Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caroling in the Caverns

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I saw a program on the Travel Channel last December that I found out about the event called "Caroling in the Caverns". That is because the event has been going on for several years, and I live just about 90 minutes from there. But as soon as I learned about it, I phoned to get a ticket. The person who took my call said the tickets had been sold out for months, and that if I ever wanted to go, I had better get my tickets purchased earlier next time. So I put a note to myself in my calendar back in August, and proceeded to order my ticket (which cost $17) as soon as they went on sale in the early fall. As a coincidence, all of the lessons in my Faithful Friends small group at church this month have been on the topic the quarterly entitled "God's Christmas Songs". So a field trip to hear "God's Christmas Songs" in such a unique setting as an underground cave seemed very appropriate. Although photography or recording was not allowed during the actual program, I was able to get the photos above before it started. The lower photo shows that stringed instruments were included in the music presentation. An instrument that the nearby town of Mountain View is famous for---the mountain dulcimer---was expertly played by local native, and widely recognized dulcimer aficionado, Pam Kirby. Pam is also the leader of the various musicians that shared their voices on the afternoon of December 13 when I was there.

When one first arrives at the Banchard Springs Caverns Visitor's Center (pictured in collage above), there are a variety of activities to occupy your time until boarding the elevators to descend hundreds of feet underground. The theater has an audio-visual presentation telling about how the cave was created and discovered, and also includes beautiful Ozark nature scenes captured by area photographer Jerry Wilcoxen. There is also an excellent exhibit area to view, as well as a gift shop and book store. Plus, on days that a performance is being given, complementary refreshments are served consisting of cookies, hot cider, and candy canes.
As you can tell by the way the audience is dressed in the photo collage above, the temperature was very comfortable. Since I tend to get cold easily, I had an extra coat, scarf, ear muffs, and gloves---none of which I needed. In addition, plastic seat cushions are provided to each attendee as you enter the elevator, so that you will not be sitting directly on a damp bench. I was pleased to see that the area where the audience sits is wheel-chair accessible, so one does not have to be a hiker-type to participate. In keeping with the tradition of strolling carolers, the performers would move to various locations distant from the audience so that we could appreciate the remarkable acoustics in the space. If any of this appeals to you, you'll be thankful to hear that you will not have to wait until December of 2010 to experience it. Due to its popularity, special performances have been scheduled for February 13-14, to celebrate St. Valentine's Day; also, for March 13-14, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Only 400 tickets are available for each weekend, so don't wait to reserve your spot. Contact the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce at 870-269-8068 or visit to order tickets online.
The video at the Visitor's Center Theater talked about creatures that live in the dark. Likewise, the story of Christmas is about creatures who were living in the dark. But the verses in Luke 1:78-79 shows us God's remedy for such an existence : "Because of our God's merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." I pray that you will experience miles of "light filled" smiles this Christmas season and throughout the year! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Friday, December 11, 2009

Group Expedition to Branson

There are many good reasons for traveling in a group, and one of them is that, instead of there being 50 vehicles on the highway, all going to the same destination----there is just one vehicle that carries 50 people! This travel is made especially enjoyable if the vehicle is a luxury motorcoach, such as the one used by First Baptist Church of Mountain Home recently. The photo above also shows another reason for going by motorcoach---the fun and fellowship one can have while being part of a group, who all have the same goal in mind---an enjoyable time visiting with old friends and getting to know new ones!

The Mountain Home group had a delicious lunch in the balcony dining area of the Hughes Brothers Theater in Branson, and then were treated to a delightful Christmas show put on by the talented band of brothers, known simply as SIX. Their show is a "must see" on your next trip to Branson! Following the SIX show, the group headed over to the Hard Luck Cafe for an early supper, with just enough time left to stroll through the huge Christmas store at the Grand Village. As you can see, there was a representative of St. Nickolas strolling the area, despite the bitter cold (as evidenced by the frozen fountain shown in lower part of collage above).
Next the group drove to the somewhat-new-to-Branson theater called "Sight and Sound". The original Sight and Sound Theater has been operating for years in Pennsylvania, but many people in the Ozarks are just now visiting it for the first time. The photo above shows the FBC expeditioners eagerly awaiting the show to begin in their comfortable seats near the main stage of the enormous space. The vastness of the theater is needed considering what comes meandering down the aisles during the performance---beautiful, full size horses; gigantic camels; braying donkeys; and bah-bahing sheep!!
The photo above shows the Christmas tree in the main lobby, that is completely encircled by delicate angels, twinkling lights, and shiny ribbon. After the show was over, I realized those angels decorating the tree were just a preview to what we would experience during the presentation inside the theater, called "The Miracle of Christmas". In my lifetime, I have seen dozens of dramatizations of the Christmas story, as told in the Bible New Testament book of Luke. However, none of these past dramas have so vividly captured all my senses in illustrating Luke 2:13-14, as did the spectacular scene I saw above, beside, and before me that night. The verse says: Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared, with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." It was definitely one of those moments that gives you goosebumps! I hope you will take the time in the days ahead to not only see a Christmas program with little children acting out the parts, but also treat yourself to the experience of "The Miracle of Christmas" at Sight and Sound Theater in Branson ( Wishing you miles of angelic smiles this Christmas! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The China Expedition!

When you saw the title of this post, I hope that the thought at least crossed your mind, that you were going to read about a recent trip I took to China. Although I do not want to rule out that possibility for a future blog post, this entry is actually about an expedition my China (aka "dinnerware" ) took. The expedition consisted of carefully packed China plates and glasses that made the trip into the big city of Mountain Home, where they were met by hundreds of other place settings, also on a "China Expedition". What could have caused this mass migration of such fragile cargo to the Christian Life Center of the First Baptist Church ? Why, it was none other than the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ ---born 2009 years ago! Dozens of FBC members hosted tables of eight people for the Sixth Annual Summit Ministry Christmas Banquet. Max Pyron leads the Summit Ministry, and although this Christmas event has been going on for several years (under the very capable direction of committee chairperson Wilma Jackson), this was my first time to attend or host a table. I arrived after most of the tables were set up, so that I could get an idea of how things were done. The first photo collage shows examples of just four of the tables, each with their own charming decorating theme.

Lest you think that only a woman could assume the responsibility of decorating a table, I included photos in the second collage of a beautiful table decorated by Warren Haley (lower right photo). It is worth noting, that it was a table decorated by a man, that was the ONLY table that also had the chairs decked out in festive attire! (top photo) Considering the banquet took place on the floor of the CLC basketball court, the area looked quite appealing (lower left photo)!
The top photo of the third collage shows the folks sitting at my table: Ken, Susan, Roy, Mary, Marcia, and Jerry. My dietitian/nurse friend, Susan, took the photo of me in the lower left; then she is shown in lower right photo, along with Mary and Marcia.
Just as each table at the banquet had a centerpiece that was the focal point of everything else on the table, so, too, the Bible is clear about what should be the centerpiece and focal point of our lives as Christians. In fact, one of the many verses that teach this principle is the "mission statement and name origin" for First Place 4 Health, for which I am a proponent. The verse is Matthew 6:33 "Seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." That is an especially good priority to remember as we scurry around with the numerous holiday activities of December. To find out how you can be a part of the true "reason for the season", check out Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa