September 11 marked the end of our family’s fifteenth year in Steamboat Rock. A large gathering of folks we had never met had unloaded our household belongings off volunteers’ stock trailers before we even arrived. Pam was expecting Chaylie, who is now starting her freshman year at AGWSR. The Highway 20 Bridge had just been dedicated. The two services had recently started sharing the sanctuary because lightning had struck the sound system in the fellowship hall. The church had Sunday evening services but no small group ministry. We had two computers for the church that shared one dial-up internet access. LuAnn Miller was our part-time secretary and Mark Donaldson was the youth pastor. George Folkerts was the janitor; he would make coffee and come in and drink it with me every day. Jim Kramer was the chair of the deacon board. Sandy Trampe was preparing to lead a team of adults and youth to Brazil. Royce Luiken was the moderator who had seen the church through turbulent times while dying of cancer.
The people of this church did so many nice things to welcome us. They had a pantry shower where we were loaded with groceries and TP. We received name-brand sweetened cereal that thrilled our kids. Nathan was our oldest in sixth grade and had to wait to attend youth because all sixth graders were in AWANA. Jani was in fifth grade, Kyle third grade, Jessica first grade, Bethany four years old, and Natalie one year old. With our large family I asked the church to remodel the upstairs of the parsonage to update a bathroom and add another three quarter bath.
My brother-in-law came to the area to visit us at Christmas time and stopped first in Hy-Vee at Eldora. When he came into the parsonage he said, “I think you are going to get your bathroom.” We asked him what he was talking about and he said he overheard people discussing the vote on the bathroom at a table in the Eldora Hy-Vee. One man, I don’t know who, said, “I don’t see why they need another bathroom.”
Another lady at the table asked him, “How many bathrooms do you and your wife have in your house?”
“Three.” The man answered rather sheepishly.
“There you go.” She replied. My brother-in-law after only five minutes in the area had already heard discussion about the intimate areas of our home. Welcome to small town church life.
The bathrooms were changed, the church’s name has changed, the building has changed, the staff has changed, the constitution has changed, the people who make up the congregation have changed, the people who make up our family have changed (Karis was born), but the good work of God in the people of this congregation to welcome others continues. This past Friendly Valley Festival Sunday put God’s work in you on display for the whole community to see: the wonderful speaker that Bryce found for the service, the Nerf Wars Crystal organized for the children, the Evangelism Team and Community Team’s great lay out of the games and meal at the park, the great music served up by Brian and the musicians, the Small Group that served so willingly and joyfully to prepare the meal, the laughing, playing, and visiting together, and all those who helped clean up. What a joy to see you all in action!
I am grateful to have spent over one fourth of my life with this congregation. I look forward to where the Lord will lead us and those he will call to join us in the years to come.