I had the joy and honor this past week of serving on the faculty of the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference, which was held on the campus of Grove City College in (what a strange coincidence) Grove City, Pennsylvania. I already blogged briefly (here) about the conference. So I thought I'd post a few photos of the beautiful campus.
Lebanon Grand Opry House.
Dick and Sue's usual front row seats were reserved for them, and we had the honor of sitting with them for a jam-packed program of country music.
The outstanding house band, TNT Band, backed everyone of a half dozen artists, from WAIF 88.3 FM's Tom Winkler, Don Haddock, Jessie Lyn, Cara Belt, and Makenna and Shelby, who were returning to the Opry stage after a two-year hiatus. The music ranged from Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams to Martina McBride and Jessica Andrews. It was a great night, but it kept us out way past our bedtimes; Robin and I just can't keep up with Dick and Sue anymore like we used to.
The lovely Robin and I joined many of our family last Sunday at Long Point Camp on Seneca Lake in New York for an informal service to remember and honor my father, Vernon Hostetler, who was "promoted to Glory" in March.
Gathering in the large and lovely common room of the Lodge on the camp's grounds, we sang, read Scripture, told stories, and shared many laughs and a few tears.
My oldest brother Don (above, right), who planned the service, also provided leadership with his wife, Arvilla. We watched a few minutes of an interview video recorded nearly twenty years ago, in which Dad told the story-in-dialect of "Hans and Yakob." Uncle Walt (my mom's brother-in-law) led a time of storytelling; some of the stories that were told, I had never heard. We sang, "How Great Thou Art" and "Blessed Assurance," two of Dad's favorite hymns.
With our Aunt Shirley (our mom's youngest sister) at the piano, Don, Larry, and I sang a Gospel song Dad sang many times: "Ezekiel's Boneyard." Larry also (with Don at the piano) sang "The Ninety-and-Nine," and I presented a reading Dad often combined with that song, "Poor Li'l Brack Sheep." The program also included the reading of a poem composed by Kevin Hostetler, who due to military service wasn't able to be there. And Fr./Lt. David Hostetler gave a sensitive and meaningful meditation and (with his three youngest sons) prayer.
There was more, but it was all just perfect. I think Dad would have loved it. I know I did.
Finally the fun stopped (just kidding--why you gotta be so sensitive?) and the official retirement portion of the program, conducted by Commissioner Phil Swires (R), took place (flagbearers from left to right: Envoy Philip Hostetler, Chaplain Lt. (USN) David Hostetler, Lt. Col. Tim Raines (R), and Major John Cranford (R)). I was surprised that Don and Arvilla could hold it together, but they did. And that they weren't blinded, even temporarily, by their son's dazzling white uniform. Sheesh.
In all seriousness, it was a great moment. I am so proud of my big brother and sister. They have worked so hard and faithfully, always giving, never taking, never shirking, never failing in love, duty, obedience, integrity, and servanthood. The standard phrase, "honored retirement" doesn't even begin to do them justice.
Last Friday the lovely Robin and I took to the road with our daughter, Aubrey, and her three children, Calleigh, Ryder, and Avery. We were on our way to a retirement celebration, family reunion, and memorial service to take place in the Finger Lakes region of New York (more on that in the next few days).
Since half of our party put in a workday on Friday (the other half were total slouches), we had to make the trip up in two parts. So we stayed on Friday night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Erie, Pennsylvania.
It is a classy joint, as I like to say. The lobby was impressive and expansive, the service was quick and efficient, and our room was all that we had hoped. My only reservation--get it?--about our stay is that, like so many high-falutin' hotels of the upper-class variety, there was no complimentary breakfast offered. It woulda cost us $10.95 a head for the eats in the hotel restaurant, so we passed. Turned out okay, as we had to hurry to make it to our destination, grabbing only the free coffee offered in the lobby (don't worry, nobody went hungry). But it would've been nice to grab a few dozen bagels or oranges on the way out, ya know?
The Hilton Garden Inn in Erie is located at 2225 Downs Drive, just off I-90. And right next door to Cracker Barrel, which is a win/win.