Day 4: Hot enough for you? At least we got to sleep in a little this morning. We re-grouped at our host church at 8:45 and went for a really nice tour of Clemson University. Much of the tour was blissfully on an air conditioned bus, and the campus was really beautiful. We had the chance to run down Cardiac Hill at the football stadium and enjoy the luscious Botanical Gardens. Don’t be surprised if your kids come home decked out in orange and purple T-shirts. Go Tigers! Never too soon to start applying for those out-of-state scholarships. After the tour we strolled through the town, chatting with the local shopkeepers and enjoying the quaint atmosphere.
We scrapped plans for the outdoor shopping excursion and opted for the comfort of an air conditioned mall. It was nice to have some down time to just hang with friends. One group pretended they were on tour from England and completely fooled the locals, who couldn’t get enough of their British accents. The mall had an indoor bunjee jumping center that was fun, a place to get massages and the usual array of mall chain stores. As we regrouped on the buses, waiting for the stragglers, we couldn’t help but notice some commotion in the parking lot. Now first, we want to point out that we were spectators, observing from the safety and comfort of a luxury motor coach with tinted windows. Second, we want to assure you we were not in any way in danger. That said, we were in for a bit of excitement as some reality-TV style drama between a few young men began to unfold in the mall parking lot. First came the posturing and smack talk, then the dance that says “you want a piece of me?” Then the intervention of buddies, girlfriends and grandmas, pleading for cooler heads to prevail. As it continued to escalate, Jane Webb called 911 to report the incident . She called out the play-by-play action to the police, as the two young gents danced and punched their way around the parking lot in the classic, testosterone-enhanced interaction that is half ballet and half street brawl. The police quickly moved in (with the help of our own Jane Webb), arrests were made and the buses rolled out. It was all caught on about a dozen phone videos and may already be posted on YouTube. Quite exciting, indeed.
Next came the highlight of the trip thus far. We had the pleasure of being hosted at the fabulous farm of Caroline Tolbert. Caroline is a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church here in Anderson, and we connected to her through the vast network of lifelong friends that Peggy and Walt Edmonds maintain. The farm is quite large, complete with cows, a pond, estate house with wrap-around porch and rocking chairs, and a pavilion shaded by what is officially the largest pecan tree in South Carolina. We wish you could have all been here to experience an evening that can only be described as magical. Many of the kids reflected on this as the best time they have ever had on tour. Who knows what serendipitous combination of factors merge to create that kind of spiritual energy. Perhaps it’s a few days shared together singing of God’s love and grace, an appreciation for the genteel ways of our Southern hosts, the love for one another that grows day by day. And a great backdrop, complete with volleyball, pedal boats, a go-kart, adventurous rides in the pick-up truck and great food. The young folks enjoyed being together but also loved spending time with their hostess. Many of them talked after we left about how touched they were by Miss Caroline and the wisdom she shared with them. To top it off, the singing group “Cruz Control” came out to the farm for a very entertaining barbershop quartet performance. They were so great, and of course we felt obliged to perform for them as well (Siyah Humba, The Lord Bless You and Keep You). We were having so much fun we didn’t want to stop singing, but all good things must come to an end. So as dusk faded to dark on this equinox evening, we boarded the buses to the church and bid farewell to the amazing Miss Caroline. A night to remember, for sure.
Click Here for Pictures from Day 4