Gus Henrici answers Laura’s Quick Questions

Gus Henrici is the chaplain at Tyson Fresh Meats in Perry.

Gus Henrici is the chaplain at Tyson Fresh Meats in Perry. He and his wife, Alice, have three teenage daughters and their dog, Bruno. The eldest daughter is weeks away from upending the “three teenage daughters” description when she turns 20 in October.

I first encountered Gus as one of the thoughtful, well-spoken and reflective participants in the June panel discussion of Perry faith leaders—part of the series of presentations on “Reawakening History by Telling Our Own Stories.”

Gus was graciously open to meeting with this non-credentialed stranger approaching him to meet about some foreign thing called “Quick Questions.”

Laura: Name a song you could listen to on “repeat” for forever.
Gus: Peter Furler’s “I’m Alive.” (Furler is an Australian musician and former lead vocalist of the Christian rock band Newsboys.)
(I have clearly been missing out by not venturing into the vast Christian rock genre that exists outside the walls of a church service. Love this song — and now Furler.)

Laura: App on your phone that you use the most?
Gus: Gmail.

Laura: Favorite animal?
Gus: Zebra. They are lively, smart, have the pattern thing. They’re comical.
(Gus has had the privilege of viewing them in the wild. While I’ve only experienced them in zoos—they are my fav animal, too.)

Laura: What is your greatest goal or desire in the next 12 months?
Gus: The concept of personal growth, but with the goal of being able to support people. I’d like to be supportive and be present in people’s lives, being a supportive presence.

Laura: What’s your favorite thing to do in Perry?
Gus: The bike trail.
(Gus will bike to work at Tyson’s in Perry from Dallas Center on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. When he has the opportunity, he’s also biked the trail from Perry to Jamaica.)

Laura: What’s the most impressive thing you can cook?
Gus: Potjiekos—a traditional South African stew. Cooked in a three-legged cast iron pot. Meat—anything, beef, mutton, chicken, chicken curry, or even tripe—and vegetables. Cooked three to five hours over a fire. Some people are very technical about how to cook it. Slow food. Healthy. Lots of social interaction. Sit around the fire and talk.
(Priceless engagement and interaction. We Americans have the short attention span of quick-roasted marshmallows and s’mores around the fire; more social interaction would do us all good. Maybe it happens around some backyard grills or smokers. Not much quality human interaction around a crockpot on a kitchen countertop.)

Laura: What’s the best trait you inherited from your parents/family?
Gus: Being inquisitive.

Laura: What quality do you most appreciate in a friend?
Gus: Vulnerability.

Laura: What do you wish you really understood about Perry?
Gus: More of its history.

Laura: Favorite Perry comfort food?
Gus: Pupusas at La Ventura Salvadorian restaurant.

Laura: When people come to Perry for the first time, what do you think surprises them the most?
Gus: The diversity.

Laura: What’s the one thing that you really wish all Perryites understood about you personally?
Gus: That I care.

Laura: Name one of your talents.
Gus: My cultural experiences or languages.
(Besides English, Gus can speak Portuguese and ChiYao, an African language spoken in the countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique in Southern Africa).

Laura: What was your favorite thing to do on the playground when you were a kid?
Gus: Swings.

Laura: Favorite Iowa day trip?
Gus: Ledges State Park.

Laura: What would you like to be better at?
Gus: Being a friend.

Laura: What is the best movie of all time?
Gus: “Les Misérables”—the 1998 version with Liam Neeson (not the musical).

Laura: What do you look back on and think, “I’d never do that again”?
Gus: No regrets. Most things are a good experience. You learn from them. They shape you and make you more resilient or wiser.

Laura: Person you’d most like to meet.
Gus: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Laura: What is the most scenic landscape you’ve ever travelled through?
Gus: Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

Laura: What piece of your cultural past would you most like to share and spread among Perryites?
Gus: I think what I learned growing up in apartheid South Africa, that systems can be wrong.

Gus is the continual inquisitive learner, seeking wisdom from all experiences and striving to be a supportive presence in people’s lives. Being present, vulnerable, truly listening and interacting—experiencing and sharing our humanity—would, I believe, truly enhance all our lives.

We have so much to learn from others—their experiences, traditions, wisdom. Gus is my inspiration to re-focus on my lifetime journey of truly listening. To do as my celebrity crush Alan Alda does. He doesn’t feel he’s truly listening unless he’s willing to be changed by what the other person is saying.

Non-cook that I am, other humans may have to circle around a pitcher of chocolate martinis on ice—stirred and poured across the hours–with a candle as our fire as we interact and talk, but I think that’s a workable change from slow stew?

To quote Victor Hugo from Gus’s fav “Les Misérables,” “Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

Thanks, Gus, your presence and light in Perry is appreciated.

Laura’s share. What would I like to be better at? Patience. “Get out of the fast lane. You’re out of your league. You’re not my pacer car. Move the bleep over!” Patience is a journey.


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