When Trinity’s members move away or aren’t able to make it to Trinity anymore for various reasons, there’s a ministry developed specifically to reach out to them. Just like the old AT&T slogan, “Reach out and touch someone,” Trinity volunteers are calling people who would like to stay in touch with things going on at church…and beyond.
Once a month, a Trinity volunteer calls a person who has agreed (or requested) to be on the call list. Sometimes the conversation involves what is happening at Trinity; sometimes, the two people end up chatting about life in general. A connection is made through a simple phone call, and that is priceless.
Dan Billings is one of the volunteers who calls three people each month. He likes to call mid-month and talks to one person from out-of-state and two from in or near Mason City. Billings said, “I’ve been doing this at least a couple years. They like me to call and get a little information about Mason City and what’s been going on. At the end of each conversation, I tell them I’ll call back each month if they want me to, and they always do!”
One person Billings speaks to monthly is Ordale Frandle from Atchison, Kansas. Frandle used to live in Mason City and still has many friends here. He said, “I started going to Trinity in 1960, switched and went to Clear Lake for a few years, and then came back.” He moved to Kansas because his son lives there, and he no longer has family living in Mason City. His son helps take care of him and Frandle appreciates seeing him every other day instead of only a couple times a year. “We shoot the breeze in the garage,” Frandle laughed.
Although Kansas seems to agree with Frandle, being 350 miles away from Mason City makes him miss it a little. He said he really enjoys the conversations he has with Dan Billings, especially because “Dan knows a lot of the people I do!” They never knew each other before this phone ministry, but they have been lucky enough to meet face-to-face a couple of times when Frandle came back to Mason City during the summer. That trek used to occur twice each summer, “but time gets away now that I’m 88,” Frandle said. “I still drive, though! I need my morning coffee…except I don’t have coffee anymore. I drink hot tea!”
One thing about Trinity that Frandle really enjoyed when he was here was the outside service in the summer. He also appreciated Pastor Kathy so much when she was here. He shared, “Dan and I talk about most everything…how church is going…and what Pastor Kathy is doing!”
Mason City and Trinity Lutheran Church will always hold a special place in his heart. Frandle said, “When I farmed, I lived in one place. When I quit farming, I moved all over. I’ve lived in Arizona, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin. I like Iowa the best. I’m an ‘Iowegian!’”
Even in Kansas, Frandle feels very close to home. “This is kind of funny,” he explained. “I live in a place called ‘Trinity Place,’ and right next door is the Trinity Lutheran Church!” For an “Iowegian” who lives in Trinity Place, Trinity’s Visitation Ministry has made an impactful connection…and will continue doing so.
This 62-year member of Trinity also had a “lovely visit” from a Trinity volunteer caller just last week. A long-time resident of Mason City, Dutcher now lives in Mesa, AZ, with her family. “We just started chatting about Trinity from the time I answered the phone,” Colleen Dutcher said. “It’s so nice Trinity continues to keep in touch with me. I really appreciate being asked about how I’m doing and how I’m getting along.”
Dutcher talked about her upcoming 96th birthday in late December…and taking almost four weeks to get her Christmas cards written. Just finished with her 102nd Christmas card, she said, “When you’ve lived almost 96 years…I have a lot of friends!” Several Trinity members are her long-time friends, and she talked about receiving calls, cards, and notes from many of them on a regular basis.
Marge Baack is one of those people who talks to Dutcher every week, even letting her know when the Iowa Hawkeyes are playing. With her reminder last weekend, Dutcher said she watched games from 2:30 until 6:30 PM on the Big 10 channel in her family’s great room. She is an avid fan of basketball, Caitlin Clark, and people in general. “I’m so blessed to be feeling so good and so well cared for by my family!” she exclaimed. “I thank the Lord! For some reason, He’s keeping me going!”
One thing she appreciates in her Arizona life is being able to watch Trinity’s church services on YouTube. Between that and the connections she makes almost daily with so many Trinity members, Dutcher is certainly an example of “Once a Trinity member, always a Trinity member!” Sharing stories of how it feels to be almost 96, having a birthday so close to Christmas, and staying in touch with friends (and even three of her first kindergarten students whom she taught in her 2nd year of teaching!), Dutcher said, “You just never know what Crazy Colleen will do!” Thanks to Trinity’s phone ministry for being “wonderful,” according to “Crazy Colleen!”†