Saturday, March 14, 2009
I moved to DeLand, FL in January. I was excited to serve God in my new assignment. We have a nice home, nice church and nice community among nice neighbors. My first day in the home before my family arrived I noticed two people cutting through my yard. Jerry and Bob are there names. They came right up to my back door and said are you new to the neighborhood? I told them I was and Jerry ( who I decided was a women and not a man after a few minutes) said, you have a nice dog. I said thanks. I noticed they were carrying a heavy bag of beer.Within the next few days Jerry made a habit of cutting right through my back yard and coming back about 30 minutes later with a bag of beer. Well, within a few short days I realized Jerry and Bob had a addition and my yard helped them get to the source faster than the road. When my wife and kids got to Deland I wondered how this was going to work and had decided that Bob, Jerry and I needed to talk soon about my yard as a short cut. One morning my oldest daughter Chelsea said, “Dad who is THAT PERSON WALKING THROUGH OUR YARD? ” I said, oh that’s just Jerry, she going to the store. Well, I knew I had to get this short cut deal nipped and especially so now with a 6 and 10 year old that like to play outside in the backyard. When I confronted Jerry about finding another way to the store besides ‘MY Back Yard’ she seemed a little put out and told me all her reasons why she needed the shortcut. Well, being the man of compassion I am, I told her, Sorry, but that’s your problem and this is my yard. Jerry was kind enough to comply and probably now gets a little more exercise as I see her walking the streets now often. So now my problems are over until about 3 weeks later when….Three weeks later about 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight I decided I was going to bed early one night. When all of a sudden I hear the front door bell ring! Thinking it is someone I know I head to the door and open it to find a woman between age of 26-30 acting scared and asking me for money for gas. She said she needed it for her car that ran out in front of my house on her way to Denny’s to work. She also told me she was a single mom with two kids and needed gas to get to work. I thought as fast as I could on my feet. My first thought was ‘no money’ and my second thought was ‘is this real or scam?’ Then when she asked for $10.00 I thought, let me just pump her gas for you down the street. So I said, “miss go to the gas station around the corner and I will meet you there in a couple minutes”. She said, I think I got enough gas to get there”. Out of gas and enough gas to get there! I thought this should be interesting. After going to 3 gas stations and looking for this frantic mom I decided she was scamming people who just wanted her off their doorstep and $10.00 was an easy solution to getting someone late off the porch, well at least for some, but not me.I told Becky about who was at the door and she thought people must know this is a pastor’s home or something, but I think there are just strange things happening in this great town of normal people. So now we are here over two months when we have my oldest daughter’s boyfriend from out of state come visit for a weekend and friends from our old home visiting the same weekend. After our Sunday evening service about 9:30 p.m. the 5 teenagers decide to go for a walk. I told them to go just a few blocks down and you should be fine. I told the young man with the 4 girls to take the family dog for a walk with them as well. I figured all is well and harmless, especially with a dog. Harmless until I get a frantic call from my 14 year old telling me that are being beat up and chased just down the street. My first reaction was “are you kidding” and then I knew it was serious. I jumped in my car only to leave the other mom’s wondering if they were dead or something as I did not stop long enough to tell them anything my daughter was telling me.The short version of this story is that two older teen girls and two men in a black car pulled up and taunted them to fight them while walking the dog. They resisted and ran and two of them got attacked and my poor dog even got kicked over. They did get away and no blood was shed, but it was a strange thing. We filled a report with the police and the officer assured me it was one of the safest neighborhoods in DeLand. We laughed as we retold and reheard the details and all ended up ok.A few days later I told this story to some pastors at a local clergy meeting, only to be re assured that DeLand is a great city and that the event the teens experienced was highly unusual. They said the same thing the police said. So I spent several days telling my girls it was ok to walk the streets and it was just a weird thing. I even told a two hour walk with my dog all over the streets and neighborhoods last night to have a fully enjoyable walk and decided this great town. Until…..That’s right, until yet another strange thing happened tonight. I was sitting in the living room on my pc when I heard the doorbell ring at 11:15 PM. My first thought was, I wonder who this could be this late at night. Then my next thought was I am not just opening the door this time. So I turned on the porch light and this young black woman about 22 dressed nice who did not seem drugged or desperate stands there looking at me through the glass hole in my door. I said through the door, “what do you want”? She said, do you have a wife? Well, I wonder what she has in mind if I answer yes or no. I decide to go for the, ‘what do you want question again’ and stay in the drivers seat on this deal. Eventually she said I need to talk to women as it is a women problem I have. In notice she is dressed nice with either a cell phone or walkman in her hand and still wanting to talk to a woman. I finally said, why did you come HERE? Basically why me, why this house? I finally told her to go to the police department, only to have her say she did not know where it was. I said I don’t know either and go away please. So she turns away and heads down the street.My girls come up and say, “dad who was that?” and of course I told them the details and one of my girls said we never had people even come to the door where we use to live on Halloween and here people are just strange apparently all year. Or at least we have gotten our share in two months.I like DeLand and I do think it is a nice safe area, but on my street there seems to be some strange happenings and I wish I could figure out if I have just been sheltered for far two long a time or if what I am calling Strange Things in DeLand are just normal to most people in most small towns and I am a getting to play catch up in my first few months in town.