Last October, in 2018, we had the joy of traveling to Kauai, Hawaii. Kauai is called The Garden Isle and for good reason. There isn’t a vista that isn’t covered in lush trees, tropical plants, and blossoming botanicals. Everywhere you turn, you are met with an incredible slice of creation.
We didn’t come by this trip by the usual means. We hadn’t been planning it for years, pinching our pennies and squirreling away vacation time. Rather, Matt’s parents took us as their guests with airline miles they’d acquired. We shared a 1-bedroom condo with a fold-out couch and called ourselves blessed.
When we came home, after the sunburns had begun to heal but the glow of the Hawaiian sun was still lingering, we sat down in the recording studio with a bowl of fresh pineapple and a couple of mimosas and talked about our time in the Aloha State.
What better way to finish it off than with a road trip with our favorite listeners?
Admittedly, the audio isn’t perfect in this episode, but we had a fun time driving to a local hot-spot, Dodge Park where we got out and sat by the river while we talked about road trips we’ve both taken recently and the lessons we each learned.
Stepping out of the car at St. Ignatius Mission in Montana, the air was thick with smoke from recent fires throughout the western US and Glacier National Park. Everything was quiet and still.
Before us stood the Mission Church, the place where, in approximately 1890, my great, great grandfather, Eli “Kelly” Cyr was raised from the age of 8, after his mother died of lung fever. The eldest of 5 children, Eli and his brothers were sent to St. Ignatius Mission while his two younger sisters, under the age of 2, were sent to live with relatives until they were old enough to join their brothers.
Eli (far right) and his younger brothers, circa 1890.
“The Mission, and the town that grew up around it, was founded in 1854 by Jesuit missionaries and named for their founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. In the following years it was the home of the first Jesuit theologate and industrial arts school in the Northwest, the first Catholic Sisters and Catholic school in Montan, and the first hospital, sawmill, flour mill, printing press, carpenter shop and blacksmith shop in the Mission Valley.”
– excerpt from St. Ignatius Mission: Historical Site. 1977
“Main Street of St. Ignatius with Mission Church and School in background about 1895.”
During his time at the Mission, under the tutelage of the brothers and sisters, Eli learned how shoemaking, music, and cooking. Each of these skills proved beneficial as Eli struck out on his own, eventually marrying and having a daughter. Through the years, he was a cobbler, a bandleader, and the owner of a confectionary and a restaurant.
While the Mission was founded in 1854, this church wasn’t built until the 1890s and is one of the last remaining buildings affiliated with the Mission due to multiple fires and lack of funding.
Construction of the Mission Church was completed in approximately 1893. Walking through its thick, oak doors one is immediately met with an impressive array of murals covering the walls and ceiling. These murals were all painted by the Jesuit cook and handyman, Brother Joseph Carignano. Brother Joseph had no formal art training, but he did have a vision and a dedication to the project he felt called to.
The three paintings behind the altar are representations of three visions that St. Ignatius Loyola had. Above, is a depiction of the Last Judgement.
Though the Mission Church was not fully completed before Eli Cyr had grown enough to strike out on his own, and while many of the buildings were destroyed by fire, there are still remnants of what was there during his time.
The flour mill was in operation from 1864-1934
The flour mill now. Just a shadow of its former self, yet beautiful all the same.
The flour grinding stones that remain are now located near the Mission Church as a testimony to the productivity of 70 years.
St. Ignatius Mission was a vast community in its heyday. There are no longer records to let us know how many boys and girls came through its doors as students or orphans, much less the Jesuit Brothers and Ursuline Sisters. And while many of its buildings are no longer standing, it is a treat to walk through the grounds and get a sense of the history.
Built in 1854 by the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers, what is now the Mission Museum was originally a log cabin that the Brothers slept in. The upstairs is no longer accessible as it has been ceilinged off.
I do wish I knew some of what my great, great grandfather thought about his time there. There aren’t any actual stories from him that have survived time, just shadows that he passed on to his daughter, faint traces of a young boy who, for the most part, enjoyed his time with the Sisters, especially in the kitchen.
It was an absolute joy to make a connection, however distant, to someone I’ve only heard and read stories about. Eli was a man who, like us all, struggled with his faith and how to live it out. I’m sure he didn’t do it perfectly. But he did it.
As an adult, he helped build a church or two. He and his wife, Clara, were constantly opening their home to whatever Father, Brother or Sister was coming through their small town. Their hospitality was bigger than their budget and everyone seemed to be blessed by their friendship.
And while my family now is not Catholic, it’s good to be able to see a bit of my ancestral past and know that there is a heritage of faith that has been built through the generations. I hope it will continue to grow for many generations to come.
My traveling buddies, left to right: Evan (son), Molly (daughter), Jenna (friend).
What’s meant to be a piece relating to this week’s episode is instead going to be me saying I don’t know what to say.
Y’all…I’m exhausted! This summer has been so busy! We’re finally at that age where our kids are growing up and doing more independently and with friends and I had the weird notion that life would slow down a bit. I was wrong.
I don’t know exactly why it’s been such a whirlwind, I just know that it has.
That being said, I think I need a break.
By the time you’re reading this, I will be in Lakeside, Montana with 3 teenagers. We’re going to go look at the Youth With A Mission campus there. That’s where I went over 20 years ago and it started something new in me. Now, it’s my daughter’s turn. As she considers what she wants to do after high school, this seems like a good option.
We’ll see. All I know is, I’ve got three teenagers in the car for 4 days for a super fast road trip and I’m really, truly excited!
I’ll fill you in upon my return.
In the meantime, have an amazing finish to the summer or 2018. It’ll be gone before you know it. Make the time count.
We all have troubles, right? Please tell me I’m not alone. Life is hard, sprinkled with aggravation and sometimes thoroughly horrible circumstances. The news is depressing and it seems kind of like the sky is falling.
Take heart! Things weren’t any better 2,000 years ago as a man named Cleopas and his buddy were walking to Emmaus, talking about the recent crucifixion of Jesus.
Seriously…take heart. Things may not look any brighter in the here and now, but in this story, we are pointed back to the prophets who told of the Messiah’s first coming and assure us of His second coming.
Roadside attractions may be one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. There’s nothing better than going off the beaten path to see something that is weird, giant, a little frightening or absolutely breathtaking. You just never know what’s in store until you veer off your designated path and take a look.
We did that many moons ago. Living in the western part of Oregon, we are blessed to be only a few hours from either a snow-covered mountain, forests, rivers, and lakes galore, the high desert or an impressive, albeit cold, coast. We regularly enjoy these varied climates and environments and have a particular fondness for our coast.
Along the coastal highway on the way to a little touristy town called Seaside, there used to be a sign directing travelers to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce. For years as we’d drive past I suggest that one of these times we ought to stop. But we never did. We’d drive past and I’d imagine the glory of what I was missing.
Finally, I was tired of imagining and made a sudden turn onto the road. It wasn’t too far into the forest, but it was impossible to miss. At roughly 700 years old, it was hands-down the largest tree I’d ever personally seen. To say it was impressive is an understatement. It was jaw-dropping. At least for me. I actually hugged it.
What once stood a proud 200 feet high, was cut down by a fierce windstorm in 2006 taking advantage of an old lightening scar from years ago. It’s 17-foot diameter stump still stands as a reminder of what was once the oldest living thing in Oregon.
And we almost missed it. Just think, all those trips we made back and forth to the coast, passing by the little dirt road that led to this ancient beauty. We were always so focused on our destination that we couldn’t be bothered to slow down and explore along the way.
Sometimes life is like that, too. We get really zeroed in on what we think is the goal and fail to notice the little things that pop up in life. We forget to go down the back roads and see what lurks behind the next turn. Maybe it’s a new friend or a hobby. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new career or ministry. Maybe it’s love. It might also be something scary. Let’s be honest, there are monsters in the forest. But maybe we need to face a few of them in order for our dependence on God to grow.
Not all the paths we go down are going to be good ones. But let’s not stay so safely on the path we’ve set before ourselves that we miss the best part of the journey. You never know what you just might find.
Photo by Milan Sietler on Unsplash
[I was unable to find any photos of the Sitka Spruce in question, either from my own collection or on the interwebs that were royalty free. Hence, you get this pretty little photo instead!]
This is a vast subject so today’s show only skims the surface. If you have more specific parenting issued you’d like us to discuss, please email us!
Due to technical difficulties, there is no transcript at this time. To view transcripts from previous episodes check out our Show Notes in the blog archives.
Also, we are looking for clever names for our new segment where we talk about all the things we love about road trips. If you have a great name for us, drop us a line!
Likewise, we want your road trip stories! Share your favorite or most memorable road trip, who your favorite traveling buddy is, where you like to go…whatever! You can e-mail us your (brief) stories to be featured on the show!