- First service in the church: I remember Arthur Hensarling would organize some of us young guys to pick up the attendance cards each week. Arthur was like a local grandfather to us kids. I'd get so excited when for Christmas I'd get a $2 bill from him in appreciation for collecting the cards (or at least that's what I associate it with in my memory). He also had the first car phone I ever remember seeing.
- First learned to sing: Now I knew how to sing so when I say "learned" it's not a matter of ability. During worship I would not be singing and I guess my dad was sick of it. I remember one night when he took me out of worship to the "cry" room and had a little talk with me. I don't remember what he said or did (I don't think electrodes were involved), but after that I seemed to have a greater appreciation for singing in worship or at least was on the right road of faking it till it became real.
- First started thinking of baptism: It was at TO that several of my friends and classmates began to make the decision to be baptized. I held off for quite a while as I didn't want to just follow the crowd and do it because they were doing it. I think I ended up waiting too long but eventually came to the proper decision.
- First church politics: Now 5th grade is a bit young to be exposed to such things, but I remember one fund raiser for school selling M&Ms at church. I went to the youth minister and his reason for not buying any from me was that then he would have to buy from all the kids who asked. I guess they weren't paying him the big bucks that youth ministers are getting these days.
- First major wilderness experience: My dad led a group of 4th-8th grade boys on a week long canoe trip on the Minnesota/Canada border. I remember rowing to the chant of "Coke" across the final lake before the pickup point. My dad always recites this line about "We're talking mist, we're talking fog". It was a great experience which we later repeated with a group from the church in Phoenix.
Most of my clear memories from Dallas revolve around my bestest friend Brian Davis who I have recently had the joy of reconnecting with thru Facebook. We met for lunch for the first time in over 10 years this summer and it was like we never were apart. The memories just flowed back. It was great to see him and his family at the reunion. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever find that Papa Smurf car.
Several of the people at the reunion I had encountered at Harding. But some of them I hadn't seen in 23 years. It was great to reconnect with them. I didn't spend much time at TO, but I could tell that those who had through the years were touched in great ways through their love for God and each other.