Wednesday, April 9
We had hoped to sleep late on the days we visited ‘Baba’, but each morning it seemed that something happened to cut that wish short. Yesterday morning at 9am we awoke to hammering and other tool-type noises in the vacant condo next door to my mom’s. We found out they were installing a new toilet. Lola was so funny - - she was a bit indignant that her sleep had been so rudely interrupted, yet she didn’t wish to get out of bed and get dressed……10 o’clock came and we had planned to visit the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa and had hoped to leave sometime that morning. I was trying to get Lola up and coherent and my mom walked in and said “Lola, if you get up now and get dressed and ready to go I’ll give you twenty dollars!” I have never seen a child wake up so fast. I scolded my mom for ‘bribing’ her, but my mom told Lola later that she had planned all along to give Lola the money so she could add it to her ‘camera fund’. As of this upcoming Saturday Lola will have a total of $118.00 saved. She has been saving all her money from allowance and Christmas for the sole purpose of buying her very own digital camera. I must say I’m impressed at her determination.
We drove the 80 or so miles to West Bend to see the Grotto. It really is an amazing spectacle. Here is an excerpt from the history of the Grotto taken from the website www.westbendgrotto.com
“Paul Matthias Dobberstein was born in Rosenfeld, Germany on September 21, 1872. He received part of his early education at the University of Deitsche-Krone in Germany. When Paul was 20 years old he immigrated to America. On coming to America he entered the Seminary of St. Francis near Milwaukee to prepare for the Priesthood. It was there that he began to show signs of unusual artistic ability that was to characterize all the waking hours of his earthly existence.
He completed his studies for the Priesthood at St. Francis Seminary and was ordained there on June 30th, 1897. For one year he served as chaplain for the Sisters of Mount Carmel hospital in Dubuque. Then when the Archdiocese of Dubuque was divided and Sioux City jurisdiction was formed he was appointed the pastor of West Bend Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church and remained there in that capacity for the rest of his life. During fifty-seven years he was counselor, instructor, and leader to the parishioners of St. Peter and Paul's.
The story of how the Grotto came into being is as moving as are the scenes it portrays. It is generally told as a fact that as a young seminarian, Father Dobberstein became critically ill with pneumonia. As he fought for his life he prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for him for the grace of health. He promised to build a shrine in her honor if he lived.
The illness passed, the student completed his studies and after his ordination he came to West Bend as Pastor in 1898. For over a decade he was stockpiling rocks and precious stones. The actual work of giving permanence to his promise began to take shape in 1912. The designed purpose of the Grotto is to tell in silent stone made spiritually eloquent, the story of man's fall and his redemption by Christ, the savior of the world.
It was his purpose that others might see in the beauty of stones the beauty of the Creator and by being charmed and attracted by his work learn to imitate the virtues of the Mother of our Saviour. Father Dobberstein used a vast collection of minerals and precious and semi-precious stones in the building of the Grotto. Petrified wood, malachite, azurite, agates, geodes, jasper, quartz, topaz, calcite, stalactites and stalagmites are but a partial list of rocks gathered, purchased or donated for building of the Grotto. The many offerings of visitors have aided substantially to create this artistic wonder.”
We spent about an hour at the Grotto and Lola was quite impressed by all the different types of materials used to create it. She was astounded to discover it was all done by one man!
When we returned home my mom had not yet heard from my Aunt Marg about Uncle Don’s condition so she called the hospital. We were told he had been transferred to Sioux City to one of the hospitals there. My mom was quite upset by this news so I called the hospital in Sioux City and found out he was in ICU. I was transferred up there and my cousin Ellen came to the telephone and said he had had a rough couple days, but he seemed to be better and was joking around with everyone. She promised to keep us informed and would let us know more later.