Soul Music

Greg Latza

Alene Wiebesiek began playing hymns by ear as a child. When she started accompanying congregational songs at Bethel Reformed Church in Davis, S.D., in 1948, she'd had only 12 lessons.

Each Saturday, Alene (Bunger '44) Wiebesiek lets herself into the sanctuary of Bethel Reformed Church and practices the music for Sunday's service. She can't see the notes as well as she did 69 years ago when she first began accompanying the congregation, so she chooses old hymns such as Victory in Jesus and It is Well With My Soul for their familiarity to her fingers.

Sunday, some 20 people from Davis, S.D., (population: 85) will gather in the pews. Wiebesiek remembers Bethel in busier times: Though the small congregation remains tight-knit, many of the remaining families are related to members who founded the church in 1894. Robert Miedema, who provides pulpit supply, says the greeting time at the start of the service runs long, and "the longest line is by the organ."

"The kids all come up to the organ and give me a hug," Wiebesiek says. "One made me a valentine."

She was a new bride in 1948 when she began playing piano at the church; she switched to the organ a decade later. Wiebesiek finds solace in music and the bass pedals under her feet. Hymns gave her comfort when her husband passed away and after their 53-year-old son died from leukemia.

"The message of the hymns means a lot to me," she says. "Because it is well with my soul."

Bacon in the House


A retired brigadier general, Rep. Don Bacon serves on the House's agriculture, armed services and small business committees.

Readers of Don Bacon's "Ham 'n Eggs" column in the 1980–81 Beacon soon learned the 16-year-old freshman was enamored with politics and foreign policy.

His columns gave a hint about the career he would later pursue. He joined the Air Force in 1985, commanded airbases in Germany and Nebraska, was deployed three times in the Middle East, and retired in 2014 as a brigadier general. Today he's a freshman legislator representing Nebraska's 2nd District (the core of the Omaha metro) on Capitol Hill.

Describing himself as a "diplomatic conservative," Bacon says his key issues are the nation's military readiness and fiscal responsibility.

Eschewing the seriousness one might expect from a longtime military leader, Bacon has shown he can be a ham. When he announced his candidacy, he noted, "A vote for Bacon will always be a vote against pork." One of his commercials showed him talking in a grocery store with a customer who confirmed, "Everybody loves bacon."

And while he majored in political science at NWC, Bacon says he minored in pranks. He possesses intimate knowledge of one of the college's best, launching three parachuting gerbils from the old chapel attic shortly before Christmas 1981. A scroll preceded them, wishing "Season's Greetings from Airborne 101."

He promises not to try that in the Capitol.

Going for the Assist



Teacher and coach Dusty Meyn seeks to use what he's learned from his experience with Kennedy's disease to help his students.

Dusty Meyn '07, girls' basketball coach and business teacher at Forest City High School in northern Iowa, met with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and read from Exodus 17.

Moses is pictured standing on a hill, staff held high. While he kept his hands raised, the Israelites could easily defend themselves against the Amalekites; when he grew weak, the effort faltered. Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses, each supporting one hand until sunset, and this ensured victory.

"Who is holding up your hands when you're tired?" he asked the students, and had them write notes of thanks.

Meyn knows fatigue.

Diagnosed at the start of the 2015–16 season with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a rare genetic condition known as Kennedy's disease, his mouth is sometimes too tired to hold a whistle during practice, and eating supper takes longer after teaching and coaching all day. By the time he's in his late 50s, Meyn expects to have difficulty climbing stairs, though his current exercise regimen keeps him agile.

"Everyone is dealing with something," Meyn says. "Treat everyone with respect; you don't know what they're going through. We need to love one another."

Meyn could ask for the support of outstretched hands, but instead he reaches for ways to lift up his students and prepare them for their own victories.

Cup o' Joe, Side of Community


Kathleen Henderson (second from right) and her husband, Dan, (far right) teamed with another couple to start a coffee shop that's been named among the best in the United Kingdom.

Married to one of the world's best baristas and co-founder of a small coffee shop in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, Kathleen (Ainslie '08) Henderson never has to go far for a good cup of coffee.

Henderson and her husband, Daniel, a Northern Ireland native who was named the 11th best barista in the world in 2014, met during a year of ministry school in Redding, Calif., and were married in his homeland in 2010. Their passions for faith, community, food and coffee came together in a dream to open a coffee shop, and in 2014 they partnered with some like-minded friends to open Lost and Found, a coffeehouse on the northern coast of Northern Ireland that is focused as much on community as caffeine.

With her growing expertise in nutrition and a desire to offer healthy, fresh alternatives to fast and frozen fare, Henderson—a biology-health professions major—became the head cook and baker for their new business. Their attention to excellence in food and coffee is the "craft" part of their vision: community, craft and care.

Lost and Found was recently named among the top 25 coffee shops in the United Kingdom. But its impact is measured by more than awards. "I have seen the café become a home to people in the community, a third space apart from work and home where people can take a breath and just be," Henderson says.

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