Grand Forks’ loss is Bismarck’s gain

Levi and Bethany Andrist were featured in the July 2010 issue of North Dakota Living Magazine. It’s from their days as Burning Hills Singers in the Medora Musical

Some weekends are so over-the-top you can’t keep them to yourself. My friend Marlys Johnson and I recently had one like that – in Bismarck.

We stopped by Widman’s Candy Shop on our way out of Grand Forks. When I spotted a solid dark chocolate cowboy boot complete with spurs, I knew that was the perfect gift to take west. Marlys bought chocolate covered crunchy peanut pieces as her present.

Widman’s fineries were for our very fine hosts – Bethany and Levi Andrist. When I spotted that boot I knew they had to have it as a reminder of all the boot scootin’ they did some years back when they were two of the Burning Hills Singers in the Medora Musical.

It seems only yesterday that Levi and Bethany came to Grand Forks so Levi could attend law school at UND. They are some of North Dakota’s finest young people – he from Crosby and she from Wimbledon.

One Sunday not long after settling in Grand Forks, they came to our church. Everyone fell in love with them on their very first visit, and I do mean everyone. At that time, we didn’t even know they could sing. Oh my, can they sing.

Along with Levi hitting the law books, the two jumped right into community life. They sang in the Grand Forks Master Chorale and joined a service club. For the UND Foundation and Alumni Association, Bethany worked as Development Officer for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Later she was operations coordinator at the Empire Arts Center.

We were thrilled beyond belief when they decided to join our church. Bethany became choir director and Levi sang tenor from the back row. I was blessed to sing soprano right in front of him. They also were a very important part of our musical worship team.

But you know how it is: time passes and people finish school. Levi graduated from UND in May and he and Bethany left shortly thereafter – for Bismarck. Levi serves as a law clerk at the North Dakota Supreme Court and Bethany is development director for the Bismarck State College Foundation.

Marlys and I miss them and felt Bismarck calling.

Bethany and Levi have a lovely home and yard. We helped them pick beans and tomatoes from their garden. They grilled kabobs for dinner and we dined on their deck. Bethany topped the meal off with chocolate cake swathed by her infamous boiled chocolate frosting. I can still taste it.

There was so much news to catch up on, but we still found time to play the very fun word game, Catch Phrase. Sorry to say the lawyer and his love ended up with the most points.

We planned an early morning Sunday walk while the egg bake was in the oven, but awoke to a gentle rain and the most beautiful soft rolling thunder I’ve heard in quite some time. So instead of donning our tennis shoes, we polished off a pot of coffee at the dining room table and after a scrumptious breakfast left for Zion Lutheran Church.

The four of us formed a mini choir in that front pew: Marlys the alto, Levi the tenor and Bethany and I the sopranos. Talk about a slice of harmonizing heaven on:

God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour your pow’r; crown your ancient church’s story, bring its bud to glorious flow’r. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.

What came after church was just as elating. Levi and Bethany took us to the North Dakota State Capitol Building. Wow! I vaguely remember being there as a child but that was eons ago. It meant more to me this time especially since my late grandfather, H.F. Niewoehner served in the North Dakota House in 1931, 1933, 1935 and 1937. A fire destroyed the old Capitol building in 1930, but my grandpa was serving when this new Capitol was ready for 1935’s legislative session. I wonder if he was as impressed as I was with the Memorial Hall, the building’s central feature. It’s said to be the most beautiful interior setting in North Dakota and I believe it. Everywhere you look you see tall pillars and bronze and marble and granite and walnut and chestnut and oak.

The four of us took the elevator to the top of the 19-story Capitol tower where you have a fabulous view of the city.

Levi also showed us the Supreme Court chambers and his impressive office lined with law books. I mentioned to him that perhaps he should take a break from the books and water the African violet on his window sill. I’m sure he took care of that on Monday morning.

From the Capitol we made our way downtown to the Blarney Stone Pub for lunch which we topped off with bread pudding that came with four spoons.

Back at the Andrist home, Levi and Bethany blessed Marlys and me by sitting down at their lovely old grand piano and giving us a musical sendoff.

Yes, it was an over-the-top weekend. We came home, but a little bit of us stayed west of here with friends we’ll always miss.

Bethany called the other day. You know that solid dark chocolate cowboy boot complete with spurs? – GONE!

Until Soon

5 thoughts on “Grand Forks’ loss is Bismarck’s gain

  1. WHAT A NEAT STORY…..I remember hearing Grandpa give a speech on the radio when
    I was just a little kid….We were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and we had to be quiet so everyone gathered around the radio could hear him….
    HI LEVI AND BETHANY…Wish you would come to St. Louis again. We will take you to
    Ted Drewes again. No kidding!!!!!

  2. Naomi,
    I just love reading your stories. I really miss seeing you. We really do need to get together for lunch, so I can here more about your travels.

    Audrey

  3. Dear Naomi,

    Levi and I love and miss you very much! We had the best time with you and Marlys in Bismarck, and you recalled it perfectly. Reading it was almost as much fun as the real visit.

    This post was emailed and passed out to all of our family members, a few friends, and somebody even sent the link to the Supreme Court Justices! :-) We can’t wait to come back to Grand Forks over Homecoming, and we’re especially looking forward to singing with you at Church.

    Love,
    Bethany & Levi

    P.S. Hi, Lori! We most certainly plan to visit St. Loius again, and we will be sure to hold you to your offer for a date at Ted Drewes again. :-)

  4. Dear Naomi,

    Levi and I love and miss you very much! We enjoyed every minute with spent with you and Marlys during your visit to Bismarck. Your story was almost as much fun to read as the real visit! What great memories…

    This post was emailed and passed on to all of our family, a few friends, and somebody even forwarded the link to the Supreme Court Justices! We can’t wait to see you soon when we come to Grand Forks for UND Homecoming, and we are especially looking forward to taking part in some great music at Immanuel Lutheran!

    Love,
    Bethany & Levi

    P.S. Hi, Lori! Thanks for the message! We most certainly plan to come to St. Louis again for a visit, and the next time we do, we are going to hold you to the offer for an ice-cream date at Ted Drewes again! :-)

  5. Dear Naomi,

    Levi and I love and miss you very much! We enjoyed every minute we spent with you and Marlys during your visit to Bismarck. Your story was almost as much fun to read as the real visit! What great memories…

    This story was emailed and passed along to all of our family members, some good friends, and somebody even forwarded this post to the Supreme Court Justices! We are so excited to see you soon when we come to Grand Forks for UND Homecoming. We’re especially excited to take part is some music-making at Immanuel!

    Love,
    Bethany & Levi

    P. S. Thanks for the note, Lori! We most definitely plan to take another fun visit to St. Louis, and when we do, we are going to hold you to your offer of a Ted Drewes ice cream date. :-)

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