This morning Dave and I talked about a news story which I’ve posted below. We each had a bit of a different take on it and we would love to know your thoughts. I’ll give you each side of our opinions.

Suzanne – I moved from the east coast 17 years ago to little Harrisburg which had about 700 people at the time. And yes, it was tough making friends at first. People are very private in the midwest, but I didn’t see it as their job to embrace me, this new person. I volunteered a lot, got involved with the community and eventually felt like I belonged. It took me reaching out and making efforts, saying hi and introducing myself. Did this couple  really give this North Dakota town a fair shake?

Dave – Being a newcomer, shouldn’t they be welcomed with open arms? And I mean more than just a “welcome to the neighborhood” basket, but people making a genuine effort to develope a relationship.

Here’s the news story from the AP:

HAZELTON, N.D. (AP) _ THE ONLY FAMILY LURED BY A TINY NORTH DAKOTA TOWN’S PROMISE OF CASH AND FREE LAND SAYS IT PLANS TO LEAVE HAZELTON, NORTH DAKOTA. MICHAEL AND JEANETTE TRISTANI SAY THEY WERE PREPARED FOR THE BITTER WINTERS, BUT WERE TREATED AS OUTSIDERS. THEY HOPE TO RETURN TO FLORIDA.

8 Responses to "Family leaves midwest feeling like "outsiders""

  • Rachael says:

    Good morning,

    I caught your last discussion regarding the family that didn’t feel welcomen and it struck a chord with me. I moved back to the midwest from Denver and am now living in a town of 500 people. I am newly married and a pastor’s wife which, at first, made me feel like I might as well have been from a different country. The town I live in has pains that go deep and families keep to themselves. I anticipated that “small town” would be very friendly and that neighbors and the community would be welcoming and warm. I have learned that they need to be reached out to just as you said, however it’s not because they don’t care, there is an element of trust. The more I have gotten to know some of these people and asked them real questions about WHO they are, the better they have responded. In a small town, people just “know” you but it’s only based on observations and gossip…some of the gossip goes back several years. To give them an opportunity to truly share has proved to me that they need to experience real community and I am only able to do that thanks to the love of Christ that I have to choose daily. I know now that if there is a new family, that I do desire to reach out, but it’s because I had to learn how to do it first.

    Praise God for His love for only through Him can we experience true community and fellowship!

    Thank you for all you do!

    Rachael

  • Rob says:

    Like everything else in life…everything in moderation 🙂
    The people from Florida have to make just as much of an effort as those in the community. “Love others as you love yourself.” So many in today’s society want everything for nothing, and that things will just be given to them. Good relationships, family or friends, has to be worked at. God gives us experiences to grow from, and if the people in the North Dakota community want people to come there, they need to be inviting. On the other hand, if the people from Florida want to feel welcomed, they need to be welcoming and also need to make an effort. Whether moving across town, or across the country, all need to have open arms. It’s hard to give a hug when one’s arms are crossed.
    God Bless!
    Rob

  • Debra says:

    We moved to a small town several years ago and the experience has been very difficult. People were friendly but didn’t neccessarily want to be your friend. When you are considered an “outsider”, that definition being, you were not raised in the community nor do you have relatives in the area.
    Our children have found great friends over the years but we have struggled. Finally, we started to pray that God would bring into our lives other “outsiders” who also felt the need for community and PTL we have a found friends who we can grow in our faith with and be friends, not just friendly, there is a vast difference. Opening our eyes to the needs around us helps in connecting with people and yet there is a trust issue. Many people in small towns, from what I call “closed communities”, are comfortable with the way things have always been, the way they know people and much of it unfortunately is through gossip. I have stopped attending even some church events because of the gossip that went on, which all seems veiled with a “we are concerned” about this person. I’m reading a book right now by Larry Crabb, The Safest Place on Earth, a great read and opens your eyes to the real community God has for us and yes, it starts with each individual and our personal relationship with Christ and then being open and authentic with one another.

  • Debra says:

    I think Hazelton has a little bigger responsibility to make these people feel welcome. They invited them to their town. It is like inviting someone into your home and not making them feel welcome. But there does come a time that the “house guests” must make an effort also because they become part of the “family”.

  • Brenda says:

    If you want your church to grow you need to be welcoming to all. It should never matter what their walk in life is. If you want your town to grow you should also be welcoming. As Christians we often want to see our congregations grow and we reach out. Small towns want to survive. They need to take a stance and provide some of the welcoming.

    It is hard for some to do the reaching. Everyone has difficulties in life and often do not trust. Our society has become one of non trust. I believe that communities, be that a small town or a church community, need to make an effort to be welcoming. It is only then that trust can eventually be built. We need to be like Jesus and put aside being judgemental and love everyone.

  • suzanne says:

    I see both sides. I have been in both shoes. I have had moments of many friends and moments of very few. AND being involved in the community is most definitely a big factor in the equation. I do however feel there are prejudices and it appears that people who move to the community who are executive or upper income people definitely have an easier time with fitting in. It is amazing how people flock around those whom they think are upper income versus those who work hourly, factory jobs. HOWEVER the key like anything else in life is Prayer and faith… Pray about it. Ask God for divine friendships. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit WILL guide you. Praying about it to God, He will open and bring about the opportunities as part of God’s plan. Not by our wanting to steer the boat. I feel I should be able to mingle with the upper income. BUT is that God’s plan? Maybe I would be more of an influence in advancing the kingdom of God somewhere in the middle. Our lives, spirituality, passions, attitudes, personalities, and life experiences make us who we are. We need to allow those things to lead us as well. We go through the things we go through for a reason. Currently, I am led to the middle ground. I have some friends in upper income some in lower income and some in the middle. BUT it is definitely not by feeling welcomed amongst these different groups. I pray, I pray and I pray. I ask for guidance and the Holy Spirit leads me into action. Sometimes to just lay low and others to dig in……..

    Pray for divine friendships and ask to be lead to the little niche you belong. Sometimes what we want and what God wants are two totally different things. I am learning the more I follow my heart the more I feel welcome. Because MY IDEA of fitting in and God’s Idea of fitting in are two different things. ONCE I figured that out. MY life is A LOT more fulfilling……Sherry

  • Cheryl says:

    I agree with Suzanne about this family making the effort to make friends. I have moved 16 different times and have lived in two countries, 4 states and 10 different towns and cities; the biggest being Sioux Falls and the smallest having a population 450. Being the new person in town everyone knows who your are, but their history is with who they grew up with. Becoming one of the group never really happens. When you are with more than one person their history is from birth and yours may be only months. No matter how much time you put into making friend you will always feel like an outsider. It’s worse for teenagers because of the experiences they have can not be understood or the small town kids just do not understand what it is to leave everyone you know and start over. Adult can find common ground to build relationships with.

  • Michael says:

    this is the son of those parents from ND who’s moving now…. and we DID make an effort to reach out to the town, but no one wanted us just because we’re from somewhere else… as we tried to open a business no one wanted it around… u guys that are writing “They should have reached out to the community” we did but no one wanted us either because we’re of a different race or from somewhere else

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