Friday, June 10, 2011

PEN PALS...Sharing Dreams with Words

If you asked a young person today what a Pen Pal was, I don't think they'd know. After all, apart from rare enthusiasts, who

writes letters today? Before emails and texting came into existence, you actually put pen to paper! You popped it into an envelope, stamped it, and waited for your precious words to reach their destination. Then you waited with growing anticipation for an answer.

Don't you think that's kind of lost today, with an immediate reply? No time to wonder what the other thought. No delicious sense of looking forward to reading every word written in your special friend's handwriting. And once it was ink, not biro! A mistake was carefully crossed out, and you'd try to see what it was. And the style. Sloped; scrawled; scratchy like bird's tracks; perfect copperplate. They say our writing reveals a lot about us. Hm, maybe untidy? And last, how was it signed off. Sincerely? Faithfully? Or best of all, With all my love.
I wonder if young Canadian, Isobel, studied her Australian pen pal, Keith's hand writing in this way? Keith had begun their long distance friendship when he saw her picture on his friend's mantlepiece. His friend's wife happened to be Isobel's cousin, Margaret. Now as Keith was an enthusiastic aviation enthusiast he'd naturally fill his letters with his interests. But Isobel wasn't quite sure how to take this young man and felt a little reserved at how much she should share with this brash Australian. However, they went from writing to actual sharing of tape recording each others' comments. So from then on, reels began their travels across the Pacific. He already knew what she looked like, but how wonderful to actually hear her voice!

Cousin Margaret was pregnant at the time, but because they'd recently moved from the country to the big city, she didn't know anyone well enough to care for her other young children when hospitalised.  Why not cousin Isobel? With mid-winter in Toronto, a trip to sunny Australia beckoned. So, when the P&O liner, Oronsay, docked in Sydney Harbour, who should be there to meet her, along with with her cousins, but Keith, with expectancy written all over his handsome face.

 From the moment they met, they felt that they'd known each other 'forever'. Events took place at lightning speed and two weeks after Isobel's arrival, the pair were engaged. Three months after that on May 10, 1957, the marriage ceremony took place in Hurstville Brethren Assembly, followed by their honeymoon. They never went through a period of adjustment because they were at ease with each other. And they knew that God had blessed their marriage.

After looking after her cousin's three little girls, Isobel applied for  teaching position. But after about a year passed, her parents were anxious to see their new son-in-law, so they packed up and returned to Toronto, spending part of their time there and part in Australia. Two of their children are Canucks and two are fair dinkum Aussies! ( Just kidding.) Keith & Isobel continue to thank the Lord for bringing them together and for all the blessings, far too many to count, that have been heaped upon them.


Margaret Lepke said...

So true about the loss of anticipation in this 'instant everything' society. And yet it's always a pleasure to read about God's hand in establishing loving relationships, both then and now.

Kym McNabney said...

I just love the idea of a pen pal. When I was younger, ten to early teens, I had a pen pal from Israel. It was very exciting and to this day, thirty something years later, I still have those letters and pictures he sent me. As an adult, I’ve been involved in the Prison Pen Pal Program for the past six years. Inmates don’t have access to computers. They are often forgotten not only by society, but their family. You can’t begin to realize what a card or letter can do to lift their spirits and encourage them to walk in faith.

I had such fond memories of having a pen pal in my younger days as well as being involved in the pen pal ministry. My ten-year old daughter signed up for a Christian pen pal about a year ago. She loves to check the mail to see if she’s received a letter. And what fun it is for her to correspond with someone so many states away.

Rita Galieh said...

Thanks for your comments, Margaret & Kim. What a good ministry you have in writing to prisoners! At their lowest point it's great to give them hope. And Jesus is the one to do it!

Anonymous said...

I never thought our romance would sound so good in print. Hurrah for pen pals.
This has been a lot of fun.
Isobel Hawkins

Anonymous said...

Hello Rita,
Thank you for sharing Mom and Dad's story. It's amazing to think that a marriage that's lasted 54 years, started off as letters.
Erin (one of the Cannucks)

Rita Galieh said...

And I didn't even mention that my girlfriend and I sang at their wedding reception!

lauragreene97 said...

What a wonderful story! I've had several pen pals over the years and have always enjoyed the relationships that have developed through the correspondence. I just finished a book about a woman who finds her long lost pen pal in Australia, called The Australian Pen Pal. It shows a touching side of how pen pals can impact your life, even from halfway around the world. if you'd like to know more.