Lunch with Marjorie: Burning bushes, burning faith – part one

Writing about Jane Logsdon is emotional. It’s difficult to find focus, because there’s so much to tell. We dined at Roma’s Pizza in Roscoe, turning this take-out place to a dine-in. I ordered baked tortellini; Jane tried stuffed shells with cheese and spinach. Our friendship over the last five years has been mostly e-mails, so I’d hadn’t learned much about her background.

“I’m from a southwest suburb of Chicago,” she said. Her family moved to Dixon about 12 years ago.

“Did you go to college to be a teacher?” I asked, knowing Jane’s a pre-school teacher.

“No, no. Didn’t want anything to do with kids. Now I love it,” she smiles, her blue eyes intense, her smile captivating. What she studied was French and art.

“I wanted to be a designer, but didn’t get a job doing that right out of college.” It’s easy to imagine this vivacious, trim, blonde in the art world. But she went another direction.

“I became tour escort for Senior Citizen Bus Tours…traveled. You have your fall foliage up the East Coast…Florida in February…New Orleans in February and March…Door County fish boils. You narrate…take care of the seniors…make sure their needs are met, and, tell jokes. You probably can’t picture yourself standing up for an hour telling jokes.”

“Actually, I can,” I defended. “I’ve been to Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise.”

Roma’s owner served us our baked pastas. “Parmesan?” he asked, maitre ‘d style. He created ambiance. The food was great—even with plastic utensils.

Jane continued. “You cover a lot of miles on a bus. Picture me, and the bus driver, the only ones under 30…uh, under 60. They were good people. They appreciated it. To sit and cover miles with them talking about their life stories…senior citizens have a lot of wisdom and experience. They’re just wonderful, they really are.”

“That’s wonderful,” I said.

“I didn’t know when I should quit. What did it was a New Orleans trip, February, coming up by Champaign on (Route) 55. Our bus hit three semis. I remember talking to the lady that did die—she lying in the aisle. The bus hit ice, swerved and swung.”

I was rapt.

“The thing that saved me…the bars in the front seat…”

“Did you see it?”

“I don’t remember…the impact was so…I mean you slide…then bam, bam, bam…you’re just hanging on. It happened in a second.”

“I’m always surprised buses don’t have seat belts,” I mused.

“The bus was totaled. What I do remember is I always took my shoes off traveling on the bus. It was a long travel day. I said, ‘open the door, I gotta get my shoes out.’ I think I accomplished that. All of the sudden, these big arms just picked me up and carried me. It was a truck driver. I was in shock. I had walked through the bus…and talked to the lady who was in the aisle, dripping in blood, then got off because I knew I couldn’t help anybody in the ice storm without my proper shoes. But this guy just sat me in the cab of his own truck.”

She did one more trip, then married Bean in June of 1978.

“Bean and I went right into campus life, Youth for Christ.”

They did that for 18 years until 1995, when their lives dramatically changed.

“The underlying factor is that God is good, under all of the journeys He takes us on, which can be a lot of stress and emotional trauma. I was comfortable doing professional ministry. I had my Bible studies, helped with fund-raisers. Bean had been restless for about two years. He knew God was leading him to something else, but hadn’t made it clear yet.”

Then Bean heard God.

“Bean heard God’s still, small voice, booming, ‘Take your family and move to Israel.’” He decided to wait two weeks to tell Jane, to see if the thought would recur in his mind.

“Marjorie, I directed my own pre-school…had been a stay-at-home-mom for eight years. The pre-school was my baby. I didn’t want to go to Israel. I thought, ‘I don’t think it will help my faith for me to see a rock that Jesus walked on.’ I even asked Bean, ‘Do they have highways and grocery stores?’ My image of Israel—I’m so non-political…didn’t watch international news. It was Sunday school pictures.”

Bean did tell Jane after the two weeks.

“I was looking up at the bottom of the barrel. My whole world was crashed. I told Bean it would take a burning bush to get me there—and then that’s where the real testimony comes into power.”

Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.

From the April 13-19, 2005, issue

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