We planned our drive from California to the 2006 FGC Gathering carefully, arranging to meet our daughter and son-in-law at the Portland, Oregon, airport. We returned them there after the Gathering and then asked ourselves, "Do we really want to rise early and drive all 675 miles home tomorrow? Could we take two days and see central Oregon rather than the Willamette and Rogue Valleys again from I-5?"
In our new Directory for Traveling Friends we found the name of Mel Ivey who lives near Klamath Falls, Oregon. The directory said that he had animals—no problem for us—and that he was a member of Klamath Falls Friends Church of Evangelical Friends International. We’ve had positive experiences meeting evangelical Friends at Gatherings, through Friends World Committee for Consultation, and the Internet, so we called. Yes, a bed and breakfast was available. Mel sounded friendly and gave us good directions.
The next morning we drove leisurely along the Columbia River gorge to The Dalles before turning south to explore the eastern slope of the Cascades. The road was not an interstate so we traveled a bit slower, lunching on nuts, biscotti, and lemonade we had with us. We took a side trip up to Crater Lake: snow, snow, more snow, and a deep blue lake. After dinner in Klamath Falls, we followed Mel’s directions to his house in Merrill.
Several hours of pleasant conversation ensued as our mutual love of history, gardens, and care for animals led us to many shared stories. You couldn’t buy such accommodations! Horses, cat, dog, and fruit trees live peacefully together on the bank of the Lost River, beyond which we saw fields of grain with Mt. Shasta as a backdrop.
On First Day morning we joined Mel at Klamath Falls Friends Church (check its website at http://www.kffriends.org) for programmed worship on the theme of "letting go." With benches arranged in a hollow diamond shape with a candle, Bible, and river stones in the center, it could have been a Hicksite meeting room. The pastor shared leadership with two other women. We remembered one of the four songs they sang from the World Gathering of Young Friends website and joined in confidently. There was a period of extended silence before as well as twice during the service, one of unbroken contemplation and one moving into worship sharing. Children stayed for the whole hour. This felt much like the semi-programmed family worship our meeting sometimes has on fifth First Days.
As we left, Friends were eating bagels and getting ready for meeting for business. We felt warmly welcomed. It was a worship experience we would not have had but for Mel Ivey deciding that a Directory for Traveling Friends listing might bring interesting visitors. He came to central California later in the summer and arranged through the Directory to stay with Friends we know, who were delighted by his visit. The world gets smaller if we take time to share time with one another.
Are you listed in the Directory? We are, though we don’t have a spare bedroom at the moment. Still we’ve had good experiences hosting Friends on our couch.