OAKLAND – Although Oakland’s Lucinda Kinsinger says she always saw herself as a shy little Mennonite girl, she refuses to let it stop her from pursuing what she loves – whether it’s writing with honesty and vulnerability or traveling to a remote village in China.
Kinsinger is the author of the recently published book, “Turtle Heart: Improbable Friends With a Life-Changing Bond”.
She explained that 10 years ago, she worked as a transport driver in Rusk County, Wisconsin, the rural community where she was born and where she has lived most of her life.
âI was tasked with driving an elderly Ojibwa woman and was fascinated by her from the moment I saw her,â Kinsinger said. âShe was small and bubbly and one of the most original people I have ever met. She was also very lonely, and that was part of the momentum of our friendship. I would visit him and help him with things, and our friendship grew.
Kinsinger learned that the woman, named Charlene, came from a difficult background with an alcoholic father.
âIn contrast, I grew up very sheltered, in a Mennonite home with deeply religious and loving parents,â Kinsinger said. âCharlene made me personally discover a part of the world that I had only read before. We had a lot of other differences. I was young; she was old. I was shy; she was fiery. Our friendship was often rockyâ¦ and yet despite that, we bonded very deeply. My friendship with her taught me that we are all made of the same human substance, regardless of our origin.
Kinsinger said the woman also taught him a lot about God.
âAt first, I wanted to help her know God – and I think through our friendship and reading the Bible that I gave her, she came to know God in a deeper way,â he said. Kinsinger said. âBut she also helped me grow in my understanding of God. She had a simple and pure love for Him and an adoration for Him which flowed naturally from her love and appreciation of nature. She helped me see how BIG God is and how he affects everyone, not just people in churches.
Kinsinger said the uniqueness of their friendship made him want to write about it.
âI loved the contrast between us,â she said. “It called out the whole screenwriter in me.”
Kinsinger noted that she had two other books published. âAnything But Simple: My Mennonite Lifeâ tells of her childhood and young femininity in rural Rusk County.
âA lot of people have questions about ‘ordinary’ people like Tory Mennonites or Amish,â Kinsinger said. âAnything But Simpleâ immerses you in the world of a branch of the conservative Mennonites and lets you experience it. It explores the Mennonite heritage that is precious to me, as well as some of the questions and puzzles of my faith.
“The Arrowhead” is a children’s picture book based on a true story about Kinsinger’s father when he was young. It tells the story of a little boy who prays to find an arrowhead. The story explores the history of this arrowhead, from the Native American who first fired the arrow, to the settlers who cleared the land, and over the years to a little boy who found the tip arrow in answer to his prayer. It is historical fiction written at the level of a young child.
Kinsinger is also working on another children’s book based on a story from his mother’s childhood.
She said her writing training started when she was a shy young girl who struggled to express her feelings.
âBut I could still ‘talk’ to the paper, and the paper never criticizes or tells anyone,â she said. âI learned to write about my emotions. I have loved stories since I was little and dreamed of writing a book.
When she was 18, Kinsinger saw an ad in a magazine for a writing class. The ad said, “Only you can make your dream come true,” and it struck a chord with her.
âSince that time I have worked to develop my writing skills through classes, lectures and putting my work there, even when it takes me out of my comfort zone,â she said. .
Kinsinger is currently completing a BA in Communication Online through Lancaster Bible College.
She lives in Pleasant Valley with her husband, Ivan, and 3 month old daughter, Annalize. She met her husband through his blog, lucindajkinsinger.com.
âIvan loves to travel and started following my blog when I posted a series of articles about my trip to China,â she said. âHe introduced himself and commented occasionally on the posts. Finally, he asked me by e-mail if I would be interested in dating someone. I thought ‘No!’ at first, since we had never met. But he looked like a really nice guy, and my dad encouraged me to at least give him a chance. So he flew to meet me at my family’s in Wisconsin, and I said yes to dating. Nine months later, we got married.
During the two years she lived on the farm, Kinsinger said she had grown to love this community. In many ways, it reminds her of where she grew up.
Kinsinger will give a lecture on the book from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 25 at the Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland, followed by a book signing.
The book is available on Amazon or at Book Mark’et & Antique Mezzanine in Oakland. Kinsinger also ships autographed copies from his home. She can be reached at [email protected]