This is always a special time of year for our family. It was seven years ago that the phone interview process was just about to culminate in our first trip from Monrovia, Calif., to Marion. Dani and I were excitedly preparing for our face-to-face meeting with the members of the Pastor Nominating Committee and our first experience in small town, rural America. Bill Darrow had taken measures to make sure that we knew we were not coming to a place like Southern California. For that we were grateful.
The nominating committee had strategically planned for our visit to coincide with Art in the Park. We stayed at the Outdoors Inn at the lake, and Saturday morning we went to the church and then walked down to the park. Members of the Christian Church were giving out water to people walking by. Coming from SoCal, we weren’t used to seeing A) free parking and B) free water. The park was packed and the crafts were fun to see.
Some things that stood out to me were a football player asking Deanna Thierolf to tell coach he was sorry for missing a play the night before, tasting my first ever bierock, the beauty of the park and the town, and especially the friendliness of the community. Everywhere we went people were very friendly to us.
The reason I am taking you on this trip down memory lane is because it is a reminder that we have a couple very important weekends coming up, the first being Art in the Park. Between that and Old Settlers’ Day, we are opening up our community to show it off to people who are stepping foot in it for the first time.
We never know who is strolling through the park. Is it someone who is making a decision about whether or not this is a place they will be raising their family? Or is it someone looking for a good deal on a machine part that has been painted to look like a sunflower? Is it a spouse looking to be impressed by where his or her significant other was raised? Or is it a family that is visiting because they heard our parades toss out the most candy at spectators?
Regardless of who is venturing into our community these next few weeks, let’s put our best foot forward to show friends, family, and strangers that Marion is a town where people care about one another and where the future is bright! Seven years ago we saw that, and we are thankful we did!