Hayward History- by Eldon Marple

The Secret of San Pedro la laguna

For the last twelve years, I have been researching Guatemala for my latest novel, “The Secret of San Pedro La Laguna.” My research on Native American Historical Trauma here in America convinces me that the folks of the second and third generation of Northern Guatemala Maya people are most certainly faced with the consequences of domination and depredation by outside cultures.

Before my first trip to Guatemala in 2007, I began researching safety and health issues for travellers and discovered the CIA claimed it was a dark and dangerous place for tourists. In further research I discovered the slaughter of the Mayan Ixtl people that happened in the 1970’s while I was in college, when America’s attention was focused on getting out of Viet Nam. When I arrived in Guatemala City and toured up to Lake Atitlan, those fears were confirmed, indeed it seemed this country was not a safe place. But once we arrived at Lake Atitlan, I began to feel compelled to understand more about these people and the land they live in.

Before each subsequent trip I continued to read everything I could find and no longer wondered why Guatemalans are willingly offering themselves up for sacrifice in the long and arduous exodus to the United States of America. I read about the long history of conflicts between warring nations with exotic names, prior to the Spanish intrusion. Tragic social devastation and subsequent enslavery of the native population of Central America followed that conquest. For hundreds of years, the indigenous people of Guatemala were suppressed by various governments of their country and companies like the United Fruit Company or private finca owners who wrested land and resources away from the campesinos (farmers).

There are so many sources to finish, and many I have yet to find. I have read “I, Rigoberto Menchu.” This is a Nobel Peace prize winner’s story of her experience as a Mayan woman during the Civil War in Guatemala. Dr. David Stott wrote a anthropology book rejecting her story. On the other hand I read Erna Ferguson’s 1937 book, “Guatemala.” This woman was an ardent traveler and friend of American governors and presidents who loved Guatemala. I read dozens of other books, papers and reviews of the history, archaeology and anthropology of Central America. Along with my bookshelves filled with historical references, I have scrounged You Tube and dug into internet sites. With the help of my friends Carmen, Tiffany and Linda, I spent a delightful and rewarding afternoon in the Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology in Guatemala City.

I have wandered the dirt paths and ancient stone streets of small villages in the highlands and travelled into the hinterland with my dear friends Tiffany and Cecy. I worked shoulder to shoulder with Tz’utujil and K’iche kids like Ruth Gomez Simaj, hard-working Domingo Navichoc Puac and ‘tourista guide’ Olinda Cabrera. I visited with Mynor Mazariegos, about his desire to work in America and how he got his VISA to work in the USA. I sat in the dirt and learned words from children, while hearing about their dreams for the future. I chatted to the elders and visited the Ketchikel folks of Chuyquel, a small puebla north of Panajachel. I listened to their music and visited their markets, I have munched hand-made corn tortillas, eaten the Van Gogh colored, exotic fruits, and slurped the flavor-filled soups of this wonderful country. I will return to hear their stories and I hope to synthesize these experiences into my third Jewell Johnson mystery to preserve what I have discovered is the Secret of San Pedro la laguna.

A painting from Galleria del Arte, San Juan la laguna.
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High Winds, Stormy Weather

I was thinking in terms of sailing, a sport I have not enjoyed but have watched, read and heard much about. There are times in our lives when the breeze is gentle, the currents soft and the sun is just at our shoulder. Those are the times when we gather strength and courage by resting. Then there are times when we put our shoulder to the wheel to hold the wind in our sails and we crash through stormy seas, up and down with the rain and water splashing on us.

Sometimes it is like that but I think we take for granted those pleasant times of resting. and we aren’t really thankful enough for them. They may even be too brief to really enjoy much but they can give us the time to regroup and recoup. There is always a little storm brewing somewhere and we need to be prepared! Lash down the stuff in your life that will blow away and hang on for the ride!


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The Blessing of Loss, Sermon September 2010

This is a sermon I gave last year, abbreviated a little for space. We were still recovering emotionally from Ara’s accident and I was feeling very reflective about losses and how they affect your life.

I have been reading JoAnn Lyon’s book, the Ultimate Blessing, in her chapter about the blessing of loss. Last week I talked about the blessing of holiness, what it is, why we need it and how we can find it in the chaos of this world. God calls us to be holy and expects us to be holy but we can’t get there without loss. Ecclesiastes reminds us that we are born to die, that is our lot in life. How can we face our mortality without a sense of sorrow or fear? Yes, the reality is that all things will end; we may lose our jobs, our spouses, our friends, our favorite hunting dog. You might miss the kids when they go off to school for the day or for a semester. Your best friend, your confidant, may move to another town and you experience a sense of grief or sorrow. The stock market may crash and you might lose a million bucks. How can you face the losses in this life? In 2005 in some of my darkest hours I found this poem by Elizabeth Bishop, called: “One Art”

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

As you grow older you lose your memory, not the one with the kids laughing and the best birthday party you ever had, but the shorter memories like where you were just going, what was on your short shopping list and that last thought you had that was so good. But the loss is not terrible, just irritating. Sometimes I wish I could forget those events that dig down deep and hurt so badly but they seem to be stuck in my soul. They are terrible and painful but I have learned and important lesson on how to cope with them. I have learned the hard way to lay everything down as an offering to the Lord, to depend on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit teach me daily how to deal with my life.

When we are faced with loss, no matter what kind of loss, we have to make choices. We have to choose first of all, how we are going to deal with the loneliness, fear, anger, grief and gnawing pain of loss. Some folks may choose to make it into a public issue, a drama like Shakespeare. Young people can empathize with Romeo and Juliet, the drama of lost young love and death.  The loss here was to the families who lost their children and who had to learn a new sense of right and wrong. The young couple wouldn’t come back, they have gone on, but the parents have to continue to get up and face the day for years to come.

In our personal lives, how can we develop a good attitude toward pain and suffering?  By being in a right relationship with God and most of all, choosing his offer of comfort over our desire for drama. There are promises of help for God’s people in times of suffering

Psalms 46:1-3  1 God is our refuge and strength,  an ever-present help in trouble.  2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  3though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Consider the emotions Jesus went through in Matthew 26:39: “39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Could any of us say that we have suffered as Jesus suffered?  But Jesus showed us that we must let God rule in our hearts and in our lives. Accept God’s kingship in your life and accept His guidance. Jesus was fully obedient to His Father, laying down His life as He was called to do. Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” We need to focus on a daily life that is as pure as we are able in this distorted and evil world. 

Listen to Lamentations 3:19-26   19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly  for the salvation of the LORD.

We trust in Him who is our Savior, He who sacrificed so much for us. We try to emulate Him in our lives. “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” Said Mark Twain.  Our lives may not seem so clearly laid out and easy to respond to the call from God, the issues can be confusing and hard to see.   That’s why we need friendships and a
community to help us. In community we also need to remember that others may also be experiencing a sense of loss. Friends and counselors can help us sort out issues to make them easier to handle. In Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Fear not, He says in  Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Healing after any loss takes time. Losing financial security, a home, a family member, or developing a serious illness such as
cancer all require changes and loses. 1 Peter 5:7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Try to relax into the fear and let time heal some of the pain. The following prayer might provide you with a way to ask God to bless and heal those grieving from any loss, that they may find wholeness in the midst of their pain: “God, You wept as Lazarus was laid into the tomb, yet You also gave him new life. Grant us new life, too, as we journey through losses like a cancer diagnosis or loss of spouse. Hold our hand no matter how rocky the path, and remind us, no matter how badly we feel, remind us that we are Your beloved children, with whom You are well pleased. Heal me, Lord if you will, in body, mind, and spirit, and make me whole again in You. Amen.”

Grief takes time and energy as an individual heals from a loss. With prayer, you can invite God on the journey through grief to wholeness and rely on God’s power and presence to heal, guard, and bless all who mourn. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 a chapter
called: The God of All Comfort 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Grieving a loss takes time, but there may be joys along the way, such as a remission of cancer, a new relationship, and new healing within a grieving family. The following prayer thanks God for new life in the midst of grief.  Grieving the loss of a loved one, job, or period in one’s life is normal. The following prayers —prayer for grieving a death, blessing for healing from loss, prayer for tears, and thanksgiving for new life — invite God into your grieving process.

      In this case it is also important to know that we are not victims, and that maybe we cannot avoid feeling pain due to our loss, but that suffering is optional. We choose to suffer. We need to recognize our part in the loss and then we can give our loss, worry, or struggle to God. We can lay it on His altar, to repent and ask for His guidance. We need to know that sometimes people appear in or leave from our lives and it gives us new opportunities. These times can be a gift, a blessing. They help us recognize the things we need to change and work on in ourselves.  If we decide to accept 100 percent of the responsibility and abstain from reacting or blaming, we can really find ourselves and discover how truly powerful we are. Sometimes losses help us find our real inner core, the strength that God gave us to rely on. Then we realize we can change our lives without depending on anything or anybody outside of ourselves.

The Native Americans realized at some point that the power of the invading force of Europeans was more than they could resist. Although some didn’t grasp the huge advancing body of people, others realized that their way of life was coming to an end and just gave up. The pain and sorrow was too much, they were walking around dead like sleep walkers.  Others suffered the loss of their culture by drinking alcohol to drown out the pain. Some gave up their lives in quick suicide and despair. Others turned to God and found solace in submission. I found this Native American prayer called:


“And now, Grandfather, I ask you to bless the White Man. Heneeds your Wisdom, your guidance. You see, for so long, he has tried to destroy my people, and only feels comfortable when given power. Bless them, show them the peace we understand, teach them humility. For I fear they will someday destroy themselves and their children, As they have done so Mother Earth. I plead, I cry. After all, They are my Brothers.”

And then I found this Pueblo Indian Blessing:

“Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself. Hold
on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here. Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go. Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.”

Yes, even loss can be a blessing sometimes. You don’t learn much from basking in the easy days but you learn much about yourself and others when the tough times force you to think. Remember to relax, take a deep breath and stand straight and tall. Let God direct you on your path to happiness and you will find joy lurking there. Amen.

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Dreams About Chocolate

I am happy to say that I made it through the week without incident. My goal was to maintain my dignity and Christian values each day. I was able to explain without rancor that my job position was terminated. Angry customers and friends were pacified and life moves on. “Perhaps this is my reward for faithfully not eating chocolate”, I thought. It has been a year since I vowed obedience and  perhaps now I am being released to do God’s work in the world. This is my chance to be His hands and feet! Rock on! I looked up and said ‘thankyou Jesus!’ for his guidance and sustenance. But you know, Jesus is not just my personal support system, someone I call out to in times of trouble…He is Lord and Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. He is not my buddy, my pal. He is so much more.

   In his first letter to the Colossian church, Paul iterates and reiterates that Jesus is is Lord and that He called us to faith and repentance like the prophets of old. Jesus is the center of our lives, as God and Son of God. This relationship is inexplicable to most, difficult to share for the rest of us. Can I say to you that Jesus cannot be extricated from my life?  How about you? Let’s explore Colossians 1:16-23. There are churches that have done research and used focus groups to study what people want to hear and see in church. What they got back has made some denominations want to ‘deemphasize Jesus Christ’.  They have begun to believe that the name of Jesus Christ excludes people. They believe that because you believe in Jesus you are somehow judging others about what they believe…and in some sense Christ believers are because we are saying what we believe is the truth.  Others may quote Hindu and Zen, mingling in a few verses from the Bible and lines from Willie Nelson songs and say that they are enabling people to discover God themselves, maybe through Jesus, maybe through Buddha or  another natural universal spirit.  As Christians we invoke the name of Jesus the Christ as we have for thousands of years.

What about you? What do you think about this minimalist Christology? This means that pastors and leaders in the evangelical church community are not calling people to faith, repentance and submission to the supremacy of Christ.  You might hear that Jesus wants you to have a happy marriage, a stress free job or cheerful life. And while Jesus will certainly help us with those things when we accept His Lordship in our lives, I believe we need to step away from “What Jesus can do for me” and get much closer to “Am I living in the light of His lordship?  You can’t just add a little Jesus to our lives like creamer in your coffee or a fuel additive in your gas tank. We need to refocus and accept Him into a full partnership into our lives.

In Colossians we are hearing the false teachings that showed up in the church that were minimalizing Jesus as Christ.  People thought He was important but not central.  They gave Him a place at the table and in their lives but didn’t recognize that He demands and deserves the head of the table. Paul talks about three major misconceptions in Colossians 1. He says that  the false teachers taught that God did not create the world because in their view matter was evil and God cannot create evil. They believed that matter was evil, they argued that God would not have come to earth as a human in bodily form. They did not believe that Christ was the unique Son of God but rather one of many intermediaries between God and people. And Paul refutes these in verses 15-17.  Jesus is paramount over everything He has created and He is preeminent over all that he has redeemed in verses 18-23.  He is Lord of everything He has made and He is Lord over everyone He has saved.

Colossians 1: The Supremacy of the Son of God  15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

     Verses 15 through 23 are so important in defining for us who Jesus Christ is and His relation to us. He is God, and Paul doesn’t mince any words or skirt around the subject. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” Yesterday I did a wedding and the groom slipped a lovely diamond band around Ariana’s ring finger. That wedding ring represents that they are a couple, it is a constant reminder of the love that brought them together.  When you see an American flag there is a reaction quickly that might be emotional. That burned and tattered flag flying over the location of the former trade towers in New York evokes even a deeper reaction. But as powerful as these images are, they are only representations of the reality.  The ring doesn’t make Alan and Ariana married, the ring is a symbol of that marriage. If Ariana loses her band she will still be married. The American flag can be ripped, shot at, torn to shreds or burned but it still represents a country that honors freedom. The flag is a powerful symbol but it only represents what our country is all about.

This is the distinction. Jesus doesn’t just represent God.  He is not a just a symbol of God. The truth is that He is God himself.  That is what we believe. The word “image” in Greek is “eikon” and it refers to “likeness or replica”.  In that culture the “image” was a die or stamp that was able to make exact reproductions.  Passports in Paul’s day ad a section called “eikon” or distinguishing marks that said something about the person that set him apart from everyone else.  Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the precise copy because He is God Himself: He both is the manifestation and the representation or image of God in the world.

In John 14:9, Jesus says about himself that “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” In another passage Hebrews 1:3 says “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” 2 Corinthians refers to Christ as “the image of God”. Jesus is the First born over all creation. Some evangelical groups teach that Jesus was a created being and therefore not God. We believe that Jesus as first born ranks above everything else and was the true Son of God. Jesus was, always, and eternal. Paul also taught that all the thrones, dominions, principalities and powers on heaven and earth of the visible and invisible world are under the authority of Christ because he created them. He says that Jesus has no rival either; neither the angels, the seraphim or cherubim or even Satan himself are greater. Jesus is Lord over all. Jesus is the creator of all things. Jesus is the sovereign creator, not created. And as the creator all creation should glorify Him.  Jesus is protecting us from chaos, not just a generalized support. In verse 17 you see that He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Jesus was, is and
always will be. John 8 says “Before Abraham was born, I am.” Jesus is the glue of all creation, everything is held together with His powerful Word. If He were to leave us on our own, everything would dissolve into disorder.

My experience this week has shown me again that God answers prayers to His faithful and that we don’t have to flip out and get nuts when things seem to spin out of control, because they are not out of His control. Through His Word, Jesus holds everything from spinning out of control. There are no crises in heaven, Jesus upholds everything by the power of his Word.

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Who was Franz W. Voigt?

Many years ago, my father pointed out one pretty picture in his collection of oil and water paintings at our farm and told me to take care of it. I hauled it from there to my new home a couple years ago and left it packed behind my desk.

Last week I thought I’d bring it out and put a new frame on it. The old one was ugly and I disposed of it fifteen years ago. The local framers did a nice job and I posted the results on my Facebook page. Two of my friends saw the name and looked it up. The 1883 artist has a number of relatively famous paintings.

I like it. I will hang it up in memory of my dad’s time spent in Germany following WWII.

I went on the internet and promptly saw a picture very similar to mine with the same signature. How odd, I thought

My picture is a rural scene in Germany. FW Voigt

When I Got Married, Mom Gave Me an Erma Bombeck Library

From Aunt Erma’s Cope Book

My mom, Mary, loved Erma Bombeck. She bought her paperbacks and read her newspaper articles, often clipping them out and sending them to me…a young wife and mother. Bombeck’s timeless humor was an encouragement in those days of stress and struggle. I saw myself in some of her predicaments like wrangling a car seat onto the counter, clinging to a crying kid on my hip and trying to wrangle a third thumbsucker while pushing a shopping cart with my hip through checkouts, avoiding eye contact with the rack of candy bars beside us.

Too often I looked for answers in women’s groups, psychology, in pop gurus and those folks that were great attention grabbers. I wanted to be organized, to be relevant, to be slim and loved (our society often equates these two things.) In this chapter, “Tidying Up Your Life”, Bombeck’s mother finally suggests a class on getting organized. Erma struggles through the class and leaves with a classmate.

“I walked with Ruth, who offered to drive me to where my car was parked. (She had also arrived late and had parked her car in a towaway zone.) We discussed our frailties.

“The trouble with me,” said Ruth, “is I’m a perfectionist. Do you have a coat-hanger?”

“What for?”

“I locked my keys in the car. I’m one of those people who can’t settle for mediocrity,” she explained, taking off her necklace and making a loop in it to pull the button up. “Easy now…I got it!” she smiled. “Do you know I even used to iron diapers? The only reason I’m taking this class is so I can learn who to compromise. If I don’t, I’m going to drive myself crazy. What’s your problem?”

“It’s my mother,” I said. “She thinks I need organization. She plans her next headache.”

Ruth nodded. “I know the type.”

“Her spices are alphabetized. She cleans spatters from her stove every time she uses it. Every year she changes her closet over from winter to summer.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No. I have never seen my mother carry a suede handbag in the summer. She’s what I call a box-saver.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It’s the difference between youth and old age, I think. When you’re young you believe that somewhere around the next bend is always a box when you need it. Old age never wants to take that chance.”

“You know, I think you’re right,” nodded Ruth.

“She’s got boxes inside boxes. I’ve received scarves in a stationery box, a blouse in a shoebox, and once on my birthday I got a small pendant in a box marked ‘Rectal Thermometer.’ Every Christmas, I get something from Mother in a Nieman-Marcus box. It’s the same box. My Mother has never been in Nieman-Marcus in her entire life.” (Bombeck 1979) Fawcett Crest, NY

When I read this, I saw how my friends from over the years became their moms. I didn’t inherit the buoyant and joyful flippancy I thought I saw at the core of my mother. Yes, she was very smart and very experienced, but I thought too youthful in her cheerful attitudes. I was stubbornly determined to plan, organize and tidy every issue I came in contact with, feeling the condemning stare of some in my aegis who like Death in “Christmas Carol,” pointed a stern bony finger at failures to dissuade me from moving forward.

It took years of counseling, and prayer to let joy seep back into my outlook on life. I began to open new doors and while stepping into the unknown, I discovered I had forgotten to love and to honor myself. I over-valued the opinions of those who judged me and found me inadequate, something my mother would never do. I discovered that there is a God who loves me exactly the way He created me. Obviously, He has a great sense of humor. I think appreciating good humor in my Erma Bombeck collection is a great place to find my way back home.

Crystal Clear Moments

Someday when I see perfectly clearly
a feeling preserved forever
in some connection within my flesh and blood,

it’s a “crystal clear moment.”

Oh, bring these moments in a parade
to me when I am old and my newnesses slow to nothing.
Give me these happinesses to grin
absently at and speak to again across time.

When you see me some day my child
and you think I am sad and lonely
staring silently out the window
in my room, oblivious to today
I hope that I will be seeing so clearly
these crystal moments we share right now,
saving in some quiet recess to relive.
But let us make some memories right now,
so happy, gentle and so soft,
of sweet-smelling wildflowers, golden days and azure skies,
of moonlight, whippoorwills and fireflies.
And they will seep through the tough times,
when sad and troubling thoughts override.
I can store them up to remind me later,

Will you dear?

Done Running, Chapter Four *Sigurd’s letter to Meryl Wynatt

Letter #1 

On the first envelope, the cancellation date was 1937, with a number of smudged cancellation postmarks. I’d need a magnifying glass to read them. There were three different-colored stamps. The return address was simply “Sig Johnson, Retalhuleu, Guat.” I wondered what that even meant.

Opening the flap on the pale blue envelope I saw Dad’s perfect penmanship on thin blue vellum paper labelled ‘correo aereo’ in red and indigo. I closed my eyes remembering how he sat, hunched over his desk, writing in his journals and punching the keys on that old black Monarch typewriter. I never questioned what he was writing and I wondered where his papers were now.

Cool night/ hot days   March 19, 1937

Dear Meryl,

How are you my good friend? As you can see from my postmark I am not in Chicago or Boston. My ship anchored a few days ago, off Champerico, Guatemala and I took a boat to the docks. Today I thought I’d write to you. In case you had not heard, I am embarking on a rough journey eastward across Guatemala to try to find a friend, Edward Weeks, who disappeared somewhere in central Guatemala. He came here on his own to do research but now the Institute wants me to find him. He was looking for an archaeological site but it has been nearly a year since he set off to hunt for those Mayan ruins. The government officers here said they know nothing and so I might be wasting my time but the Institute supplied me with steamer tickets, some rather poor maps and a new Indian motorcycle! I have a generous amount of “pesos” in my pocket too.

Today I unloaded my motorcycle and I am looking for a guide who can take me through the mountains. I have to find my contact in Chichicastenango which lies to the north and east hundred miles ahead of me in the mountains. I can see smoke coming from volcanoes here, Meryl! I hope I will find gasoline when I need it. I have a tank for extra fuel but it makes the trip rather hazardous. My Spanish will be tested sorely as I try to find my way. My map I have is not the greatest so I have to rely on directions from my contacts and the natives.

Before I left, I wrote to my parents so they’d know where I am headed. Please keep an eye on them for me until I return. Sometimes I am jealous of your quiet life back home and regret leaving you all behind, but Ed was a good friend and he has a family back home who wonders what happened to him. It might get a little hairy here. Please be sure to hang on to those papers I gave you. I will see you as soon as I can get back.

The port here is very hot and at night the mosquitos are terrible. My little room is no more than a cot and a small desk. There are no screens so you have to put up with the bugs or suffer the heat! I spent all day yesterday walking around this ‘pueblo’. It is primitive compared to Madison or Chicago, but the fruit and vegetables in their market are wonderfully flavorful. I especially like the aguacate. It’s a green fruit with a big seed inside. The greenish meat has the smooth texture of soft cheese. They have a delightfully different flavor. The pineapples here are as sweet as candy. They fry a banana-like fruit called ‘plantanos fritos’. I have also developed a particular liking for their little yellow corn tortillas made everywhere over open fires. They are served with every meal and are very good rolled up with thick black-bean paste. Everything here is very cheap except for meat. They eat fish cooked on the beach, right out of the Pacific. I bought several white shirts of the native style and some pantaloons that I can stuff into knee-high leather boots because I have heard there’s venomous snakes here. I’ve been warned about scorpions and spiders too.

They say that it is cold in the mountains so I picked up two ‘serapes’, hand woven wool vests with deep pockets. I bought a leather jacket and hat for riding on the Indian. They can double for blankets. My American suit jackets I gave to a young guy who was returning north. I will have to travel light.

A strange thing happened on board coming down from San Francisco. Apparently, the crew discovered a stowaway, a Chinaboy. He was a skinny little demon, quite a scrapper. After a scuffle with several of the crewmen, he went overboard into the ocean near the port. I don’t know if he jumped or they threw him overboard. I kept an eye out for him and one time I thought I spotted him in the waves, but the crew didn’t show concern or even put out a boat.

Meryl, you can imagine that I felt so bad for the poor kid. The captain said it happens all the time; young boys trying to run away to look for adventure. Usually they put them to work on board and return them to the port they came from… apparently hard work is not what they plan for and they are glad to leave when they get back to port. I suppose the boy could have made it to shore but I think it was over a mile away! I prayed for him and then checked with the local constabulary when I got to shore to find out if a body washed up, but there were no reports. Sadly, I’d suppose the sharks got him.

I guess I had better get this letter over to the postal agent. I don’t trust the postal service here but they said it would go out today by airmail believe it or not!

Don’t forget to pray for your old friend, Sig. I hope to return within six months. I will write again if I find a post office in up north.

Yours sincerely, Sigurd Johnson

林 (línmeaning “forest” or 琳 (línmeaning “fine jade, gem”

We Don’t Get Old In A Vacuum


Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.                   Genesis 25:8

Speaking of living a long time, did you notice the days are getting longer? Yes, the Spring Dandelions are poking their sunny yellow heads out of every lawn, around the base of trees and along the roads. As a matter of fact, an elderly friend of mine doesn’t like them in her lawn so she went out and began pulling them up. In the process, she managed to give herself a case of tendonitis and pulled her hamstring. OUCH

While I certainly understand that getting outside and moving around more freely is absolutely the best part of spring and summer, it gets easier to overdo it as we age. Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are so elemental in feeling “good” about life and I love to work on my lawn, prune the trees and plant flowers. But I have also discovered that being sixty-four is much closer to sixty-five than I’d like to admit.

This week I bought a new trimmer and a mower and headed out to the yard to get caught up on the tall grass. I sat down after a half-hour. It wasn’t just because I ran out of gas or grass. I was just plain tired. My hands hurt and my muscles were sore and weak. It could be that I didn’t get enough exercise last winter but this is a new thing, this tiredness.

I went in the house to my desk and sat at my computer, wondering about how I could overcome this weariness. In my Bible I found several verses that were encouraging.

Gospel according to Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

The Prophet Jeremiah 31:25I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

The author of Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

That doesn’t talk about my ‘process of aging’ though. At that moment, I wanted encouragement about the process of getting older, I’m sure you understand about the effort of just getting up in the morning sometimes being overwhelming. I’m beginning to learn a lot about life as I pass sixty, but I also forget stuff.

As a matter of fact, George Burns said “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”  I understand it now. I love to laugh with George Burns but I often forget his jokes. By the way, he was almost as old as Methuselah when he passed away!

Charles R Swindoll’s book “Job” was published in 2004. Chuck explained about the Job’s struggles, and how he overcame them. In this book, Swindoll also remarked on a not to surprising thing: old-agers need encouragement too.

Sometimes it feels like folks over sixty are left out of life and forgotten. It seems like they are left out of the mainstream, they aren’t involved in the lives of their kids and grandkids. I have some advice for all of us who are have older friends and family around us, those who are already elders and also for those who care for them.

It is a two-way stream. My advice is to constantly remember each other. Take care of each other. Love each other. If your friend or relative is away, write to them. Call them. Text them. Keep up a running dialogue. Continue to nurture your relationship and begin new conversations instead of always talking about the good old days. There are many reasons – and they are two-way reasons. We learn from the aged and they thrive through us!

Age is not kind to the human body or to the cultivation of relationships. I admit no one else can make an individual be fulfilled and feel satisfied, but we can certainly help along the way. We need to consciously bring kids and elders into contact with each other.

Children bring that sense of constant newness to our hearts and memories. They are fresh, impulsive and bright like little flowers blooming. Research shows that the laughter of a child refreshes our thoughts. When we lighten up, we feel a little more positive and optimistic, more hopeful and engaged. We become friendlier, more resourceful, more attractive, more alive.

And now—a little advice to you who are feeling overlooked and forgotten. There’s a Jewish proverb that says, “For the ignorant, old age is as winter; for the learned, it is a harvest.” As age stacks up, we will find that because we have kept yourself alert and alive, we’ll continue to see life through new eyes.

Swindoll says we need to “Step up! Laugh! Stay engaged in life! Don’t succumb to feeling bad for your situation!”

As soon as you feel too old to do something, try to find a way to do it or find something new to do. Play a new game, find a new friend and explore your relationship together. When you feel critical, say something kind – in a kindly way. You feed your heart when you are nice to someone else. As soon as you feel neglected or lonely – reach out to another person. Send a cheery note to a friend. Stay in communication with those you love and be honest about your feelings.

“Have a GREAT day!”


Hayward Photographer George McElroy

by Eldon M. Marple

George McElroy’s subject were universal; each class in school aligned itself next to the concrete block foundation of the schoolhouse to be limned in history, the prom queen daintily wiped her yes from the sting of the acrid power exploded in his flash holder, and no confirmation could pass without his attention. He traveled to the camps and the mills to record the work and the men he found there. Every high school graduate dressed in the best of the day came to his dark studio with the skylight to the north to pose stiffly while he peered through his aged glass-plate camera with a black cloth over his head, then, after a warning not to move, to wait immobile with bated breath for an interminable moment while the mechanism clicked and growled.

The negatives of the photographs taken by Mr. McElroy were on glass plates and he kept them to use for the sale of duplicates. After his death in 1938 the studio passed to other hands and uses, and the thousands of stored plates of incalculable value to a historian were hauled to the dump and buried. When Tony Wise moved the building to Historyland a few years ago, we recovered a few plates from digging in the debris. Were these negatives available today, a continuous and inexhaustible source of information would be available for the study of the region in the early days.

Hayward and the Big Mill

Hayward and the Big Mill…The Landmark!

by Eldon M. Marple

Anthony Judson Hayward must have come to the site of the town named in his honor well before November 11, 1880, the date the North Wisconsin Lumber Company was organized. Later on, commentary stated that he realized the immense potentialities for a water-powered mill on the Namekagon if control could be gained of the vast stands of white pine surrounding this ideal site. It also pointed out that he was aware of the great savings that could be made by shipping manufactured lumber out from the mill by rail instead of driving the logs downriver to be sawed, an unnecessary cost, often greatly increased by the vagaries of the spring flood. Obviously, he also knew that a railroad was shortly to be extended up the Namekagon Valley, so he laid his plans well.

The ideal place to build a dam for a mill depending on water power was situated below the present bridge across the Namekagon, where the banks were high and close together and where there was a good fall in the river bottom. Upriver from this natural narrows was a broad swampy area perfect for a pond to store water for the wheel and logs for the saws. However, this site where these desirable features were located, was in Section 27 and owned by the Omaha Railroad, as was most of the timber he needed to make his plan feasible.

Mr. Hayward, a practical man who had built and operated several mills before this, found that he could not acquire the site he wanted so he did the next best thing. He moved to gain control of as much of it as he could to forestall development by anyone else, and then bided his time. He bought the eighty-acre tract with its northeast corner in the street north of the Co-op store (now Second St.), giving him control of the damsite on Bradley Brook and where the brick company office was later built. He also bought the eighty which now includes the county shop and most of the downtown area. He included a forty at the outlet of Lake Mindamoga (Smith Lake) which has an ideal damsite, in his purchases. Clearly, his idea was to control the flow of Bradley Brook so that it could be used to turn the saw of a small mill installed below a dam at Florida Avenue.

About this time, Mr. Hayward met Robert Laird McCormick in Minnesota. He told McCormick of his dream of controlling the harvest of the pine tributary to the site on the Namekagon and that he did not have the necessary capital to do so. Mr. McCormick became enthused about the opportunity here and took Hayward to his employers, the Laird Norton lumber interests. They struck a deal, and the North Wisconsin Lumber Company formed with Hayward as president and McCormick as secretary and general manager. Their acumen and patience was rewarded when on November 14, 1881, the Omaha Railroad sold them the land in Section 27 necessary for the development of the site for the Big Mill.

Hayward’s new town was the location of a lumber camp as far back as 1864 when Albert C. Stuntz, the government surveyor, had reported in his diary that T. Mackey housed a small crew here. When the Omaha Railroad pushed up the Namekagon Valley in 1880, this old log bunkhouse was the only structure know to be in the vicinity. It was on the flat west of the Historical Marker and was later torn down to make way for the lumber yard. The railroad honored Hayward’s site by establishing a stop there in his name – a platform of stacked cross-ties served as a station. They also erected a water tank and pump house on the north side of the tracks between Bradley Brook and Florida Avenue – the circular brick foundation is still in place. A small cabin was built for the attendant at Florida Avenue which may have been the first new home in Hayward although Al Blaisdell, who supervised the construction of five dams for the company during this period, is reported to have had the first house in town. Since he did not purchase any land here, its location or the date of its erection cannot be recovered from the records.

The new company set up their headquarters in the old lumber camp to which had been added a frame building. The frame portion was used by the Congregational church to hold the first formal church services in the new town. When the old camp was torn down, it was moved up to the railroad tracks at Florida Avenue. It served as the office for the company until the new brick edifice was erected across the tracks in 1889 when it was moved to a site beside this building. In 1891, the old office was moved again, this time to its final location on the northeast corner of First and Dakota, to be used as a workshop and home by Jack P. Mann who added a second story as family living quarters. A picture of that period, dated September 15, 1893, shows it essentially as it is today where it now serves as the front part of the structure used as a bar.

Another building constructed near the old lumber camp was used as a schoolhouse, church and printshop. It was later torn down and rebuilt for a billiard saloon, then moved to the townsite and occupied as a home by Thomas Jordan. The company built a store across the track from the water tank in the fall of 1882 and stocked it fully with lumbermen’s supplies. It was torn down in 1893 and called “the oldest building in town” in a news item.

Winter Seasons in Life


Winter season is on us. Usually that’s great, for skiers and snowmobilers. Right now, with the rain and cool weather I am not sure what to make of winter. All around us are bare trees; everything is covered with snow; the days are short and nights longer. Outside, the world seems to be silent and dead except for chickadees and cranky crows.

However, nothing can be farther from the truth. For example; last spring I noticed that some of my cedar evergreen shrubs were brown and dry. They struggled to green up. I found out that evergreens turn brown because the leaves lose moisture in extreme cold and will dry up and die. I didn’t consider that my shrubs, though they look dead, continue to be active even in the coldest and frozen times of winter. Some plants continue to function beneath the surface in the winter like tiny clocks ticking away. Flower bulbs you’d think would freeze and die, require cold to make them bloom and blossom in the spring.

Had you considered that freezing and thawing cracks open the surface of the earth to receive seeds that have been lying dormant on the surface of the soil? Then they germinate at the first signs of spring. The season that to our senses appears to be a time of nothingness, silence, and death is actually a season of preparation for a soon-coming burst of new life and new strength. So it is, in the life of man.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  ESV For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  

There will be seasons of nothingness in all our lives. To deny those seasons in our lives, is against the design of our Creator to cause us to grow and mature. I’ve heard believers say, “My life seems to have dried up. I don’t feel like I hear the voice of God or sense His presence in my life. I look around and my life seems to be so unproductive and dead. Where is God?”

But it’s like the world of nature around us. God is always at work in our lives even when it seems to be a season of winter. Our senses are the worst indicator of that reality. What we feel, see, and hear is a poor indicator of what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives.

Let me tell you about Doubting Thomas. Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus. He saw the miracles and he actually heard the incredible teachings of Jesus. Yet when the disciples told Thomas that Jesus rose from the dead and actually appeared to them, it says in John 20, that Thomas replied:

25 “Except I see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Faith does not rely on our senses. It believes the Word of God despite what we feel, see or hear.  Jesus appeared to Thomas, and Matt. 20: 29. This is what Jesus replied to Thomas’ unbelief;

Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”

We don’t need to be afraid because we do not feel his hands at work. We do need to pray for His hands on us.

Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

He is there. As believers in Jesus Christ, we believe and have faith, that God is active in our lives even though we are in a long lifeless winter or dark days in our lives. Maybe we haven’t seen or felt His presence in our lives in a while but God is always at work. Maybe there has been pain or darkness in your days lately, but God is working behind the scenes in your life. Train yourself to see beneath the surface. God is perfecting whatever concerns you. Without those days where we don’t feel or see His hands at work, how can our faith be tested, strengthened or refined? Do I need faith when I get or see what I want or choose? Resistance excercise makes your muscles strong. It is the same with your faith.

And I think faith seems to see best in the dark. You may seem to have “lost your green leaves” or the freshness in your life. Things may seem to be “dark and lifeless.” But as in nature, movement and activity continues below. The true believers’ life is always moving toward maturity so let the seasons in your life produce new growth, give life to new seeds, blossoms to living plants. Let all seasons, whether good or bad, produce deeper and stronger roots in you. Let all seasons produce a greater trust and dependence upon the Lord who promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

Another spring will come along with its future growth and strength, to make you even stronger for the next winter season of growth in your life.

Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Repeat this verse to yourself, 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged (because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him,) for there is a greater power with us than with him.

II Chronicles 32: 7

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