Recently I traveled to the Kansas City area for a family reunion for my wife's side of the family. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. We have done this for the past 14 years, but this year was the most enjoyable and satisfying that I can remember. My in-laws own 80 acres in a town called Pleasanton 60 miles south of Kansas City. Their property is beautifully situated in the hills of eastern Kansas. Their modest farm house sits atop a sizable hill which overlooks a stunning view of a spring fed lake. My kids love the fishing and the whole outdoor experience that their grandparents provide for them each and every year. The landscape is full of heavily treed areas that provide a sort of secure feeling all around the borders of the farm and most importantly privacy. The grass and shrubbery cover all the surface soils and create beauty for all to enjoy.
I wanted to paint just a small picture of the area so you could empathize with what my wife has sacrificed to live here. Describing her parents farm I should have said just picture everything opposite of St. Johns!!! LOL Although I was in this perfect little retreat to spend a week with nature and enjoy myself (which I did), I wanted to share what I enjoyed most of all.
My wife's family is quite large and so for weeks leading up to our trip I dreaded all of us being packed into the farmhouse like sardines. Funny enough, what I dreaded the most is what I really ended up enjoying most of all. One night while we were all gathered together in the family room, Grandpa Hinds called all his Grand Children together, because he wanted to tell them a story which essentially turned into him bearing His testimony about the power of God. The story he shared came from an experience from his younger years when he first was married. It was awesome to see the kids silent as they watched tears fall from their grandfathers eyes as he told them that God was real and his power was a reality. This set the mood and spirit for the rest of the evening. I remember it being very calming and peaceful as I sat and pondered what was shared while I looked out the big window facing the north. The view from the hilltop is spectacular especially as the sunlight begins to fade as it moves below the horizon. As the time went on Keirsten and her Brothers sat around the room and begin to sing hymns about the restoration and the Savior. She has six brothers and all of them sing, thanks to her Father who encouraged(forced) them to develop this talent as they grew up. I was embarrassed as i sat gazing out the window as tears from the spirit wouldn't stop building in my eyes. My heart was full of gratitude at that moment for my in-laws for raising such good children. Six eagle scouts and six full-time missionaries and one temple worthy daughter. The fact that my children and my nieces and nephews could listen to the music and feel the spirit was so sweet. It carried power to their hearts because of the blessing of experiencing it in their grandparents home. This was an unforgettable moment for me and made me feel ashamed that I had complained about having to be cramped up with these truly awesome people!
I wanted to share this because their are many, many people, that have moved here that have come from similar circumstances that have so much to offer. I am truly grateful to all of those people that have come here from all over to bless SJ. I know it can be very difficult to be a transplant here. I hope we can all reach out to our neighbors and get to know them better and discover who they really are and help them feel welcome. St. Johns is a special place that provides peace and security, take notice during the fiestas and the pioneer days celebration how many people travel back here to feel the spirit this town creates and carries. St. Johns has always been a special place from the beginning of time. The arrowheads scattered throughout the surrounding hills and valleys have left a true stone record from the first people to settle here up to the present. This record starts with the earliest Clovis settlers to the Folsom men down through archaic periods to the natives that were here when Coronado came through in the 1500's. Why were they here? What drew them to the St. Johns area? The water of the little Colorado river and surrounding springs were most definitely a draw and provided sustainability for them and their families.
Modern times are no different, the sustainability of the water brought the Spanish through here and created the strong Hispanic culture still here today with a deep Christian values and principles. The river also enticed the later Mormon Settlers to plant roots here and provided sustainability for families in the high desert of eastern Arizona. They constructed the dam at Lyman to provide a reservoir of water to draw from during the growing season that is still utilized today to grow everything from crops, lawns, orchards and vegetable gardens. Now that St. Johns is established, why do people still come here?
Many people in the area today are a direct result of the natives who were originally here, the Spaniards that came through or the Mormon pioneer ancestors. And even more have moved here and are not linked to the past of SJ. So many awesome people have moved here that have helped shape, develop and preserve our small town life. All the details of how St. Johns was founded are very interesting but really the only thing that matters is...it is established and it is here. It is my prayer that in the future SJ will continue to draw people here to carry on a tradition of peace and security for all time and throughout all eternity!