Tonight is the soup supper (and desserts!)?at Estherville United Methodist Church. The hot meal is fuel for a night of holiday lights and sounds with Cracked Reeds from 5-6 p.m. as dinner music, TubaChristmas from 6-7 p.m., also at UMC, and then the tubists move to Estherville Public Library to play holiday music with carolers.
The soup supper, offered for a free-will donation, also fuels programs for the United Methodist youth, including their mission trip with Appalachia Service Project, in which they will volunteer on home repair in central Appalachia.
As of this writing, we don't know where they will be sent, but the included states are Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
After a summit with Bryan, his father and me, we are at the point we are going to support Bryan in doing the fundraising and volunteer work through the year to seal his eligibility to go on this trip, but we aren't going to force him to go.
The plan is to arrive on a summer Sunday afternoon, plan for the next day, have dinner, then rise and shine at 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, working 10-12 hours, having dinner and an evening gathering with special guests musicans and such, then lights out at 11 p.m.
A little part of me hopes they will be sent to Kentucky. My maternal grandmother was born in 1911 in Estill County, Kentucky. Her mother was just 18, and the fourth of eleven children living in a cavernous farmhouse where the children raised chickens and ducks and sold eggs on the road, while their father worked in a coal mine, and their mother made a home for them. Or so the records would indicate.
But we're off track. It's the fact that I have centuries of roots in Kentucky, not that far removed, that makes me hope our group gets eastern Kentucky. But that's not the point. I?want them to go where they're needed.
It's a lot to ask of a young teen. Bryan is young for his class, and will be at the very youngest age for anyone who goes on this trip. It would be easy to say, "We could wait for the next opportunity, when he's a little older."?
I've raised all of my children to step out of their comfort zone. All three are bright. None has been the straight-A student, and I wish they had. But the older ones have achieved something which may be of even more usefulness: compassion, the ability to take a risk, a lack of fear and an abundance of drive to get up and try again.
It's not that most of our local kids don't have a lot of resilience, smarts, and respect like Bryan does.
We probably have until at least March, or even longer than that, to make the decision if Bryan's going. We aren't forcing him. But we'd love to meet the young man who comes back from this trip, to see what lasting impact it might make.
We'd like his brains and brawn to be put to making things a little better for someone else.
There's so much we disagree upon today, and so many causes for fighting.
I?can invision a world in which investment from the private sector transforms the general malaise of our region. I think the wind turbine project will do just that; by about 2021, when Bryan graduates from ELC, things could be a whole lot better.
I think we agree that extending a kindness to someone else, without expecting something in return, is something that shores up our reserves of humanity.
In the upcoming months, I?will be writing about the Appalachia trip in this column, following the efforts of the people making the journey.
While I'm pimping United Methodist, let me just say if you're looking for a place to hear carols and take in the wonder of Christmas Eve, the offering from the Chrismas Eve worship will go to a project we call "Silent Night/Holy Night,"?in which we are purchasing beds for people Upper Des Moines Opportunity says are going without:?children, elderly people, men and women, families, single people - we are purchasing new mattresses, box springs, bed frames, mattress pads, pillows, and bedding, and going on faith that this offering will be enough.
Back to the Peterson clan, we're not saints. If I?ran down my list of offenses, even Sheriff Martens might suffer a shock.
My reckless days are, mostly, behind me. I decided to take risks that could lead to a positive result, for me or for someone else, instead of risks that are just plain dumb.
For this holiday season, let's get out to see the lights, bake and eat the treats, share holiday memories, shop locally, keep our eyes open to see who might need a little holiday cheer, sit with those who have suffered a loss or crush of life, and all be part of making things a little better.
We can start by having a bowl of soup and tasty pastry together tonight.