Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..July 21st


Elliott’s childhood church. Grace Evangelical United Brethren.

Speckled diamonds of a Minnesota morning winked at us all through the cooling canopy of shade trees along North 3rd Street in our wonderful burg of Kiester, Minnesota. Summer, in all of its glory, had once again descended upon our village in the south central part of our grand State.

Our family’s house of worship, Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church, had once again come together to provide the youngsters of our dear town with Summer Vacation Bible School; so as to have a child-focused time of godly training in our Christian faith, with singing of hymns and children’s songs, coupled with fun activities and so much more!

While loving adults were busy inside our “church house”, preparing this special morning of godly children activities, our growing band of boys and girls stayed outside those handsome double doors with the massive, wrought-iron hinges. From one direction, and then another, local little town kids were dappled, as they walked, with a moving kaleidoscope of sun/shade/sun/shade as they ambled closer to us from their respective homes nearby. Farm families rolled up to the church and dropped off their little “Johnny or Suzie” to join us there on those wide, cement steps of this sweet place of fellowship.

Our growing group of youngsters were chit-chatting amongst ourselves while waiting for the broad church double doors to swing open in welcoming us to the morning’s fun under God’s sun.

Mrs. Dixie Ballweber at the church organ.

Talented Dixie Ballweber took her place on the bench at the organ in the worship auditorium (or “sanctuary”, as we were raised to call it) and began to play a rousing rendition of the old hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers”. Our adult attendants at the church entrance encouraged us to march like little Christian soldiers as we entered and took our seats in the wooden pews for opening songs and a Bible lesson.

Us little ones were enraptured with the Bible verse-based storyline that day and enjoyed how each story, from that loving, adult church member, came to life via the usage of “Fuzzy Felt” characters for Bible Stories that magically clung to a large, felt-covered board on a tripod. With each added colorful felt figure, the story unfolded in a brilliant array right before our young eyes.

L to R…..Ruby Courrier, Genevieve Mutschler, DeEtta Kraus?, Janet Twedt and Jean Kraus.

By this time of the morning, heavenly fragrances were floating up from the church’s basement kitchen where sweet ladies like Ruby Courrier, Genevieve Mutschler, Janet Twedt, Jeannie Kraus and others were busy baking large batches of cookies that we would enjoy later in the day for snack time.

Our town’s public park was just down the street from Grace E.U.B., so after songs and story time, our young energetic bodies were led down to that wide open green expanse for games and fun as we raced the morning away with “Hide-n-Seek” and a myriad of other kid’s fun to blow off our unending energy of those happy years. After hiking back to the church, our tummies were ready for those delightful cookies, made with love, and gallons of yummy “Kool-aid” drink in eight flavors of joy. My favorite was Cherry “Kool-Aid”.

Re-energized by such yummies for our tummies, it was now time to learn our Bible verse for the day and begin working on a craft that we could give to our parents by the end of the week. Kind-hearted Mrs. Jean (or Jeannie) Kraus was our “teacher” for my group on one of those certain summertime Vacation Bible Schools. Mrs. Kraus had found a wonderful craft of creating a hard-wood cutting board for our mother’s kitchens. It appeared as an open Bible and we used a wood burning kit to trace and burn in lines into the wood to appear like pages of the Bible. Then, we rubbed oil coat after oil coat to treat the wood before putting a ribbon around it and giving to our mothers at the end of this special week of fun at church.

The congregation of Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church in Kiester, Minnesota. Circa 1972.

Today’s young generation, with their super high technology, will never understand the explicit beauty of life’s simplicity in those dear days gone by. Yes, even there in our fun times of Summer Vacation Bible School that were such a joy for this boy known as The Norwegian Farmer’s Son.


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