(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
John and Cindy Dembeck and their family have found their way to Cherokee in a rather unusual way. John Dembeck is the new pastor for the Calvary Chapel in Cherokee.
The couple is originally from New Jersey, met at college and for the last 12 years have been raising their family in Chula Vista, Calif. which is just south of San Diego.
Dembeck has been a pastor for the last five years. Prior to that he was the Chief Operating Officer for a computer software company and at one point was the Director of Purchasing for Sea World. He says it all began in 1994 when he found the lord and answered the calling by attending bible college in San Diego.
He was an assistant pastor for four years and the pastor he worked with happened to be from Webster City. He always talked about Iowa and often called it "heaven". One time Dembeck went on a trip with the pastor to Iowa and instantly fell in love with the state, but didn't give it another thought.
Then as fate would have it he attended a Calvary Chapel conference in California and he just so happened to sit at a table with six guys from Cherokee. Pastor Markwith, the founder of the Cherokee Calvary Chapel was among them.
After visiting for awhile, Dembeck discovered Markwith was looking for someone to take over the Cherokee church before he took an offer for another congregation in his native Hawaii.
Dembeck happened to be looking for a congregation and the fact that it was in Iowa appealed to him a great deal. The pair started corresponding and when he and his family made the decision to take the position the wheels were set in motion.
Dembeck says it was a hard decision to make but new it was right. He says, "Being a pastor isn't what I do, it is what I am." Most people don't always find what they were meant to do and he says he is fortunate to have discovered what he was meant to do.
Dembeck arrived in April and took care of the congregation as best he could, while preparing his family for the move from California. Add the impending arrival of their fourth child, and you have a leap of faith that most would not be willing to take.
The couple's children have taken everything in stride and have adapted quite well to somewhat of a culture shock. The couple found that for so long they have missed the change of seasons. Their first thought was that Iowa was flat but were pleasantly surprised to find Cherokee in a valley of hills filled with trees and scenery.
They all agree that the people in the community have been wonderful. The children enjoy being able to go to a friends house, the library, or the pool, getting there either with a bicycle or on foot. It wasn't always that easy in California.
Their oldest son, Ryan, is seventeen and since his mom home schools the children, he was able to graduate high school one year early. Currently he is working part-time at the Hy-Vee warehouse and attending classes at Western Iowa Tech in Cherokee. Next fall he is set to attend Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, Calif. to study pre-medicine.
He moved to Cherokee with his family so he could help out and get to know his new little sister. At church he is worship leader and plays guitar. He enjoys playing disc golf, reading books, watching movies, and listening to music.
The next oldest is Brittany, who is 14. She has made a number of friends already and likes going to the library here in Cherokee. She loves reading, going for walks, and spending time with her new friends. She loves animals and movies, and spoils her baby sister.
David is the typical active nine year old who has also made many friends. He likes reading, riding his bike, Tai Kwon Do, baseball, swimming, building with Legos, cars, and playing his Gameboy.
The newest member of the family is one month old Chloe. She has a long way to go to find her favorites but for now she enjoys the attention her family lavishes upon her and has been a blessing that seems to have made the ties of the family's bond tighter.
Cindy Dembeck says she enjoys quilting and will someday get back to the hobby. She has been busy with the new baby and home schooling the children. When asked about the challenges of home schooling she says it is like any other student situation, there are good days and then there are more challenging days.
She says a common comical quote of home schoolers is, "The best part of home schooling is being with your kids 24/7 and the worst part is being with your kids 24/7." She likes home schooling because it has allowed she and her husband to build great relationships with their children.
The family is enjoying the slower pace of life here in the midwest and have learned to change their way of thinking. For example, in California you could do projects around the house any time of the year, now they have learned to plan indoor projects for the winter months and save the outdoor projects for warmer weather.
The only thing the couple misses at this point are their weekly evening dates to the local bagel shop. They are looking forward to being active in the community and have some great programs lined up to reach youth and families.
Currently they have some home bible study groups and Dembeck conducts a bible study at Careage Hills on Thursday mornings. He really enjoys visiting with residents.
Calvary Chapel in a non-denominational church with contemporary worship services that focus on the study of the bible. Services are Sunday at 10 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. at 207 N. 2nd in Cherokee.