A couple of days ago Greg and I left home with our youngest four to go on a trip to Iowa with Greg’s mom. We have been saying that we were “Driving Ms. Connie.” We had the opportunity and a few days that would work for us to drive her up to New Hampton, Iowa and visit some family so we jumped on it.
The more I travel to different parts of the United States the more I love it. Our nation has been blessed with beauty. The vast differences in landscape that you can find in the US is truly amazing. The beauty we have experienced just these past two days has been breathtaking. The cornfields are so green and they are like looking at a “sea” of corn on both sides of the road as far as the eye can see. Barns and silos are everywhere and are sure to have a “homestead” very nearby peeking out of the midst of mature, towering trees. As you roll into the town, the houses and yards in the quaint neighborhoods are meticulously taken care of. Healthy flowers, lush green grass, and flags!!! Oh the flags I’ve seen. Allow me to take a quick detour off of what I’ve seen and tell you what I’ve felt for just a minute. The spirit of America seems more alive than I have felt in awhile. The first morning in Iowa (July 4th) we stepped into a diner that had streamers, lanterns, flags, and a banner that said, “United we stand!” As the hostess took us into the back dining room for a larger table she reached down to plug something in. I looked up to see a flag light up on the wall that seemed to scream “I’m proud to be an American!” The food was great and plenteous. Spending time with the generation before us that are hard workers, hospitable, appreciative citizens, and proud Americans has been refreshing. Tears come to their eyes when they speak of the flag or the military or “what was.” We had a great day, took the children to the community pool (built in the 1930’s) and finished the night of the 4th off enjoying fireworks in a rural neighboring town. We sat on blankets behind some large grain/corn silos which made for a great Midwestern firework show. Wherever we have the privilege to travel to I always encourage the children to “take it all in.” Soak in the culture, the beauty, and the differences that are all around you.
The next few days met us with history and inspiration. Not only did we learn more about Greg’s family tree and get to spend some time with “greats and great greats” including some aunts, an uncle and some cousins, we got to experience some local history as well. After a visit to the old library that has been turned into a museum we got to see “the mantle.” Greg’s great grandfather (Leslie Treat) and his great great grandfather (Amasa Treat) owned a marble and granite business there in New Hampton. They made most of the memorials in the cemeteries in Chickasaw County as well as statues and other things. They made a mantle in 1893 for the World’s Fair in Chicago and won a prize for their craftsmanship. It is located now in the Courthouse on display and is beautiful and so detailed.
That afternoon we went to a site I’ve been wanting to visit. Have you ever heard the song, “The Church in the Wildwood?” Or it may be better known as, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” The little brown church sits amidst beautiful trees and flowers in Nashua, Iowa. I won’t take the time to expound on the whole story, although if you are a history buff you should look it up sometime. It was so cute! Led by a persistent pastor, the church was built during the Civil War by people in the community who were able to work on it. It took longer than expected to finish it with the challenges they faced. Being that white lead paint was expensive and hard to obtain during the war, they opted for mineral brown paint for the “little church.” It is as charming as ever and the whole story surrounding it is interesting.
This next historical site we experienced I will have a hard time describing. It’s one of those things you “have to see.” To make a real long story short, the Bily Brothers (Joseph and Frank) had a hobby… wood carving. Well, when they couldn’t carve their school desks (they had a 5th grade education) or the fence posts anymore because Iowa farmer Dad needed the fences, they began to carve other things…. Clocks! And not just any old clocks! These masterpieces are truly works of art. And not just beautiful uses of all types of wood, but stories, and history, and bible stories, and all that was ingrained in them through the obvious study of books. It had to be books and anything they learned in those 5 years of school or from their parents because these guys never traveled more than 35 miles from Spillville, Iowa. AMAZING! Again, words cannot even begin to explain the God given talent these guys had. The clocks are fitted with music boxes, moving parts, and a story… each one. I wept as the lady was showing us each clock and telling us about them. (She probably wondered what my problem was) Maybe because I am a teacher and want to make sure everyone learns beyond themselves, maybe because I know that greatness is in people if they will act on it and let it out, maybe because they made these clocks for their handicapped brother to “play with” and listen to, or just maybe because they did it simply because they loved it!!! They never sold one clock!! They are all there in the museum. In fact, Henry Ford himself traveled there to Spillville and offered them 1 million dollars for their “history” clock and they refused it. I know!! It blew me away too! They had to be some interesting fellows to be sure. God seems to use interesting things or people in our everyday lives to inspire us, spur us on, encourage us to “keep fighting the good fight of faith.” You just never know but what you say or do will end up touching the generation that comes after you. What I sum up from this whole trip is this. I want to leave a legacy. It goes back to Greg’s sermon this past Sunday. www.thewellfwc.org You can push the media button and the message was called.. Bigger than me!! I really do want to do something bigger than me, which requires God to be in the middle of it!!! My hospitality, my being a neighbor, being a friend, writing that book, building that table, painting that picture, whatever it is…let everything be “of Him, through Him, and back unto Him, to Him be glory forever, Amen.” Romans 11:36