Harmony, Minnesota: Niagara Cave, Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial, Tea Party Members, Amish, Peace Activists, and Corn

Harvey and Barry at the peace bell, which Harvey made from an old oxygen canister. The bell has a lovely tone.

We traveled on to Harmony, Minnesota, and found Harvey, our Servas host [http://servas.org/], and his great friend Benita.  Harvey  as well as his  mom  were born in this very farm house.

Harvey's farm home

Harvey--bottom row, second from left, with his 1949 high school graduating class

After graduating from high school, Harvey left Minnesota for decades.

Our hosts, Harvey and Benita

We discovered surprises above and below ground in Harmony:

Niagara Cave - voted "Best Family Destination" in 2009, 2010, and 2011 http://www.niagaracave.com/default.asp


Above ground, we saw –

Near Harmony are  great places for biking, boating, and even theater

Harvey and Benita took us to see Sylvia, a wonderful, thought-provoking play (a main character is a talking dog).  Although Harmony is  very conservative politically,  we had much in common with Harvey, who is a Quaker, and Benita, who introduced us to very nutritional chia seeds.   Barry and I  met our first Amish family.  We also talked with a Tea Party neighbor.

Harmony has –

Corn - for as far as we could see

Soybeans - as far as we could see in the other direction

But Harmony has more than two crops:


Sometimes sunflowers too

It’s an area of Amish, with their buggies and crafted furniture, and many farms with aging owners.

This elderly owner can no longer maintain the farm buildings.

Across the U.S., we were told, many of the young people don’t want to do the hard work and take the risks of staying on the farms.  The children typically seek the excitement and opportunities of cities.

Harvey too left Harmony and among other things taught English in Helsinki for 25 years.  He has traveled all over the world.  His house is filled with evidence of his adventures.

Not your typical farm house

Harvey and Benita also took us to Rochester for the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance.

Harvey and I join others to decorate our luminaries

Lanterns of all kinds

Peace not war

My lantern and me

Music and speakers


Fading light and floating lanterns


We went to Harmony, a small town in the middle of corn and soy fields, and found a wonderful couple and much more than we’d expected.  You should check out Harmony, Minnesota, too.

Aloha, Renee


About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

7 responses to “Harmony, Minnesota: Niagara Cave, Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial, Tea Party Members, Amish, Peace Activists, and Corn”

  1. marty says :

    Will you be in NY

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Marty: We fly from Shanghai to St. Louis on May 13. We have family–and a car there. So there is a good chance we will head toward New York this summer. If so, we will look for you. Are you on Skype? Our Skype name is barrytkristel. Barry says “Hi.” Aloha, Renee

    • reneeriley says :

      We’re coming to N.Y. and would love to see you. Barry will write. Aloha, Renee

  2. angie (from England) says :

    What a great blog?
    Did you guys visit Amish people?
    Im amazed by Amish and all it entails…can u point me right direction?(blogs? books etc). Are you guys missionaries or travelling? How do i Follow your amazing blog?

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Angie: Thanks for your questions – and sorry for the long delay to respond. Barry, a counselor, and I, an English teacher, love to travel. We’ve been blessed to have opportunities to travel, but we are not missionaries. We are fascinated by the many ways of living and paths people take in the world.

      I’ve been interested in the Amish for a long time. My maternal grandmother’s family were Mennonites (which shares many similarities with the Amish). Those ancestors were run out of Switzerland in the 16th century when they refused to join the army.

      Then several years ago, I read John Ruth’s Forgiveness. The book reports on the Nickel Mines tragedy when a deluded neighborhood milkman took hostage and shot little Amish girls in a one-room Pennsylvania schoolhouse. Ruth shows the Amish value forgiveness, how it is emphasized in their religious practices, and how being that way helped them deal with their heartbreak. I recommend his book if you want a deeper understanding of the Amish.
      Go to: http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Legacy-Nickel-Mines-School/dp/0836195736/ref=dp_ob_image_bk
      Forgiveness: A Legacy of the West Nickel Mines Amish School Paperback – August 1, 2011
      by John L Ruth (Author)
      3 customer reviews

      • Paperback
      • $9.89 

12 Used from $2.70 
14 New from $7.08 

      This sensitive and thoughtful meditation on the horrific events of October 2, 2006, reflects on the response of the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where a gunman killed himself, five school children, and wounded five others. The tragic crime evoked expressions of shock and sympathy worldwide. But even many Christians were stunned when the Amish community, in the midst of its grieving, offered words of forgiveness toward the dead killer and his family. John L. Ruth considers that extraordinary forgiveness as the legacy of that heartbreaking day. This revised edition includes an afterword from the author, five years later.

      I recommend the book for its great insight into Amish life and thought.

      Also my cousin lives in central Illinois where some Amish live. I’ve been curious about them, and Barry and I have gone with my cousin to an Amish restaurant and a grocery store run by Amish. Through a Servas host in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we were invited into an Amish home. See my postings – https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/u-s-family-friends-surprising-places-including-cahokia-mounds-allerton-park-and-amish-country/
      And in a related post, see –

      I wish the Amish could be educated beyond the 8th grade. (Also pinning your clothes together with straight pins so as not to use zippers or buttons does not seem very practical). However, I admire their family closeness, their industry, and their emphasis on forgiveness.

      For more information about the Amish and their way of life, also see – http://lancasterpa.com/amish/
      Thanks for reading my blog. Aloha, Renee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: