Just some thoughts that popped into my head as we sat watching “The Today Show” this morning. Last weekend we headed up to Minneapolis to celebrate Brett’s birthday. As usual, it was up to the birthday person to be the cruise director for the celebration. Our bunch always find the coolest things to do when we visit them, so not only were we excited to be heading up to visit with them and for Brett’s birthday, the first that we’ve been able to celebrate all together as a family in about 5 years, but we were waiting to see what he had planned for the weekend. Friday night we headed across the street to a new restaurant that was just opening up that evening, Victory 44. A small restaurant, but one with great atmosphere, bright, eclectic and soon filled to the brim. We were treated to a complimentary bottle of wine for their grand opening. The menus were clipped to a clipboard, so we figured that it will be a rotating menu since it was fairly limited. Between the 6 of us Jon and Justin has a sausage roll with salt & vinegar fries (actually it was a smoked kielbasa), Susie and I had an apple walnut salad, which was just a bit tiny but very tasty. Heather had fish and chips, which both she and Brett concurred that it was delicious. Brett ordered a burger with an egg on top (I think he was the most adventurous). The food was absolutely delicious, but unfortunately we all agreed that they weren’t really expecting such a huge crowd for their opening as the service was quite slow. Despite several reminders to the waitress Brett never received his food until we were all totally finished with ours. Not to worry though as we were most pleasantly surprised when we were not charged for any of our food and we most definitely will try it again. And Heather’s homemade chocolate cupcakes with an almond flavored frosting really helped cap off the night.
Sat. was amazing! Brett had planned for us to go to the Festival of Nations in St. Paul. Being the festival junkies that we all are we were really looking forward to the day. It was amazing. The lower level of the RiverCenter was filled with food booths galore from just about every country you could imagine. My eye quickly caught the cream puffs as big as softballs at the Denmark booth. It was too early to eat just yet so we headed to the bazaar area first. I’ve not seen so many different colorful booths filled with items from all over the world. It was really so cool to see the variety of items, folks in native dress, entertainment from around the world and just a hodge podge of all nationalities. Of course, hunger took over so we headed back to the food area. We had food from Taiwan, Columbia, Turkey, Greece & Poland. I do have to admit that there were some countries that I figured if I were to visit them I’d come back pretty skinny- take Africa and India off my list of gastronomical wonders! Upstairs there were cultural exhibits that focused on what each country is well know for inventing, developing etc. It was such a reminder of how diverse my life had been growing up in Cleveland and then as we’ve moved around serving churches with so many different heritages, Norwegian, Danish, German, etc. It was a really awesome afternoon!

So here are where my thoughts come in. This morning we the Today Show crew was at the Statue of Liberty and then Ellis Island. I’ve not ever visited either place, but they talked about how being there made them so proud to be an American and the emotion behind what each place stands for. I would love to visit Ellis Island as we both have relatives that probably somewhere along the way came through there either from Yugoslavia or Ireland or England. I was putting myself in the place of the immigrants as they came off the boat into a country where they maybe knew no one, didn’t speak the language, maybe left families behind, were very young, had no job and no idea where they were going to go or what they were going to do. They weren’t even guaranteed entry into the country! Enter into the big hall, filled with 12,000 people, all kinds of languages being spoken, sitting on a bench and waiting for your name to be called and not knowing where you were headed when they pointed you towards the stairway divided into 3 sections. Were you going to be sent down the middle section that meant you were not being admitted? Had you received a train ticket and were being sent down the right side of the staircase and being sent west? Or were you headed down the left side and staying in New York/New Jersey and maybe there were relatives down there waiting to warmly welcome you into the country? What a daunting adventure our immigrant relatives went through! I don’t think I would have been that brave.
It truly makes me think of all the people that continue to enter our country because it gives them a life that they may not have in their own country. We are so blessed by what God has given us here in our country and we are so blessed to be able to be a blessing to those looking for a better life for themselves and their families. I think sometimes we tend to forget how lucky we really are.
So those are my Friday thoughts! Hope you all can glean something from it, if nothing more than just some enjoyment from my little buggy brain! Be blessed everyone and have a great weekend!

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