August 29, 2017


Ben Smith was invited to take a vacation this summer that he will never forget. Ben is the 12-year-old son of Aaron and Jennifer Smith of Diboll and the trip began with a destination of Eureka Springs, Missouri to attend the popular outdoor drama of the greatest story ever told in The Great Passion Play. Ben was excited explaining to me how “cool” the Holy Land tour was which included the colorful market place, the pageantry of the chariot and camel caravan and the hustle and bustle of the crowds as they go about their daily activities.  He loved the live animals on the streets of Jerusalem, visiting a replica of a first century Inn and stable typical of where Jesus was born, a life size Tabernacle with a guide explaining each part of it, the Tomb with the folded napkin and the dramatic and exciting ascension of Jesus into the night sky. He learned from visiting the Upper Room, where Jesus and his disciples feasted for the Last Supper, how differently dinner was served and that the guest of honor always faced the door. The Passion Play was the highlight of the evening.

On the next day’s itinerary Ben saw the famous arches in St. Louis which were under construction and unavailable. Going through Springfield, Illinois the next four nights were spent as guest of a farmer in Madison, Wisconsin. I know personally that Ben is not afraid of working and when he overheard a conversation about gathering cucumbers the next day, he volunteered to help. He was up early picturing the cucumbers along a fencerow like home. His eyes got big when he was told there was FOUR ACRES of cucumbers to pick but he and eight other pickers gathered over 2,000 cucumbers that day! He was truly impressed when the buckets of cucumbers were put on a conveyor where they were washed, boxed, loaded on pallets and then into a truck to be delivered to market. The rest of day was spent riding bicycles everywhere…sightseeing, visiting yard sales and even to the restaurant. Another day was spent at an indoor theme park in Wisconsin Dells. Ben was totally impressed with the six-story Ferris wheel and the African-themed carousel. There was also challenging ropes course, climbing walls, 24 lanes of bowling, go carts, mini golf, hundreds of arcades and much more. The rest of that day was spent on a pontoon boat on the Wisconsin River where Ben enjoyed jumping into the icy cold water. That evening he attended his first ever, drive-in movie and watched Plant of the Apes sitting aboard the pontoon boat. The next day Ben watched the Milwaukee Brewers win a baseball game over the Pittsburg Pirates and enjoyed watching the mascot slide down a long slide after a homerun.

The next day was spent mostly driving toward Minnesota and spending time at the Mall of American in Bloomington with more than 400 shops. Ben loved the Nickelodeon Universe which is seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment which includes Fly Over America flight simulator, Sea Life and most impressive to him, a 34’ tall LEGO Robot and roller coaster. That night Ben attended the Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks game. He couldn’t believe they were giving away Rod Carew “bobble heads” and he got one. (Rodney Carew is a former Major League Baseball first baseman, second baseman and coach. He played from 1967 to 1985 for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels and was elected to the All-Star game every season except his last.) Ben laughed about witnessing a marriage proposal on the Kisscam.

South Dakota’s Original 1880 TOWN is something I have seen and it also impressed Ben with more than 30 buildings from the 1880 to 1920 era, authentically furnished with thousands of relics and Dances with Wolves movie props. (I was disappointed Kevin Costner wasn’t there). Ben, like me, didn’t really appreciate and soon got bored with the drive through the Badlands on the way to Mount Rushmore National Park and on to see Crazy Horse which is the world’s largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is a memorial for all Native American tribes. Ben was more impressed with Crazy Horse than Mount Rushmore. He spent the night in Nebraska and was one of the few thousands that watched the total eclipse in the Agape National Park. He said the park was filled with people 35 miles on both sides of the highway.  It was on to Kansas, Oklahoma and back to Texas to complete his memorable trip in time for Ben to begin school at Diboll Junior High. I was frantically taking notes as Ben told me about his trip without any notes. Thank you Ben for sharing your story.

With the devastation and flooding from the hurricane Harvey, Cassi (Lenderman) Davis and her two sons, 3-year-old Jase and 10-month old Mack, left Stacy in Magnolia and came to her parents in Diboll. Her parents are Karon and Dennis Lenderman affectionately known as “Cootie” and “Grumps”. Jase told his dad that he planned to stay here “forever” with them.

Dwayne Jordan was in getting tires put on their Kubota ATV because the kids love to ride, especially Laura. Our thanks to Mark Hafernick for the Prickly Pear jelly he made from the cactus off Richard and Lisa Warners’ ranch. Barrett Duren came in for deer corn. If you ever have the opportunity, ask him to sing “Desperado”.

With the summer coming to an end, one certain grandmother and retired principal, Helen Cheshire, was determined four of her grandchildren would see the life-size recreation of Noah’s Ark and The Creation Museum in Williamstown, Kentucky. Helen drove the long distance not once, but twice! The first trip she took 14-year-old Garrison Cheshire and his 10-year-old sister, Laycee. The second trip she took their two younger sisters; 10-year-old Kaydee and 8-year-old, Emmee. The parents of these four are Chandra and Bobby Cheshire of Diboll. The ark is 1-1/2 football fields long and 7 stories high with animatronic life-like models. The developer, president and founder of Answers in Genesis, Australian-born Ken Ham, is good at spreading our belief, “That the Bible is a book of history and that this ark is intended to serve as a vivid warning that, according to the Bible, God sent a flood in Noah’s time to wipe out a depraved people, and God will deliver a fiery end to those who reject the Bible. We’re becoming more like the days of Noah in that we see increasing secularization in the culture,” Mr. Ham said.

Continue to remember those who have lost so much and come see us…’round the table.