Monday, February 23, 2009

skinny fish ~

I know this had to have been taken before they married ~ otherwise, grandma Mabel would have been scared off. Grandpa Rudy is surely swimming...or does the high stretch of his arms and steepled hands mean something else?

Rudy's dad (great-grandpa Peder Mandius Fosse) was a minister in the Lutheran church whose calling took the family to many states and towns including Cloquet, Minnesota. In Cloquet, he served Our Saviour's Lutheran Church until the 1903 diphtheria epidemic claimed two of his children (some records say three, but I've never been able to confirm the information).

The family left Cloquet swiftly with one goal ~ to save the lives of the four remaining children. There are records of Peder's service with a number of Lutheran churches in the Pacific Northwest beginning in Poulsbo, WA. Then strangely in 1914 the family left Seattle for Canada. Peder took up farming in Daysland, Alberta where may very well have secured a land claim as many folks were doing this at the time. He also served as an agent for the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

In 1918, his 19 year old son, Palmer, enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during WWI. Curiously the records show that Peder was then a Canadian citizen (this is required to claim a homestead in Canada). One month after Palmer enlisted, Rudy received his draft notice. Things become a bit muddy after the draft event of May 1918. Palmer is off in the Canadian Army, Rudy has been drafted, and the family turns up in High Point, Washington where Peder's mother, great-great-grandmother Ragnhild Fosse lives with her husband. Hummmm....did grampa Rudy dodge the Canadian draft?

From what I've learned, the loss of children to illness and then two sons possibly being a part of WWI may have played a large part in Peder's ministry work. From mid 1918 forward, the family pretty much stayed put in northwest Washington. Peder is recorded as serving a number of short stints with a variety of churches. By 1926 it is evident that Peder's focus is primarily as an evangelist having broken away from the church to fulfill his personal mission ~ a mission to save the men in the northern logging camps and fisherman of the same region in British Columbia, Canada up to Petersburg, Alaska.

I have Peder's Bible ~ the one he used for his sermons. It is filled with scrap paper covered in notes written in English but primarily in Norwegian. What I have read in English has given me a strange glimpse into a man who died 23 years before I was born. He had troubles in his life ~ troubles due to the death of his children, troubles due to his son Palmer's problems with alcohol, troubles finding his role in the Lutheran church and his place in life.

This scrap of paper was in the Bible. It shows how he scribbled his name and cities he moved the family to and from during a brief few of years. He suffered the loss of daughter Agnes and son Clifford (note Clifford's name is written above). In another of his notes, Peder wrote about sin and "When shall a young man change his ways?"

"What is Sin?
Today all colleges = athletics
Prof. teach -- bodies developed
is undoubtedly good, But a great lot of
athletes are crippled.
Rockne was praised for winning football games.
no testimony that he was good.
What is your Choice? (The student)
The rescuer on the slope of Lake Michigan near Chicago ~ Oh, did I do my best. Many lives saved. Dr. Allen at our Agnes' deathbed. Oh God, I done all I could."

The short time in Cloquet, MN appears to have a grip on Peder. The boat mission seemed to be a way he thought he could serve God and repent. Did he need to repent? The other question is ~ did he know that he, indeed, did need to repent?

In looking more into what Peder was doing in Norway before his emigration, I stumbled upon Trygve. Trygve was born September 4, 1885. Peder left Norway in 1885, but I don't know which month. Did Peder knowingly leave his son behind? Such an interesting question since no one around these days even knew about the siblings that died in Cloquet of diphtheria let alone another sibling in Norway. Could my great-grandpa Peder really leave Norway for the USA to pursue his dream of becoming a Lutheran minister knowing he had a new-born son in his home town?

What is it that makes people thing that doings "God's work" can resolve past sins? Can family help absolve of sin? Or does sin resolve itself in time when life is carried on in a manner befitting redemption?

Do grandpa Rudy's "steeple hands" mean anything? Probably not, but boy he had some goofy looking legs.

...may your God be with you...

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