dropped off Jerel [I don't remember who this person is, though the name is familiar]. Then mummy came and joined us when we got home we went to sleep.
It's 30 years later. I'm not at the GC this year, though I wouldn't mind going again. (I also attended the 1995 GC session in Utrecht, the Netherlands as a youth delegate; that is a story for another Flashback entry right there). I love my church, even when it's boring; even when it's wrong. It's still my church, my family, and I'm glad to be a part of it.