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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

May 16, 2009

Silver and Gold

There is a song that the girls in Brownies sing. These are the lyrics:

Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the otherís gold.

That song keeps running through my mind as I am volunteering here at BSF headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. (www.bsfinternational.org/) There may be a few of you who do not know what BSF International is. It is Bible Study Fellowship International and I have been associated with it in one way or another for 42 years. Now I am no longer in a leadership role or even as a student but I am here volunteering for a few days and I love it. I love working in the press where literally small mountains of material are prepared to send to the classes around the world. I love the rather mindless work of putting rubber bands around a specified amount of material or weighing a stack of 25 lessons or Home Discussion Pages or other necessary work to make sure the classes have the material they need to do the work God has called them to do. Of course the fun part is also the popcorn in the afternoon and the visiting that goes on all the time.

I also enjoy working in the kitchen area preparing for a meeting. I think there will be about 100 people here this weekend as the Area Advisors gather from around the globe for meetings. It is a wonderful time and one I always enjoyed as an Area Advisor. While I was in the kitchen area this week I made sandwiches, peeled kiwis, made radish roses (I hope), folded napkins that were supposed to be Bishops Hats but I think mine looked more like bunny rabbits. We set the tables and wrapped sandwiches and some people segmented grapefruit and arranged flowers and baked cookies and arranged plates of dried fruit and cut cubes of cheese and did the myriad tasks necessary to feed and fuel the people arriving this weekend. It is almost miraculous to see people who have never done these things, learn how and do them with such skill in almost no time. The part that seems to be uniquely BSF is when the people are here and the meals are served, it all seems so effortless.

The best part is seeing old friends, as well as making new friends. I didnít tell most people that I was coming so it is fun to surprise them. Of course there are many new people since I retired in 2001. This is also a year of transition since my dear friend, Jean, is retiring this year as the director and Susie, will be assuming that position. Change is always perceived as loss, I have been told, but this is a work that has always been in transition from the time that five women sat in Miss Johnsonís living room in San Bernardino, California for a Bible study, to now the thousands who study each week in 37 countries around the world. Each new person brings to the work, whether it is as a student or a leader or a director, a fresh perspective, a new background and experience that will enrich the lives of others.

I, too, have been in transition and this week I have been encouraged and comforted and blessed by both the silver friends and the gold.

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