Friday, August 28, 2009
The career options of most women in those days would be a teacher or a secretary. Alice hadn't taken typing, so she "expected to be a teacher." At that time, a high school education was sufficient to teach school---she had completed two years of normal training and had received a third grade teaching certificate. The fall of 1931 found Alice teaching in a rural school in Atkinson, Nebraska. Things did not progress as Alice had hoped---she became ill and after recovering returned to the classroom, but there were 'discipline problems'. She knew she "was not doing a good job of teaching" and "didn't know how to manage a classroom". She wrote a letter of resignation to the school board and on March 1, 1932, she "returned home very discouraged and feeling like a failure."
She resided in the family home until the age of twenty when she was hired as a cook and went to live on a ranch north of O'Neill. "I knew how to cook, and was successful." Twenty years later, she returned to the teaching profession, and taught in various country schools around O'Neill for eighteen years. (She taught my own husband when he was in Kindergarten.)
Alice then began working for what is now North Star Services, assisting handicapped adults. She retired from this profession at the age of sixty-four in 1979. By this time, she and her mother--now a widow--had moved into O'Neill. For the next ten to eleven years, Alice was involved with Women's Aglow, a world wide Christian Women's Organization. In November of 1983, she had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. during an Aglow conference. She was "so excited to go to Washington, D.C." In fact, six months earlier, she had dreamt that she was in the White House, and on this trip, that dream was fulfilled.
Her interests and hobbies are reading, "an avid reader...I read anything worthwhile that I can get my hands on," and the accordion. She acquired her first accordion in 1954, and learned how to play using the instruction booklet that accompanied it. She plays the instrument at her church, the Full Gospel Church of Ewing, Nebraska.
Alice could also be considered a 'globe trotter', as she has visited Russia fourteen times. Alice relates the following with a smile and the comment, "This is an interesting story..." In 1995 while riding to church in Ewing with the Dick Wallace family, Dick asked her, "How would you like to go to Russia?" (Wallace had been traveling to Russia with a group for a couple of years on mission trips to distribute Russian language Bibles.) Alice said, she "kind of took that (question) as an invitation, but afterwards Dick admitted that he was just trying to make conversation." Her answer? "Well, I'm almost 80 years old." She didn't think anymore about it until the next morning when she was reading her Bible. She had just started reading in Exodus about Moses and the Burning Bush. "And as I closed my Bible, I felt distinctly that the Lord said to me, "Moses was 80 years old." "And I began to pray about it, and the more I prayed, the more I knew I was supposed to go to Russia."
Her first trip was that October with the United by the Cross Ministries, headed by Dick Wallace. The first several years the group (consisting of about 5-6 individuals from the O'Neill area) would pick up Bibles in Moscow and take them to the town of Ludinovo, which is 300 miles southwest of Moscow. Their usual route has been to fly to Moscow, take the train to Bryansk, and then Russian friends would pick them up for the final forty mile trek to Ludinovo. The group has always worked in the villages surrounding this town of approximately 41,400 (2005 estimates) citizens. Other than distributing Bibles, they have also handed out medical supplies to hospitals, and gifts to children in orphanages and schools. On Sundays, they would go out in villages with Russian musicians and give their testimonies. On one occasion, when the mission group was holding an outdoor meeting in a park, a group of Russian Orthodox leaders argued with them. The Russian Orthodox community "had co-operated with the government through the Communist years and they felt like they were the only church that had the right to be in Russia."
Currently, there are three villages around Ludinovo that have active church groups. The mission team visits with pastors and churches to encourage them. "In one instance, a pastor was trying to get work started in a village and he arranged for us to have a service in the village. Some man from the village went around to all the houses and warned the people not to attend our service. The result was we had a good crowd." They have been helping a man build a church who had been a pastor in the underground church all through the Communist years. "According to Russian law, they don't recognize a group as a church unless they have a physical address." Through the generosity of givers, a log cabin has been purchased and carpenters were hired to remodel the building. On this recent trip, the progress had been revealed: wide boards were in place for flooring, plastered walls had been painted a glossy white, and there were boards for benches.
The mission group has also seen the fruits of their endeavors... a woman from one of the villages took it upon herself to begin an outreach to the homeless people who lived around a train station in Bryansk. She, along with a few helpers would provide a once weekly meal of soup and bread, do minor medical procedures such as bandaging wounds, and pass out Bibles. They suspect the open sores that many of the people suffer from are the result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which happened nearby.
I asked Alice if she had any goals or anything she would still like to do: "There's not much left to attempt at this stage in my life...I had my 94th birthday in Russia this year...celebrated with a cake covered with cherries on top and one candle in the middle...appreciated it." Any unfulfilled dreams? "Well, I never got married." "I would have liked to have been married but it didn't work out." Overall, what would you say about your life, are you happy, content? "I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 5 and 1/2 years old. I've always loved the Lord and we've always gone to church...folks never missed church unless somebody was sick or the car wouldn't start. Been a lifetime habit with me."
Alice recently completed a written history of her family, which I have had the privilege to read...I think the final paragraph that Alice penned, beautifully sums up her perspective on life: "Our parents were always faithful in Sunday School and church attendance. Whenever the church doors were open, we were all there. And our parents set an example of Christian living---they paid tithes in the hardest of times; they were scrupulously honest, hospitable, and trusted God in all circumstances. As far as I know, all six of us children have followed their example. May we all, like them, be an example and an influence for God and for the right in this world until the trumpet of God shall sound the resurrection call."
And that is a life of service, a life well-lived.
Monday, August 24, 2009
In preparation for starting her own business, and to assist in obtaining a business loan, Vickie completed the 'EDGE' (Enhancing, Developing, and Growing Entrepreneurs) course through the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. EDGE is a 'community-based entrepreneurial training program designed to encourage the expansion of small businesses including agricultural operations'. She found the course to be difficult, but realized that the instruction had provided her with the proper educational tools with which to open her own home-based business.Vickie believes in 'stepping out in faith' as evidenced by many examples in her life, one of which was when she ordered her computerized quilting machine in May of 2006, before her business loan was even approved. But, "God worked it out"... the loan went through, and the machine was delivered and set up on June 15, 2006. She named her business 'Old Glory Quilting Company'----"my way of being reminded everyday of the sacrifices of our men and women in the military that have made it possible for me to pursue my dream." She adds that this business "wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family".
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The trail abounds with wild Sunflowers... some droop down from the weight of bees...
Old fashioned hay stacks... winter feed for livestock. Barn Swallows were swooping and darting in amongst the hills of hay.
An old grain elevator...
The breeze gently tosses the clouds around, the crickets chirp in the grass, and Meadowlarks sing their prairie song...
I hope you enjoyed your scenic 'walk'... and all that 'Fresh Air'!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Brockman graduated from O'Neill High School, and after schooling on the west coast, he continued his education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, earning a degree in Dentistry. He has been practicing his profession for 33 years, the last 25 at his present office location.
A two-mile relay race in high school was Jerry's first 'official' race. As a Freshman, he breezed past his competitors --3 Seniors -- and won a medal. After high school Jerry, along with Tim French and Tim Edwards, organized the Shamrock Fun Run, a race held every year during the St. Patrick's Day celebration in O'Neill. Jerry's wife Therese Sullivan, a Registered Dental Hygienist and accomplished runner is also an award winner herself. The Shamrock Fun Run is currently sponsored by the O'Neill Rotary Club, and is now in it's 30th year. It has been recognized as the one of oldest organized runs in the state.
Inevitably, at some point in a runner's career, one may in a sense, 'bite the dust'. This low point for Jerry occurred during a triathlon in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1990. During the swimming portion of the event, he panicked and nearly drowned; "The good swimmers have their own life guards, the bad swimmers are on their own..." Fortunately, he was able to compose himself and swim to shore. However, his next 'bump in the road', was the result of "too big of a loop in his shoestring"... he finished close to last, skinned and bloody.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Nick, age 16, remarked that home schooling (since 3rd grade) has given him the flexibility and opportunity to develop and nurture his many passions and interests. His hobbies include: juggling, rock collecting, chess, constructing huge LEGO structures, and stargazing. Through years of hard work and dedication, he was awarded the status of Eagle Scout, the highest level achievable in Scouting.
Jackie, age 12, and now an 8th grader, is also home schooled and enjoys it because she can work at her own pace. She is a quiet and interesting young lady who enjoys archery, gardening with her father, camping and fishing with her father and Nick, and playing the piano.
Her unique talent is the unicycle, an interest first sparked by other home schooling friends. She mastered the cycle in about 2-3 weeks, and remarked that the more she fell and got back on, the more her confidence increased. She, along with other unicyclists, ride in the local St.Patrick's Day parade every March.
Jackie is also a great dog lover and desires to be a veterinarian, possibly attending UNL for her degree.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
While I interviewed Melodie, she pulled a small grinder from her kitchen cabinet and proceeded to mix a recipe for for her face scrub: oats, dried chamomile, and ground sage, to which she added a few drops of oil to hold the mixture together. This would be placed in the palm of one's hand, and then rubbed on the face with a washcloth and then rinsed off.
Her soaps are made of all natural bases and additives. Her lip balms have a bees wax base and one can choose from various scents; lemon, peppermint, rose, pineapple, etc. The dry shampoo ingredients are oats, baking soda, and chamomile or lavender flowers. Body scrubs are made of coconut oil, scents, and granulated sugar or Dead Sea Salt (which has more nutrients than table salt) as an exfoliant. Tompkins says, "Our skin needs the nutrients just as much as our insides do." 'Bug bars' contain lemon eucalyptus and citronella and resemble soap bars. One would just rub the bar on their skin to ward off mosquitoes and biting bugs. She says, "I like to process the ingredients as little as possible because it retains more of the nutrient value. What you put on your skin is just as important as the foods we eat." She adds, "The less it's been tampered with, the better."
Her children assist with the home-based business by making the container labels on the computer and helping with the soap molds. Melodie enjoys selling her products to family and friends and giving them as gifts. She also has a few items on display in her husband's insurance office in O'Neill.
Melodie spoke of the difference between the culture in Tucson and here... "Most people who live here, have parents and grandparents here, so there are roots in the area." "There is a sense of community and being a neighbor... people go out of their way to help the people around them." She appreciates having her children "grow up in a place that's safe and very real, and the children in turn, feel neighborly." She says she "loves this area." "I like the slow life and the agricultural community."
Community. That's what we're all about.
Monday, August 3, 2009
'They' had their doubts... A town with a population of 333 people, off the not so beaten path (Highway 281), wouldn't seem like the most lucrative location to open an antique store, but Jarrel and Nancy Winings had the 'build it and they will come' mentality, and the result is, "now it's bringing people here."
Nancy stresses that she and Jarrel "do this business together." In addition to his ranching activities and driving a school bus, both of them attend auctions together where Jarrel purchases those items that have potential ("furniture is a big thing"). He cleans up the items by sandblasting or power washing, and then brings them in for Nancy to add the finishing touches. He also runs the store while Nancy is riding the speaker circuit for Stonecroft Ministries, a non-denominational, world-wide ministry that seeks to reach the un-churched.
A real treat for store customers is 'Ace' the resident greeter. Winings says "Ace runs the store." "He breaks the ice and entertains kids with his funny antics. He can sing, whisper, talk normal, sit up and squat down. He seems to know that this is his job and he loves to come to work." In fact, it "hurts his feelings when he doesn't get to." Winings recounted the story that one day she told Ace he had to stay home, and when she got in the car to leave for work, there he was in the seat next to her. She has no idea how he slipped in unseen by her.