Web Ekstrand: Found Faithful

Steve Green wrote a song entitled “Find Us Faithful.” The refrain goes:

May all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe.
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Dad, we find you faithful!

– Do you remember that painting of an older man sitting at a table with his head bowed over his Bible and hands folded in prayer? That is dad. Many times I remember getting up early for chores or whatever going down to the kitchen and finding him there finishing his devotions. Just like the man in the painting. Faithfully conversing with his Lord, interceding for family and church and friends and…

– Faithful leading family devotions after supper. Through them he taught and encouraged. I can ever picture the family home devotional book on the shelf that we faithfully read through.

– Faithful, committed to his family. He fully supported us 4 in all our various activities all the way through school, encouraging us on as he attended the many performances all over the place. The same continued as we went on to college making the trek to Ames or Chicago for this and that which his kids were in.

  • – And when the grandchildren came along, he did the same going to countless performances and 4H presentations in Pocahontas, Des Moines, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Champaign, Cambridge and more. I can picture the big smile on his face as his grandchildren would tell of their adventures and places they visited.
  • – Beyond attending the performances, he believed that a time away from the farm was important and I clearly remember that every year we always got away somewhere for vacation for about a week plus holiday visits. Dad, you were faithful to get us off the farm to somewhere else to enjoy family and friends. In the early years when money was tighter it was primarily to visit family, his and mom’s siblings. I have fond memories of visit to the Omtvedts in Ardmore, OK, the Johnsons in Mt Prospect, IL, the Jacksons in Crown Point, IN and Denver area, the Andersons in Mpls, the Andersons in Beloit and North Warren, PA. On some of those trips we tacked on other days for sightseeing. That’s how we got to see Niagra Falls and had our first steps outside the US into Canada. We also went to Louisiana to visit some Air Force buddies and I saw where I was born.
  • > Other vacations were fishing in northern WI. Now we weren’t very good fishermen so thankfully our meals weren’t solely based on our catch. Who can forget the one walleye we caught getting off the stringer and getting away? We were devastated.
  • > A priority vacation every two years was the Anderson reunion. Oh what fond memories of camping in state parks, hiking trails along the Mississippi, riding go karts and renting a ski boat in Arkansas (no there weren’t any snakes floating on the lake Tim), rafting down a river in IN, the Rocky Mountains, softball and soccer games for ages 6 to 76!
  • > Yes, he is guilty of very faithfully taking his family on vacation. This is a path Cindy and I seek to follow.

– Faithful to his family wherever they were around the world. How many trips did he and mom make overseas to visit family? Haiti, Belgium, Japan, Zaire (Congo), Japan and the Philippines. He had to work hard planning ahead to make some of those trips, not just for the money but also to schedule the hogs so that he had a window of time to take the trip. That’s commitment and dad was faithful.

– The fire of your devotion to the church does light our way. When I’m asked to share about my life and history I repeatedly state that if the church doors were open, we were there. Yes, we may have been a wee bit late such that some may have said that if you came after the Ekstrands you might have missed it. No, kidding, but we were there to all the activities and events and workdays. Your footprints have led me and us to believe and to follow. Your devotion to the church was not just to your own, but also to those of the community. Was there an Elfsborg or Trinity ice cream social or event that we missed? Nary a one I daresay.

  • > I also remember his commitment to our church’s pastors, mentoring Parson Larson in raising hogs, Bruce Metcalf and Dave Benedict to life in farm country.

– Faithful to his friends in numerous ways. I’ll note a few:

  • > Dad loved people and talking with them such that we kids would be ready to leave long before he was. There’s a reason that the Ekstrands were noted for being the last to leave any church they attend or visit. Dad had so many people he wanted to visit with.
  • > Sharing meals with friends. I don’t know who was the initiator, but dad surely loved the times we’d either be hosted by or host the Youngbergs or Lantzes or Johnsons (several) and more. I have fond, fond memories of games and games with those families.
  • > Dad showed me how to be a good neighbor. If Denny or Bob needed help, he was there and if he needed it they were at our farm. I remember helping others in the community in need whether picking corn or moving someone or picking up after a tornado or shelling corn or you name it, dad helped others. Jesus asks, “who showed themselves to be a neighbor?” Dad did.
  • > Engaging with those who visited him whether the Moormans feed salesman (where are your jokes now Bob?) or the vet or the man who bought his feeder pigs, dad loved talking to them all. Yes some were more talkers than others and I confess that at times I wanted to go back and get on with the work I had to do, but dad would engage and strengthen that relationship.
  • > Share a LOT with neighbors! Back and forth to the Johnsons how many times in a season? We were sharing work and equipment and problem solving and meals and…life and faith.

– The lives we live inspire them to obey. Indeed, you inspired us. Your service to the church through the local body, the conference or Bible Camp, they all inspire us. I have fond, fond memories of dad’s commitment to the Bible Camp. What great fun we had working together on maintenance projects. I’m ever grateful that he supported my desire to work there for 2 summers. “His life inspires me to serve which is obedience.”

  • > Inspiration to obey is also a commitment to the task, to not shirk your duty however tough, however much you want to get out of it.
  • > Inspiration to obey is learning to work, being conscientious, maybe to a fault a times, but yes, it is this. I learned to obey, to work, to stay the course from dad. Thank you.

The song says: May all who come behind us find us faithful. Dad, you were most truly faithful. Thank you.

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4 Responses to “Web Ekstrand: Found Faithful”

  1. Beth Stoker says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. What a dad! And what a dad he grew you into. I see him in you <3

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  2. Nina & Roger Van Gorp says:

    Our sincere sympathy to you and the family. We loved it when we met your Dad (and Mom) at TLCC or in DM. Such a fine, faithful guy!! He will be missed by many. God give you His peace and comfort!

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  3. Martie and Steve Tarter says:

    I will always remember seeing Mr. Ekstrand up on the roof of Tevye’s house in the auditorium at Christian Academy in Japan. I know our “Fiddler on the Roof” was comfortable because an Iowa hog farmer had built her something strong and sturdy on which to regale us with sound!!! The Ekstrands had come to await the birth of their grandson, Colin, but being Mr. Ekstrand, he just had to “help out a bit”. We are praying for your family at this time as you remember, regroup, and return to the life of faithfulness that you each have been called to.

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  4. John Gambs says:

    Web Ekstrand was a great man in all the ways that mattered. He and Marian did much to make our young family welcome and at ease in Pocahontas. The many times we spent at your home are wonderful memories that I will always remember.

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