Hand in Hand beginnings…
My friend Barb has recently created a group on Facebook for those who were involved or interested in the Christian ministry called Hand in Hand from back in the 70’s and 80’s. She asked those that were involved there to post a bit about their story and I decided to write mine.
Unfortunately, FB doesn’t have the capacity to post this much info at once so I decided to do it here then just link to it from FB. If you have an interest and some time, go and look at some of the old photos from those hippie days. They are quite entertaining.
Hmmm…where do I start? My family moved to Phoenix from a little town in Ohio just a few short weeks before I turned 16. That would have been around June of 1974. After I was here a few months, I learned about Hand in Hand from a connection I had in Ohio that published a “Jesus Freak” Newspaper. The guy’s name was Craig Yoe (Google him sometime-he’s a crazy man even now). I had been going to a west Phoenix Assembly of God church and wasn’t thrilled with the youth group. They were all very lukewarm for Christ, having been raised in the church (not that it’s always the case). I had only been a Christian for a year, so this was NOT the place for me. Once I started coming to Hand in Hand I felt like I was home. I was thrilled to also find out that there was a church meeting there on Sunday mornings that I could attend. So sometime in the fall, I started going to Open Door and getting to know the gang.
I was one of the few single girls in the group of “regulars” and once I settled in, I became the resident kid sister to all the guys. They all seemed to be comfortable telling me about their girl problems. (What was I, chopped liver?) Really it was great. I developed some very precious friendships during that time that I still enjoy today.
Sometime in the next year or so, I really don’t remember when, Bernie decided that he wanted to start a folk band and he asked me to be a vocalist. Shira consisted of Sharon (Chesnut) Haugen (vocals), Jay Haugen (vocals & guitar), Lee Chesnut (vocals & guitar), John McDonald (vocal & drums), Apryl (Mott) Ballard (vocals), Dan Malmgren (banjo) and me (vocals).
Most of the members had a lot more musical training than I did, but I loved to sing. Problem was that I sang all the time in my car with no music, so when the notes in the song were out of my range, I’d just change the key that I was singing in, and never even realized it. I also never learned how to find a harmony in a song except in choir when there was always a group around me that I could listen to. So I’m sure that my contribution to the group was quite challenging for Bernie. I loved the experience though and am so thankful to Bernie for taking the time to work with those of us who were novices. What a patient saint he was!
God, of course, thru Hand in Hand was also key in me marrying my husband, Terry (the one with the blond hair & beard in the photo). I won’t go into the whole story, but suffice it to say that I was in a season of life when I was trying to “keep busy”. Because of that, Bernie invited me to come down and hang out at the HiH building to watch a new band practice. They were brand new and mostly a bunch of guys that I didn’t really know that well. Toni (Skiles) Brunner and I would go down and make coffee for the guys during practice and just enjoy Glory Road’s music. As you’ve probably guessed, Terry was one of those guys. Our friendship started there and was deepened in the times that I gave him rides home from practice. He didn’t have a license at the time (long story) and I lived closest to him, so I’d give him a ride home and we’d sit out in front of his apartment (that he shared with Dennis Martin) and just talk about all kinds of things…including other girls that liked him, for hours and hours. Long story short, that friendship turned into romance and here we are still together 31 years later. He’s still playing beautiful music and I’m still making coffee for him.
O.k. sometimes he makes his own coffee. It is the 21st century after all.