Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dedicated to Peace: The World Headquarters of the Community of Christ

I prayed for peace in Tanzania. I prayed for successful peacemaking efforts around the world. I heard the organ pipes play and voices rise in song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I was seated in a sanctuary where each day a different country is selected for reflection in the Daily Prayer for Peace. On this day, two pre-teen girls, accompanied by their mom, led the service in observation of the United Nations Youth Day. They read scripture, offered a prayer, sang the hymn, and became quiet to allow silent meditation. This brief experience happened in the emblem of peace for the world, the Temple Sanctuary of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri.

From the Campus RV Park in Independence where we parked the Prevost, the spire of the Temple rose high about the tree line shining in the August sun like a silver needle poking through a bright blue fabric. This architectural masterpiece is home to the World Headquarters of the Community of Christ, an international denomination with 250,000 members in more than 50 countries. Persons of all faiths are welcome to the Temple which was dedicated in 1994 to the “pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.”

The bright light in the Temple entrance showed off a row of international flags along the hallway and many colorful tapestries hanging from a balcony terrace. This initial brightness lasts only until you enter the doors leading to the Worshiper’s Path. These lights are dim here to allow time for reflection at each stop point before reaching the Sanctuary. Symbolic artwork along the Path includes a carved-glass entrance of a grove of trees and a granite sculpture of the return of the prodigal son. A rough-hewn cross proclaims the risen Christ. Ikebana-style floral arrangements symbolize heaven, humanity and earth. And, water flows over a granite pool representing the overflowing of God’s love. The light grows brighter at each station until finally, the grandeur of the Sanctuary overcomes you.

Most impressive is the Sanctuary’s spiral ceiling which rises 195 feet. Looking at it, I felt that if were to rise up to its peak, I’d surely float to heaven. That is exactly the effect the designers wanted “to focus on the Divine.” I felt certain that our prayers for peace that afternoon went direct to heaven.

After participating in the Daily Prayer for Peace, I joined a small tour of the Temple. I walked the Worshiper’s Path again, this time with narration explaining the significance of the art. In the sanctuary my guide warned, “You can become dizzy staring up to the pinnacle.” I had already learned this lesson.

He pointed out the 102-rank, 5,685-pipe organ in the Sanctuary that has pipes ranging in size from six inches to 32 feet. He invited us to attend one of the organ recitals beginning at 3 PM daily. He called attention to the award-winning stained glass window depicting the harvest of wheat and rice. He took our small group outside to the World Plaza where we walked on a brick inlaid map of the world. We sat in Meditation Chapel which overlooks a Japanese garden. There he answered questions about the Community of Christ and its founder Joseph Smith, Jr. Our group tour ended in the Library where some folks wanted to see the Doctrines and Covenants relating to the Church.

I was the only person who wanted to see the adjacent Auditorium. My guide graciously accommodated my interest in seeing more. He led me thorough an underground passageway connecting the Temple to the Auditorium.

The Auditorium features a 5,800-seat Conference Chamber with seating in-the-round beneath an expansive domed ceiling measuring 90 feet from the floor, 214 feet wide, and 168 feet long. The 111-rank organ here is among the largest free-standing organs in the United States with 6,500 pipes ranging from ¼ inch to 32 feet. In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman made history in the Auditorium by signing Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the United States armed forces. Now, the Auditorium functions as a religious, cultural and community center for the Kansas City region.

In addition to the Auditorium and Temple tour, there was still more to experience at the Community of Christ World Headquarters. A small museum houses 17 exhibits tracing the history of the Church from its origins in the 1820’s to its world missions today.

And, then back in the lobby, the tapestries themselves are particularly important. They represent “The Thread Project” – an international exhibition by Terry Helwig. The threads in each tapestry were pulled from the fabric of people’s everyday lives: threads celebrating births and marriage, threads from 9/11 families…over 50,000 threads gathered in 70 countries and seven continents. Then, Helwig enlisted weavers and textile artists worldwide to create the tapestries from these threads. The result of this seven year project is the creation of one World Cloth – a reminder that the human race is a global family of one, united by a common thread.

The Community of Christ World Headquarters merits a slow paced visit to absorb all it encompasses – architecture, art, history, meditation and prayer. When you go there, peace will be with you.

August 12, 2009

Community of Christ World Headquarters

1001 W. Walnut Street

Independence, MO 64050


Campus RV Park

406 S. Pleasant Road

Independence, MO


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Warm Welcome in Kansas City!

When a long journey ends, a warm welcome from family and friends can make you feel so good! And, that is exactly how we felt arriving in Kansas City. On Friday night, our “bus nut” friend Sean opened his house to us and gave us a place to park the coach. By Saturday morning, Suzie and Matt arrived at Sean’s house with hugs and happiness knowing that we’d be in Kansas City for awhile.

Ed and I have traveled over 28,000 miles during our two year road trip that began in September 2007. Four times Sean met us on the road – first in Marshall, Missouri ; then in Albany, New York; once in Pharr, Texas and finally in Fulton, Missouri. It only seems fitting that our final mile ended at his front door.

And, when we look at the map charting our travels, there’s a thick series of lines passing behind a photo of daughter Suzie. Many of our routes no matter what the destination went through Futon and St. Louis where Suzie has lived while studying at the university. I know she and her boyfriend Matt will be happy to have Mom close by – only four hours away, no more wondering “where’s Mom?”

To celebrate our coming to Kansas City, Sean grilled burgers and mushrooms stuffed with crab. Suzie mixed the seasonings for some dippy bread. And, I made a family favorite perogies and corn-on-the-cob too. What a feast!

We celebrated the ties that bind us. We celebrated a safe, extraordinary journey through the US and Canada. We celebrated my new job.

On September 1st, I begin a new career as the Director of Development and Marketing for a Kansas City non-profit organization. Sheffield Place empowers homeless mothers and their children to heal from their trauma and move toward self-sufficiency. When I am not out asking for money to fund this worthy program, I’ll be a tourist in my own town – Kansas City – and I will put the finishing touches on my book about our road trip.

Our journey maybe ending but more experiences will unfold. Expect the unexpected from me and more stories to entertain. This is a new beginning! Welcome to Kansas City!

July 24 - 25, 2009

Lewis & Clark vs. Ed & Patty

I nudged Ed with my elbow over and over as we watched the film about the Lewis and Clark expedition. So many points rang true to our own expedition in our Prevost coach “Dolly’s Pride.”

We had stopped at the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail & Visitor Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The Center sits on 79 acres of a wooded bluff overlooking the Missouri River, the very river navigated by Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago. We parked our 40-foot-long coach in the lot not far from the 55-foot-long, authentic replica of the keelboat used on this historic journey.

A three-story building houses the interactive exhibits and a theater. It was the film about the Corps of Discovery that reminded us most of our own Grand Tour of the US & Canada.

From 1804 to 1806, Lewis and Clark traveled under President Thomas Jefferson’s order to explore and find an inland route to the Pacific. We had no presidential directive, but our road trip ran the course of two years 2007 to 2009. They had brief and tense encounters with Indians. We encountered Indians. The encounters were brief but never tense. American Indians nowadays run the casinos. They gave us warm greetings, free places to park the RV, and eagerly shared stories about their culture. Lewis and Clark discovered that their keelboat was too large for navigation. On occasion our coach proved to be a bit too big on some winding narrow roads like the one to Winslow, Arkansas or when we encountered an old fashioned covered bridge.

Lewis and Clark traveled without maps and had to seek information and help along their journey. Our Wal-Mart Atlas served us well, but we too stopped to ask for information and help finding our way. We now have a Garmin. Lewis and Clark saw hoodoos, perhaps some of the same ones we saw out west. They saw elk, buffalo, pronghorn antelopes and prairie dogs. We did too. They complained about unpleasant insects – the mosquito. We consider them “unpleasant” as well. The expedition’s elk skin-bound journals recorded daily activities. This epic journal described culture and lifestyle. I used my Dell laptop for destination commentary, to write a blog “Did Someone Say RV Road Trip” and to comment on Facebook about our experiences.

Sometimes the Corps of Discovery rested for two days, sometimes for as long as two weeks. Ed and I also paused for days at a time, once we parked for nearly three months in Florence, Oregon so we could enjoy the Pacific coastline. And, when the expedition ended after 8,000 miles, Lewis and Clark returned to St. Louis for a hearty welcome. We are wrapping up our Grand Tour after 28,000 miles and came 200 miles shy of St. Louis. We received our hearty welcome in Kansas City, Missouri.

July 24, 2009

Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark

Interpretive Trail & Visitor Center

100 Valmont Drive

Nebraska City, Nebraska 68410


For RVers, I recommend staying at

Victorian Acres RV Park & Campground

6591 Hwy. 2, Nebraska City, NE 68410


Ice Cream & Willow Creek Campground: Reasons to Visit Le Mars, Iowa

I can give you two good reasons to visit Le Mars, Iowa – Blue Bunny Ice Cream and Willow Creek Campground!

Le Mars claimed the official title as “The Ice Cream Capital of the World” in October 1994. The town’s local Wells’ Dairy – the makers of Blue Bunny Ice Cream – produces over 120 million gallons of ice cream a year. That’s more ice cream produced by a single company in Le Mars than in any other city in the world!

When we arrived in Le Mars, I made a quick visit to the Ice Cream Capital of the World Visitor Center. When I found out they weren’t giving out samples, I headed straight to the 1920’s Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor next door. I tasted a few flavors before settling on one for my cone. I chose a vanilla ice cream laced with a ribbon of caramel and some chunky, crunchy pecans. It reminded me of my Baskin- Robbins favorite Pralines n’ Cream only richer.

Did my Blue Bunny treat deserve the raves I heard preceding my visit? Yes, but I would venture to bet that these Blue Bunny loyalists have never tried what I still consider to be the best ice cream. The Creamery at Penn State University in College Station, Pennsylvania remains #1 in my ranking. Bruster’s Real Ice Cream Shops are my favorite neighborhood ice cream parlors especially when they are serving Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. I am loyal to Baskin-Robbins for an occasional treat too since I scooped their ice cream for extra cash in college. On occasion, just give me a spoon and you’ll catch me eating some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream right out of the grocery store pint size container. And, when in Texas I learned that Texans love their Blue Bell Ice Cream just like the folks in Le Mars love their Blue Bunny. On a hot day, just about any ice cream will satisfy me.

Just like the ice cream, Willow Creek Campground gave me a good feeling. This Le Mars Municipal Park offered trees to shade our coach on the sunny days and a scenic place to barbecue our dinner. We could have filled several days here riding the bike trails, walking the paths, swimming in the pond, fishing, or testing our golf swing. Our two day stop flew by and we were on the road before we had time to appreciate these amenities around us. For a Municipal Park, Willow Creek exceeded my expectations. RVers passing through should consider this affordable location.

July 21 - 23, 2009