Author: Lydia ISTOMINA

One More Hour


I was not with my father the morning of his passing.    I wish I had been.  But my being there would have made little difference.  He was weak and frail and emphysema had slowly robbed him of his breath.  I would not have been able to save him.  It was just time for him to go.

My Dad called me on my 46th Birthday.  Three days later he was gone.  The last thing I said to him, and he to me, was, “I love you.”  I’m thankful for that.  But I realize not everyone has been blessed with the opportunity to say these final words.  Despite this, when speaking of him to others, I often say, “I wish I had one more hour with him.  Not to somehow pull him back from deaths doorstep, but to speak to him of things left unspoken.  I have thought often of this and wondered, how many of us have longed for the same thing.  For our long-dead father to suddenly be standing there in your doorway.  For the doorbell to ring.  You walk apprehensively to the door, wondering who in the world could be ringing your doorbell at this hour.  A little annoyed because it is interrupting the football game on TV.  You open the door and there he is.  Would he look tall and strong as a young man, or would it be frail and weak, unable to catch his breath?  Would it matter?  What would you say to him? What would be your first thought?  Your first reaction; shock, disbelief?  Would you shout in delight, fling open the door wide and hug him with all your might?  Would tears come? Or would you be overwhelmed by a mixture of awe and mystery?  One thing is for sure, the football game would be immediately gone from your mind.

Of course, you would say to him, “I love you Dad.”  “I’ve missed you.”  Then he looks at you says, “I love you too.”  “But I’m here now, so what did you want to tell me?”  Perhaps the tears, the awe, the mystery, the words, would all come in a rush.  Your mind and thoughts suddenly on overload.  Until finally you slow down long enough to really consider what you want to say.  So what would you say?  What words would come to express how you felt about him or what you have longed to say but never got the chance?

Perhaps you would begin by telling him about his grandson and the man he has become.  How proud you are of him.  How proud he would be of him.  How you are often amazed at how he can adapt and figure things out.  “Just like you used to Dad!”    No longer the little boy, but a grown man with a family of his own.  How you hope that you have been and will be that kind of grandfather and father he was.

You tell him how sorry you are that you were not with him the morning he died.  To bid him farewell one last time.  To hold his hand and touch his face just as he did for you the day of your birth.  To offer words of prayer and encouragement to help him on his way.

You want him to know how much you regret not having lingered with him a little longer on the front porch of his home.  How you wish you could redo those times when you were in a hurry to leave because of this stupid reason or that stupid reason.  You could have stayed and chatted with him a little longer.

You tell him that for you, the words Dad and home mean the same thing.  That home was always where he was.  Despite your travels, you knew that he was just a telephone call, or a drive, a flight away.    That despite the stresses of your work and personal life, you could always find him sitting on his front porch waiting and watching patiently for your return.  You’d sit with him there and chat about the weather, or politics or some other equally minuscule and unimportant thing.   How he would listen quietly and occasionally offer a comment or bit of advice.

But mostly you’re sorry you never really told him of painful things in your life.  The stresses and doubts about your career in law enforcement.  The horrible things you experienced as a cop.  How you grew cold and unfeeling.  A cynical uncaring robot is unable to feel or empathize with the pain of others.  Your fear that the job was slowly robbing you of your humanity and with it your family.  How demons come sometimes at night to taint you.  You fitfully toss and turn until the morning light signals the start of another day.  You don’t tell him about the emotional distance that has developed between you and your spouse.  How every day you fear it will be your last as a family.  You don’t tell him about the depression and despair that has taken over your very soul.  You don’t tell him because you think he would think less of you.  That you would be a disappointment to him.  That you are not being the man you should be or expected to be.  That he would stand up and with disgust in his voice say, “What the hell’s wrong with you boy?” But you know now that he would have done and said none of those things.   You regret that you robbed him of the opportunity to have listened quietly until you were finished.  And then simply said, “I love you son.”  “Whatever happens or you decide to do I am on your side.”   You are so sorry that you thought so little of him to have not trusted him with your pain.  You want him to know that you deeply regret not giving him the opportunity to express his unconditional love to you.

He looks at you for a few moments and then says, “I knew all those things already son.  You didn’t need to tell me.  That’s why I always waited patiently for your return.  There was nothing you could have said or done to have caused me to love you less.”

Your vision becomes blurry as you tear-filled eyes look at him with awe.  You sit there with him quietly until finally, he says, “Son, I have to go.  The hour is up.”  You beg and plead with him to stay.  You tell him the world is so much better with him in it.  Perhaps at that moment, as he bids you farewell and the door quietly closes behind him, you fall to your knees and ask God for one more hour!


OH! What a Tangled Web

In 2007, Jack (my late husband) & I joined Francis Street First UMC.  We were both raised as Methodists with parents that were active in our respective churches.  After attending several churches of different denominations in St. Joseph in our quest for a church we arrived at Francis Street First & immediately fell in love with the church and the people.  We felt at home.

I often wondered why I felt the connection with this church the way I did, but I never did anything about it.  I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Now, this is where my story becomes a Francis Street First history lesson for both myself and you.  People who know me know I’ve always been interested in genealogy—a gift from my Grandmother.  As a result of this fact we are all going to follow the genealogy of this church.  Why you may ask?  Because the church’s genealogy & my personal genealogy are connected from the beginning!

While I personally was not born or raised in St. Joseph, my grandmother’s family came here in 1840 & earlier.  My grandmother’s great uncle (my third great uncle), Judge William C. Toole, came to this area originally in June,1836.   Once again you are probably thinking “so what”!   Just bear with me and I will explain.

In 1836, four brothers & three sisters of the Toole family of Kentucky, arrived in the Platte Purchase while it was still part of the Indian lands.  They were what you would call “sooners”, they were in effect “scoping out” the most promising lands.  However, they were stopped by government soldiers, who prevented them from entering the “promised land” because the treaty had not yet been signed.   What they did & where they went while they waited, I don’t know.  It was at least several weeks (read months) before they would be permitted to enter the Platte Purchase land as settlers.  Regardless to say they were among the earliest settlers.

Who are these four brothers, Edwin, Walter, Daniel Jr., and William C.?  Two were lawyers, and three were preachers—Methodist preachers.  Now, while you are sitting there thinking “she can’t add” let me assure I can.  The oldest brother, Edwin Toole, was already a lawyer when they entered the area and he in fact became the 1st Circuit Clerk of Buchanan County, being appointed in 1839 by Judge Austin A. King.  Edwin’s younger brother, William C. was admitted to the bar in Missouri in 1848.

Walter was a Methodist minister (preacher) in Macon, MO; Daniel Jr. was a Methodist preacher in the Southern Circuit; and William C. was also a Methodist circuit preacher.

Now, we will go into the genealogy of Francis Street First and get to know William a little better.  William joined the Methodist church as a preacher in 1838.  He was 19 years old at the time.  This was the same time that he came back to St. Joseph.  He visited all the rural communities in the surrounding area conducting religious services in the cabins of settlers, or under the trees.  It was reported in the St. Joseph Daily Newspaper of July 17, 1903, that he was probably the only living preacher, certainly the only one living in St. Joseph, who conducted religious services in the first log church of the town in 1841, which stood in the vicinity of Third & Jule streets, in what is now (1903) the wholesale district.

In the interest of time I won’t go into the details behind the split in the Methodist Church in 1844/45, however the church in St. Joseph didn’t split until 1849.  The split resulted in the American Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the American Methodist Episcopal Church.  By the beginning of the 1900’s the American Methodist Episcopal Church, South built a church at 12th & Francis and took the name of Francis Street Methodist Church.  At this same time the American Methodist Episcopal Church built their church at 8th & Faraon and took the name of First Methodist Church.   Both churches were referred to, and thought of, as sister churches.  In truth, their only differences went back to the issue of slavery and the members views on the subject!

Back to my third great uncle, Judge William C. Toole, at the time of his death, February 17, 1909, he was the last charter member of the First Methodist Church.  He was writing the history of the First Methodist Church which was completed by Dr. Charles J. English and placed in the cornerstone box and sealed into the cornerstone of the church on June 10, 1909 by Bishop William  A. Quayle.

If he were here today, I’m sure he would be so proud that the Methodist church he started preaching for in 1838, split over social issues of the day in 1849, and reunited in 1995 to become one church once again.  A church of compassionate members with empathy, sympathy, and compassion for each other and the community, able to celebrate 175 years as the Methodist Church of St. Joseph!

As a recipient of your outpouring of love, compassion, empathy, and sympathy at the time of Jack’s untimely death and my living nightmare I can vouch for this church and its members compassion and caring!   Thank You from the bottom of my heart.



Support the Youth!

Our Youth and Children Program Needs Your help!

In the end, we will be remembered for our acts. For the lives we touched and the causes we advanced. Our Congregational Life & Ministry Team (CLM) works very hard on developing the Children & Youth Ministry. If you attended our Celebration Service last Sunday you saw how active and excited our youth is. This was possible because of your continued support and prayers and the commitment of people who are committed to working with children and youth: Jennifer Tanguay, Candy Sheehan, Karen Gibson, Susan Gentry (Ignite), Mike and Mary Buckler, Cindy Allen, Karen Gibson, and Candy Sheehan (Carden Park Elementary). The Ignite program is a witness of our commitment and prayers for the future of Francis Street First. Youth Program is our legacy that continues 175 years of ministry. I invite you to support our Carden Park Elementary Partnership, IgniteSummer Camp, and Parent’s Day Out ministries for children and youth from the community around us that will include tutoring, field trips, nutritional lessons in partnership with the MO University Extension, and Girls Who Code Club for grades 3-6 and 7-12. You can either simply send us a check with a note “Children & Youth Ministry” or create a lasting legacy by including Youth Ministry endowment fund in your long-term financial plan.
The word “endowment” means your entire legacy gift will be invested in order to create an annual yield (4%, for example) to provide inspirational and educational activities to children of all ages. With an investment of $5,000, your legacy gift would annually provide $200 for our ministry to the children and youth. Your gift can be given to memorialize or honor a loved one, yourself, and/or your spouse and can be designated as a general gift or for a specific purpose that you or your spouse are passionate about. Your gift will live in perpetuity, allowing Francis Street First to continue providing the service to the community. If you are unable to establish an endowment fund today, you may want to consider establishing such a fund in your will. Either way, you will be ensuring that your cause will live, and children will receive spiritual education in a safe environment they need well into the future.

Pathway Against Poverty

Our partnership with Carden Park Elementary will be exciting this semester as we transition to the 3rd-grade classes and meet new teachers and children.  After meeting with the four teachers, who are two young men and women you could feel their enthusiasm and passion for teaching.  They all teach together in one large room, and it was evident that learning was happening all around you where 85 students were interacting with the teachers and one another.  It is a concept they designed together and you could tell it was a very positive approach to this age group. 

The teachers were very appreciative of our assistance and I inquired what their greatest needs were.  They are so happy to have us mentor the students. The greatest needs they have would be buses for field trips.  They have two scheduled this spring.  We sponsored the field trip to Shatto Dairy in mid-March, and also assisted children who were unable to pay for the event.  The other is in May to the Conservation Dept. on the MWSU campus.  The combined cost would be around $550.  They could use additional headphones for reading at a cost of $150.  Treats for incentives were discussed which would be approximately $50 and we could include a small Valentine treat as well.  The total for all of this would be about $800 for the spring semester and if we doubled it for all of 2019, it would be approximately $1,500 for the year.  

The needs are great at this school and our presence is truly appreciated.  They are eager for us to share in the success of their students and it will be so beneficial for everyone involved.  

Thank you for your continued support.


Mary Buckler

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