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A Presidential Dream Come True

Sunday, November 10, 2019
A Presidential Dream Come True

(Contributed Photo)

When author Tina Siemens spoke to the Seminole Lions Club recently, she mentioned former President Jimmy Carter and how he helped her become a United States citizen in 1986. Siemens added she hoped that one day she would be able to meet him, shake his hand, and say, “Thank you.” On Sunday, November 3, Siemens took that even one step further. She also gave him a copy of her book, “Seminole. Some People Never Give Up.”

“I flew to Americus, Georgia, and then drove to Plains, Georgia, on Sunday morning,” Siemens explained. She noted that the visit was brief. Siemens’ friend, who made the meeting possible, introduced the Seminole resident to Mr. Carter as someone from Texas. She also mentioned that Siemens had written a book.

“She (Siemens friend) added that I wanted to thank him for signing Private law 96-63 S 707. He reached out his hand for a handshake. As I handed him my book, I told him ‘thank you’ not only from my family but for the thousands that were now US citizens because of him signing that bill.”

Former President Carter then said, “You’re welcome,” and he reached out his hand again.

Even though Mr. Carter had been advised by his doctor and church members not to attend the church that Sunday morning because of a fractured pelvic bone, he did. “He said that he had made up his mind that he was going to teach,” Siemens explained.

“He had an amazing Sunday school lesson on the question, ‘Is there life after death?’ It was taken out of Job 14:7-15.” Siemens said Mr. Carter spoke for about 45 minutes and then sat through the church service. “We didn’t know at this time whether he would feel strong enough to do a photo-op for the whole congregation in attendance, but he agreed to do that as well.” The published writer said she was amazed that the former president sat for over an hour with a fractured pelvic bone.

Siemens was the last one in line, so she was able to give him a gift, a copy of her book. “He did not comment on my book. But it was given to him along with the letter that I wrote, and only time will tell whether he will send me back anything.” She added that she was told that sometimes Mr. Carter would receive a letter, write a brief response on it, and send it back. “That would be an amazing gift to receive.”

Even though Siemens was unable to discuss her family’s (Rempels) journey from Canada to Mexico and then to Seminole with Carter, she was thrilled to meet the man who had had such a significant impact on her life. “For me to hand him a book was more than any of the 500+ people in the audience could do. It was all because of a personal introduction from one of his friends there,” she explained.

During the photo op, Siemens met Carter’s wife, Rosalynn. “I met his wife there; she took my little granddaughter Kira and put her arm around her.”

Even though the visit was brief, the author is still in awe that it happened. “It feels like a dream that I was there and privileged enough to have a special introduction and to thank him in person. But, while there, I was informed that he has always had a heart for the Mennonites,” Siemens noted.

In the letter Siemens had written to Mr. Carter, she told him that like the story in Luke, Chapter 17, where Jesus healed the lepers, and one came back to thank Jesus, she wanted to go back and thank him. “I wanted to thank President Carter not only for my family but for thousands of other Mennonites,” she said.

“As I handed my book to him I told him ‘thank you’ not only from my family but for the thousands that were now US citizens because of him signing that bill.”