When I accepted the call from Grace, Holiday Island AR, there were several things I knew would be different from life in New Jersey and I could live with that.
For one thing, the fastest you can drive around Holiday Island is 35 and I’m doing very well with that lower speed limit. There are enough curves in the roads that driving much faster wouldn’t be prudent but I also enjoy looking at the beautiful scenery that presents itself every day.
I knew also that for Barbara and I to do any major shopping we were going to have to drive some distance. There are some shops in our town but for a greater variety we need to go to Berryville (Walmart–about 15 miles), Cassville MO (a better Walmart Supercenter–about 20 miles), or to northwest Arkansas and the stores in Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale, and Fayetteville (anywhere from 40 to 60 miles). What this means is for us is to plan out our shopping trips and to make our lists carefully. Also, we have bought a freezer and that allows us to stock up on items we can purchase for later use. For example, we bought a 10 pound pork lion on sale at $1.98/lb. We divided it up and it now resides in the freezer awaiting our use.
I knew that most residents of our community came from somewhere else too and that offers many opportunities for evangelism. When couples leave their previous way of life behind, they might be more open to considering coming to church once again. Our congregation is blessed with a good number of visitors every week. Many are here just for the week on vacation but a goodly portion of these visitors are seriously thinking about making the move to Holiday Island when it’s time to retire. Our task as a congregation is to be welcoming and responsive to their needs for worship. This past Sunday, we had a young couple from Indiana attend and I learned that this is their third summer vacationing at Holiday Island (but this was their first Sunday while here). They enjoyed worship and I believe we will see them again next year.
But the one thing I was prepared for–and have not yet seen–is really hot weather. We had one day where it got in the mid 90’s. It should be close to 100 by now but that has not been the case. This morning the temperature was in the low 50’s and it’s absolutely delightful outside with the high only in the mid 70’s for today through Saturday. That’s not what it’s supposed to be but I’ll gladly take it!
My wife’s godchild has been with us this past week (we’re taking her back to her home this afternoon) and we’ve done some pretty good things with her. Monday evening we attended the opera. Yes, all you doubters that there is any culture at all in Arkansas, on the west side of Eureka Springs there is a summer camp for operatic students and musicians called “Opera in the Ozarks” which has been functioning for well over 50 years. Men and women from all over the country (most are college age but there was someone in his 30’s who signed up) spend about 2 months learning the craft of opera, basically honing their skills to allow them to move up and along in their careers. Several who have participated in this program are now singing in the operas in New York and around the world. We saw a production by Stephen Sondheim called “In the Woods,” a marvelous mixing up of many of the fairy tale characters (Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk?) which allows the cast to demonstrate their musical skills. Besides the characters on stage there is also 30 piece orchestra playing for them. A very pleasant way to spend the evening.
Even though some things aren’t quite what I expected here in Holiday Island this is a very good place to be.