It's always interesting, though, going back "home". Malta is like a lot of eastern Montana towns, and has changed a lot in the 20 years since I graduated. Several businesses have closed, changed owners, or burned to the ground. I went to a high school girl's basketball game on Saturday night to watch a classmate's daughter play (she's also the granddaughter of my high school coach). Every time I go to a high school girl's game they look younger and younger. I must be getting older and older! I saw an aunt and uncle, a former boyfriend (8th grade whoo-weee), a former rival--she was friendlier than I've ever known her!!, and a college classmate who was the superintendent of the school Malta was playing. Many of the fans were the same fans that were there when I played. People are generally easy to recognize, if you remember to add gray hair, larger ears and noses, and a few more wrinkles to their earlier faces. Many of my former teachers were still there, still smiling, and still taking tickets and monitoring the doors. There were plenty of new faces, but dressed in Mustang Blue and White, they could have been there 20 years ago too. I had fun looking in the program to find out who was whose kid, and found quite a few of my classmates' kids who were freshman and sophomores. And here I am at 38 with a 2 and a 4 year old!
The thing that is most endearing to me about my visits home (besides seeing my family) is visiting the Malta Community Church. It's a church that's about 100 years old and is a fundamental, conservative (or is that redundant) place filled with people who are like family to me. My piano teacher who has led the choir and directed the music was there. She was my own personal tour guide through the breast cancer process, as she had just navigated her own battle two years before I went through mine. There was my good friend's mom, who was the high school secretary when I was in high school. We spent many an afternoon and Friday night out at there house making pizza for Key Club events and just hanging out. My 4th grade Sunday School teacher and her husband still attend, and I will never forget all she taught me about God's holiness and the reverence which we need to have for the Creator of All. My junior high Sunday School teacher still attends and I still remember my first look into Revelation and the beauty Heaven has just waiting for us. My high school youth group leaders still work with the youth, even though their own kids have graduated and are off in college. And then there are countless people who sang in the choir with me from grade 7 through my occasional visits when I was in college. It amazes me that though they've had 4 different pastors and a major conflict, they remain the most grounded, loving, grace-filled bunch of believers I have ever been around.
It's always a little hard to go home, since the ranch we grew up on has changed hands, and my parents now live in town. But regardless, on Sundays, it always feels just like home in my hometown church.