Howard and Faythe Landis don’t operate a bed and breakfast, but they are hospitality hosts extraordinaire nonetheless. We discovered their great hearts and open arms on our recent trip to Springfield, Missouri in mid-July.


Before we ever boarded the plane, Howard, my second cousin, sent us this schedule for July 12-21. “To keep everybody on the same page!” he said with a chuckle.


Howard and wife Faythe are seasoned travelers, serving 3-4 stints in China as teachers of English as a Second Language at Harbin Normal University. And, yes, they have been tour group hosts. Now they visit friends they have met in their travels. Family, too!

The Landis’ home interior reflects their love for Asian items, here Howard showcasing a gilt door that he salvaged in the 1990s when China was ditching the old in favor of new things.


Their home decor blends two cultures harmoniously: heirlooms from the Martin side of the family along with Chinese artifacts from their travels.


Howard cranked out old-timey sound from a nickelodeon inherited from the estate of Harry Horst, one of our Great-Grandma Martin’s brothers, who owned a hook and ladder shop in Philadelphia.


Howard and Faythe’s Chef’s Kitchen is set up for short-order cooking, which husband Cliff, a foodie, took full advantage. Breakfast often included duck eggs.


Excursion Highlights

We arrived in Springfield late Monday. Howard and Faythe chauffeured us from the airport to a delicious home-made dinner of chicken kabobs with succulent corn and tomatoes from Faythe’s home state, Iowa.

Tuesday was Bass Pro Shops day with three floors of wildlife exhibits, museums, and of course items for sale for the sportsman or woman. We spent at least three hours in the expansive buildings.

We were introduced to the Alligator Garr fish, a 7-foot long freshwater fish of the Midwest.


Amish and Mennonite Country Stores: Amish and Mennonites, attracted by fertile land west of south-central Missouri offer meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods at rural markets.

Many of the markets sold dried strawberries, bananas, apricots, and apples, just like my Grandma Fannie used to prepare for the winter.


Lead Mine CountryStore and Restaurant was our final stop for the day, where we observed a swarm of hummingbirds, a working ice cream maker antique on the porch, and a hearty lunch.



Big Day in Branson, Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and Show at the Clay Cooper Theatre, showcasing The popular Haygoods

Golf carts helped us navigate the cave, bridges, and falls on this scenic trail.



An awesome museum of natural history showcased the fine handiwork of various Indian tribes in the region.


Before the show, we skipped the ferris wheel but enjoyed ice cream cones at Andy’s Frozen Custard.


The Haygoods, Branson’s most popular show entertained us for two hours that evening at the Clay Cooper Theatre. Dancers’ choreography wowed us in the pre-show.

Then the Haygoods appeared: Five brothers and one sister performed on 20+ instruments. The show began with an impressive light show, pyrotechnics, followed by musical arrangements from the Sixties-contemporary.


On Saturday, we met attorney Russ Wood and therapist-artist Karen Wood who would accompany us on a kayak trip Monday on Jack’s Fork River.

Jack’s Fork River is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway system. Its waters are crystal clear with a pebbled bottom.

Six of us, three couples–the Landis’s, the Woods’ and the Beamans’– drove two hours to Eminence, MO, the site of Harvey’s Alley Canoe and Kayak rental. Armed with hats, lunches in zippered vinyl, and sunscreen, we set out. Some of us opted to wear life jackets; some did not.



The ride looks serene, and so it was much of the 7-mile 4-hour trip, but there was

Drama. . .

  • One couple tumbled over twice, the kayak having gotten caught in a tangle of roots from a fallen log, overturning them in the swift current.
  • Another tumbled out of his vessel, upset by sudden contact with a fallen branch.
  • Unattached life jackets and untied lunch bags sailed by, retrieved by the more adroit paddlers.

You’ll have to take my word for it; I didn’t bring my cellphone, anxious it may be ripped from my fanny pack or meet its demise in the chilly deep.



Quirks and a Quarrel

Faythe, an easy-going planner, loves essential oils. She treated my indigestion with Doterra products, DigestZen and Peppermint. Bless her heart! We drove to downtown Springfield to get some reinforcements.


Howard, a “trip” himself and typically a jolly good fellow, apparently has feet of clay like the rest of us. He admitted to poor judgment at least once several years ago. Unfortunately, he opted to visit his parents in another state, a good idea except that it conflicted with a wedding anniversary, which Faythe, of course, noted. Howard visited his parents in spite of her protests and ended up doing penance. Very expensive penance in the form of a complete set of Prince Albert Old Country Rose china.

The china was lovingly displayed for a dinner of Salmon Oriental and Chinese fried rice on our final night when I met his sister Sandi for the first time.


Shared DNA

Howard and I are second cousins. Our grandparents, my Grandma Fannie and his Grandpa Joe Martin, are brother and sister. I’ve written about our family connection in this blog post when they visited our home in December 2019. Now we have plans to meet up again when they come to Florida for the winter. This time we will be hosting.

We have noticed some similarities beyond family heritage:

  1. We are both educators and love teaching..
  2. We both make lists, like schedules.
  3. We put a high priority on family and other relationships.

The list could go on, but one thing is for sure. Howard has heaps more energy than I!


1 Peter 4:9  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.



Coming next: Mary: Face to Face with a Memoir Character