Monday, November 25, 2013

Pages from the Past

Wade took notes for the minutes at our congregational meeting Sunday after church.  Since his writing is rather cryptic, especially when done quickly, he jotted them on notepaper with the intent to copy them more neatly into the official congregational meeting minute book later.  And thus we were sent home with a very tattered book containing our church’s congregational meeting minutes.
It wasn’t until Sunday evening, though, that we took a close look at the old book with it’s blank peeling cover, frayed binding, yellowed pages and wonderful library smell.

The first inside page says “Congregational Minutes of Holland Center Christian Reformed Church.” On the next, in neat scrawl, is written, “Notulen van de Gemeente vergaderings der chris. Ger. heuk van Holland Center.”

The first entry was made on Nov. 23, 1913 — almost 100 years ago exactly! — and is written entirely in Dutch.  The only things Wade and I could decipher were numbers, a dollar sign, and last names (some still present in our congregation): Stuit, Huiner, LeFebre, Beld, Kok.
The entries continue in Dutch for nearly 30 years until the meeting of Nov. 27, 1941.  I was intrigued by the proposals of the consistory on the following page, one year later:

1 The consistory feels that the introduction of individual communion cups is neither feasible nor necessary for the congregation at this time.
2 The consistory favors the incorporation of this church under the laws of the state of South Dakota.
3 The consistory moves that divine services be conducted only in the English language.

The pen and handwriting change every few pages as clerks were appointed, finished their terms, and were re-appointed in later years.  In small congregations, the list of eligible elders and deacons is limited, and each man only gets a few years off between duties.

In the 1950s we begin seeing names of men still in our congregation — and still serving it until fewer than five years ago.  By the 1970s, most of the names listed are familiar — they or their families still attend or there is a table, appliance or piano with a memorial plaque bearing their name.

On Nov. 23, 2008, Wade’s name appears, written in black ink on the yellow page: “Elder and deacon election results: Rod LeFebre - elder, Wade Howard - deacon.”  And today Wade will enter the minutes of the Nov. 23, 2013 congregational meeting.  We have become a part of a long history of blessing, trial, community and faith.

Those yellow pages, held together by frail binding and tattered cover, are a record of motions made and passed, elections of elders and deacons, minutes read and approved — rather dry reading, really.  But it’s a history, a record of people involved in their church, willingly doing God’s will, serving the families around them, living their faith.  And I can’t help but feel a surge of pride at seeing my husband’s name and penmanship alongside those of so many Godly leaders past.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Reading After All

Recently I was bemoaning that I don’t read much during the school year.  I haven’t checked a book out of the library since August.  My “To read” list keeps getting longer and rarely does anything get crossed off of it.  Even the sweet stack of books my sister lent me this summer has barely dwindled.  How could I let reading fall off my radar?

And then it struck me that I read two hours every day while teaching my boys, and while it may not be anything from my “I’d like to read someday list,” and a lot of it would be found in the juvenile section at the library, I’ve actually read a lot of really enjoyable books in a variety of genres in the past few months.

Here are a few of the most enjoyable ones that I would fondly recommend to middle school readers, or parents reading aloud to middle schoolers, or to adults who aren’t put off by literature that is about children or geared toward their reading levels.

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson — The cover says this book is geared for ages 10 to 14, but I completely enjoyed this (slightly romantic) tale of a lad fulfilling his destiny through his work on “Ferris’ Folly” —the original Ferris wheel constructed for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat — A true story about the author’s childhood and his atypical pets and their scrapes, scuffles and adventures, ‘Lij and I both enjoyed this story I read aloud to him.  I may make this "required reading" for the other three later in the school year too -- I think they'd love it!

Little Britches by Ralph Moody — Subtitled “Father and I Were Ranchers,” this memoir about the author’s childhood is definitely not just for children (in fact, some of the language that the neighbors use warrants either an omission or a discussion on not always following the crowd).  We’re about two thirds of the way through and enjoying every humorous, touching and adventure-filled chapter as Ralph learns what it means to be a rancher and a man.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink — This reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories, only with more mischief and shenanigans.  It was based on stories from the author’s grandmother’s childhood.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney — This one was fun and a little bit silly.  When a boy with a severe case of wanderlust is challenged by his dad to find seven “wonders” in his own hometown in order to earn a trip to his distant uncle and aunt’s, he and his companions discover history, mystery and lore almost under their noses.