American communities are not what they used to be. Today’s college graduate changes jobs about a dozen times in his career. Since he changes jobs every few years he usually finds himself moving every few years. And since he figures he won’t be with his neighbors for long he seldom takes the time to get to know them.
It wasn’t that way when my family moved to Fort Worth in 1966. Four different welcoming committees came to visit from four different churches - all asking whether we had found a church home. Our first batch of mail was hand-delivered by the postman. When he rang the doorbell he introduced himself and asked “Have you found a church home yet?”
We eventually found a church but it was not the home of any of the four groups that came to visit. They must have all written off their visits as losses. But that was far from the truth. In fact, my mother was so moved by their hospitality that she began regular church visitation as soon as she joined a church. She kept doing so after we moved to Houston.
Soon after we arrived in Houston my mother developed a clever plan to keep from missing any new visitation opportunities in the area. She went down to the Clear Lake Water Authority and copied all of the new addresses of people who had just opened new accounts. This was all done by hand as it was before the era of word processing and personal computers.
In 1969, mom’s visitation paid particularly good dividends as she met her closest friend for life, Lisa Chambers. Our whole family became friends with their whole family. In fact, the friendships endure to this day. There were many more friendships formed in the process. We still get Christmas cards from people who joined the church for whom mom was visiting.
Of course, there are the untold numbers of people we never hear from but whose lives were affected nonetheless. My mother knew from experience to never write them off as losses. I hope by chance that one of them is reading these words today. If so, thanks so much for seeking us out and welcoming us when we moved to Fort Worth.
When my folks finally retired and moved to Huntsville there were fewer opportunities for visitation. There weren’t many people moving into the very small neighborhood in which they retired so mom stopped doing these visitations regularly. But, one day, a different kind of welcoming took place in their little neighborhood.