Last weekend Aimee and I headed out to Steubenville for the closing on our new house. The 4 1/2 hour drive was long but well worth it. Aimee was impressed with her first sight of Steubenville. It probably helped that it was after dark! (Downtown and by the river really aren't all that pleasant.) One of the bridges was lit up with blue and white lights and the power plants had so many lights on that it almost looked like a Christmas display.
Aimee was slightly less impressed by daylight when she saw the main street. She commented that everything looked like it was from the 50's and 60's. (There's some truth to that.) She doesn't like the condition of our new road (the actual paving) but that's a complaint that can be heard almost anywhere nowadays. But the house... that's something she really loves. Somehow this house just feels right to each of us. We're towards the end of a little cul-de-sac and when we look out the front window we have a beautiful view of the trees behind our neighbors' houses (from inside the house you don't really even see their houses.) The front porch is great, too. It seems to catch every little breeze that passes by and it's so spacious that we can easily sit out there and chat with our neighbors. And we've been warmly welcomed by our neighbors already.
I loved our first Sunday in the Wintersville Ward. (I keep wanting to call it the Steubenville Ward but technically it's across the city line. Still only 5 minutes away from our house, though!) The building is the weirdest set-up I've ever seen, including a cultural hall that is about 1/3 the size of the ones I've seen. (It has a basketball hoop but I'd be curious to see how they play in that space.) Before Sacrament meeting started we were greeted by quite a few members. They are really excited to have a family move in (apparently that doesn't happen often) and I think the young men were especially interested... since we seem to have the only young single adult woman in the ward! One of the returned missionaries made sure to come by and introduce himself to us, but I get the feeling he wasn't as interested in meeting David and I as he was in meeting Aimee. It was almost like a comedy to sit through Sacrament meeting and see this young man (who is also the Bishop's son) sneaking peeks at Aimee. The Ward has a young single adult Sunday school class and it's mostly young men. Aimee enjoyed being in it and not being in young women's.
The Ward is small and cosy. Our Sunday school class was in the chapel (I don't think they'd have another room for it) and the lesson was great. There weren't many people in class but there was still plenty of participation. Relief Society is held in the "cultural hall" and had a total of 14 sisters (including Aimee and I.) I liked one of their traditions- they keep a large piggy bank on the table up front and sisters put their spare change in it (and collect change from the primary kids, too) to buy gift cards for missionaries at Christmas time. What a cool way to be able to contribute without having to come up with a larger amount of money at one time (which I think would be a struggle for many in the area.)
Aimee likes the new ward already. She has mentioned that there is a lack of focus on outward appearance (again, this is not an affluent area and the lifestyle and clothing reflect that) and it seems to add to the spirituality. I have to admit that I was really impressed with the level of spirituality in all of the meetings. These are good "salt of the earth" type of folks and I feel blessed to be given an opportunity to get to know them. I do wonder whether there are enough ladies to even have a book group, but I hope so!
A couple of things I observed on our visit: people in the area tend to say "you'un" when they're referring to a group of people. Although people are really friendly in person- they are not so nice behind the wheel! Another thing I've noticed is that wine is popular- we were given bottles by our realtor and one of our neighbors. I'm sure we should have spoke up at the moment we received them to let them know we don't drink, but it seems really rude to accept a gift and then turn around and hand it back. I'm sure there will be other occasions to let them know about our standards and beliefs without alienating them right from the start.
I think I'm going to enjoy small town living.