Images From a Family Album

 The album of the mind opens to these images:

-toddling Ashly smugly taking her first halting steps, then collapsing onto padded Pampers before a hovering mama Rachel and proud papa Brandon Mills;
-statuesque Julia twirling on silver skates before crowded bleachers of friends and parents and appearing on Dad's cable television show;
-irrepressible Keith engrossed in a video game on Dad's new PalmPilot between rehearsals as Randolph MacAfee in "Bye, Bye Birdie", playing piano, leading music at church, starring as Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, or slicing down a lane in a summer swim meet;
-slightly paunchy Ken as papa Harry MacAfee in horn-rimmed glasses and crooked red bow tie holding forth in his acting debut against "Kids"("...why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way!") and intoning an "Ode to Ed Sullivan"("Ed...I love you!");
-golden-wigged Julia as Goldilocks testifying at her trial for trespassing or as a disheveled Annie Hall whining for help against a spider;
-sedately attired Ken lecturing deadpan before television cameras on the nuances of patents as the faculty and graduate students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong hang on every word;
-bright sun reflecting off a shimmering blue dress as Julia stands with her graduating friends on a Jordan Middle School stage;
-quiet Reed in gray dress suit, outstanding athlete, musician, and Spanish student; head prefect, hero to younger students, evoking "Amazing Grace" with the school choir, then a poignant personal farewell speech  to fellow students at Midland School under spreading bows on the steps of its rustic dining hall;
-serious Sue hunched over a computer screen scrutinizing tidbits from the seminary teachers's e-mail list for her next early morning lesson, or lighting 500 displays for the annual Christmas Crèche Exhibit;
-Reed, in shorts and Che' T-shirt, air dribbling on the soccer field at UC Santa Cruz;
-Ken contemplating a view through a huge video camera or attending a rack of humming VCRs and monitors;
-the town of Bethlehem at dusk on Christmas Eve from a nearby shepherd's field with carillons tolling from the Church of the Nativity;
-a scarlet sun setting through the arches of the BYU Jerusalem Center on the Mount of Olives over a panorama of ancient Jerusalem from Golgotha to the pinnacle of the Temple;
-the haze of high noon over the Dead Sea and the great Rift Valley from a quarter of a mile above (at sea level!) upon the mountaintop fortress of Masada, site and symbol of Jewish sacrifice;
-grinning Julia caked in black mud bobbing in the Dead Sea;
-a pristine sun rising on a glassy Sea of Galilee from a fishing boat, where hours later roiling waves crash on the rocky shore as the afternoon winds whip off the Golan Heights;
-the pure headwater pools of the River Jordan springing from a cliff at Caesarea Phillipi from under the shade of a wall of fig trees;
-Keith flinging smooth stones with David's sling;
-a legion of mighty Mormon men hopping off a bus and hefting a Druze farm tractor out of a roadside ditch;
-Israeli F-16s screaming over the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. Tabor) from an airbase straddling the seaward entrance to the Valley of Armageddon, just inland of the bustling Haifa seaport, from the long windswept ridge called Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah's battle with the Priests of Baal--and future battles to end all battles;
-a rooftop of Jaffa overlooking embarkation sites of a fleeing Jonah and Pauline missions, and the place from which Peter's vision opened Christianity for all the world;
-Palestinian children playing soccer with Reed in a cluttered courtyard;
-Egyptian peddlers hawking postcards "--One dolla for de whole schmeer!"
-the dust of galloping hooves in Saharan sand, as Reed on an Arabian horse raced an Egyptian past pyramids;
-security surrounding a tourist bus--submachineguns under the short jacket of personal bodyguards and heavy artillery mounted on land cruiser escorts;
-screaming sirens accomplishing nothing in a jammed multilane highway where lines mean nothing;
-deserted streets at dusk on Ramadan, where moments before a donkey cart couldn't pass;
-old men playing ancient checkers with stones on a board drawn on the sand in the shade of the icons of Ramses at magnificent Memphis;
-Mormon teens from Beijing to Burley sprawled out in a Heliopolis hotel hallway playing hearts with biblical face cards--staffs, tablets, stars and steeples;
-tall Julia dwarfed by even taller new-found brothers ranging from 6'1" to 6'7";
-compact Keith tying oriental rug knots seated among Egyptian boys at a carpet weaving school on the banks of the Nile;
-whirling dervish dancing on the decks of a wind-powered felucca sailing down the Nile;
-endless checkpoints at every airport;
-the grandeur of Vienna from atop the Riesenrad Ferris wheel;
-a crowded mass at St. Mary's chapel as the Vienna Boys choir sang Mozart;
-ice-covered fjords of Newfoundland from 40,000 feet as we headed home after 17 days and a four thousand year journey.

In one extraordinary year,  we walked where Jesus walked; descended to the lowest point on earth to drift afloat in the Dead Sea and ascended into the icy stratosphere en route to the four corners of the world--Hong Kong to the Holy Land to Home, which we love best of all.

Ken Allen
January 1998