5 Fantastic Float Trips

The Niangua River is known for its put-in-and-go type floats. Hot summer days often make this a popular float trip near Lebanon/Missouri Life

The day dawned mild and sunny on the Gasconade River in southwest Missouri. As veteran floaters of this waterway, we anticipated a quiet, peaceful trip. And that’s just what we got. Using a large four-seater Osage canoe made in Lebanon, our group put in at Austin Ford on Wright County’s Route E for this short trip, and took out at Buzzard’s Bluff. Handling our own transportation, we tied the canoe to the top of a farm truck.

With two vehicles—one to leave at the pickup point and the other to transport the floaters and canoe—we set off for a day on the river. Packing simple provisions of Spam, saltines, plastic bottles of frozen water, and a few other items, we feasted on a gravel bar with a repast that tasted more like a five-course luncheon than a meal from a can. The bottled water soon warmed—but it was still wet!

Life on the river carries its own unique lessons. Here, the senses are on overload in this peaceful environment. There were times when the only sound was of the paddles dipping and lifting in the current. Once, we froze in silence as an otter and her young cavorted among the tree roots on the nearby bank. Yet these playful little imps showed no fear of us. One of the wiser Missourians in our canoe surmised, “It was because nothing in the water had ever done them harm.” Continue reading

Visiting China’s Historical Sites

The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and one-fifth of the world’s population.

In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.

With more people owning cars, city streets are congested and filled with bicycles, taxis and tour buses. Yet, in the older areas of the cities and especially on the small rural farms, life continues as it has for generations.

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The Meaning of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated March 17, the date of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century. In Ireland this is both a national holiday and a holy day.

As the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was credited as the person who brought Christianity to the Irish. Although not a legal holiday in the United States, the day is recognized as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American cultures. It is estimated that about 39 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. The day has been celebrated in North America since the late 18th century.

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Beloved Branches

Asian pears grow on trees at Highpoint Orchards and Farm Market in Greensburg, Indiana. Located on historic ìPleaks Hillî in Northwest Decatur County, the orchard was established in 2005, on a property that has a home dating back to 1858 and an old mill barn dating back to 1854.

In our childhood, objects that were a common everyday event may have taken little notice. As we grow older, memories come flooding back when we least expected them to surface. Perhaps it’s the smell of a familiar fragrance, watching a trail of ants working together to carry a larger insect back to their nest, or the erosion of a ditch bank that reveals hidden treasures. For me, it was picking up a ripe pear in a West Tennessee Farmers’ Market. This simple act reminded me of the pear tree from my childhood, whose branches and shade allowed me to visit a pretend land of make-believe.

A few feet from the back porch of my childhood home stood a huge pear tree. I recall stories of this being the only sweet summer pear tree anywhere around our community. Who planted this tree? Where did the seed come from? Could an early pioneer have dropped a pear while traveling this land, moving westward after crossing the Appalachian Mountains? Even without these answers, I knew the tree produced an abundance of fruit as generations of family and neighbors walked by, filling burlap bags with the juicy, sweet treats.

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In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Holly Frew: International aid worker ‘built’ in Alabama

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Holly Frew (Photo courtesy of CARE)

Meet Holly Frew, a communications officer for the humanitarian group CARE. I chat with her about her missionary and disaster relief trips in my latest piece for The Alabama Baptist.

Assisting with recovery efforts in Haiti following the destruction created by Hurricane Matthew is just one of the latest disaster areas in 37-year-old Holly Frew’s life.

The former Alabama Baptist serves as the emergency communications officer for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), an international humanitarian organization based out of Atlanta. She attributes the preparation for her life’s work to her upbringing at home and as part of Gardendale First Baptist Church.

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