Oh, how the time has flown. Is it really my last week here at Hinton?
Consider my life changed, forever. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned… I will never forget any of it!
The past week has been a little crazy – I have a lot to share! At the very beginning of last week, we had an employee in the office come down with a case of whooping cough, as well as her family. A few more were sent home with suspicious coughs, and so we had ourselves a small pandemic of the whoop. Julia was sent home also, for the whole week! That put CJ as the man in charge. But, it turns out that Julia is NEGATIVE. Yes, negative. So everyone that was afraid to breathe the same air as her can calm down. Surprisingly enough though, last week went pretty smoothly. Julia has trained us summer staffers well!
Not only was Julia gone, but it was my first week building a porch! It made me a little nervous that she wasn’t going to be there the week that I was stepping out into the unknown, but Mike helped me out. I thank God that I had a great work team last week, because I couldn’t have done it without them! Mr. Jay is a civil engineer, so he helped me make decisions on the structure of our porch. Haley (though injured with a swollen foot via ant bites the first couple of days) and Sydney became our measuring and cutting team, while Rebekah, Christian, Maggie, and LeeAnn became expert hammer-ers. Meghan was also a part of my group. She was the church’s youth intern, and she was absolutely wonderful. Everyone really pitched in and had awesome work ethic this week. It’s always nice to have a crew of hard workers! Oh, and on Thursday Mike brought his group out to start building a ramp onto our 8×10 porch. His group was great too!
This week we worked for Mama Betty. I wish I could put into words how special this woman truly is. Meghan called her a “prayer soldier.” And that’s truly what she is. She shared countless stories with us about witnessing the work of God in her life and in the lives of others. This woman prays more than anyone I’ve ever met. Oh, and I could listen to her pray all day. It was definitely a blessing to have met Mama Betty, her son Curtis, and her dog Comrade!
Mama Betty lives in a trailer directly next to a flea market that runs every Tuesday morning. As I mentioned in the last post, our first day of work was at Mr. Burrell’s house. That means that our first day here was during the flea market! I was stressed out at first, seeing as we couldn’t even find close parking to her house! But then incredible things started happening. People from the flea market kept walking up and asking us what we were doing. They were curious as to why a bunch of teenagers were building a porch on this older woman’s house. And we were able to share the love of Christ with them! Isn’t that what he calls us to do? Live our lives so that others become curious and ask what the heck we’re doing! The man that lived across the street even came over and hung out with us for quite some time. Before he left he asked if he could take us out to dinner. Now, we had a group of 9 people. It really touched me that he offered a meal to us, because I’m under the impression that it would have been a struggle for him to manage meals for all of us! It was really really cool to be able to witness that happening with my kids this week. I want them to know how much of an impact they have had on the community!
Now let me tell you about my weekend. I had more fun this weekend than I’ve had ALL summer, hands down! I joined Mike Horn and Matt Butler in a trip to Warner Robins, Georgia to visit the coolest youth group I’ve ever met.
We got there Friday just in time for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom with the youth group. Mr. Bill came to dinner, and that made my night! He is such a special man and I really do love him! (Go Pack!) After indulging in some delicious pizzas, we headed back to the Freeman’s for the dive-in movie. Basically that means we all threw on our swimming suits and swam while we watched a movie projected on the side of their pool house. Naturally, the movie we watched was Jaws, haha!
Swimming was a whole lot of fun. Caroline had an underwater camera that we took some hilarious pictures with. The boys (plus Allison) were jumping and flipping off the diving board all night. Allen made cotton candy for us too. It was some good old fashioned fun!
The next morning the three of us went to Smiley’s flea market with Allen, Angela, Caroline, Addison, and Allison. What a cultural experience. I bought $5 red shoes for football season, $1 red feather earrings, $5 aviator sunglasses, and a sweet $4 1993 Braves Divison Champs hat! Everyone else made some cool purchases too. Addison even found a web cam. I need to ask her if it works!
And now, my FAVORITE part of the weekend: Slip-N-Slide kickball! Now I thought that Ben Lee was out of his mind, and I didn’t know if I was going to play or not. I mean just the title sounds dangerous and I am probably one of the most accident-prone people that I know. But the set-up was actually pretty sweet, and we had plenty of soap to keep the base runways slick and perfect for sliding! We broke up into teams, and Mike and I had the honor of being captains! My team name was JAWS, and Mike’s was the Honey Badgers. I don’t really understand the name – apparently there’s a youtube video, some weird dance that they like to do, and someone likes to yell “Honey Badger don’t care!” Hey, who am I to judge y’all on how weird you are!
But anyways, kickball was AMAZING. I had way more fun that I thought I would. My team pulled through with the win, but it was a close game and I got a taste of how competitive this group is. It was awesome to see the fellowship in this youth group. I saw genuine friendships in the smiles and laughter. And let me just say, I have probably never been that clean in my life. I had soap everywhere. My shoes weighed twenty pounds I swear. Ben’s kids Wick and Zeke played with us. They clearly have a future in pitching! Oh and I almost forgot – it was Bryan’s birthday! I hope that you had a wonderful day Bryan. I know you’re a busy guy, between getting your permit and taking on wing challenges. Thanks for spending your day with us old folks!
After playing, Mr. Meeks grilled some awesome hamburgers and Mrs. Meeks made a batch of brownies! The Meeks’ rock. Thank you SO much for cooking lunch for us and letting us kill the grass in your back yard with the slip-in-slide tarps!
After the kickball fiasco, we headed on to the church to check out the youth room. Ben had a surprise for us. There’s this wall where they all place their hand prints, and it reads: In This Place Find Rest. I was so happy that I wanted to cry when Ben told us that he wanted the three of us to put our hand prints on the wall with the others. This is such a special thing, and meant so much to me! This goes out to all of The Scarlet Movement: I pray that you continue to embrace the people you meet throughout your lives with the love that you have embraced me. And the way that you have embraced Mike and Matt. It is an uncommon thing, trust me. Keep spreading the love of Christ, and as Ben told me once, keep on fightin’ the good fight!
Even though we had planned on leaving right after lunch, Ben suckered us into dinner at his house. He bribed us with steaks! I have never felt so welcome in someone’s home. Ben’s kids were literally climbing all over me, and they showed me each and every one of their toys. I was honored. And I feasted, yes feasted, on some amazing food. Stacy made these great stuffed squash concoctions that I just loved. The whole night was filled with good conversation, story sharing, and laughter. Afterwards the boys roasted marshmallows and made s’mores for us. It was a perfect night, and it was so sad to leave!! Ben, I love your family. You should know how lucky you are to have such a beautiful family. And I’m not just talking about your wife and your boys. Your church family seriously rocks. Thank you for taking us on a tour of your church, and for basically sharing your life with me, Mike, and Matt! We love the mess out of all of you, FUMC. I better be seeing you ALL next summer at Hinton. That goes for those of you that came this year, and those of you that I just met this weekend! (Including you, Michael and Ericka. You’re never too old for Hinton.)
And before I completely close up, I want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the Freeman’s. You opened up your home to us, gave up your beds, and fed us. I love all four of you, and I seriously cannot wait until October 15th. We wouldn’t have been able to make this trip to Warner Robins without your generosity. Caroline and Allison, always remember that your parents are cool and awesome. In a few years there may come a time when they just don’t seem to understand and they seem totally uncool. But I’m telling you now – they rock!
Another really special thing about my weekend was Matt Butler. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks, and I’ve missed the kid! I have a few words for you. Your heart to love and to serve inspires me to be a better person. I can’t imagine what it takes to even make it through one day, Matt. But know that you’re not fighting alone. You’ve touched the lives of many and there are more people that would stick their necks out for you than you think. You have more reasons than most of us do to be discouraged and pissed off at life, but you’re better than that. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). I love you Matt!
Oh, one more thing. I love you Molly Rawls Gillespie. That is all.
And one extra thing: for those of you who were praying for my little brother, he is doing just fine! He just got his wisdom teeth out on top of everything that’s been going on. So he has a sore mouth and a sore stomach. But he’s a fighter. I love that boy. And if he’s not happy, I’m not happy. So I sure am glad that he’s feeling better!
Hey – thanks for reading. This was a freakishly long blog post. But I just have a lot to say! I have so much to be thankful for, and my cup runneth over.