Only a few times in a family’s history do memories and reality interface and create a moment never forgotten. One of those times was Labor Day weekend, when more than 90 Libby family members gathered at the remote and peaceful Granger Butte Ranch in Indian Valley, Idaho. They came from as far away as Alaska, California and England for four relaxing days of laughter bouncing through small groups, rejuvenated relationships and new friendships.
Verdene Libby Meyer and her husband, Mickey, hosted the event on their family ranch. The cowboy theme was reinforced by 1,500-pound hay-bale tables, calf roping irons, a 70-person hay ride with Grandma Deenie at the wheel, hay harvest, horseback training, a corn roast and hearty home-cooked meals.
As much fun as everyone had, many would agree the essence of the reunion came toward the end of a spectacular Sabbath filled with heartfelt memories and authentic worship. The sunset met bonfire ambiance to spur the sharing of values, dreams and what God is doing in each life.
Family patriarch Ralph Libby was the son of Ashbel Cram Libby, a Wells Fargo stage driver, and his wife, Sarah Barrett, a nurse and member of the first graduating class from the St. Helena Sanitarium.
When Ralph was 16, he began to wonder if his mother's religion was really true. Was it for him? His mother seemed to sense his questioning and one evening set out for a friend's home for an earnest season of prayer for him.
That same night, as Ralph lay sleeping, he woke to a bright light in his room. What appeared to be an angel sat at the foot of his bed. He shook his brother, Ray, and told him to look, but Ray couldn't see anything and told him to go back to sleep. But he wasn't dreaming. He watched as the angel moved to the hillside and joined a group of angels until they faded into the darkness.
That experience made him a believer. He eventually become an ordained Adventist pastor and evangelist in Washington.
At the reunion, the four living of the nine original Libby siblings explored the contents of Grandpa Ralph Libby’s antique evangelistic-meeting trunk. They found Daniel and Revelation banners from 1912 and other treasures he created as a Walla Walla College graduate and evangelist-pastor. Ralph's children reached through time to recall how his love for them and his dedicated pastoral heart influenced their passion for God and their life callings.
Among this family of third-, fourth- and fifth-generation Adventists are doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, preachers and many other professionals. Young and old inspired hearts with stories of dedicated efforts and mission adventures and made plans to join extended family forces to continue the advancement of God’s kingdom “just like Grandpa did."
Eighteen years after the last Libby reunion, heritage came alive, and dreams of working as a family to reach people for God took on new passion. What better use of family relationships could there be?