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  • Writer's pictureTina Siemens

Leaving a Legacy

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.”

~ Steve Saint

My upcoming book is a gift to future generations through the eyes of my parents. I had been thinking about writing a book for years and finally made it a New Year’s resolution in 2016: This

was going to be the year I would start this journey! It was very liberating to say that. Now, here I am at the end of the journey and I can say with joy that it’s been a road worth traveling.

My research went way back, tracing my ancestral roots to the 1500’s. I have a renewed respect and gratitude for the many generations before me that have documented and left their legacy to this world. Their work played a major role in bringing this story to life. Having been born in Mexico and visiting Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Canada, I was able to glean large swaths of information from these countries and their people. And I was aided by different archives in the U.S. In every location, I read about the sacrifices generations of Mennonites made, migrating to new and unknown lands.

The beginning of this Mennonite journey occurred on January 01, 1525 when the Anabaptists held in the first adult baptism in Zürich Switzerland. A Catholic priest named Menno Simons had left the Catholic Church on January 30, 1536 and become the leader to the Anabaptists. Later, the Anabaptists were called Mennonites.

Fast forward through the different migrations to Prussia (present-day Poland), South Russia (present-day Ukraine), Canada, old Mexico, and finally, on March 26, 1977, Seminole, Texas, where my family landed. Which brings me to my personal interviews. I sat down with my father and many others and captured a firsthand account of what they went through. These brave men and women were willing to give up security to ensure a better way of life for their families. So, by me putting their stories down in writing, I’m able to pass on to future generations a window into the past. Of course, I also hope current generations enjoy it now and ready themselves to pass the baton to the future.

Leaving a legacy comes in many different forms. Some would say their legacy was in material things they could pass on to their children. Others might want to leave a legacy of life lessons. For my father, his legacy occurred on March 25, 1977 in El Paso, Texas at the border crossing when the immigration officer called him to the counter. As the officer asked Dad what he was doing there for the fifth day in a row, Dad had two choices: lie and be let into the U.S. or tell the truth and be denied entry. It was a tough choice, one that meant a humiliating trip back to Chihuahua, Mexico. Dad’s legacy became honesty.

Due to God’s divine providence, Dad was granted a visa anyway. Honesty was the right choice.

Soon, we were enjoying this wonderfully free land. Dad, with very little money, found an abundance of opportunity. And the welcoming people of Gaines County wrapped their arms around us, helping us find our way. It was yet another miracle!

Through this project, I learned of a quote from my grandpa Friesen: “The best legacy that a parent can give their children is to teach him/her to work with their hands.” My father is leaving a legacy. Always tell the truth. I couldn’t be prouder.

My desire is for all future generations to appreciate and apply this written testimony of true events that have taken place in the past so that they can have a successful future. My prayer is that it will bless each person who reads or listens to this book. I want them to glean from the experiences of both the good times and the bad, add their thoughts, and pass it on.

Let this book be a gallon of water to prime the pump so many more gallons may flow. Take some water and pass it on. There’s plenty for everyone.

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