The summer before my firstborn daughter was to enter her senior year of homeschooling, my husband picked her up at Florida College camp and gave her permission to start college in Florida. Classes there were starting in two weeks, and the college was over 3,000 miles away. It was a loss I grieved with some weeping and gnashing of teeth, though I never told her, so that I would not rain on her parade.
She said she wasn’t going to get her “MRS Degree”, and I told her, “Okay, but if you decide to “look around”, look for him in the college library”. The night she met Ashley met Brian, he was hanging out around the Volleyball court circling a picnic table on all fours like an ape. He wasn’t what we expected, but in the end, he ended up as studious as any boy in the library, earning a degree in agriculture and a certificate in Aquarium Science after they’d been married awhile, and the certificate helped land him a great job in a research lab at Harvard Medical breeding and sustaining aquatic animals for research. This job in Boston was near where Brian had grown up in Rhode Island, so they were able to live near not only Brian’s parents, but his siblings and their children and to worship with them in Lincoln, Rhode Island at the Greater Providence church of Christ. The first time I visited this congregation was when we went there for the little wedding in August of 2002.
About once each year I would fly to Boston for a couple weeks to visit Ashley and Brian, and would worship with them both during the years they attended a congregation in downtown Boston and the years they attended the Greater Providence church of Christ where they worship in a building owned by the Blackstone Historical Society. They have always held strong to the New Testament patterns in all they do, like sturdy New Englanders, have raised a lot of wonderful children in their congregation, weathered a lot of storms together, and have worked hard to strive for unity.
One of the most consistent things I’ve witnessed in this congregation is a faithful couple, Haven & Carol Starr who have worshipped with this congregation for decades. You know the type. Consistent. Loyal. Sacrificial. Stable. Sincere. Trustworthy. “Salt of the earth.” They are givers.
These givers invited us to a delicious lunch at 99 Restaurant where we had the opportunity to express our deep gratitude to them for being such a stabilizing factor in the congregation throughout all these years. In fact, during the time of our visit they had volunteered to take on the mind boggling assignment of charting the seating arrangements at every service to comply with their state’s conditions to legally meet together, as well as the preferences of each worshipper.
When Brian’s grandmother died, Haven & Carol sent a fruit bouquet where the family was gathered to mourn. When Brian went to the ER for chest pain, they came over late at night so Haven could take Brian to the hospital and Carol could stay with Ashley for moral support.
“Carol is the woman everyone ugly cries to” Ashley once commented, then added" And when she has the ladies over for Bible classes, she chooses important topics, serves us Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, just the way you like it and has enough blankets for each woman to wrap themselves up in to stay cozy."
From the day long ago when the brethren here all worked together to help create a wonderful wedding reception for Ashley and Brian, to this day they have always been present at every crisis, just like family. Do you know how comforting that is when you live 3000 miles away --- that someone is loving your children the way you wish you were present to love them? It's not only comforting. It's priceless. Thank you Haven and Carol, and all the other supportive and loving members of the Greater Providence church of Christ.
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike,
Lincoln, RI 02865