Tag Archives: Maria Scholte

Things Change

Conversion_on_the_Way_to_Damascus-Caravaggio_(c.1600-1)For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Acts 9:19b-21 (NRSV)

There has been a small yet intense debate among local historians and traditionalists in our little town over recent months. The debate concerns the wife of our town’s founder or, more specifically, the spelling of her name. The town has always held that her name was spelled “Mareah,” but archival evidence suggest that her name was always spelled “Maria” on legal documents and the spelling change seems to have occurred in her adult years. It is now believed that the change occurred around the time of a major shift in her life: the death of her husband and her subsequent marriage to a younger man who was the age of her son. And so, the debate quietly continues regarding how we should spell her name today.

The rather meaningless debate has been a quiet reminder to me that things change. We all go through dramatic changes in life. Life’s journey can take abrupt and unexpected turns, especially when you’re on a faith journey.

Today’s chapter chronicles one of the most dramatic and unexpected turns in history. Saul of Tarsus was a radical and conservative Jewish leader intent on persecuting, imprisoning, and/or killing any man or woman who claimed to be a follower of Jesus. Then, on his way to round up some Jesus followers in the town of Damascus, Jesus reveals Himself to the zealous persecutor. In one dramatic moment, Saul’s life takes an abrupt u-turn.

Things change. Saul would become Paul. His life would never be the same. The persecutor of Jesus followers would unexpectedly become their greatest champion. For the rest of his life he would push himself to incredible physical and spiritual limits, ceaselessly suffer the persecution he’d once afflicted on others, and constantly proclaim that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be. Paul would change the course of human history.

Things change. People change. It was at the core of everything that Jesus taught. Fishermen became fishers of men. Enemies become friends. Hatred is transformed into love. Anger and bitterness yield to grace and kindness. Sin is washed away by forgiveness. Darkness is pierced by Light. Death is swallowed up by Life. Saul the executioner becomes Paul the evangelist.

You and I, we can change, too.

Tulip Time Photos (& More!)

Wendy and I are enjoying a much needed rest after three very full days of Pella Tulip Time. We have played Pella, Iowa’s founders in three different stage productions and were asked by the Pella Historical Society to get in costume and portray the couple for the annual festival. We rode in a carriage in each of the six parades, had our picture taken countless times and made appearances at the Pella Historical Village and Scholte House Museum.

It was fun to talk to people about the Scholtes and the history of Pella, and to answer many questions about Pella and our costumes. Women, in particular, were enthralled with Wendy’s period costume and little girls made Wendy feel like  Disney princess. During one of the parades a little girl pointed at Wendy and shouted, “LOOK! It’s the PRETTY LADY!” Wendy even had a young man of about five blow her a kiss.

The heavy dress with all the layers of period underthings did make for a lot of heat for Wendy. Fortunately, the days were very temperate with highs in the 70s. The worst part was her tall lace boots which made her feet very uncomfortable throughout the day despite all of her attempts to cushion the consequences.

My folks came on Thursday and brought Madison who had flown into Des Moines the day before. We had fun meeting friends in between parades at the Pella Opera House where we enjoyed the air conditioning, the padded seats, and the refreshments. Madison stayed with us Thursday night and then headed back to Colorado on Friday night as she was on call over the weekend.

Our friend, Megan Atkins, was on the Tulip Court this year. Megan’s dad passed away back in 2010 and Megan has honored me over the years by asking me to be honorary dad when school or other events called for father/daughter activities. I was so happy to get to escort her on Friday and again on Saturday with her mom, Cyndi, at the official coronation ceremony on the square.

We are already thinking about next year, though we are thankful that we have another 362 days to rest up!

Inheritance

Wendy and me in front of a portrait of H.P. Scholte.
Wendy and me in front of a portrait of H.P. Scholte.

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom; then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs.'”
Ezekiel 46:16-17 (NIV)

This weekend is our town’s annual Tulip Time festival in which we celebrate those brave Dutch immigrants who braved unspeakable hardship to carve out a life for themselves on the Iowa prairie back in 1847. Tens of thousands of visitors will descend on Pella over the weekend to see the tulips, to see locals dressed in Dutch costumes complete with wooden shoes, to watch the parades, and to enjoy Dutch treats from a plethora of vendors. It’s quite an event. If you’ve never been, then you need to put it on your bucket list.

As part of the festival this year, Wendy and I have been asked to don period costumes and portray our town’s founder, Dominie (Dutch for “Reverend”) H.P. Scholte and his wife Maria. We will hang out in the Scholte House museum and historical village to greet guests and will ride in horse drawn wagon in all the parades.

Being a history buff and having played “the Dominie” in a handful of stage productions, I continue to do quite a bit of research about Scholte and his wife. They were amazing people, and our little town’s on-going success has their fingerprints all over it. The Dominie was also a stubborn Dutchman, a fierce individualist, and a lightning rod who stirred controversy throughout his life. He was wealthy, and when he came to the U.S. his wealth converted from Dutch guilders to Iowa acres. Even in death, his inheritance and the distribution of land was the source of controversy and conflict.

Inheritance is a tricky business fraught with the potential for all sorts of miscommunication and emotional entanglements that result in hurt feelings and family squabbles. I would dare say that there is not a culture in this world that does not experience the pain of conflict over inheritance. This morning I was reminded of the Dominie as I read the rules given through Ezekiel regarding inheritance of land in Israel. The Israeli royal could only give land to children. If it was given to a servant, then on a prescribed year the land reverted to the family.

That reminded me of this from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Today, I am thankful for the many ways we receive inheritance. I’m thankful for forebears who founded an amazing community that thrives 168 years later. I’m thankful for ancestors who carved a path and provided for my success and abundant life in a plethora of ways. I’m thankful for Jesus, who made provision for me (and any who would choose to receive it) to be adopted in God’s family as a co-heir to enjoy the full rights, privilege, blessing and inheritance thereof.

A Valentine’s Blast in the Past

Wendy and I have played Dominie (Dutch for “Pastor”) H.P. Scholte and his wife Maria* on stage on several occasions. This year, the Pella Historical Society has asked us to reprise the roles for Pella’s Tulip Time festivities and this past Thursday we had a coming out of sorts as we donned the costumes and played host to almost 40 people at the Historical Society’s 1st annual Valentine’s Dinner. The dinner was held in the Scholte House, the Dominie and Maria’s home which was the first house built in Pella and is now a museum on the north side of Pella’s town square.

Before the dinner, Wendy and I stopped by the museum to take a look around and chat with the staff who were busy preparing for the dinner. “The Dominie” (as Scholte is referred to in these parts) was an abolitionist, a supporter/friend of Abraham Lincoln, and attended Lincoln’s inauguration. I got to see and hold the cane which Lincoln gave Scholte as a gift. Very cool.

Wendy and stood in the foyer and greeted all of the guests to our home as they arrived, and chatted with the guests over pre-dinner cocktails. I got to welcome everyone and say grace before we dined. We enjoyed an amazing multi-course meal catered by Central College. The table conversation was wonderful and it was almost 10:30 p.m. before we got home that night.

Many thanks to Kathy Miller and the crew at Pella Historical Society for letting Wendy and I “play” and participate in such a wonderful evening! Look for the Dominie and Maria at Tulip Time!

*Some Pella natives with an eye for detail may notice and question the spelling of “Maria” which has traditionally been spelled “Mareah.” The Historical Society has recently found evidence that Mrs. Scholte did originally spell her name “Maria.” Local historians now believe that a change in the spelling of her name coincided with the change in her life after the death of the Dominie when she married (a much younger) Robert Beard, perhaps at the suggestion of her children.