picture of reunion banner in Sedro-Woolley
Elvin Huston

picture of Danny & LaVonda VandenburgBethel A/G church congregation picture 1957For me, the Sedro-Woolley connection to the Alumni of the 60's reunions goes back to 1956.  I was 11 years old, and that was the year my family moved back from the Ozarks of southern Missouri to my birth town of Sedro-Woolley, Washington.  Rev. W.V. Kononen was pastor of Bethel Assembly of God church just down the block from our house on Northern Avenue.  It was the same humble little church across the railroad tracks where my Father and Mother had accepted Christ some 17 years earlier.

In 1956, Danny Vandenburg, the current host of our Alumni Reunions, was the 26 year old teacher of the Junior Boys Sunday School Class.  Danny didn't just teach a class at church, he adopted his students.  He invited them into his home, and took them hiking and fishing.  His faith had arms and legs, and humor and heart.  When I was no longer in his class Danny continued mentoring me.  He helped me learn to play the guitar; he urged me to join the church orchestra; he encouraged me to sing my first solo in church; he took me with him to jail services.  When I was about to turn 16, Danny agreed to give me his 1941 twilight turquoise Chevy in exchange for 50 hours of labor helping to clear his property ... property which, for the past eight summers now, has served as the exquisite setting for bringing together my old college classmates and friends from the 60's.

Picture of the Reunion group July 2010Danny and LaVonda Vandenburg never attended Northwest College, and until eight years ago, they only knew a scattering of alumni from there.  They knew those who came up through Bethel Assembly, and went out to attend Northwest, and they knew those who came to minister at Bethel from Northwest.  But, early in 2003, while on a trip through Southern Oregon, Danny and LaVonda stopped to visit me. Danny with his 80th BD Cake When they heard about the reunions we were proposing, they invited us to bring our celebration to their place. That spring, Ed Benintendi, Eunice Wheeler and I made a trip to Vandenburg Campground to explore the possibilities.  We found it to be a perfect environment for our 60's Alumni Reunions. It was an inviting place that filled the senses with the influence of nature, and impacted us with the beauty, wisdom and power of the Creator.

Each summer, for the past eight years now, 75 to 120 Northwest Alumni from the 60's have converged  on this lovely place for a weekend of personal renewal and spiritual refreshment. As we now look toward our 9th annual gathering of 60's Alumni at Vandenburg Campground in 2011, I am amazed at the way God has woven the tapestry of all of our lives together.  As a young boy God touched my life in a profound way through Danny & LaVonda Vandenburg.  As a result I dedicated myself to the Lord, and eventually attended Northwest College. There the Lord touched my life again by dozens of fellow classmates who shared my desire to serve God. Now, some 40 plus years later He has caused our lives to all converge again. For the Vandenburgs and me, it's as though we've come "full circle". Danny & LaVonda are now reaping a special joy, having been brought into the love and fellowship of you all.  In a marvelous way this all goes back to their investment in one little boy's life. That little boy is now 66 years old, and his Sunday School teacher, Danny Vandenburg  turned 81 in September 2010.