From John Lovaas (reprinted from the March 2014 USE Newsletter)

Last fall I got one of the USE-grams (emails) asking for a ride to Dulles Airport. The request was from someone whose name I didn’t recognize, but the ride was at a convenient time for me, so I volunteered. Anyway, meeting new people is part of belonging, and I’ve met many nice folks volunteering for USE or being helped by a USE member. This would not be an exception to that rule. On October 29, I drove over to Karen Mayberry’s home and we headed for Dulles. She is indeed another nice person and we had fun chatting as we drove. At one point, I asked her where she was going on her trip. She said she was flying to Amsterdam and going on a river cruise in Europe. I think she said it was her first river cruise and she was definitely pretty excited as she headed off for a two-week adventure from Amsterdam to Budapest. “Wow, that’s interesting,” I responded. I told her that my wife Fran and I were heading to Europe for a cruise ourselves in a couple of weeks. In fact, I told her, we were flying to Budapest with friends to start a cruise from that very city. Then we got to the fact that she was travelling on a Viking River Cruise, and so were we. And, guess what?! Her river boat was named “Freya”, as was ours. Karen’s cruise would end on November 14 when she would disembark from the Freya to fly back home—just hours before we would board the very same boat and head back up the Danube River, retracing Karen’s path.

From Karen Mayberry

Wow! I was surprised when I got an offer for a ride to Dulles airport for my Viking cruise, the same day I put in the request. This was the first time I requested USE services and feel proud to belong to an organization that comes through for folks in need, the way that they do. I knew very few USE members at that time, and so was glad to make the acquaintance of John Lovaas on the way to the airport and his equally friendly wife Fran at the USE potluck meeting in January 2014.

I had another amazing USE experience at this same potluck. One of my top travel bucket list destinations for the past 20+ years has been Israel. I was supposed to travel there last year, but my friend had to back out at the last minute. Happenstance at the USE potluck had me sitting at the table of Jean and Art Banks, who told me about an Israel and Palestine pilgrimage through their church. They provided an information package to me, and within days, I joyfully joined the pilgrimage. Another fortunate stroke of USE serendipity.

Another USE Connection from the same March 2014 newsletter

Larisa Briggs went to help Martha Patterson learn to use Facebook. Turned out Martha used to be her teacher! –-As related by JoAnne Norton, former USE member

NOTE: We’ll continue to post stories about the benefits and joys of USE membership and exchanges. If you have a good one, share it with us!