In Part I I told you about my prayers for a friend and my last minute decision to attend the Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool Conference on a Friday afternoon in July. After hearing Ginny speak, I was moved to tears and certain that we needed to bring the kids back home for school. I purchased a few books on my list and then headed to On the Border to enjoy a meal and fellowship with 15 or so other mothers. I was one of the first to arrive and took a seat across from some familiar faces. We jumped into conversation and began catching up to date with the events of one another’s lives. Then, two women whom I did not know or recognize joined us at the table. I introduced myself and some of the other ladies sitting nearby. We began to discuss Ginny’s talk and I shared the story of my father’s healing at the Shrine. Clair, who had just moved from Georgia to Texas two weeks earlier, commented on having visited the Shrine herself about ten years ago. As it turns out, her family immigrated to Green Bay like mine had in the late 1800’s. We got to chatting and decided that we needed to get together soon to continue getting to know one another. As the Nine-O-Clock hour rolled around, I excused myself to head home and get to bed. I was filled with joy at all the afternoon and evening had brought. For the first time in a long time, I had peace about bringing my kids home to learn again.
Over the weekend, I saw a post about tickets for sale for the Edel Gathering in Austin. It was just a few weeks away, but some of the ladies could no longer make it and the tickets were being sold via Facebook. I snatched one up quickly and looked forward the Edel weekend. It was on a whim that I made the purchase, so I reached out to see if there was anyone with whom I could share a room and/or a ride. Clair was also going and offered to give me a ride. Jenny had a friend, Elizabeth, with a room and agreed to hook us up for the weekend. As it turns out Elizabeth had attended Texas Tech with my nephew and his wife! Also, my daughter Allison babysits for them on occasion. Everything seemed to be falling into place quite nicely.
The following Tuesday I loaded up the kids and headed East to Forney, Texas to visit Clair. The plan was to help her organize her school room, but we ended up visiting the entire day. She said that she had spoken to her grandparents and that she was a descendant of the Allen’s as well, but her grandfather told her that ‘Allen’ was a popular sur name and that it was unlikely we were related. I agreed and added that our ancestors were Allen, but the name had been changed from Hallaux when they immigrated from Belgium. We continued to visit and something in our conversation spurred me to want to show her something I had seen on the internet. We headed upstairs and I waited while she booted up the computer. It was then that she noticed the email from her grandmother and opened it. What was the original sur name I had told her? What was the name of my great, great grandfather who came from Belgium? And in that instant we knew that we were related. There on the screen was a digital copy of the immigration document of Josef Hallaux from Belgium to Green Bay! Clair’s mother and I would be fourth cousins, so that made us fourth cousins once removed–my children were her fifth cousins! God had sent me a friend and just to make sure I knew it was from Him, God had put his fingerprints all over the experience.
You see, when I first prayed for a friend over 17 years ago–before the HENS existed–God sent me my friend Karen. Patrick and I had known Karen from years before. She had attended classes with my sister in college, her mother and Patrick’s mother were friends, our fathers knew each other through church and business relationships. When we met again it was in our children’s preschool class on “Meet the Teacher” night. But, what we came to discover after several years of friendship–those same children now in junior high–was that Patrick and Karen were fourth cousins. I was teaching our children Texas History and their first assignment was to research how their families ended up in Texas. It was in researching for this project that we discovered that Patrick and Karen share the same great, great grandfather; but have different great, great grandmothers. Yes, fourth cousins. No, I’m not joking. Only God can do these things. He sees the big picture and He is always faithful to those who place their trust in Him.