Rewind: “God’s Providence and the Envelope”

I promised I would tell how “she” started writing him in the first place. 

You’ll remember that her church made it their mission to ensure that every serviceman and woman who went out to serve their country from this church would receive at least one piece of mail each month from someone in their church family. Several pre-addressed, stamped envelopes were distributed to the teachers in the various adult Sunday School classes. The high school class also participated in this letter-writing endeavor. 

Garfield Baptist Church in Wauwatosa, WI (now Spring Creek Church in Pewaukee)

Each month her Sunday School Superintendent (Mrs. Grace Barron, her youth pastor’s wife) would hold up two of these pre-addressed envelopes seeking volunteers to write a letter. “She” was accustomed to volunteering to write a random recipient each month, but, as was mentioned in an earlier account, had selfishly decided that she was no longer going to volunteer. 

Pastor Bob & Grace Barron

Her reason? Simple. Because they didn’t write back! 

Pretty selfish, wasn’t it? If she wasn’t selfish, at least she was a bit naive. It never dawned on her that it sometimes takes months for mail to reach someone serving in the armed forces. It also never dawned on her that some of the recipients might be in a foxhole dodging the enemies attack somewhere in Viet Nam. 

On this day in early January, while sitting in class waiting for the Sunday School pre-session to begin, she saw the familiar air-mail envelopes sticking out of Mrs. Barron’s Bible. To further strengthen her resolve, she whispered to her best friend Cindy that she was not planning to volunteer this month. 

Mrs. Barron held up the two envelopes and, with her characteristic deeply dimpled smile, asked who would like to write one of our servicemen this month. The reluctant writer avoided looking at Mrs. Barron, but could somehow still feel the teacher’s eyes imploring her to write. But, no one would volunteer. 

“She” felt bad, but still stubbornly refused to volunteer, sitting on her fingertips, so as to remind herself not to volunteer. Mrs. Barron sounded disappointed and made her request one more time, this time looking straight at her usual volunteer. The reluctant writer didn’t budge in her resolve – though something inside of her really wanted to. 

So, without a single volunteer, Mrs. Barron opened the class in prayer. The now guilt-ridden reluctant volunteer bowed her head in prayer too, a little bit ashamed of herself. 

Then a really unbelievable thing happened. As Mrs. Barron raised her voice in prayer invoking God’s blessing on the students and their class time in God’s Word, the reluctant volunteer felt the Bible that was sitting in her lap move. She looked down and underneath her hand, the cover of her Bible was being raised and one of those envelopes was being slipped into the flyleaf of her Bible. Mrs. Barron never paused or missed a beat in her prayer as she cunningly executed the drop. The disinclined letter writer looked up at the praying pastor’s wife and made eye-contact. Mrs. Barron’s eyes were saying, “Please?” The hesitant writer nodded in reluctant affirmation…she would do it. Still praying, Mrs. Barron’s eyes smiled a “thank you.”

After the “Amen,” the involuntary volunteer looked at the name written on the envelope. She had no clue who this Wayne L. Winquist was…but Cindie Boyles would soon find out.

Next up: “He Meets She”

Rewind: “Her Crazy Little Letters”

He looked forward to receiving her weekly letters so much and one day sat down to put his thoughts about their letter-writing friendship to pen and paper.

Your first note came five months ago
And although it was quite brief
It had a lot of meaning
Like the Spring’s first light green leaf.
It wasn’t very polished
And you seemed a trifle shy
But I must say that didn’t matter
You were a new friend saying “hi.”

After one year on this island
(A paradise to some)
I had lost a lot of interest
And my world was too hum-drum
Still your “crazy” little letter
Though I cannot explain
Gave me words I never had before
And made my days less tame.

Your cheerful, lovely person
Has traveled all these miles
In little paper envelopes
And brought me many smiles.
Your thoughtfulness and kindness
And spiritual uplift
Removed a lot of darkness
And slowed an aimless drift.

Each letter that I open
Contains some new surprise
– when the paper changes color
– when your thoughts across them fly
Though my poem to you is heartfelt
It never can proclaim
The friendship I extend to you
Even though it should be plain…

She loved the poem and read it over and over again. The last line in the poem puzzled her though. It seemed an awkward way to end. What did he really mean? Was there more to their friendship than she knew? Was this the beginning of something more?

He was right – as awkward as the last line felt, the relationship that was just beginning would turn out to be anything but plain.

Rewind: A Letter From Home

February 9, 1951 is the day that God chose to bring my future hubby into the world. Though I would not arrive on the scene until 1957, I recognize that Wayne is truly a gift that God prepared for me. Ten years ago, before my blogging days, I began writing and publishing my stories on Facebook. In honor of Wayne’s birthday, I thought it might be time devote the next few blog posts to retelling a few of those stories. I marvel in thinking that this story of God’s providence took place a little over 46 years ago…

She was 15 years old; a nice, quiet, kind of shy high school freshman.

He was two weeks away from being 22; a sailor stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

She belonged to a church that made it their mission to have someone from the church write each and every serviceman or woman from their congregation each month. They would solicit volunteers from the high school and adult Sunday School classes to write letters, and she was one of many who would faithfully volunteer to write a letter each month.

He was one of those servicemen from the church, and he didn’t particularly relish receiving those letters. Most of them were dutifully written by one of the “older persons” in the congregation on the customary sheet of church letterhead included in the pre-addressed and stamped envelope provided for the convenience of the letter writer and, by his own description, “usually general and impersonal.”

She would take home the pre-addressed stamped envelope every month, open the flap of the unsealed envelope, slip out the piece of church letterhead, and dispose of it. Being a teen growing up in the 70’s, that just wasn’t her style. Instead, she would reach for a sheet of colorful lined theme paper (usually neon or pastel) and then sit down with a blue ball-point pen to pour a little bit of herself into the note before popping it in the mail.

He would notice the familiar letterhead envelope from the church in the mail each month, but rarely rush to open it. He knew that it would probably be the same as last month: a rather impersonal letter with a church bulletin and maybe a Sunday School paper or two enclosed.

She had decided one particular Sunday, rather selfishly, that she was not going to volunteer to write another letter. In her experience (short as that was), no one had ever bothered to write back. On this particular day, no matter how she tried to avoid volunteering to write yet another serviceman, she was encouraged…no coerced…into doing so yet another month. (That’s another story for another time.)

He, being properly trained by his mother, would always write everyone back – no matter how boring or impersonal their letter had been.

She really didn’t want to write this month’s letter. Being a bit annoyed that she had been volunteered against her will, she didn’t even bother to dispose of the letterhead this time. She just pulled it out of the envelope and started writing. Oddly enough, once she got past the introductory paragraph, she rather enjoyed pouring herself into another letter to yet another serviceman she didn’t know.

He was the one to whom this letter she wrote was addressed, and he had no idea what was in store for him when he opened this month’s letter from home.

She apologetically and shyly told him in her letter that he’d probably think she was a “nut” for writing because he certainly wouldn’t know who she was. She also told him she would understand if he didn’t answer her letter.

He read the letter on the familiar church letterhead, but this letter was different than the rest. He wrote back and told her, “First of all, let me thank you for the beautiful letter – maybe it didn’t seem so beautiful to you when you wrote it, but it meant a lot to me.”

She didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of two and one-half years of letter-writing that would change the entire course of their respective lives.

He didn’t realize it either.

To be continued…