Ozark Community Christmas

All I can say is that we are SO blessed and privileged to live in Branson where there are SO many top-notch performers!

Okay, so you know I have way more to say than that! Let’s back up to last week! On Wednesday morning we heard the tragic news that our good friend Mendie, from Oklahoma, had died suddenly on Tuesday evening! What a shock! She was only 56 and left behind two children, 13, whom she had adopted and loved dearly. I first met Mendie in one of the laundry rooms here at Treasure Lake over 3 years ago. With similar stories to tell we soon formed a friendship. Once you met Mendie you never forgot her. She was larger than life, loud and the soul of the party/group wherever she was. She was also the junk food queen! She never let us forget the story of the first time she met the kids and offered them some junk food and they commented that they were not allowed to eat junk food. LOL! I wish they would still say that! Ever since that time she did her best to “corrupt” them 🙂 When she would leave Treasure Lake she would load us up with all her leftovers. The kids thought this was great! One time earlier this year we were not in so Mendie filled up our fridge and freezer. When I saw her the next time she laughingly commented how that made her realize how different from them we really did eat. We took it all in good heart and truly loved visiting with her. Just a few weeks ago we were all together again for a campfire and had a great evening. Two weeks ago we saw her for just a few minutes as she brought Hannah a doll.

Today was the funeral. Richard was working but Michelle, myself, Daniel, Hannah and Caleb left her at 6am in order to be at the funeral for 11am. The school gym was packed! It broke my heart to see her kids grieving. Mendie always joked that she didn’t need a guy in her life due to her name – Men-die and so was a single mom. Sad, sad day and a huge loss for many in that very close knit community.

Tonight however was a celebration of Jesus and Christmas! Ozark Community Christmas was the coming together of 3 church choirs and many of the talented artists that are here in Branson. It was the brain child (God inspired) of our pastor. 21 years ago Gary felt impressed to start what is now known as Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City. What started small with various names has now grown to an amazing size. Last February he felt the Lord impressing on him that it was time to bring the community together. (The manager of The Mansion theatre had talked to him quite a while back.)  This was the first event of its kind, FREE and with very little advertising having been done. There were just under 2,000 people gathered at the Mansion Theatre this evening! We had never been to this particular theater before. It is BEAUTIFUL! We got to hear the choirs, Dino, Blackwoods, Oh Happy Day cast, Johnson Strings, Six and more. Truly a wonderful, wonderful way to celebrate this Christmas season and especially special to us after 530 miles on the road and a rough, emotional start.

Putting this show altogether was a huge undertaking but all involved did a GREAT job! The talent in this town is truly, truly incredible. As a family we don’t get out to enjoy and appreciate it nearly enough! If you have never been to Branson for the shows you are missing out!



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