McMinnville Greets Airshow Guests

By Glen Westlund,
NW Adventist

A deep, loud varoom with a trailing swoosh descended from the sky. I reached up to cover my ears but could not remain long in that position. A Blue Angel streaked by as I returned my focus to the job at hand.

I was one of 20 McMinnville Adventist Church members helping at an entry gate for the Oregon International Air Show McMinnville the last Friday in September and first Sunday in October 2023.

We had an easy job: check tickets with a hand scanner and make people feel welcome while checking to make sure they did not carry in food, drinks or explosives.

Full water bottles had the request, “Please take a sip from your water bottle.” Whole families would line up with their bottles and demonstrate they were not afraid of the water.

The other question we had to ask of everyone was, “Did you leave your gun and knife in the car?” Most of the time we got a laugh. They had been to enough public events to know it was for their safety. It was surprising the amount of pocket knives that we had to label for them to pick up on their way out.

We chose to get involved with the international air show because they respected us in asking us to help on Friday and Sunday only, and it was an opportunity to show we are a part of the community. It was a silent witness where our t-shirts did the speaking and led to conversations.

We talked to members of other churches, got asked if we knew a neighbor who was Adventist and told about children attending Walla Walla University. I think these people felt a connection to the Adventist Church even though they were not members. They wanted to acknowledge they knew who we were and bond in a moment of friendship.

From our gate, we could see a portion of the airfield. We were given short breaks to explore the booths. When a plane buzzed the field, we would get a brief glimpse.

Most of the time we didn’t notice what was going on until the sound of the engines echoed in our ears. The people were our main focus and making sure everyone was safe and didn’t feel their privacy was violated. We wanted them to be ready to have a positive experience.

We had all age groups from young adults to seniors involved. Everyone had a place and job. Those comfortable with portable technology began checking tickets. Later, they taught and encouraged those of us less tech-savvy to take over while we changed places and they inspected bags.

The Oregon International Air Show McMinnville acknowledged our church’s involvement with a Group Collaboration Influencer Award on Jan. 9, 2024 at the Hillsboro Airport. They had heard nothing but praise for our group and asked us if we would come back next year at McMinnville and consider Hillsboro as well.

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