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Joy in the Journey

March 27, 2013

by Linda Beerman
Making a difference! I think that is what living in a small town or rural area has to give. The encouragement, love, sharing, and just those we know and trust being there for us. I grew up in a tiny little village, Bigelow, on the Iowa line, and saw this so many times while living and working there in my father's small grocery store. When someone needed help of any kind, the town and neighbors in the country just rallied around the families. Like a breath of fresh air to those who were down and needed a boost. To help them "keep on keeping on".

Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I moved to the Fulda area in March of 1970. Another small, loving town, with a host of good people who reach out to give a helping hand. Through our years of raising our four children, and another handful of foster children, we have been so blessed by good neighbors, caring teachers, small businesses with big hearts, and just a small town atmosphere that keeps on reaching out. Because we live in the country, we are actually surrounded by several little communities: Wilmont, Iona, and a little bigger, Slayton. We have done business and shared in community celebrations and worship in all of them, and have great memories from each.

This past week was no different. As I attended the fundraiser on Saturday night for the Magnussen family, I witnessed a great outpouring of love, laughter, encouragement, and just plain small town giving for this family who is mourning a great loss. What a testimony to the kindness of the area people, and it gave me joy to watch and feel the pride of those who worked so hard to put it all together. The light of inspiration was shown by young and old as I watched lots of smiles and hugs being shared with so many. Its main focus was for a hurting family, but it rippled out to everyone there as they reconnected with a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance.

Sometimes things happen that remind us "it could only happen in a small town". A few years ago, as I walked into D and M Variety, Mavis Schipper stopped me and said she had some pictures for me. I was confused, as I didn't remember bringing in a film to be developed. She explained that someone had found a roll of film out by the curb and brought it to her. She decided to send it in and see if she could find the owner. As soon as she looked at the finished pictures, she knew they were mine. Pretty humorous...and not something that would happen in a city.

Last spring, while working late at school, I decided to order a burger from Grandma's Kitchen. I told them I would pick it up around nine on my way home. About 9:15 I headed to the drive-in. I was surprised to find it dark and locked up, not realizing that they closed at nine until I got out of the car and read the sign. I felt badly about the order and not being there to pay for it or pick it up. As I turned to leave, I spotted a small, white sack lying on one of the picnic tables! As I got closer, I saw some writing on the sack. "Linda". I immediately began laughing, and couldn't believe that they would have left my order for me to pick up. Before I drove off munching on my burger, I placed my money under a rock by their door! What a hoot..and again, only in a small town! (The next morning I called to apologize and to see if they found my money. They had, and no problem they said. Blessed again...)

Being retired I go on more errands for my farmer husband now. The Feed Shak is one of those places I get into every couple weeks or so, and it is usually filled with men chatting and laughing about all sorts of small town news and gossip. But it never fails that one of them hollers a hello to me when I enter. Then the bantering sometimes begins with good natured conversation. This same kind of friendly communication can occur at the grocery store, gas station, bank, or actually anywhere people are doing business or congregating.

Not only is this interchange fun and light-hearted, but it gives me knowledge many times of people and things that need my attention. Or opportunities for events that I was not aware of. Just another chance to be part of the social graces of small town living! Sometimes a situation comes to my attention that I can reach out and be a blessing to someone else.

I want to wish each of you a very Happy Easter. As you celebrate this special time of year, remember all of the chances you have to be a helpful neighbor and friend in your corner of the world. And may the beauty of the season and miracle of Easter fill Your heart with joy!

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