I’m from a large family. Like, unusually large. My seventieth (70th) cousin is due to be born in August. I’ve not come across many people who can top that number.

The other unusual thing is that we all, mostly, get along really well and want to spend time together. Case in point? We are all traveling to Webster, SD in a few weeks to stay in some cabins at a fishing lake. When I first put out the details about when and where, within about two days I had 67 people (not the entire family, but the vast majority of them) asking for a bed. We’ve taken over all five of the cabins at one resort and have spilled over into the nearest hotel. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

I’m also from a very small town. Like, unusually small. A village really. I just tried to do a google search to see if there were hard and fast rules about the differences between a city, town, and village. According to google, my hometown would be a village, which is slightly larger than a hamlet but we don’t quite constitute an actual town. So…it’s small. The weekend after our family gathering at a fishing lake in South Dakota my hometown is having an all school reunion. Another thing I’m excited about.

Both of these big events remind me just how strong one of the walls of my house is (remember the four walls of the house from Chapter 1?). I mean the “family health” wall that the Maori culture refers to that is not just the people in your house, it is the people in your life. I grew up in a place where every adult in town would contribute to parenting every child in town. Many, many of the elderly people in town were referred to as “Grandma” so & so or “Grandpa” so & so. Just recently a 96-year old woman from town died and I got a text from a childhood friend that said, “did you hear? Grandma D died” and I knew exactly to whom she was making reference.

I’m so thankful to have had the childhood I did and I’m grateful that I had the chance to grow up in such a safe and loving environment. I challenge everyone who is a part of the Mandt family to strive for creating a “house” so that people can say, “in this place, with these people, I feel safe.”

Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty Supervisor