Refreshment, and remembering a pioneer

By Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 5/4/24

In this From the Mound, the writer encourages refreshment from the stress of life and remembers a Huron medical pioneer

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Refreshment, and remembering a pioneer


“Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí
Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí”
“De Colores”

As long as there is written history of the Americas, the Spanish-language folk song “De Colores” has been part of the cultural lexicon. The melody is based on Spanish folk music, with the lyrics tracing back to the original Cursillos in Christianity movement of the Catholic church in the 1940s, originating in Spain.

Cursillo changed from a group of instructional courses in its beginning to a three-day retreat that featured 15 talks, or rollos, delivered by a combination of priests and laypeople on Christianity. The retreat moved quickly from Spain to Spanish colonial holds throughout the world and then into more areas of the world thereafter, with the first recorded American cursillo held in Waco, Texas, in 1957.

Cursillo was wildly successful and was quickly licensed by multiple protestant denominations as a way to bring people together for education, worship, and fellowship before heading to “fourth day.” Fourth Day is when participants take what they’ve learned throughout the weekend and apply it to the world.

“De Colores” literally translates to “in colors” and is a song sung at such gatherings, with the version popularized by Joan Baez in the 1960s the most “mainstream” the song got, though its use was significantly part of the United Farm Workers movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I was recently blessed to attend Walk to Emmaus, a retreat with United Methodist Church background that is a descendent of the Cursillo movement.

It was a busy weekend, filled with excellent fellowship and many times hearing a room full of men sing “De Colores” in full voice, with natural harmonies formed by those who were on pitch against those who were…less on pitch.

More than anything, it was a moment to refresh, to take a break from the rush of daily life and gather with a room of men (there is a women’s walk offered as well) to share life’s victories, challenges, laughs, and tears.

All too often, we push ourselves until we break, working through emotional and physical stressors that attempt to remind us to take a break or at least to slow down.

Thus, the most recent American Psychological Association “Stress in America” annual study revealed that 58% of respondents of all ages report that they have a chronic illness. High stress that is not dealt with can accumulate, leading to inflammation, which will wear on the immune system. This can lead to a wide variety of ailments, like digestive issues, heart disease, weight gain, and stroke.

Quite frankly, that’s a rough list - and it’s one that a lot of people can relate to. Hopefully, you can find your own time for a retreat or a date night or whatever it is for you to refresh and renew. Your health may depend on it!

A medical pioneer
Speaking of caring for health, on Tuesday, Nancy Balvin was laid to rest.

For those who did not know Nancy, she was a medical provider in the Huron area for more than 40 years and was in the medical field for 59 years.

Nancy was the first nurse practitioner licensed in the state of South Dakota in 1958. She then went back to school when she was already 10+ years into her nursing career. She passed her boards as a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant in 1975, becoming the first PA in the state and the first female provider in Huron.

Anyone who stepped into Nancy’s office at the Tschetter & Hohm Clinic or at her stand-alone clinic in the Kansas Mall witnessed one thing immediately. She had a wall of senior pictures, Christmas cards, and other assorted photographs of her patients. She jokingly would refer to those on her wall as “my kids.”

After Nancy was my primary provider growing up, often relishing in hearing stories of how Wolsey School was being run now after graduating in 1955 from the school that I would graduate from more than 40 years later, I returned to work with her when I moved back to the area following nearly a decade in the Twin Cities.

When she was preparing to retire, Nancy chatted with me to recommend a provider, but she then bumped into me multiple times and asked how things were going with the new provider, wanting to ensure that I was handed off well in my care.

The Huron area has been blessed with multiple excellent female providers since Nancy blazed that trail nearly 50 years ago, but she was the one who opened that door.

God’s peace, Nancy, and thank you!