Growing up, I had the opportunity to work for the City of St. Johns for two years. On the side of the city vehicles it reads, "Town of Friendly Neighbors," Never did that message ring more true to me than during my senior year, a year that I’ll never forget.
In January of 2003 my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. What happened next was nothing short of amazing from this “Town of Friendly Neighbors.” Before I had even heard the news of the diagnosis, I heard our doorbell ring. Much to my surprise, someone was dropping off food for my younger sister, brother, and me. And, for the rest of my senior year, that doorbell never stopped ringing. People came from every direction with food, support, and a helping hand. For several months, it was just the three of us at home during the week while my mother cared for my father in the Valley. During that entire time, there wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t have a warm meal to come home to. It still gives me chills just thinking about it! I’ve never seen such generosity before. And at the hospital, my father’s room was always filled with letters of encouragement and support, words that meant so much to my father and our family.
A few days after he was hospitalized I had an away basketball game. The roads were slick that night, so the team slept over in Flagstaff. The next morning, on our drive home, I thought it was interesting that we hadn’t stopped for food or that no one was eating. I remember leaning over to ask a teammate, and he smiled and told me that the St. Johns Stake and others were fasting for my father. My simple response to that is, “That’s St. Johns for you.” That’s the kind of people that we have here, selfless individuals constantly looking out for their neighbors. I will forever be grateful to the people of St. Johns for what they did for my family that year. We hear of courageous and aspiring people in the news and across the world. And yet, right here, the small town of St. Johns is full of them.
You often wonder why? Why go out of your way like this. My younger brother, sister, and I were old enough to cook and take care of ourselves. Then why did people come with a helping hand? I feel this next part answers that.
J Golden Kimball, a general authority, speaking of this people of St. Johns, said in a central conference address given in Salt Lake City, “I would like to take you on a trip down to Arizona in the St. Johns country. I preached faith there once but I want to tell you I haven’t enough faith to stay in such an undesirable country. You talk about good people, you talk about righteous people, I can tell you there are people in this city who are not worthy to unlatch their shoestrings. That hard country, and their obedience to God, has made those men of great characters. You can’t discourage them…that is their home; that is their country; there they worship God."
I’m proud to have grown up in St. Johns. I’m privileged to be among such a God-like people. It truly is a “Town of Friendly Neighbors.”
By Adam Patterson