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Monday, July 26, 2004

 

Ottumwa

I made it out of Oskaloosa and found a place to rest for the night. It started sprinkling during the night, although not badly, and when I woke up it was overcast. I went about 9 miles or so, just past the tiny town of Cedar. Just past there I was offered a ride, by a man who works as the custodian of the Oskaloosa library. He took me about 6 miles to an intersection, and then a couple of miles later, a young couple offered me a ride the rest of the way into Ottumwa.  Almost the whole day was overcast and drizzly.
After I had my lunch, I went to find Indian Hills Community College and found the campus mostly closed: the library is only open Monday through Thursday. Next I went to find the LDS Church. About the time I got there, I found that the local ward was having their 6th annual Beach Party (No Pioneer Day celebration!?), and they invited me to visit. Sort of...because of the rain, attendance was down, and only a few of those who came even  asked who I was or what I was doing there. The Bishop was there, and the only thing he asked was my name.  After the event, I found a place nearby to spend the night.

When I went to church the next morning, I again found myself mostly invisible, although a few people greeted me, and made polite inquiries, at most half a minute of conversation.  For sacrament meeting , the theme was service: one of the missionaries was new and was asked to fill in for a missing speaker. The second speaker was the friendliest person from the day before. She mentioned that she was from a farming family,  and in recent years there seems to have been a decline in willingness to help one's neighbor. People still help for large things, like deaths in the family, but are less willing to help for smaller things like flat tires. Most of her comments were with smaller, informal types of service, including the giving of one's time. I found it ironic that she could speak on the subject, but still no one found time to speak to a visitor.  The next speaker talked about service in the church and quoted extensively from conference addresses by the apostles.
The Sunday School lesson dealt with the mission to the Zoramites (Approximately Alma 28-34 in the Book of Mormon). The priesthood lesson dealt with Family responsibilities, of fathers, mothers, and children. 
After everyone had left the church building, I realized that I had absentmindedly left my scriptures there, and I don't know how I'm going to recover them. I've found that making contact with bishops can be difficult unless I either live in the ward and have a directory, or just show up on Sunday.  I went downtown and found the Public library also closed Sunday. Ottumwa is located on the Des Moines River, and across the river there were public parks and a camping area, and I stayed the night in the camping area.

I'm going to make a couple more attempts to recover them, but not wait a week. Since Indian Hills Community College is an hour's walk away uphill, I may just pass on that visit, do my laundry instead, and head for Fairfield, the next town on my itinerary, later tonight.


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