I was going to write about an elaborate metaphor that included me cutting my finger. Instead, I decided to express gratitude to everyone in this amazing community and tell the villagers who I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to much a little bit about me. I have probably the most common name in the USA. John Henry Smith. I was born in Amarillo, TX and grew up on a farm just outside of a tiny town called Panhandle, TX. I went to the United Methodist Church in my hometown, it was such a notable building. Right off of Main Street there is a massive red brick building that catches the eye of anyone rolling through town. The population of my hometown was about 2100 so we were a very tight knit community. I hadn’t seen much of anything except some lakes and mountains in Oklahoma and Colorado.
When I was in 6th grade my mom came home one day and called a family meeting. My mom works for Chevron Phillips and my Pops was a diesel mechanic. My big brother was about to graduate high school and attend Oklahoma State. Anyways, she proceeded to ask me, my father, and my big brother if we wanted to move to Doha, Qatar. I had no clue what this Doha place was, so my mom pulled a map out and pointed to a tiny peninsula jutting out into the Persian Gulf. I was immediately on board. Next thing I know, small town farm boy John Henry Smith had landed in this strange land and it’s 120 degrees every day. This experience opened my eyes to the world. I got to meet Koreans, Indians, Dutch, British, Ukrainians, Egyptians, and many other people from a plethora of cultures. I met people of many different religions and soon learned that regardless of your religion, love was the key factor in our lives.
After a year of living there, we moved back to the farm. I came back to the states with a whole new perspective. High school was a great experience for me. I played in the band, football, basketball, track, and golf. I enjoyed staying busy, it kept me out of trouble. I graduated and attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO for a year. After quickly realizing how expensive school is, I moved back to Texas to get closer to my family and get cheaper schooling. I ended up in Conroe, TX.
When I moved to Conroe, something felt empty inside of me. Being young and dumb I tried filling this hole with drugs and alcohol. Before I knew it, I was addicted to drugs and I had been living there for 4 years. Then the moment that changed everything happened. I was moving and had all my possessions in my car when I was in a car accident and lost everything I owned to a blazing fire. This was the turning point for me. This is when I met my roommate and my brother Vincent. I had known him for not even 2 months when he asked me if I wanted to move to Tucson with him and 2 others. I had nowhere else to go and no clue what to do so I was on board to get out of Texas and start fresh. Tucson has been such a place of healing for me. I lived here for six months and The Holy Spirit started communicating with me. Basically, I got hit by a leaf in the face, read some poetry, heard church bells, and that’s what led me to The Village.
As the majority of you know, I got baptized last Sunday. I’m so happy to have found a community that welcomed me with open arms. The healing this church has provided me was exactly what I needed. It has been such a journey that landed me here and placed all of you in my life. For that, I am eternally grateful. I feel a certain responsibility to take the healing The Village gave me and spread it to every soul I meet. It’s amazing how when you open your ears and actually listen to what the Spirit is trying to tell you, your life starts making sense. The emptiness inside of me has been getting smaller. I am 100% on board to take what this community has given me and spread it throughout the city, one person at a time.
I just wanted to give everyone a pretty wrapped up version of my life. Of course I could go on and I left out quite a bit, but I would like to invite everyone to feel free to ask me about more details. I am so grateful to have this church behind my back in such a scary world. So, I thank each and every one of you. Have a happy Halloween and may peace be upon each and every one of you.