Hearts tuned to sing God’s grace
By Jan McNaught, Class of 1963
We sang without a mixer board or headsets. All we used were our voices and the glorious hymns sung for years by folks raising their hands and hankies. We chose songs that touched our hearts, then we practiced and practiced. One of the hymns we chose was…
"Though we were in some places that seemed hardly big enough for a post office, we always anticipated the mail call, hoping for a letter from that “someone special” and/or cookies from mother."
streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”
We were young and enthusiastic and inexperienced enough to sign on for a 4,000-mile summer tour. Singing about grace in a practice room was one thing; living it every day in that nonair-conditioned van we nicknamed “The Green Goose” would reveal the power of God’s grace.
“The Green Goose” took us from Idaho to Minnesota and back. We spent a week at a camp nestled in the mountains of Montana where we could sit beside snow-fed streams and read God’s Word. We stopped at a small town in North Dakota where Dutch people met us with hearty handshakes and warm-from-the-oven Küchen (cake). One day off, we swam too long in one of Minnesota’s beautiful lakes and ended up with painful sunburns, don’t cha know?
Though we were in some places that seemed hardly big enough for a post office, we always anticipated the mail call, hoping for a letter from that “someone special” and/or cookies from mother. We were served the evening meal and breakfast at homes in which we stayed and were sometimes given a sack lunch. For some reason, 95 percent of our evening meals were ham.
I think we received $6 a week for spending money and lunches. Then in August, $600 was credited to our student account for the next term. Whether college cost less back then doesn’t really matter; sending someone to college has always demanded sacrifice. After writing many checks to NNC for his two girls, my dad said, “Best money I ever spent!”
Since my traveling summer of ’62, many groups have represented NNU. Now, the educational zone covers fewer square miles; vehicles are no doubt air-conditioned; and students text and Skype instead of waiting for “snail mail.” Someday, however, someone who traveled the summer of 2012 will wonder: “How could we have been effective using only …?”
It’s not unusual to encounter someone who heard us sing “way back when,” and it is noteworthy that daughters and nephews and grandsons are now dreaming of doing that tour. Those fortunate enough to share God’s grace traveling for NNU have always been blessed. The rich melodies and mercies of that summer have more than once whispered God’s grace to me, nourishing my soul again.