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The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met Dec. 14 in Hutchins Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and enjoyed fried catfish with all the trimmings from Porky’s. (Our thanks to Optimist Ned Calvert for making the pick-up.)

President Julie Brock asked Optimist Rusty Rustenhaven to lead in prayer, following which she led in the pledge to the flag and the Optimist Creed.

Optimist Richard Magrill introduced David Montoya as our guest. He is the husband of Optimist Isabel Martinez, and they are the parents of last May’s Young Texanne Camilla Arias. We felt fortunate to have him take time out from his duties as pastor of the Hispanic congregation and leader of contemporary worship at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

His presence was also made possible because his master of divinity program at the Memphis Theological Seminary, which ordinarily meets online during noon on Wednesdays, is in its Christmas recess.

David is a native of Colombia, where he graduated from the University of Caldas in Manizales. His university training in his specialty of classical guitar took six years, four for the regular course work in guitar and two for training in improvisation, harmonization, composition and playing by ear.

David was 10 when his mother, Luz Maria Heilbron, gave him his first guitar. His earliest training was with the director of music in his church, who taught him the basics and welcomed him to their music team but who encouraged him to get more extensive training. (David also spent a lot of time playing the guitar by himself.)

While he enjoyed his work with the instrument, David’s passion was for planes. Upon graduation from high school, he applied for admission to the Colombian Air Force. He was among about 6,000 applicants who received extensive testing at that time, and happily, he was among the 100 chosen for admission and notified to report for duty. But alas, it was not to be! About 40 applicants who applied late and were sons of particularly influential people caused an equal number of the 100 to be bumped at the last minute, and David was among them.

Luz Maria, his mother, suggested that he go to the University of Caldas and pursue music. A very disappointed young man headed in that unanticipated path. When David was finishing up his university work, Pastor Ruben Albarracín, pastor of La Nueva Vida Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Houston, began looking for a music director. He wanted a trained musician who was also a Cumberland Presbyterian. David became his choice and came to Texas!

Later, looking toward becoming a truck driver in the Houston area so that he and Isabel and their growing family could afford a new house, Luz Maria again shared her counsel regarding his career path and reminded him of the search by Marshall CPC for a music leader. He made further contact with Pastor Rusty Rustenhaven and, after being interviewed by the church committee in the summer of 2016, he and his family moved Marshall to bless the church and community with his talents and begin his journey toward the ordained ministry as he follows in the footsteps of his late father, also named David.

With the backdrop of hundreds of Christmas nativities displayed on the Hutchins Hall stage, David shared his classical talents in instrumental pieces interspersed with solos of songs and carols of Christmas such as “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “O Come, Let Us Adore Him,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “What Child Is This?”

He followed with an instrumental study on A Minor, displaying some of the techniques of the classical style and concluded with a sung medley based on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and strains from many different carols.

“It was a welcome and calming interlude in a busy holiday schedule,” according to Optimist Rose Mary Magrill.

President Julie thanked David for sharing his musical talents with the club, and Optimist Richard Magrill thanked God and David’s mother Luz Maria for a very enjoyable Christmas concert.

The golden white poinsettias that graced the tables were presented to David and to those Optimists still present whose names were drawn from the basket.