Sunday, July 20, 2014

Making the World a Better Place, One St. Johns-ite at a Time---by Carol Ashton

While browsing on Facebook this quiet Sunday morning, I noticed a post from a young man who grew up in St. Johns. His post indicated that his father had come to the Valley of the Sun in recent weeks to assist in the ordinance of setting apart this young man to serve in a bishopric. The post sparked some ruminating on my part, which piggy-backed on some pondering I have been doing in recent weeks. The questions in my mind seem related:

1. I wonder how many individuals from St. Johns have gone on to serve in positions at work or in their religious life that have impacted the individuals around them?
2. How far does the influence of St. Johns reach, and how many lives have been touched by this small town in Arizona?
3. What was it that brought our family to St. Johns over 40 years ago?

How many individuals from St. Johns have opportunity to make a difference to others? I think there must be hundreds (maybe thousands) of school teachers, coaches, scout masters, music teachers, primary teachers, pastors, military chaplains, mothers and fathers, etc. that have roots in St. Johns and thoseindividuals have sure impacted the lives of others for good.   As I contemplate that list, I am astounded at the strength of character and good that is in the world because of that group of people associated with St. Johns!  Although I only have personal knowledge of those that have passed through or continue to live in St. Johns since the 1970’s, I feel that the legacy of goodness goes back for many generations!

I believe the influence of St. Johns reaches across the world – the community has sent out missionaries and servicemen that have served across the world, hometown boys have served as Solicitor General of the U.S. and had interactions with people from foreign lands, and as President of BYU Hawaii with students from across the globe.   Over the years since I moved away from St. Johns, I have found it interesting that most people I meet and have a conversation with either personally know, or know of someone from St. Johns.  And they have good things to say about those they know – just today in church our speaker related an incident from approximately 20 years ago when someone named Rachel gave daily, Christ-like service to their family.   As he was telling his story, my eyes filled with tears and my heart smiled because I knew that Rachel was a “girl” who grew up in St. Johns and learned all about service from the good people there.

Why did our family choose to settle in St. Johns, Arizona when my husband graduated from college with his Master’s Degree?   Was it the high wages? – certainly not as his salary was $6000 per year!   Was it the availability of wonderful shopping facilities? – hardly, as those shopping opportunities consisted of ESP, Matt’s Circle M, Triple S, St. Johns Drug Store, and maybe a few other small shops.  Was it the beautiful, balmy weather? –no, because the pipes in our rental house froze solid that first winter and a few times after that!  It wasn’t a well-planned or much discussed decision.   I believe there must have been a higher power at work that prompted us to move to this small Arizona town – a power that knew it really would take a village (town) to help us raise our five boys and one girl.   That power knew we would need a town of people with strong character and kind hearts;  a town full of people willing to serve others around them and set a good example for the young people growing up in that little town; a town full of people that would befriend us and make us feel welcome and at home, that would allow us to serve them and grow to love them.  Recently my younger brother paid me a compliment and told me that I had raised some really good kids – in responding to his compliment I realized that I could not take full credit for raising those kids, even my husband and I could not take full credit – some of that credit must be shared with the people of St. Johns who helped raise our kids.

As I look back on the 23 years I spent in St. Johns I can honestly say that my heart will always be tied to that small town of St. Johns and the wonderful people who reside there.   They make the world a better place!

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