Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part, Happy to Meet Again

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. I am always apprehensive about driving in this part of the US during the winter because of the legendary storms across the plains. But once you have attended this great get-together, there is no snow or ice that can withstand the warmth and Brotherly love from the Brothers of Nebraska.
It is an environment more like a family reunion than a business meeting. It's a place where Freemasonry is a viable part of their life, just like their family and community.
As I was driving away from the hotel on Saturday, I think that the best way to describe my feelings about the Grand Lodge of Nebraska is captured, and rings so true in the Masonic saying:
"Happy to meet, Sorry to part, Happy to meet again..."

Below are some photos and notes about the Brothers.

This is the newly elected Most Worshipful Grand Master of Nebraska Masons John T. Parsons. John is a retired military man who has many talents and the time needed to lead the craft in the right direction. Great guy with a common sense approach. John has rolled out a program that will have a very positive impact on the lives of our men and women who are being deployed overseas. I hope to unveil this concept here within the next few months.

This is my Brother and Friend Alvin Benemerito, the new Worshipful Master of Long Pine Lodge. Last year when I met Alvin, I asked him where Long Pine, Nebraska was. He replied, "We are four hours from an airport, three hours from a Walmart, and two hours from a MacDonald's. Alvin then looked at me and said, "Minnesota? You know Frank Harris?" I was shocked -- then I said, "How do you know my Lodge Brother Frank?" Alvin replied, "I belong to Internet Lodge UGLE...we also met in person in England." Small world, huh?
Well, Long Pine Lodge is keeping Freemasonry very much alive in their remote part of the state. It's a Lodge that has only 32 members, but they average over 22 members for meetings. They just raised two Brothers in the last few months. The Lodge does all the ritual work. They are also active in their community. Here is a link to the Lodge website. I think we can all learn a few things from them. It made my trip to be able to see Alvin again and hear what he has been doing.

This is the Potentate of the Tehama Shrine of Nebraska. I had the great pleasure to have lunch with Bob. He is a man I quickly liked and came to respect for many reasons. Bob lives 90 miles from his lodge where he attends very regularly. He is a Rancher and Farmer. You can tell that from his powerful hand shake. He is also a board member of his local Electrical Cooperative.
We had the most stimulating conversation over one of the best fried chicken and mash potatoes lunches I've had in ages. I enjoyed my time with Bob and plan to look him up at the next Shrine that I attend so we can get caught up.

This distinguished gentleman is Brother Cullen Pilker, the Representive from the Grand Lodge of Nebraska to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. As always, it was a great pleasure to see Cullen again. Cullen drove from his home near Ohama to Grand Island in winter driving conditions to visit Fred Vihovde and me for a few hours. Cullen is a Brother who always has a warm smile, a caring ear and many kind word words to share.

This is my Lodge Brother Fred Vihovde. Fred is the Grand Representive from Minnesota to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. Fred represents Minnesota very well. He has been to every Annual Communication in Nebraska since 1988. Most importantly we are very proud of Fred, for he is also the National President of the National Sojourners. Fred does an excellent job, no matter if he is cooking dinner with the Eastern Star or putting together a National Convention.

These three very distinguished gentlemen are the Leadership for the Grand Lodge of Iowa. From left to right is William Crawford the Grand Lodge Secretary, Craig Davis the Chairman of Division and Reference, Grand Master Craig Hummel. It was a pleasure to meet again and talk.

This is Brother Jeffrey Coleman, the Senior Warden of Papillion Lodge. Jeff is an Business Analyst for a National Natural Gas provider that keeps us warm up here in Minnesota. When we met, Jeff said "Do you know Marty Olszowka? He is the Secretary of Albert Pike Lodge up in Minneapolis." Marty happens to be on my short list of well-love Brothers! Isn't this a small world? Jeff is married to Marty's Niece and lives in the Omaha area.
This is the Outgoing Grand Master Russell Reno presenting a Grand Masters Membership award to Patrick Barger for being the First Line Signer of 12 new Brothers in the past 12 month! That evening there were many awards presented to the First and Second Line Signers. I had the opportunity to speak with many of them and they were all very humble and expressed their thanks for having the opportunity to do it...
The weather was not the best for traveling. There was light freezing rain and snow on the trip there. Two inches of snow and rain fell during the Communication, and another front of heavy snow was on its way. I left early after breakfast on Saturday. I did stop at two accidents and offered my assistance when I saw a car wreck that had some shaken up folks. I was impressed by the number of snow plows and sand trucks that were out plowing and taking care of the highways for travelers like myself.
Here are some photos of what I saw on the way back to Minnesota: