Friday, March 9, 2012

Back to where we started. . .

Or back to the Phillips's cabins outside of Oxford for the night, anyway. And tomorrow morning, it'll be back to Ohio for this bunch of exhausted but happy—and thoroughly enriched—Mississippi Delta volunteers.

Photos: 1) The Phillips's cabin; 2) the Witt gang prior to leaving Cary

Friday night in downtown Taylor, Mississippi

Our final day of adventure is topped off by dinner at the fabled Taylor Grocery, just outside of Oxford—known for its catfish and hushpuppies (which we were, of course, quite happy to try).

Kickin' around Oxford

After leaving the Delta this morning, we headed to Oxford for a look around. With Wittenberg biology prof Richard Phillips as our guide, we visited the Square (and Square Books, of course!), then headed to campus to the Lyceum (the site of skirmishes between rioting students and US Marshals and National Guardsmen on the occasion of James Meredith's admission to Ole Miss), fraternity and sorority row, and Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak . . . before heading out to Taylor for supper.

Photos: 1) Kirstie chats with Mr. Faulkner (who seemed a little more diminutive than we all thought he would be); 2) Had to visit the best bookstore in the South! 3) Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak; 4) the Witt profs get tickled; 5) Ryan, Leigh, and Kirstie listen as Dr. Phillips talks about James Meredith; 6) the Confederate soldier memorial on the Square; 7) Ryan, looking epic outside the Lyceum

On the other side of town. . .

On our way out of Rolling Fork, we were invited to stop by Mont Helena, a plantation home built upon an Indian mound — which proved to be quite the contrast to the homes we worked on in Cary and Rolling Fork. . .

Leaving Cary

The teams from Wittenberg and Northwestern College and the Cary Christian Center staff pose for one last photo before hitting the road for home.

Project Manager (and chef!) Robert Jackson treated the volunteers to a celebratory farewell catfish supper last night. Here, Cary Christian Center board member Ruby Johnson shares one of her many fascinating life stories with those around her. 
The sign over the dormitory door offers us some parting wisdom . . .

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why the world needs more female roofers

Erin, up on the roof today with the Wittenberg/Northwestern College team from Cary Christian Center, celebrating the wind. . .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alternative theme for the week!

Ryan, talking with the group about his day today, said he really enjoyed playing games (like Steal the Bacon, a new one which the kids taught him) with the after-school group.

"Some of the kids were kinda bad, though. But since I was like that when I was their age, I was just laughin' at the badness. . ."

Photo: Ryan in action, playing Steal the Bacon with the local kids

Planting seeds and changing lives

Another crazy day for the Wittenberg and Northwestern folks, this one packed with gardening with kids, painting houses, roofing, tutoring, playing on the playground, shooting portraits of young moms-to-be, and cooking after-school treats for 50 students and dinner for 30 hungry volunteers.

Photos (above): Tyler and Kirstie show students how to lay black plastic in the flower bed. (below): 1) Fist bump! 2) Nickie's prenatal class gets crazy; 3) Mica and new friends on the playground; 4) Cathy gets tickled at Karl's rendition of the Taboo Rap; 5) the Wednesday Night team of tortilla chefs: Erin, Tori, Clint, and Kirstie.

A job well done

Under the guidance of Ryan and Karlos (the adult volunteers who had headed up this project had to hit the road for Michigan this morning), today's team of painters finished Sandra's house. She was thrilled with her home's makeover. . . and we were pretty happy ourselves.

Photos: At top, Karlos and Ryan pose with Sandra outside her freshly-painted house. Above, today's crew.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daily routine, morning and evening

Each day at Cary Christian Center begins with morning devotions (which always ends—as a sort of benediction—with somebody saying "Be a blessing!"), attended by all volunteers and staff. At day's end, our two volunteer groups meet separately so that members can share their experiences of the day with one another.

Photos: 1) Tyler leads devotions; 2) Karlos and Rahn share a Bible; 3) Tyler leads the Witt group in reflection about the days events

THE most contagious laugh

Robert Jackson, our fearless project leader (and back-in-the-day football star for Rolling Fork High School, whom he contends BEAT our Leland High when he was playing in 1978. Cathy and I are scrambling to find records to prove otherwise!)

When life hands you a broken water line . . .


Keep calm and "Cary" on.  While digging post holes for a deck, somebody hit a water line. Robert Jackson, the project manager, didn't miss a beat. Called the City of Rolling Fork Water Department, who showed up within 10 minutes and turned off the water. Volunteers followed Robert's lead, doing what needed to be done — the pipe was mended, post holes were dug, and the deck was built — and what could've been a stressful, negative situation turned into a fun story to tell back at the dorms.

1) Rahn's body language expresses what everybody was feeling when the geyser erupted; 2) Cat finds a part Robert needs in the equipment trailer; 3) the homemade fountain; 4) Robert digs to clear the areaaround the pipe; 5) bailing the water out of the yard.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Invitation to dinner . . . in a tractor shed?

Tonight, after a day of thrift store work and housepainting, we were invited to dinner at Baconia Plantation, owned by Ben Lamensdorf, who had offered to share with us about a Civil War battle which took place on the property. This was arranged for us by Luther Brown, who stopped by Cary Christian Center to give us a short talk about the history and culture of the Mississippi Delta.

Photos: 1) Ben Lamensdorf talks with us about the battle of Steele Bayou. 2) Mike Lamensdorf, Ben's son, shows some of the cannon balls which have been found in the farm's fields over the years. 3) Luther Brown tells us about the rich musical heritage of the Delta.

Everybody, paint!

Monday and Tuesday found us painting two different houses. Here are a few shots of the volunteers hard at work. . .

The theme for the week?

"Just make it look cute!"

Today saw several of us (both the Wittenberg team and the Northwestern College group) helping out at the Treasure Chest, the thrift store in Rolling Fork run by the Cary Christian Center.

In addition to unloading the truck which brought in boxes and boxes of donations of to be sold in the store, we were pretty much given free rein in organizing and decorating sections of the store — including the front window. The store manager, Audrey, found herself saying again and again, "That sounds great! However you want to do it. Just make it look cute!"

A phrase which we have since found to be very handy while painting houses or fixing a meal to share with our Northwestern College counterparts. . .

Photos (from top): A few of the volunteers in the Treasure Chest window; Cathy helps unload the truck; Tori and Kirstie remove water collected from a recent heavy rainfall; Monday's thrift store team poses with store manager Audrey (far right)