Day 4 - June 20
We woke up to another rainy morning. Actually, it was a downpour! But the tour must go on and our youth are resilient. They brought their luggage downstairs on time, ate breakfast quickly and were on the bus ready to leave by 8:30. The luggage crew were awesome. They braved the deluge, loading the entire mountain of luggage into the bus compartment in spite of getting soaked.
Tom took the minivan and drove to Cincinnati to pick up Charlie , who was flying in late to join the tour. The rest of us took off for Lexington KY. Our morning Greeters were Connor Shifflett and Ryder.from having a late night but they made it through the hugging process in a good-natured manner.
Our destination was the Keeneland Horse Racing Facility. Founded in 1936, Keeneland has been on the National Historic Landmark list since 1986. The mission of the facility is to preserve the tradition of Thoroughbred horse racing. The 147 acre park includes a race track, farmland, the world's largest Thoroughbred auction house, a medical research facility and a large reference library. Scenes from the movies Seabiscuit and Secretariat were filmed there. Last night at the concert, Hannah Adkins showed me her engagement photos which were taken there at the facility. She couldn’t say enough good things about how beautiful it is there. We were a little concerned that the rain would prevent us from seeing it, but the downpour slowed down and turned into a drizzle. Everything was wet but we were able to get out and walk around for a short visit. Polly played My Old Kentucky Home over the loud speaker as we pulled up and were lucky enough to see a jockey exercising his horse around the racetrack. Everything was wet but we were able to get out and walk around for a short visit. Some kids walked down to the racetrack while others went to the gift shop to buy souvenirs. Before we knew it, our time was up and we were back on the bus.
Anna and Todd Johnson conducted our mid-morning greeting while we drove toward our next destination at Park UMC. The plan was to meet with Matthew and Nancy Sleeth. Sleeth is a Christian environmentalist who speaks to school groups and churches about the biblical mandate to care for the earth. He cares e making people aware of this subject. He wrote a book in 2006 called “Serve God, Save the Planet.” (Some of our adult Sunday School classes studied his book several years back as part of their curriculum.) He also published a DVD series on Serving God, Saving the Planet. Coincidentally, Dr. Sleeth grew up in Woodfield, MD (just down the road from our church!) His parents also attended DUMC for awhile. He told us that the big Willow Oak trees that are around Woodfield Elementary School today were planted by him!
We spent almost an hour listening to him share with us about his life and how he felt a calling to pursue his new career as an environmentalist. He also brought copies of his latest book, “Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the Nature of God and His Love For Us.” He offered a copy of the book to us at no cost. He finished the morning by talking about a new book he is currently working on and asked our youth for their input. I was personally touched by the gentle, caring nature of this man and I think others felt it too.
Matthew and Nancy Sleeth generously provided pizza and drinks for our lunch. We had some free time left so we drove to a local mall and let the youth break up into groups to go shopping. They scattered like roaches! There was a variety of treasures that were bought on this shopping spree and when they returned to the bus they excitedly compared purchases. Some of the youth their shirts, sweatshirts, caps and jackets for us in the aisles. We had a two-hour bus ride ahead of us so there was plenty of time to find fun things to do. Tom discovered via internet that June 20 is “West Virginia Day,” so he enlightened us with some fun facts about West Virginia. We also made two phone videos to brighten someone’s day. Lucas is in the hospital, so Beth Taylor went through the bus recording get-well wishes to him. She sent the video to his mom, who played it for Lucas. His Mom said it was the first time he had smiled in a long time. The other video we made was for Philip and Maxwell's Dad, who is having his last chemo treatment tomorrow. We expressed get- well wishes and ended with a unified yell of “Team Mike!” Please send your prayers also for both of these individuals please!
We also had fork stories. Today there were two contestants. There was a girls softball team staying in our hotel last night and when their coach saw all of our boys, he locked them in their rooms by putting tape on the doors. Philip said that his brother Maxwell/Jonathan? slid his snap chat information under the girls door.
The other contestant came from Jonathan Works and Maxwell Donaldson, who had to share a bed last night in the hotel. Apparently Jonathan started cuddling with Max in his sleep and they were “spooning” all night long. Max tried pushing him away at first but finally just gave up. This story brought so many laughs that it won the coveted fork. However we all decided that it should have been a spork award instead.
Before we knew it, we had arrived at Brandenburg UMC.Our contact for this church is Tiffany . Tiffany and her sister Sabrina were members of the CWS years ago. Her last choir tour was in 2002 and she married in 2003. She was waiting outside for us, wearing one of her old tour shirts! She also helped to arrange lodging for us in host homes tonight. Every Thursday night, the members of BUMC serve a free meal to anyone in the community who wants to attend. They call it Love In Action. We were the lucky recipients tonight of that meal – baked BBQ chicken, cole slaw, baked beans and brownies. Some of our group mingled with local residents at the tables and had nice conversations with them.
The concert was fabulous and the acoustics were great! Tonight was the last night of the church’s VBS program and the CWS were the culmination of VBS entertainment for them. There were many children sitting in the pews listening intently to our youth. What good role models they made to the next generation! I could swear that our choir gets better and better every night! By the time the welcome Home concert arrives, they will be at their peak! Tonight, in addition to our already awesome group, we also had Charlie and Doug Taylor adding to the voices. Polly invited Tiffany to sing two songs with us, and even our own joined us for River in Judea. I saw Tiffany wiping away some memory tears while she was up there. I’m sure they were good memories. Polly presented her with a new tour shirt to add to her collection. It was very special, special night.
After the concert we all were assigned to our host homes and left homes. I’m expecting some entertaining fork stories tomorrow. It always happens when we are in host homes. I hope you are enjoying reading about our adventures this week. I wanted to make you feel that you are a small part of the fun.
Peace to you!