Background picture Clubhouse, Pool, Fran's Business Card and Fran 1997

GODíS CALL by Frances M. McCrory Meservy May 1992

Al and I drove through so many Mobile Home Communities we lost count. Some were OK while others were kind of trashy and some needed maintenance.

When we got to Cottonwood Grove, we were impressed. The lots were a combination of large (50í X 110í) and small (36í by 110í). Every lot was clean, mowed and trimmed. There were 8í X 8í wooden/shingled barn sheds on each lot. There were privacy fences along 44th street to render privacy for the tenants from the traffic. Each lot had 2 parking spaces and a patio (could be used as 1 more parking space. Some were landscaped with shrubs, flowers and decks. Almost every lot had a cottonwood tree on it.

The brick clubhouse consisted of a large carpeted room with a corner fireplace and nice furniture were the tenants could have parties at no charge. The other side of the building was an office and two bathrooms with a water fountain in the hall for the tenantís convenience.

Behind the clubhouse was a pool with tables and chairs around it enclosed in a black wrought Iron fence. It had clean, clear and almost blue water. Behind the pool area was a childrenís playground that consisted of a wooden swing set with a slide attached. Under the equipment was a huge sandpit. There were park benches on each side where parents could sit and watch their Children.

There was a huge concrete parking lot where people parked their RVs and boats. Mailboxes on one side and a garage on the back of the parking lot located next to the gate side of the pool. The storm shelter entrance was next to the parking lot and there were Mock Pear Trees here and there around the whole grassy area.

Not only was the community pleasing to the eye, it was also well maintained. There were only a few children playing in their yards. The community was surrounded by wheat fields and had a small pond with a walkway across it. The pond area was shaded by trees and fenced.

There were no loud noises and the few dogs we saw were in a fence or on a chain. Most of the dogs were small; but there was a Doberman on one street and two Dobermans on the lot across from the clubhouse.

We decided to look for a used home in Cottonwood Grove. We took down the phone numbers of the homes for sell and started calling. We looked at a house directly across from the Clubhouse and knew it was the right one. We bought it.

In May, I was ninety-nine percent unpacked and the house was in order. I was looking forward to leisurely taking care of our home, cooking, finishing my book (Unequally Yoked) and just being lazy for a change.

There was a knock on the door and the manager of our Mobile Home Park asked if I would sign a petition approving large dogs. I said no because I didnít really want to be around large dogs. I thought it was awfully strange because she lived next door to me and had two Dobermans. If the weight limit on pets was 20 lbs., why were her pets so large?

A man came by asking me to sign a petition keeping the pet limit to 20 lbs. I said no because, frankly, I did not want to be involved in the flack over dogs that was transpiring all around me. People were really getting angry. What seemed a peaceful place to live was turning into a war zone of words.

Saturday I sat down on the sofa and felt led to pray for the park. I asked God to bring peace to Cottonwood Grove and send a peacemaker to help bring the community together. As soon as I said Amen, God said, "Go apply for Manager." Scripture went through my head:

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

"Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Luke 10:2b-3

I moaned. Wait a minute! Al doesnít want me to work and I donít want to work. I donít know anything about managing a Mobile Home Community. Again I received "Go apply for Manager." I thought, "tell Al."

Sunday morning early, Al walked by and asked, "Did you apply for manager of the park like God told you to?" I moaned again and said, "Iíll apply tomorrow." I went in the study and typed a resume.

Monday morning found me in the office across the street talking to the park owner, Jim Ratzlaff. I found out that he had fired and evicted the manager Saturday and five other people had applied for the job. They were all experienced park managers and Jim would let me know Wednesday who he would hire. I tried to convince him to hire someone with experience.

When Al came home from work, I filled him in and told him what the job of manager would entail:

1. Clean the bathrooms, clubhouse, shelter and 2 offices.

2. Clean the pool, keep the chemicals in balance and police the area to make sure the rules are obeyed.

3. Lease vacant lots/check credit and past rental history.

4. Collect rent.

5. Keep the peace by taking care of all problems except maintenance.

6. Post rent payments to ledger cards and spreadsheet.

7. Hire people to deliver leases at end of year, pick up the trash around park, and sweep around pool and parking lot and deliver newsletters.

8. Write a newsletter each month.

9. Keep track of petty cash/pay help out of petty cash/buy supplies.

10. Donít allow people to park on streets in front of houses/tow vehicles if necessary.

11. Evict people who refuse to obey the rules or donít pay their rent.

I was concerned that I had not done most of these things; but Al reminded me that God had been preparing me for this job all my life. I had cleaned house, of course. We had leased a house with a pool in the back yard and I had kept it crystal clear and blue all the time. We had owned a rental house and I had leased it and evicted people from it. God created me with an agent personality and I had been a peacemaker for a long time. I took accounting in college and worked as a full charge bookkeeper. I had a secretary when I worked at Houston Beechcraft and had worked for a newspaper (I wrote a few articles for them). I managed an aircraft maintenance shop in Houston when the owner was out of town. I had helped people fill out expense reports and get reimbursed at Rockwell Space. Wow! God did have me prepared. All I had to do was lean on Him and Iíd be fine.

To my amazement and chagrin, Jim called me and gave me the job as manager.  I was immediately joyful upon accepting the position.

Using the Bible as my guide, I decided to implement Mat 18:15-17:

If you have a problem with your neighbor, go and talk to him. This usually solves the problem. Most of the time, a person does not know he is causing a problem until he is told. If you call me first, it will only make him angry.

If that does not work, call me and I will talk to them for you. If this has no affect, I will talk to the owner and write a warning letter. If all else fails, I will write an eviction notice. If they do not comply, they will move.

It became obvious from the onset that most of the problems in the community was caused by a lack of communication. The people were afraid of each other. I insisted they talk to each other and went with the ones who were too fearful to go alone. People began talking to each other and found out that they liked their neighbors. They became friends and started helping and watching out for each other.

Now when a new person moves in, they are greeted by their neighbors and made to feel at home. Problems vanished like dew in the morning sun.

Since I used scripture to guide the community, the people were listening to God and fear of evil left them. I was learning Godís ways in a wondrous new way.

We had 10 vacant lots when I started on June 1, 1992 and none within six months.

We maintained zero vacancies until I moved in September 2000. God sent me whomever he pleased and let me know who to lease to. He has only had me refuse to lease to a handful of people. There were several professions of faith within the first three months. God had given me a mission field and blessed me in it.

(Prov 12:20 NKJV) Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.

(Prov 15:23 NKJV) A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

(Mat 18:15-17 NKJV) "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

(2 Tim 1:7 NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

(Prov 1:33 NKJV) But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil."

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