Ode and Me 7 When God Laughs

For the second time, a change in village chiefs had cost Wally a mission house. Many would say That’s it! What a waste of missionary dollars. But that’s not the way Wally saw it. He never gave up on Lac la Croix. The very act of building was missions—God fulfilling his purpose through his people. God is always doing more than we know.

The girl from 313 found a great quote: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Here are hidden values gained through the new building: A lifelong bond formed between Wally and Ode that endured through their lives with consequences it would take a book to tell. And I was reminded of my first Lac la Croix adventure.

It was in the late 60s. I hung onto Wally awe we bounced over rough ice on a decrepit snowmobile. Home Missions had vetoed replacing it. Someday I’ll tell you how I parlayed that trip into a new snowmobile for Wally and a building lot in Mexico.  God was laughing.

The first week with second mission house saw the crew clear the site, build the foundation, frame and sheet the 24 x 36 foot building. Then those who came by boat took off. As we waited for our float plane, we puttered, the small boys still underfoot. Hearing the plane, we headed for the dock, the kids clustering around me. One of them looked up and said, “You men are kind to kids.”

That’s missions.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Ode and Me 6 My PHD

A lot has changed since Ode and Wally built the Lac la Croix mission house. A land road has been pushed through from the north. The village name has been changed. But old traditions and problems continue

It took about six weeks to complete building the mission house. Native-born Art Holmes and his wife moved in. Art was an alcohol-dependency counselor and ordained minister. He served for several years; then a new chief was elected who booted Art out and the mission house became a home for several villagers.

Wally somehow came up with the money to pay cash to the supplier and gain the five-percent discount Ode had negotiated. The dealer delivered the materials safely and Wally recruited week-long work crews from churches. North Shore men took the first weekend. I felt obligated to join them. Ode stayed on, neglecting his business back home.

Ode, Wally, and two Christian Native friends joined six North Shore men and construction began. The village picked the site, pointing out the graves of Little Moose and his wife. Care was taken not to disturb them.

Village kids were a concern, but though older teens played tricks, they but did not create problems. Younger kids were constantly up close and personal.

At one point I asked foreman Ode for an assignment equal to my talent. He handed me a shovel and pointed out the outhouse spot. Sandy soil made digging easy and I tolerated the kids who danced about, kicking in dirt about as fast as I could shovel it out. I was down about five feet when ground water began seeping up. Ode gave my work his approval and ordered me in the pit for a photo. Every kid hopped in hole with me! That evening I was awarded a PhD–pottyhole digger.

Next: You Men are Kind to Kids.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Alice 4: My First Car Ride

Hi Alice!  I’ve been telling you stories about my first home when I was not quite four.  Hazel, my sister, was 14 months older. Our father worked as a streetcar conductor He wore a uniform and stood in back, taking riders’ money. We didn’t have a car, so Hazel and I were always home and our mother was always with us.

One summer day, two uncles came and started carrying our furniture and many boxes to a truck. Mother said we were moving, but what did that mean? When the men finished loading the truck, they took Mother and Father and drove away, leaving Hazel and me with an aunt! After a short time, our aunt put Hazel and me in her car and away we went.  That was the first car ride I can remember.

We drove and drove, passing big stores and big houses then smaller houses with yards.  Finally we stopped in front of a small house with big trees and a long cement walk to the porch. There stood Mother. Did she ever look good! We were at 4921 Oneida Street in the Lakeside neighborhood. Inside we found our furniture and the boxes jumbled together.

Mother took Hazel and me to see the backyard with clotheslines and a garden. A white garage with big doors that swung outward was in one corner; a small building with faded red paint was in the other. Mother said was once a chicken coop.  I would have a big back yard to play in!

Father joined us. He said, “I’ll build you a sandbox in front of the chicken coop,” My very own sandbox!  I’d let Hazel play there once in a while.

Next time: My sandbox dream.

Great grandpa Lloyd




Ode and Me 5 The Road to the Village

The ice road from Crane Lake to Lac La Croix village ran about 20 miles over lakes and portages, some with steep hills and occasional marshy spots. Puddles were already forming on the lake track. South-exposure portage trails would be muddy.

Ode drove a 4wd three-quarter ton pickup. Wally’s beat-up 4wd Jeep sported a sturdy winch, which saved our skins on every hill. The supplier arrived in two vehicles: a rear-powered van and overloaded, one-ton stake truck with small duals.

It was an extended marshy spot that beat us. Wally had no problem—slow and easy. The truck driver attempted to plow through, counting on momentum. He bogged down. He revved the engine; the dual wheels screamed; a rear tire blew. Unbelievably, the truck had no wheel wrench.

Wally worked his way back around the truck to winch the truck out backward. No go. There was nothing to do but unload. Soon a heap of lumber, windows, doors, paneling, roofing, and hardware lay on the side of the trail. The supplier tried to talk Oden and Wally into hauling the stuff the rest of the way, but we were running out of time. With no load, the truck could roll. A forlorn supplier headed back to Fort Francis to return the next morning with a proper rig.

Loading the most vulnerable supplies, we reached the village without incident. Wally was well known,which allowed us to safely unload in a reasonably secure place. We touched bases with village elders and headed home, aided by a cooling evening.

Throughout the harrowing experience, I noted how easily Ode and Wally worked together; laughing, joking—Norwegian/Swede stuff. That bond continued to strengthen through many years and many adventures. One day, Ode and I wept together as Wally headed homeward.

More Lac La Croix stories to come.

Old Grandpa Lloyd




Ode and Me 4 The Boxcar

Wally Olson ranks up there with Ode as one of my all-time special friends. Here’s how those men became fast friends:

Wally showed up at the March SABA pastors’ meeting—a new bunch since the Camp Greenhill divide. Wally reported progress on the new mission house to be built at Lac La Croix, a remote Native village in Canada. He displayed the floorplan: 20 by 36 feet. I shook my head. That’s a box car, Wally. All we can afford he replied. I looked again and asked Wally if he could come to my study the next morning. I wanted him to meet someone who might be able to help. He agreed to come. I went home and phoned Ode.

Wally and Ode clicked immediately. Ode examined Wally’s sketch and asked how the building would be used and how much the Fort Francis lumber supplier wanted. What are you doing Saturday? Ode asked.  Early Saturday they headed north to Fort Francis, a new building design with nearly twice the space in Ode’s folder. They returned with a contract for materials delivered to the building site for about the same as Wally’s plan. But there was one nervous missionary: Ode had negotiated a five percent discount for cash, far more than Wally had.

Time was the critical factor. Lac La Croix was accessible only by plane, boat, and an ice road over lakes and portages. The weather had turned mild. Within days, I boarded Ode’s truck bound for Crane Lake where we would rendezvous with Wally and the supplier. The drive to Lac La Croix turned into an epic worthy of Homer.

Stay tuned.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Ode and Me 3 The Barrel Stove

I can’t recall the events of those sad weeks blow by blow. Anger was rife; communication scant. When the dust settled, I found myself heading a new Camp Green Hill management team.

Prior to the melee, SABA had authorized enlarging the lodge kitchen. I suggested Ode for design and a supply list. We drove out one day and he walked around with his tape while coffee brewed. He came up with a materials list, but no one picked up on the project and December had come.

We faced a cloudy issue: since the kitchen project was approved before management restructuring, could SABA rescind the funding at its January annual meeting?  I couldn’t risk it. I ordered material from Ode’s list and called a workday on the Saturday after Christmas.

A cold snap settled over the Northland and the lodge’s only heat source was a rusted barrel stove, its smoke stack stuffed up the fireplace chimney. Little wonder that Ron and his foster son were my only volunteers. We picked up a couple other boys to keep Ron’s son company and headed for camp.

The well-bundled boys went sliding. Ron and I fired up the barrel stove and grabbed our hammers. But work went slow. It’s tough pounding nails wearing mitts. Finally we sought out the barrel stove, Thermos and goodies in hand.

Prior to North Shore, Ron had not been a church man. He had led the hard life of an alcoholic. As we sipped coffee, absorbing what little heat the stove gave off, Ron said, “Pastor, what does it mean to be a Christian?”  We talked and prayed. A few weeks later I baptized him.

My friend Ode once held up his hammer and said, “This is my pulpit.”

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Ode and Me, Part 2

Ode’s skills and common sense impressed me more and more as weeks passed. He became a key go-to friend.

One Sunday a middle-age men and a lad showed up at North Shore. We’ll call him Ron. He dropped the lad off for Sunday school, left, and returned for the worship service. He seemed uneasy, but the lad fit right in. I carefully edged into Ron’s life and leaned booze had cost him his wife and sons. He finally sobered up and met a younger woman with kids. She had left a miserable marriage. Severe acrophobia kept her close to her apartment and Ron visited often, finally persuading her to marry him. They settled into to Ron’s small motorhome not far from North Shore Church.

One November Sunday Ron asked if I knew where he could find heavy-cardboard packing. Sure, but why? He explained: Winter’s about here and my mobile home is not skirted. The floor is really cold. Cardboard won’t work, I said, the first rain will take it down. Ron figured rain was unlikely so late in the season; he would bank the cardboard with snow. Hold off, I said. Let me think on it. I phoned Ode.

About 8:00 Saturday morning a crew showed up at Ron’s place. Ode’s rig produced chipboard, lumber, power tools and paint. Ode measured and cut to fit. The crew framed and secured all-weather chipboard. Painters followed. By noon they were drinking coffee.

All morning Ron had been protesting: I can’t pay you! I said, you’re part of the family, Ron. The Church maintains a fund for family needs. No one but this crew will ever know. We packed our tools and went home.

Stay tuned.  There’s more to come.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Ode and Me: Part 1

Throughout my years I have been blessed by men who became special friends.

In August, 1977, I came to serve North Shore Baptist in Duluth. The church had gone through a difficult decade that threatened its survival. Then kerfuffles in two a sister churches sent new families, breathing life into North Shore. Among the families was a middle-aged couple, Oden and Joanne Alreck. They faithfully attended Sunday mornings, but I rarely saw them at social functions.

Come October, I tackled a long-standing problem with the lower-level fellowship hall. When winter winds blew, the heat flew up the open stairway and out the front door each time it was opened. A curtain at the foot of the stairs helped until service man fell and sued the church, blaming the curtain.  A windbreak was the obvious solution. I sketched a crude plan, ordered materials, and called a work day.

Oden Alreck showed up toting a humongous tool box.  I showed him my sketch and he smiled. I gladly yielded leadership and I worked with Ode, awed by his skill. As the project progressed, we bonded.

I could not have imagined what that friendship would yield over the next 40 years. That’s the story I’ll tell in Ode and Me. Stay tuned.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



The Power of One Book

Along the way, certain people stand out as vital to your life and growth. One such man in my life was long-time Bethel Seminary professor Dr. Clarence Bass. He came to the school a few years after my time, but his first book, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, became to me a life-changer.

This week our denominational newsletter reported that Clarence Bass had preached what he called his final sermon. Now in his nineties, he impacted countless people as pastor, professor, author, and Baptist General Conference mission board chair. It is estimated he preached or lectured over 8000 times.

In the early sixties, he published his doctoral dissertation, a study of Dispensationalism, our tribal end-times position. He began the study solidly in that camp, but research raised unexpected questions, leading him to change his stance.

Those same questions troubled me as a young pastor. Dr. Bass’s book became my guide in shaping my view of scripture and consummation of the ages. Thanks, Dr. Bass, I’m grateful.

Old Grandpa Lloyd





































































































































eful or you.

His book is still available through Amazon and other on-line sources.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

What Possible Good! Conclusion of a Boy Called Dave

Mr. Jake’s wife Esther bid Mrs. McGillicuddy a hurried goodbye and walked briskly home. She found her husband repairing the fence and told him about the broken window, the milk pitcher, and the storm soon to sweep Mr. Jesse away.  “Poor man!” said Mr. Jake. He laid his tools aside and headed for McGillicuddy’s.

He  arrived to find the old man cowering under a tirade of ills laid on the church by the boys club. “ His arrival saved Mr. Levi. “You!” said Mrs. McGillicuddy, and repeated the misdeeds. “Now my milk pitcher! No, you cannot replace it. At least someone appreciates my long service to Ladies Aid. You should teaching those boys spiritual truth, but no, you take them camping! What next?” She paused to catch her breath, and from the distance came a cry: “I did it!  I did it!”

A boy came full speed down the trail from Hill. He splashed across the stream, slingshot flopping from his belt. Spotting the group, he said, “Oh Hi, Mrs. McGillicuddy. Did a rock hit your house?”  And Mr. Jake made a mistake, He got so caught up in a boy’s potential, he forgot his misdeeds. “Did what, Dave?”

“Remember that old sycamore—the one on the Hill?” Dave waved his sling. “I put a rock right in that woodpecker hole!”  “You did?” Mr. Jake reached out to shake his young friend’s hand. and Mrs. McGillicuddy exploded: “A slingshot! A slingshot! Whatever possible good could ever come from a slingshot?”

Old Grandpa Lloyd