Friday, June 19, 2009
My Carthage Trip - Part 1
Yesterday was the big day! I thought I’d be able to tell you about my trip yesterday, but it was a long and exciting day, and I was so tired at the end of it! I drove from Tulsa to Carthage to visit the Precious Moments Chapel. Oklahoma and Missouri are beautiful. There are lot of rolling hills with cattle and horses along the roads. When you get off the interstate to go the chapel (by the way, there is an interstate sign for the chapel) you go onto some really small roads. I was sure I was headed to nowhere when suddenly the Chapel Welcome Center came into view. The grounds are immaculate, and there is a lot of parking on both sides of the road.
It sure was HOT! The high in Carthage yesterday was 95, and the chapel dedication was scheduled for outside. So, they ended up cutting some of the festivities short because it was so uncomfortable. It was a beautiful day, but very warm. The grounds were very impressive. I had seen pictures and a video, but the photos didn’t do the grounds justice.
First, I saw the Welcome Center. It is a very interesting building that has a little village atmosphere in the entry. There is a café and several gift shops – a Christmas store, an area for figurines, a kid’s area, and an area for apparel. And they also have other collectibles besides Precious Moments – lots of angels and inspirational items. The gift stores are very spacious, and I enjoyed looking at all of the figurines without feeling rushed or cramped.
After walking out of the chapel, I went into a museum that houses some of Mr. Butcher’s original artwork, a display of the Original 21 figurines which are so beloved by collectors, an area of artwork that Mr. Butcher has done for his children, and lots of other things. One of the interesting collections in the museum is a room full of figurines that were donated by a lady from Illinois. There were probably at least a thousand (I didn’t count them), and a story about the collector donating them to Mr. Butcher. She always bought 2 each of every released figurine – I thought that was so interesting that she wanted to have 2 of each. She gave her “extra” ones to the museum, and Mr. Butcher visited her in her home to show his appreciation.
After looking through the museum, it was time to head to the Chapel. The walkways, fountains and statuaries were lovely. There is a sense of peace and tranquility there that I can’t exactly put my finger on. First I walked around to the back of the chapel to see the “playhouse” that Mr. Butcher built for his grandchildren. Now to call this a playhouse is a huge understatement. It is a stone structure that is on an island in the middle of a small pond. I know it would have been a lot of fun to play there. The Chapel itself is very interesting. There are guided tours all day, everyday. A lady explained each mural that Mr. Butcher has painted. Mr. Butcher paints there regularly and made additions just this week! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos inside the Chapel. It was against the rules, but I am sure you can find photos online. The largest mural has a story for each child depicted. Mr. Butcher pays tribute to families and people that have touched him with the stories of their lives or losses. The Chapel seems to be a place that people come to honor people they have lost. There is a room in the Chapel where you can write about someone you have lost, and all of the stories are kept in volumes in the Chapel for anyone to read. People were so moved by the displays that people were crying as they walked through. I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another post.
The Chapel re-dedication began at 2pm. My next post will give more detail on that, and I’ll also share the program with you – stay tuned!