Saturday, March 22, 2014

Welcome to Alabama

 Honey, you'd better hope Ms. Joann comes to church Sunday, she makes the best coffeecake you've ever tasted.

Oh, don't even try to drive to Auburn on a Saturday. Everyone will be going to the football game. Traffic gets crazy.

You know, there are some interesting folks in this town, so just be careful. Don't answer the door if it's not someone you know. They will come askin' you for money. Just say no. 

That's right. We make BBQ ribs, comes with two sides, oh and you can get plenty-a-cornbread, too. Don't you worry, sweetie.


These are just a few of the comments I've gotten from locals in the past two weeks. People here know what good food is, they take their football very seriously, and they are always lookin' out for you, bless your little heart.

It's been two weeks to the day since I arrived in Tuskegee, a small town of about 9,000. Tuskegee is roughly the size of my home town, Aurora, Indiana, but feels a little smaller. I live right across the street from the elementary school, and the public library, Methodist church, post office, and bank are all within walking distance. So it's a bit bigger than my town in Ecuador. It's nice that everything is so close, although there is not much to do on weekends.

The church parsonage where I live

This town has a very interesting history, due to several key people and events. What it's most known for are the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of young African American pilots who trained in this town for World War 2 despite the government's hesitance to allow them to join the military. Tuskegee University, a historically black college/university (HBCU), founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881 as Tuskegee Institute to provide quality education to free black people, is now a nationally-recognized private university. Tuskegee is 95% African American, due to white flight following the civil rights movement in the 1960's.

Moton Field, where the Tuskegee Airmen trained
Tuskegee University campus
George Washington Carver Museum

My work here with Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) takes me to another very different culture, despite its distance of only 27 miles from Tuskegee. I am speaking of the Auburn/Opelika area, known for Auburn University, where college students crowd the streets; restaurants, churches, and stores abound; and you can almost feel the football fervor in the air. Although ARM does a lot of its work in Tuskegee, our office is currently located in Opelika, so I drive in about 4-5 days a week.

Speaking of my job, what do I actually do? Well, ARM is a non-profit affiliated with the United Methodist Church whose main ministries are home repair and kids' day camp. ARM runs on volunteers, so we coordinate groups to come in and help with these different projects throughout the year. During the summer, we have tons of church groups who volunteer to work on houses, and help run the kid's program. It's the busiest time of the year. That being said, now we are in preparation mode for the summer, doing fundraising, planning summer staff training, and finding work for all the willing hands that will be serving with us. So, if you are interested in extending the love of Christ by working for a week or weekend this summer in Alabama, let me know. We'd love to have you!

The first team I worked with, from Monroeville, AL

I'm learning more every day, exploring new corners of town, meeting great people, and even picking up a bit of a Southern accent. Some days are better than others, but overall I'm excited to be here in Alabama!

No comments:

Post a Comment