Kristina Noonan | Freelance

Senior Kristi Lauwers woke up to a crisp Friday morning in her little house off campus. For the outside hitter on the Royal volleyball team, that meant game day and no classes. She reached over to her bedside table and grabbed her glasses. Then her phone buzzed.

There was an email notification from Bethel University’s Post Office.

“I figured that I had let my PO box overflow again,” Kristi said.

As her eyes continued to scan the email she threw on clothes to figure out what this could all be about. Sliding into the seat of her red car Kristi sped over to campus.

“I started wracking my brain for reasons of why I was being called in,” Lauwers said through her laughter.

The email was from Jeff Swenson, Bethel’s Post Office Manager, and requested that she shed some light on a questionable letter. Swenson came in possession of the letter this summer when the gym was being cleaned for construction. The letter was dated over 30 years ago, prompting Swenson to put on his detective and find the dusty rosters from the 1980s..

He scanned the names and found what he was looking for: Lana Lauwers from Anchorage, Alaska. Knowing the history of legacies at Bethel, Swenson combed through this year’s directory and found a match: Kristi Lauwers, also from Anchorage.

“When he handed me the letter I could hardly believe it,” Kristi said.

During the fall of Lana Karlberg’s junior year at Bethel in 1983 she addressed a letter to her sister Janice. The letter was sent by Lauwers’ Auntie Lana but was soon returned because of an inaccurate address. Somewhere in the process of re-sending it, Auntie Lana lost the letter. For 32 years, the letter lay pinched between the gym’s wall and the bleachers In the Robertson Center gymnasium. Lauwers had been practicing and playing in her college volleyball seasons only feet away from something that would soon become a family treasure.

“It is crazy to me that this letter sat under the bleachers for 32 years,” Janice, Kristi’s aunt, said. “I am excited to finally get a chance to read the letter and I hope it isn’t anything too embarrassing.”

With some help from their niece the letter finally made its’ way to the hands of Auntie Janice. The three of them gathered on Skype as they read the letter together.

“It was a true blast to the past,” Auntie Lana said. “We cried and laughed our whole way through.”

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