After a wonderful dinner and some down time. Mary, Rick, Isaac and I made our way to Missouri River for Yankton's Fourth of July Fireworks. Our first stop was a small amphitheatre where we enjoyed American Folk/Bluegrass music. Beneath the stars, beside the river, and in the Heartland of America I watched and listened as the fiddle fiddled, a bass player worked his magic beside the strumming banjo. It was like something out of the movies and it was perfect.
After a few minutes of music we made our way to the town docks to stake out a good place to see the fireworks which would soon descend on the river. The Althoffs, having lived in Yankton for many years, were like celebrities or beloved politicians, exchanging greetings with all they encountered. The greetings were real and they were conversations. It only reminded me further that there is nothing like small town America!
It was not long after we arrived that Yankton's fireworks began. Fireworks are fireworks, but two things made these special. First and foremost they were over the Missouri River. The river provided an amazing background for the pyrotechnic artists to do their work. Secondly the finale was unlike anything I have ever seen before. I love fireworks and have seen many shows, however Yankton's closing was far superior to them all. The final barrage of light and glow was so bright it could have easily been mistaken for daytime.
The following morning I attended Mass with the Althoff family. Their parish community was very young and vibrant and there seemed to be an abundance of children. The vitality of the parish itself was refreshing to see and offered great hope for the future of the Church. Interestingly enough the diocese of Sioux Falls (128,000 Catholics) just ordained two priest and three deacons, while currently having sixteen seminarians. By comparison the diocese of Manchester (310,000 Catholics)recently ordained two priests and no deacons, while currently having ten seminarians. However thanks to the prays and hard work of many the numbers of seminarians in the diocese appear to be increasing.
Following Mass it was off to the Missouri river for an afternoon of tubing, water skiing and enjoying a beautiful day. The Althoff gang expanded further when Matt and his wife Kate drove down from Sioux Falls with four of the most adorable children in the world for a day of fun. (Tomorrow's Blog will be: Matt + Kate plus four: a Serious Look at My Vocation.... stay tuned)
Having known Shaunti, the oldest of the Althoff girls, for the past nine years I had always heard about the crazy and adventuresome part of her family and her father in particular. After a few hours on the river I knew exactly what she was talking about. When we first discussed heading to the river for the afternoon I made the mistake of thinking of it like a lazy river at the water park. I figured how challenging is it really to tube or water ski on a serene river? The Missouri river is not so still. In fact I was amazed at the rapid speed at which the water moved. The Missouri River itself is quite wide and moves at a rapid and mind boggling rate.
Enter Althoff Family
Why would one simply enjoy the river when it can be conquered.
For the next few hours, with utter joy and amusement, I watched as Althoff Adrenaline Junkies water skied and tubed like it was there job. Rick and Matt performed a series of fancy water skiing maneuvers, scaring a few tubers in the process. As I sat in quiet shock and nervousness, they whipped back and forth, around obstacles and dangerously close to the shore. There skills were quite impressive, they like a fear gene. I did make my go at tubing for a few rounds and resembled a whale out of water, flopping around and holding on for dear life. I will say whizzing across the water on a tube is quite fun. However, flipping over and biffing it while watching the other tandem tube with an 8 and 14 year old whiz by unharmed, is a little embarrassing.
ahhhh about to be late to prayer, will continue post when back.....