Over the last six months, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to host town halls in every one of the Big First District’s 63 counties.

From Elkhart to Marysville, from St. Francis to Emporia, it was a great journey. We crisscrossed the district, met many people, and heard stories that reminded me how blessed I am to represent the hardworking people of Kansas in the United States Congress.

I remember the first time I sat down with Senator Bob Dole to ask his advice on a serious issue. His answer was, “Go back home. The people of Kansas will give you the answer. All you have to do is listen.” As I learned in my 25 years of practicing medicine, the best physicians were the best listeners; so I took the Senator’s advice to heart.

In order to be successful in Congress, it is vital I meet with my fellow Kansans as much as possible — and holding a town hall is the best way to hear your stories, share victories, listen to challenges, and truly understand what makes Kansas great.

The Big First District of Kansas is just that – big. I have enjoyed the many hours on the road watching the snow fall and melt, the baby calves in the pastures, the wheat turn from green to gold, and the ponds fill up with (perhaps too much) water. Seemingly endless acres of farmland and amber waves of grain connect communities throughout the district. I have also enjoyed watching the return of oil derricks across our prairie, the vastness of wind turbines effortlessly turning out electricity, and solar farms sprouting up across the state.

Unfortunately, it is also very evident the rural Kansas economy continues to struggle. However, what struck me at every town hall was not the negativity and frustration you may have expected, but a genuine sense of gratitude for our way of life. I saw and heard so many people counting their blessings. Of the many people I met, none would give up our way of life for anything. The people of the Big First understand the importance of faith, community, and hard work. For the most part, Kansans just want a decent job with a good wage or crops they can sell for a fair price. Aside from the safety and security afforded to them, most would otherwise be happy to not have Washington involved in their day-to-day lives.

Despite our struggles, people across the district have overwhelmed my wife Laina and I with their gratitude and support. They are thankful we continue to fight alongside President Trump, reducing Washington red tape and advocating for new and fair trade agreements so our farmers can continue to feed the world. Representing Kansans is a responsibility I take as seriously as I did as a physician in rural America, realizing people are putting their future and voice in our hands.

- Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D.