I have loved living in the Mason City area all these 30 years. I came in 1982. I was Pastor of a church in Michigan for 10 years before coming here to be Pastor of the Rolling Acres Christian Reformed Church. Ironically, I had an article published on the value of long term pastorates the month I moved here, and have been here ever since. Being a complete nature nut, I have come to love the prairie, and have many favorite places that have buried themselves into my heart. I love the Rolling Acres Christian Reformed Church that I have worked in these many years, as well as the Mason City area. Besides my friendships and deep Pastoral relationships with many people, it has been a place of photography, tennis, gardening, chess, and great bow hunting.
My goal in doing photography is to see and help others to see the glory and the power of God in his creation. (Psalm 19: 1 and Romans 1: 20) Although Paul talks about his goodness shown in nature in Acts 14:17, to see the love of God we need the special revelation of God in the Bible, and in Jesus himself (John 3:16.) When it comes to nature, there are many WOW! experiences! From a sunset, to the distant mountains, to the flower at our doorstep, to a bright orange Baltimore Oriole sitting in the white snow of the last snowstorm in May in my backyard! Wow! It was interesting to me that in Anne Lamott’s last, brief, and delightful book: The Three Essential Prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow, the illustrations about WOW, were mainly either nature images, or images about grace. (I highly recommend this book for a stimulating, fun, sassy, good read.)
For me this fascinating world, filled with wonder, leads me to worship this awesome God! I urge my congregation to develop personal favorite exclamations of praise when they feel this overwhelming response to the star filled sky, the magic of springtime, or a mountain. My personal favorites are, “Praise you Lord God Almighty!” And simply, “My Lord and my God and my King!” I remember the words of one of the main characters in the movie The Color Purple. Living in a terrible dark world of brokenness and evil, she still holds hope. As they walk through a field full of purple cosmos flowers, she says something like, I think that it ticks God off if someone walks though a field of flowers like this and doesn’t see the color purple! God puts all this beauty around us as a gift, with a smile on his face. He says, LOOK at that! Even more, this God is my close personal Father through Christ. As the song says, This Is My Father’s World!
Dr. Tim McKone and I brainstormed about starting up a photo club. There had been the Hawkeye Camera Club in Mason City. I had shown several of my slide programs to them through the years. But they never did much with learning more about photography, as much as having a time to see a slide program. I wanted more of a Camera Club. I had been in one briefly as a college student in Holland, Michigan, and had found it stimulating. Don Barnes jumped on board to help, as well as Tom Shussler. The four of us started out as officers. We had our first meeting on February 20, 2003. Tom Shussler moved away and was replaced by Tim Ackarman. Tim has a great love of the outdoors, works to conserve land areas for future generations, and freelances stimulating articles and photographs for The Globe Gazzette. Dr. Tim McKone has moved away, and has been replaced with Dr. Harsha Jayawardena. What a great job they have all done! Don does professional portrait photography work on the side, and I don’t know of anyone better in Photoshop! Harsha rubs shoulders with professional landscape photographers all over the United States. He is extremely knowledgeable with equipment and technology, his work is meticulous, his photo excursions range from Africa and Alaska backcountry, to Zion and Death Valley. (How many people like Harsha do you know who have had a gorilla come up from behind and lay a hand on his shoulder, or walk many miles through a river with waders, or camp out on a fly in with grizzly running all around his tripod while waist deep in water!).
With me leaving, Don is taking over as president, Harsha continues as Vice President but with more of a co-leader position, and Bruce McKee has come on board with tremendous technological expertise with our web site--which he set up and maintains. Bruce has been growing in his photographic interest and expertise, has his own web site, and has three of his photos up in the current McNider Photo Show! [Several photo club members have photos up in the current show, including Bruce, Brad Janssen, Nick Anderson, Don Barnes, and Paulette Searle. Our next meeting in June will be at the museum to look over the exhibit and talk about the photos.]
In closing, as I have said before, one of the best things about our [photo] club that many of you have appreciated as well, is the warm and friendly attitude of those who come towards one another and our photo work. (Remember to welcome the newcomers!) In some clubs there is a fierce competition that can make people very uncomfortable. Here, anyone can show their work, have it seen, talked about, share it, comment, and it is appreciated by all. May this supportative attitude continue as photos are shared together and we share our joy in what we are doing, and encourage one another in our work! As officers, that is the kind of club we want our club to be!
I do plan to come back to visit the North Iowa Photo Club at times and keep in touch with you. I also plan to be part of a photo club in Minnesota.
The best to you all!
Jack Vanden Heuvel