Archive for October, 2012

Final words about Kansas
October 28, 2012

On Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23 and 24, I had two meetings with the area Brethren in Christ  pastors to hear their feedback and questions about our Brethren in Christ World Missions programs.

One of my best friends in KS is Stan Norman of Abilene.  He is the pastor of New Trail Fellowship, a church that appeals particularly to ranchers and other horse riders.

I asked Stan if he could take me on a trail ride, and he agreed to do so. He has two horses. He set me up on Fire (nickname for Sapphire.)


The ride went well for quite a while. Then we came to a small gully with low-hanging branches overhead. I ducked to avoid the sharp branches, so when Fire jumped the gully, I lost my balance and fell to the ground, landing on my back. Fortunately, I landed on soft grass.  Unfortunately, I also landed on a hedge apple (see my previous blog on Trees in KS) and had extreme pain in the lower right area of my back. There was no way I could mount the horse again, so Stan on foot led the two horses, and I hobbled along as best I could back to his house.

An examination at the hospital showed no bone fractures and no nerve damage – thanks be to God. But I will be sore for a long time. Getting in and out of a car is the most painful part.

By the next evening I felt up to going out for dinner, so we went to the Brookville Hotel, which used to be in the town of Brookville and has been relocated to the edge of Abilene. They serve a fried chicken dinner family-style.



They serve the meal on Blue Willow china.


Do plan to eat at the Brookville Hotel the next time you come near Abilene.

Trees in Kansas
October 28, 2012

The iconic tree of Kansas is the cottonwood. At this time of the year the leaves are tuning yellow and gold. The rustling of the leaves is a distinctive sound.



And this year there is an abundance of “hedge apples.”

These are  the fruit of the osage orange tree which has often been planted as hedge row between fields. I remember seeing hedge apple trees and apples on the farm where I grew up in  PA. I always thought that the apples are useless except for decoration. Some people set them in a bowl for display. However, folks here is KS say that a hedge apple will keep crickets and other insects out of your house. I never heard this claim before. Have any of my blog readers heard this? And can you verify that it works?

Celebrating with Zion Church
October 28, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We had breakfast at Main Street Cafe in the tiny town of Durham, KS, where JoLene went to high school.

Today we began a 2-day celebration with Zion Brethren in Christ Church, which is observing its 125th anniversary. Here is the church building, located 6 miles north of Abilene, KS.

This was the first church that I served as pastor, from 1968 to 1974.

Today there was a display of photos and other items from the earlier years of church.  The display was set up in the Talmage Museum and Library.

Our daughters, Sheryl and Melanie, were ages 4 and 2 when we left Zion Church to go to Manor Church in Lancaster, PA.

Saturday evening Howard and Melissa Engle hosted a cookout and hay ride at their pasture.

Sunday, October 21

Zion Church’s celebration continued today with a morning service, a noon meal (outstanding pork barbecue sandwiches) and an afternoon service.

The services featured short talks by church members and previous pastors and music by a men’s quartet and a ladies’ trio. I gave a talk in the afternoon on three things:  Zion’s story while I was pastor here, Zion’s involvement in world missions through the years, and an update about Brethren in Christ World Missions today.

It was a joy to be part of this weekend of celebrating what God has done and anticipating what he will do in the future.

Observations on life
October 19, 2012

Here are some quotes I came across recently.

If we knew what we are doing, it wouldn’t be called research.  -Albert Einstein.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.  -Sir Winston Churchill

It’s never too late to be who you might have been.  -George Eliot

I’m in the snapdragon stage of life. Part of me has snapped, and the other part is draggin’.  -Unknown

A metaphor is like a simile. -Unknown

Pray Often
October 19, 2012

All our lives we will keep learning the value of prayer and learning to pray. Here is a quote to stir your thinking.

“Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” John Bunyan

Creative Kansas
October 19, 2012

Here is a mailbox post  just down the road from where we are staying.


Saguaro cactus is not native to this area, but no matter. Kansans create what they wish!

A visit to Kansas
October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012

Here we are in Kansas, land of cowboys and cattle.

We have come to KS for nine days.  We will attend the anniversary of Zion Brethren in Christ Church, located north of Abilene (more about that in a later bog), meet with the BIC pastors of the area to discuss current issues in BIC World Missions, and have a few days of vacation.

We are starting with vacation, spending three days with Jerry and Vi Dalke on their farm south of Hillsboro. Vi is one of JoLene’s cousins.

Here are two of the berry-producing trees I find on the farm. The evergreen with the blue berries is the Eastern red cedar. The other tree, with the tiny, cherry-like fruit that the birds love to eat, I cannot identify. Do any of my blog readers know what it is?

As I walk around the farm, I see Eastern bluebirds, Western meadowlark, great blue heron, harrier, white-crowned sparrow and black and white warbler, to name a few.

Along the roads I see a corkscrew type of support on the electrical lines.

I have never seen this before Does anyone know what this is and what the purpose is?

Today we went to see the Underground Salt Museum at Hutchinson.

What an adventure! A hoist ride 650 feet below the land surface – walking through a broad underground walkway – looking at various museum displays – learning about the rock salt that is mined here for use on America’s roadways and for cattle feed. There are 150 miles of tunnels here! This is a working mine, but the tour and museum area are far from where the current work is under way.

Above, the long passageway with information about the salt deposit here and the mine. The walls and ceiling are all natural salt deposit. The floor is “salt-crete” instead of concrete. Photo from the Museum’s web site.

Trams used for one of the rides through the tunnels. This photo is also from the Museum’s web site.


A sample of rock salt at it is found in the mine. The color is mostly white with black streaks from mineral impurities. This sample looks pink because of the effect of my flash.


A photo I took of our group ready for a train ride. I guess my flash is second-rate, hence the poor image quality.

It is always 68 degrees down here. Fresh air is blown into the mine 24 hours a day.

88 of the vacated “rooms” are used by Underground Vaults and Storage to store thousands of valuable records, movie films and artifacts from U.S. and around the world. I wonder if they would like my old sermon manuscripts and handwritten notes!

There are 13 salt mines of one kind or another in the U.S., but this museum is the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

A Fall Wildflower
October 4, 2012

Calling all amateur naturalists!

This fall I am seeing a wildflower in abundance here in PA – one I don’t recall paying attention to before. It consists of clusters of tiny white flowers that are little tufts, with hardly any petals. Check it out.



Identifying it in the wildflower guide is not easy because there are so many similar plants. From what I find, this seems to be a Late-flowering thoroughwort, in the Composite or Daisy family.

Do any of you see this plant where you live? Do you give it the same name I have given? Or do you have a different designation? Either way, I would be glad to hear from you.

An Unexpected Trip to Aurora
October 4, 2012

On Friday, September 28, 2012, we received word that our good friend Ed Rickman died unexpectedly. He and Martha live in southwest Missouri, in the town of Aurora.

Martha asked me to conduct the funeral service, so we immediately made plans to go to Aurora. We traveled there the next day by plane and rental car.

The viewing was on Sunday evening and the service on Monday afternoon. Because of Ed’s clear testimony of faith in Christ the funeral was a time of celebrating the grace of God. We also celebrated the life of our brother Ed, who had been a pastor, church planter and an administrator in several Christian ministries.

For my message I chose the text of Ephesians 4:24: “…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” An amazing claim! Because of Ed’s commitment to the tradition of Wesleyan holiness, I commented extensively on this in my message. I will not take time to define Wesleyan holiness here. If you wish to learn more, you may enter this term in your search engine, or send a reply to me, and we can talk by email.

I also enjoyed in-depth conversations with Shane Chellis, a son-in-law of Ed and Martha. He has been on a spiritual journey of considering other denominations after having been in the United Methodist Church for some time. As a result of his journey he joined the Anglican Church of North America, a “province” newly formed in 2008, consisting now of 1,000 congregations, and planting one new church each week.  The group is described as Catholic, evangelical and charismatic. Shane was ordained as a priest in this denomination three weeks ago. His ministry is that of serving as a chaplain at The Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne, IN.

In Missouri the birder side of me was so pleased to see many Scissor-tailed flycatchers. Here are two views of them.

The first photo is by Brenda (last name unknown.) The second is by Christopher L. Wood and appears on the web site of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Seven of these striking birds hung around the motel where we stayed. It was a delight to see them.

We returned home on Wednesday, October 3.