Today is the third birthday of January for my kids so we took our daughter to breakfast this morning and then to the hay auction at the local feed store. Nothing says happy birthday to a little girl like standing outside in the cold for an hour watching people bid on hay! We aren't desperate for hay but we thought it might be nice to get some grass hay rather than feeding the critters a straight alfalfa hay which is kind of rich and a bit of overkill. The cow doesn't much care what she eats although the sheep and horses are a little pickier. So we stopped by to see the action. We bid on a few lots but ended up not buying anything, the prices were not to our liking, but in a hour or so we got to talk with a bunch of people.
In the time we were there. we got to talk to a couple of brothers we already know. One guy is the auctioneer and is borrowing our Jacob sheep ram and we are "test driving" an Appaloosa gelding that we might buy. He is formerly Amish and has lots of connections in the community. The other guy is someone we met at a Mennonite church and have bought hay from a few times. We also got to talk to a couple of other men. One just moved here and is also a former Amish guy who has come to Christ and meets with the large fellowship that is mostly people with a similar background in the area. He has nine kids and the oldest is 16! As a side note, it is nice to live in this area for a lot of reasons, not least because there are so many families that look sort of like ours. We are not the only huge family with a fifteen passenger van. My wife is not the only woman around who covers her head. When we went to breakfast this morning several women at the restaurant were covered, as we were leaving a van of younger Mennonite ladies were arriving and as we drove by again heading home there was yet another van load arriving. Far from being an oddity, we kind of fit right in! The other man we spoke with at the hay auction was a younger fellow who still dressed in the Amish fashion but was very outgoing and was talking to everyone he could. I overheard a conversation he was having with an Amish guy in his mid twenties and for some reason they were talking about the Milky Way. The Amish guy was looking at the other guy like he had three heads, it looks like he had never even heard of what we would call basic astronomy terms. It just struck me funny. Anyway we had a nice conversation with him as we were bidding on hay.
Most Saturdays this wouldn't happen. My wife and I would go to breakfast and then come home to do our own thing. I am usually OK with that. My preference is to just be home. I am perfectly happy to hang around in my house or going out to work with the livestock or perhaps taking a nap. Although that is my preference, it is just kind of selfish. The weekends are prime time to get out and meet people, making connections with other Christians and meeting people who need to know Christ. It is kind of unlikely that people are just going to wander in to our house (although we do get a fair number of visitors!). We really need to get out more and not let apathy set in. Granted we know a lot of people in our area, far more and far more quickly than really anywhere else we have lived but I still want to get to know even more. The first step to community is knowing people and in our culture that is going to require some effort. We were talking the other night with the auctioneer we know in one of our outbuildings and he commented that it would be a great place to gather the church. He is right! It is fairly large and open (except for the stuff we have stored in it!) and has a very nice heater that warms it right up. My wife and I talked at breakfast this morning about having some potluck meals out there very soon and inviting people from lots of different church groups in the early afternoon (Bean, you interested?) and I am eager to give that a try.
I am thankful to God for today, thankful for the Christians we met and for the time to reconnect with others. With half the day to go I would encourage you to seek out a place where you can meet new people or get in touch with others you already know but haven't see in a while. It is hard when for many of us Saturday is the only day we don't go to work or gather with the church but that is what makes Saturdays such a great time to get out, especially with people you don't normally meet with on Sunday. We make community too formal and complicated at times but it still takes some effort. That effort is well worth it!