by Linda Smith.

We didn’t have the politically correct terms back in the small northern Minnesota town where I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s kid). But we were taught diversity in our home without knowing what to call it. That’s because we lived among Finlanders, Indians, and assorted “Scandahoovians.”

Mom and Dad invited the down-and-outers as well as the rich into our home for dinners. They invited locals as well as ministers, missionaries, and itinerant singers. As a kid, I could see that some guests had better clothes, drove nicer cars, and had all their teeth. But my parents treated everyone the same. They were all welcome at our house.

I had seen motels, but I figured those must be for people without friends. When our family of eight traveled, we always stayed with friends. Yes, all eight of us. After all, when our friends came to town, they stayed with us. That included people from near and far, and there was no occupancy limit. Preachers and missionaries came from Liberia, Uruguay, the Philippines, Japan, Iceland, the Yukon Territory, the city, the jungle, the hot countries, and the frozen countries. Our house seemed to be a magnet for them. If any minister needed a place to sleep, our beds were offered for a night, a week, or however long they were needed.

My mom always offered overnight guests a snack before bed, which meant we spread a buffet of delectable goodies that made our guests feel royal. Maybe it was the food, maybe it was the fellowship, but something brought out stories that didn’t fit into their sermons. There were stories about monkeys and snakes, wild boars and bug-a-bug hills, polar bears and whale blubber. They told about nursing women carrying babies on their backs. They had to wash what clothes they had in the river, and then the missionaries would paddle upstream for days to reach a tribe of people who hated everyone. We sat and listened with wonder and amazement.

Eventually, Mom or Dad would interrupt our imaginations to remind us we had school the next day, so we’d better get some sleep. Our dreams were filled with adventures, and so were our daydreams in school the next morning.

As the years have passed, all six of us PKs have pursued adventure in our relationships and in our travels–to different degrees and in different ways. And now we even know the name for it. It’s called “diversity.”

Linda Smith (daughter of Virgil and Ruth Rasmussen) and her husband, Kirby, now live in Seattle and worship at Westgate Chapel.

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