Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Spring With Two Directions

This week's visit goes two directions. The first is spring break in Iowa. The second is a work trip near a double spring in Missouri. The Missouri work trip then goes in two directions. The first is about the work accomplished. The second is about the relationships made. 
Spring break means school kids including our grandkids are enjoying vacation and helping out. Becky and Brian's Ezra is loading the garden tiller for his mother while his brothers watch.
BJ and Cassia's kids have been great help all month while BJ continues to be careful following back surgery. John has just finished power washing the cattle manure from the skid loader. Now someone needs to power wash John.
Cousins are helping Grandpa and Uncle Mike pick up sticks on an area of the field that Mike has just cleared.
Grandson Gideon is helping Kasey, Alex, and Karl put floater tires on one of the sprayers. 
Floater tires are wider and don't pack the ground so much when spraying directly after planting.
Kids are often on computers these days. Some busy playing games. However these cousins are playing a different kind of game. They are watching an on-line farm auction and guessing what the farm equipment item will sell for before the auctioneer says sold.
We have been spreading fertilizer this past week in the mornings while the ground is somewhat frozen on top.
We are all looking forward to spring. It's the time of year for fresh starts. A farmer gets about 45-50 chances in his lifetime to plant a crop and trust the Lord for a harvest. Every year is unique. Spring is an optimistic season.
On Thursday morning Mike, Kurt, and I left early for Dora, Missouri southwest of Branson to a place called Majestic Outdoor Adventures. On this land is a spring (more like a river) coming up out of the ground at 100 million gallons of water a day. This spring flows two directions and exits into an existing river in two different places.
 Our family was invited to go with Kurt and Emily and their church, Pella II CRC. Approximately 24 adults and 12 kids went to help clean up for 3 days bringing along equipment to help get the job completed. 
 On April 28 of last year this community experienced a flood. Torrential water came through their property for a couple of miles and destroyed cabins, trees, fences, and fields. 
 This is Shelby and Sharee with kids, Gunnison, Autumn, Josh, and Cade. They use this 1500 acre property to minister to folks using the outdoors and God's creation.
As folks arrived on Thursday we all went right to work. This is Calvin and his crew pulling dead logs out of the timber.
 Corey hooked on to a trailer and hauled away debris that many hands loaded him with.
 Brice and Matt would pull up to a tree pile and mulch wood with the chipper Brice pulled down.
 John and a group cleaned up a cemetery that had been covered with flood waters.
Glenda, Sharesa, Allison, Emily, Taylor, Katie, Kala, Lisa, and the rest of the gals did a marvelous job of helping with the outdoor cleanup as well as preparing meals. Coffee was ready by 6 am and breakfast was at 7.
 We would take a break mid morning for water and snacks. The kids all did a great job of helping and 10 month Nora would watch the action in her stroller. Shelby and Sharee and their family helped right along side of us. They even stayed home from school on Friday. Since the property is surrounded on three sides by Mark Twain National Forest I think Mark Twain's quote is appropriate, "Not to let school get in the way of education".
Along with the fact that we accomplished a ton of work, we became one big family. We ate together. We had devotions together. We shared life together. And folks that previously barely knew each other developed relationships and became close friends.
 On Saturday afternoon many of the crew went canoeing down the river. A couple tried fishing. A few went hiking. And we coasted our work week to a finish.
 Since we have an 8 hour ride home on Sunday we had our church service on Saturday evening. We sang with Calvin accompanying us on his guitar. Shelby gave the message on working,giving, receiving, and loving. Everyone including the kids shared what they most appreciated about the work trip.
As we loaded up for home after a successful 3 days I realized we had received more than we had given. We have new friends in Shelby and Sharee's family. We experienced gorgeous country. We became closer as a group. We have a joy in our hearts from helping others. Folks that's what church is all about.
No matter which direction spring takes you in the coming weeks remember we are Christ's hands, created to work (one direction) and to have relationships with God and others ( second direction). I mentioned Rosie last week. She is elderly and in assisted living in a wheel chair. Having lost her husband and children she gets few visits. When Jan and I go to see her on Sundays after church she always has the same three requests. Pictures, hands, and The Lords Prayer. She asks me to show her pictures on my phone as to what we have been up to (work). She asks Jan and I to hold her hand(relationship with others) She asks that we pray the Lord's Prayer together (relationship with God). Have a good week.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Journey Forward

Success is a journey, not a destination. And often the deciding, trying, and doing part is more important than the outcome. In fact sometimes in being an example and daring to start, the journey determines the destination. The 2018 dozing season has started for Mike. Nephews Ethan and John watch while their Uncle builds terraces.
As you grow up, maybe even after you're grown up, enjoy the journey. Have goals. Be someone folks can trust. Accept responsibility. Make things happen. Care about others. Then dream, risk, expect, and be grateful. Find ways to give God credit. And finally look for things to appreciate in others.
I have 3 left over stories from Arizona. Remember the little chorus, "London bridge is falling down, my fair lady". Well when we visited Lake Havasu City with Gary and Jeri I heard the rest of the story. In 1968 the London bridge was literally sinking into the river from heavier traffic. Robert McCulloch, whose chain saw business was in Az. went to an auction in London and bought the bridge for two and a half million dollars.
 He had all the granite blocks numbered and then spent 7 million dollars transporting them by ship to the community he established in 1964. He rebuilt the bridge over dry land and then rechanneled the Colorado River under it.
The bridge was dedicated in 1971 in the town of 5000. Robert died six years later. Today the town has a population of 52000 and the bridge is still the main attraction.
Gary had mentioned how he had driven his Polaris Razor to Lake Havasu City some 90 miles through the desert and was in the air 30% of the time. So when we went out together riding Jan made Gary promise this would just be a slow Sunday afternoon drive. :)
What a wonderful time enjoying the desert. Jan had me take pictures of the desert plants. If you look real close you can see our path down into a valley. We were on our way to that far valley to look at a dairy.
On our last day in Phoenix we went to see Aunt Ruth who was married to my Mom's brother Uncle Pete. Aunt Ruth's brother Ron used to own and operate Ron's Yamaha in Pella. Her other brother Gerald owns and operates the Eddyville Dragstrip near Eddyville. We went to a bakery for lunch.
Assisted living in Phoenix is quite a bit different from Iowa. It's a high rise building on a busy street. After our visit and while I was signing out I met another interesting lady.
Aunt Ruth had mentioned she lived here. I did not think a picture would be appropriate. Mrs. O'Connor was the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981 by President Reagan. She retired in 2006. Sandra is still very sharp and perceptive. I enjoyed meeting her.
Well 43 years ago this past Wednesday evening at 18 years old I married Jan in the Central Reformed church in Oskaloosa. Brother Bill was our uninterested ring bearer. Sister Beth was our cute flower girl. Today Bill and Julie have 7 children and operate Boender Electric. Beth and Dan live in Colorado Springs and have 4 children. Since we had no money and I had no inspiration we spent the weekend in Northwest Iowa for our honeymoon.
God has blessed our journey. We moved forward together farming side by side and starting a family in the 1970s. Farming in the 1980s was a struggle and God used that process to make me into who He wanted me to be. Jan has and continues to cook for kids, grandkids, hired help, high school, and church. Marriage is a  journey that gets better with age. Living with Jan makes me want to try my hardest to be a better person.
That first spring we were married I drove to the local Farm Service and timidly asked Howard, the manager, if he had any custom application I could help with so I could support my family. He said, "son, never put yourself down". He took a chance and gave us their custom NH3 acres. One day Howard called Jan and asked if we would be interested in doing some custom spraying. He had a family that didn't care for those  custom pickup sprayers. That family was Hugh, with sons Daryl and Tom. I sprayed 10 acres a batch with a 200 gallon 3pt. sprayer. There was plenty of time to dissolve the wettable powder atrazine as it loaded at 11 gallon a minute. I had a 24 foot boom mounted under the belly of my IH 856. Daryl decided to run for County Supervisor in 1978 and asked Jan and I to rent he and Rosie's 400 acres. Daryl and Rosie became close friends of our family. That transaction was God's plan for Jan and I's journey and was the backbone of our operation during the tough farming years.  
That visit with Howard at FS was the start of our families journey and God's plan into the custom farming business and is a major part of who we are today. This week we put together a second tanker tender that brings hot loads (already mixed) of spray to our sprayers in the field. Compared to when we started the Load Command loads a 100 acre batch, 1200 gallon load, in 3 minutes and hooks and unhooks hydraulically on it's own.
About a dozen years ago God had another journey forward for our family. Marvin and Jean were considering retiring from their farming operation and were looking forward to more volunteer work trips. I had babysat for them when I was a kid and a neighbor. I also served with Jean on the COC board. God used those relationships to get us together and today our family rents their ground. This past winter Marvin had some health problems in Arizona and was flown to Des Moines where he is in therapy. Please keep Marvin and Jean in your prayers as they travel this tough part of life's journey. The neat part of God's plan is that they are more than landlords. They are close friends.
Yesterday as Ryan and I went to check on their farm we stopped at the bin site along the Lacey blacktop and noticed that someone had torn apart the electric breaker boxes, cut all the wires from the electric motors, and pulled all the copper wire from the conduits leaving everything a big mess. They couldn't have gotten more than $10 worth of copper yet doing thousands of dollars of damage. This is not the first time this has happened. Suppose if I left $20 in a breaker box they would leave our wiring along. They also cleaned out our granary of hoppers and tools.
BJ continues to improve. He ran skid loader some this week loading cattle manure. He is also keeping the progress on their new home moving forward as the plumbing and heating and cooling are being installed. Last year's fire and back troubles and this year's rebuilding and back surgery have also been a journey and their family is leaning on God and thanking Him for His plan.
Some of our family are looking forward to helping on a short work trip to southern Missouri with Pella II CRC church late this next week. We hope to help by bringing some equipment and cleaning up some old flood damage. Brother Doug is currently on a work trip to Honduras with his boys and friend Mike is on a work trip to Florida with his daughter.
Remember to get your chores done an hour earlier this morning or you will be late for church. We spring forward an hour today as Daylight Savings Time starts. See you next week if I have wifi in Missouri.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

People And Places

One of the things that help me refocus, broadens my horizons, and gives me a bigger picture is to head down the road for some relationship time with Jan, see new places, and meet new people. This past week Jan and I were able to do just that in California and Arizona. 
After flying to Phoenix and renting a car we drove to the Commodity Classic, a farm show, in Anaheim, California. We stayed in the Disneyland Hotel with a number of farmers and folks from Dekalb and Asgrow including BJ and Cassia who won this trip for having a winning soybean yield from a farm we rent near Reasnor. 
I enjoy people. The evening we arrived we had supper together with new friends including Clint. Clint drives the #14 Ford in Nascar races. He finished 3rd last Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. 
After supper we were able to meet and greet before a country music concert given by Dustin and his band. Dustin is a young country singer and songwriter who grew up in Tennessee. His song Cowboys and Angels put him on the charts in 2012.  
Having started out the day in Iowa at 4 am. Jan and I were ready to call it a day long before the concert was over so we hopped on a bus and headed back to our hotel. I enjoyed visiting with our bus driver. He told us he grew up in Iran and that he and his brother had come to America for medical help. After school he worked as a mechanic most of his adult life. He said his family back in his native country struggles because of the radical folks currently in charge. 
One of the hometown folks Jan met told her about a quilt store. Of course we had to check it out. I knew I was in trouble when it said fabric outlet above the store. Wowzers. It was the largest quilt store Jan had ever been in. However since everything she buys must come home in our carry-on luggage her purchases were limited. :)
Back at the Commodity Classic we visited many booths on the show floor one of which were our friends from Fellowship of Christian Farmers. FCFIs mission is to build, maintain, and strengthen faith in God for the farmer, rancher, their families, and their communities. They present the gospel at farm shows and do mission trips by volunteers. Their executive director, Dennis, and I have been friends for years and I have helped man their booth before as a volunteer. Dennis and I were introduced by Loren, a mutual friend, who was editor of Successful Farming at the time.
Not far from where we stayed but an hour drive because of California traffic sits the USS Iowa in port at Long Beach. This Navy battle ship was built in 1943 and had 2800 sailors aboard during World War 2. It was refurbished in 1984 and retired in 1992. It weighs 550,000 tons empty. 37 feet of it sits under water. It was built with 17 inch thick steel in places. Iowans get to tour for free just by showing a valid drivers licence.
Close to the USS Iowa is the Port of Los Angeles. Hundreds of cranes were unloading cargo ships. If you have ever bought anything that was made in China it came through this shipping port.
Speaking of Los Angeles Pastor Dale and I met for breakfast early one morning at a Denney's restaurant half way between Anaheim and Thousand Oaks. Dale was pastor at our church when I was in Council and two of the many things we did together back in Iowa was to get together for breakfast twice a month to set meeting agendas. We would also get together to pray specifically for each other. It was enjoyable catching up and once again praying for each other. I mentioned to Pastor Dale that I disliked the California traffic. It took 90 minutes to go 30 miles. He gave me good advice. He said in California you have to drive defensively aggressive.
On the last night Jan and I were in California we went with BJ and Cassia to Disneyworld. A theme park built in 1955 right in downtown. BJ is doing great since his back surgery three weeks ago. We so thank God for his progress. He still does no twisting or lifting. Thanks so much to the crew back home for taking care of the fat cattle as well as the mamma cows and baby calves for him.
On Thursday Jan and I headed to Old Mexico. Jan is the pharmacist of our family and usually gets stocked up on medications ranging from antibiotics for the grandkids to prednisone for poison ivy outbreaks. Plus I needed my boots polished. 
Once again we reminded ourselves we were flying home with just carry-on luggage so our purchases had to stay limited. Then I met Ceaser and made another new friend. We had on matching shirts. Ceaser is 28 years old and sells stuff to provide for his family, a wife and two kids. So I bought 3 billfolds, a belt, and another hat (I now have hats from New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico). We exchanged emails. Jan bought 2 purses. We stopped at the UPS store in Yuma, AZ where we were staying and shipped the stuff home. :) 
On Friday evening we attended Midnight at the Oasis in Yuma, AZ. Its a giant car show with 960 classic and muscle cars as well as street rods followed by a concert. It was 1970s rock and roll since most of the folks attending were maturing in years. Yep, about our age.
On Saturday morning we headed for Salome, AZ. Gary and Jerri are friends, and landlords of Kurt and Emily. They live in an air park. That means all the residents have an airplane hanger next to their home and an air strip in their park in the desert. We are going to enjoy each others company for a couple of days before heading back to the Phoenix valley.
We were created to have relationships. Something I noticed is Disneyland is very good about creating relationships for families. Obviously they do it so folks want to come. However it got me thinking. Sometimes folks only look at facts and events from their vantage point. Relationships happen when you involve others and their vantage point.
A story with just the facts is as boring as a newspaper. My goal on Sunday mornings is to try and include the relationships side of the story. From the folks I interact with during the week. And to you, the folks I visit with on Sunday mornings.
Relationships happen in countless ways. This is Grandma having a relationship with grandkids. She cooks for them, feeds them, cleans them, plays with them, breaks up fights, gives them naps, and changes the young one's diapers.
This is Grandpa having a relationship with grandkids. :)
The Bible says the greatest commandment is to have a relationship with God and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That involves being intentional about talking to Him. That usually means having a set place and time to pray. Remember knowing someone personally and having a relationship with them is rewarding.
The Bible says the second greatest commandment is just as important as the first. It actually proves the first. That is to have a relationship and love others as much or more than we love ourselves. That's being in God's image. That's heaven on earth folks.                            
Often in church we talk about how life is hard, we are sinners, and Christ can fix it for us. That's truth. It's also just the facts. That's the vertical half of the gospel. There is also a horizontal half. That's creating relationships and being intentional about loving others. Disneyland creates relationships because it turns a profit. We do it out of gratitude for what Christ did for us.