Wednesday: Today we got a late start but made it to Thistle Farms and ready to work. After going on a tour of the Thistle Farms facility, we headed off to become Thistle farmers. The thistles were on the Mott's farm in Lewisburg, about 60 miles away from the Vanderbilt campus. We got lost along the way and ran into A LOT of rain but finally made it to the beautiful farm and the thistles!
Cynthia, a floor manager at Thistle Farms and Magdalene graduate, joined us on our mission. She inspired us with her stories and insight and taught us to believe in ourselves. All in all, it was a great day and we were able to bring home six full green trash bags filled with thistles. We cannot wait to see and experience making thistle paper tomorrow. Hopefully we will see Cynthia again tomorrow and be able to learn even more from her.
On the way home from Lewisburg . . . MORE RAIN!!! We finally got back to St. A's, showered (and checked ourselves for ticks!) and then walked over a local hangout, Satco. We all enjoyed our (maybe too many) tacos and then spent some time walking around Hillsboro Village and playing on the dragon (and the see-saw) in Dragon Park.
We can't believe we only have one day left.
Tuesday: Another jump start day, back at the HIllside house by 9:30. We started weeding and cleaning up some of the flower beds. Cait and Amy made a quick run to Home Depot to pick up pavers, flowers and stepping stones for the front and back yard. Rob and his crew continued to clear the tree and work on the house's curb appeal. As we were wrapping up to take our lunch break it started raining heavily and most of us were trapped on the porch while others finished placing the last pavers and mulch. Soaking wet, we headed back to St. A's to shower and get lunch. Since it was still raining and we couldn't return to finish our work at the Hillside house, Cait took us all to one of Nashville's biggest tourist attraction . . . the Gaylord Opryland Hotel! We took a scenic boat ride on the "blended" river that flows through the many courtyards of the hotel and then spent the rest of our time by the river fishing out Annalise's shoe . . . with Rob scaling the banks and successfully retrieving the soaked moccasin.
Dinner was at Calypso, followed by time together at St. A's playing poker, braiding hair and making cookies.
Monday: An early start kinda jet lagging (which Caroline says would not have been the case had she gone to bed earlier), but managed to get breakfast pack lunches and out BEFORE 9:15 and arriving on-time at our 9:30 meeting.... only to be locked out for 15 minutes in the blazing heat. The welcome and introduction were helpful, insightful and ultimately entertaining.... and lead us to our first work task in which we weeded, removed trash and mulched a beautiful courtyard at the Lena House. Stopping for cold beverages we then headed to the Hillside house and ate our lunch in the park across the street before delving into a beautifying project on a house that will be going on the market as they look to sell it and invest in other homes for the Magdalene women. We were weeding when we realized there was a "tree down" and in beginning to remove it had to be highly attentive to the unknown wires around it. We will return to the Hillside house tomorrow and our youth are determined to make it as attractive from the curb as possible to "allow a potential buyer to envision their life here". We are considering adding some defining stone around the "flower" beds, into which we also hope to actually plant some flowers. We do not actually have the funds to do this, but are thinking to go ahead and "rebalance" our mission trip expenses through as much less expanse on food etc as possible and potentially reverse fund raising to cover any "red".
A significant highlight for most have been the personal stories, accounts and engagement offered us by women in the Magdalene Program, women leading and living life as supporters, workers and employees of Magdalene. The youth would be happy to share more stories personally both as the week goes on and upon our return.
It is late and 5 minutes past "bed" curfew meaning I am failing to set the proper example and thus will sign off for today, but hope to share and recruit others to share as the week goes on (especially pictures as soon as we find the proper cord allowing us to upload those).
Sunday: Travel was early and exciting, but all in all uneventful. Phoenix was warm but Nashville proved HOTTER! Rental cars retrieved, mattresses placed, bags exploding... and a quick trip to Chili's before we collapsed into nighttime. A 3:45am visit from curious police (which everyone but Cait was able to sleep through) was the highlight of the travel portion. Jesus is present (and now carrying his faithful companion, "Lydell").
Saturday: The travelers are all checked-in online. Gathering at 5:30am in the parking lot to head out for this great adventure! Here we go!
Thursday:The 2011 Mission Trip will start on Sunday, June 19. Keep checking this space for updates on the missioners' experiences!