As I write these words I am celebrating my six-month anniversary of living in Hayward. I find myself feeling increasingly at home and thought it would be good to offer six observations on my first six months in Hayward.
1. Hayward changes in the summertime. Let me rephrase that, Hayward changes a lot in the summertime! Main Street on Feb. 1 would make one wonder if the town had been deserted; fast forward to July 1 and one will find himself stuck in traffic! The restaurants get busy, the lines at the grocery get longer, the seasons change and so does our population!
2. The welcome is real. People in the Hayward area are incredibly welcoming. During my interview process with Hayward Wesleyan Church I recall Sam Moore saying, “Hayward is not a small town where you are an outsider; this is a town where you will be welcomed with open arms.” Sam was right and our family is so grateful to call Hayward home.
3. You have to pick your allegiance. Very early on I was asked by a number of people, “So who do you cheer for, the Green Bay Packers or the Minnesota Vikings?” I soon realized the significance of this decision so I waited for some time before making my final choice. I consulted fans on both sides of the issue and asked, “Should I choose the history of Vince Lombardi or the Purple People Eaters? Should I choose Aaron Rodgers or Kirk Cousins?” Both were tempting, but in the end, I now can proudly say . . . Go, Pack! Go!
4. The water’s edge is good for the soul. I am increasingly finding great enjoyment in a quiet afternoon by the water’s edge. Not only do I find it beautiful but it is good for the soul. Listening to the sound of the waves as they meet the shore reminds me that God does lead us all “by quiet waters” and it is there we can find that our souls are refreshed. There is something about the water that helps me gain perspective on what really matters.
5. Mosquitoes multiply in the summer months. I have lived a lot of places and traveled all over the globe, but I can say with certainty that the number of mosquitoes here are greater than anywhere I have experienced. It seems that just when I have fought back one wave of them a new wave arrives! One evening I learned a hard lesson that fishing without bug spray can result in a full-on mosquito outbreak. I am sure that they have some earthly purpose, but from my perspective I am still wishing that Noah would have swatted those two mosquitoes when they tried to get on the ark!
6. For all of the above observations, I will make this final one. I am reminded almost daily that the needs that we all face in this area are no different than the needs that people face everywhere. The need to be loved. The need to experience grace. The need to forgive and be forgiven. The need for hope. These needs paired with the deep issues that our area faces; opioids, drug addiction and family challenges are all met and answered in the same way . . . Jesus. I am honored and count it a privilege to be just one messenger among many in this area who is doing the very best he can to share the hope of Jesus with this community.
With that I bring this article to a close. I was thinking about going for an evening walk but first I think I’ll apply the bug spray!