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Being a shining light to new neighbors


When I moved from the suburbs of Baltimore, Md. to southwest Missouri 20 years ago, I’ll never forget the impact the area had on my life.

Everyone I met was so layed back and extremely nice. I’ll never forget moving from an area where folks didn’t talk much about God outside of church to visiting with Missourians that made sure to quickly bring Him up in most conversations.

So many people who did not know me wanted me to be successful and accepted me quickly in spite of where I came from. Simply put, in a short amount of time, my exposure to the Ozarks led me to never wanting to move back to the East Coast. Folks here were putting faith, family and service to others at the forefront in how they were living their lives. That was not the main focus taught to people like myself growing up where I grew up.

College was shoved down our throats as a must and quality family life was simply not a focal point.

There was more of a focus on getting ahead and a feeling that a person’s financial status really determines just how happy their family will be. I didn’t find that in the Ozarks and that was so refreshing to me. I was reflecting on how southwest Missouri has so positively impacted my life during and after my recent 27 minute interview with national celebrity Heidi Fleiss for the Jan. 19 issue. I knew when writing the story that many people would have mixed feelings on her coming to Wright County given what many know regarding her past. But I am so happy to report that I’ve read many more positive Social Media posts regarding her relocation to Mansfield than negative ones. And many of the negative posts were more regarding the concern for her macaw parrots and their acclimation to the midwest climate. That’s a fair criticism. I will say Heidi Fleiss is just one of several, and I mean several, transplants that have moved from another state to Wright County over the past year. I have seen countless land transfers showing that we have had a ton of transplants come to Wright County as of late. My hope and prayer is Heidi Fleiss and countless other move-ins to have the same life-changing experience I had nearly two decades ago. May we show God’s love to everyone. May newcomers see the focus on family that makes our area so special. May they too have no desire to move back to a previous home.

Matthew 5:14, 16. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”