Years and years ago, the Zimmerman family of five moved to a little farm in Kansas.  This little farm had an old house, which they loved, and a big red barn, a chicken house and a garage, of course, and a little house they called their “guesthouse.”  They cleaned and painted and renovated and decorated both houses on this little farm of theirs.  They dreamed about what adventures and stories they would someday be able to tell of their life on this little Kansas farm.

Just a few years later, the Hock family of four traveled around raising support for their own adventure as missionaries to Uruguay.  They arrived in Kansas needing a home for three months while they visited churches and continued their travels.  The Zimmerman’s pastor, thinking of their little guesthouse, asked if the Hocks might make this their temporary home.  This act linked together the two families for what would be a lifetime friendship.

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The Zimmerman family of five and the Hock family of four loved each other.  Some friendships grow from the very first moment – they are the kindred spirit variety, the kind where you felt like family for years and years.  The families laughed and had fun; they cried and shared each others burdens; they ran between the two houses borrowing things like sugar and sitting for a chat.

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All too soon, the Hock family of four had to leave to continue their adventure.  Years passed; they came back but not to stay in the Zimmerman’s little guesthouse, for the Hock family of four soon grew to be the Hock family of five and then six and finally seven.  Alas, the guesthouse became too small.  Yet, on their visits every four years, the families continued their friendship, picking up where they had left off, chatting and laughing and celebrating birthdays together.  After all, they were family.

Well, the little Hock family grew up to be the big Hock family.  The children started looking for a place to live and work during their college summers.  And the Hock family came back to the little guesthouse.  First, it was Matthew, the little baby boy of all those years ago when the two families first met, who returned to his home on the little Zimmerman farm.

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Then, the whole family came back to stay during their visits.  They knew that space would be a little tight, but they wanted to stay with “family.”  They filled that little guesthouse with their now big family, and they spilled into the old farm house with Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman, for, the Zimmerman family of five had become the Zimmerman family of four and then three and finally two.

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The Zimmerman family had extended in size through births and marriages from the number of five to the number of nineteen.  Through all the years and all the changes, the “Zimmerman” and the Hock families are still linked in their kindred spirits.  They still laugh and chat and celebrate birthdays together.  For the people who came to the little Zimmerman farm all those years ago just keep on coming back.

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