Saturday, March 9, 2013

What I did over Spring Break

You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?

Well. . . yeah.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Heading for the hills, then. . . home

Cathy and Richard on the Square in Oxford. (Can you tell which Witt prof has just returned
from an intense week-long service immersion trip in a remote area?)
The statue of the Confederate Soldier on the Square gets a visit from Ezra.
Oge and Moses, outside the Lyceum (with Moses helpfully indicating
the origins of the Ole Miss logo).
The Lyceum.
This afternoon we found ourselves worlds away from Cary, in Oxford, Mississippi with Witt biology prof and native Mississippian Richard Philips as our tour guide. We took in some of the sights in town, then headed to Taylor Grocery for a farewell dinner of catfish and hushpuppies.

Outside Taylor Grocery, waiting to go in and eat.

Mont Helena

The Wittenberg vans head down the driveway toward Mont Helena to get a closer look.
"Chins in hands, everybody!" Group shot on the front stoop.

View from the front porch: a tractor preparing the field for some spring planting.

Before leaving the Delta, we stopped a few miles outside of Rolling Fork at Mont Helena, a Colonial revival style home built atop a ceremonial Indian mound.

Built in 1896 (the first time. The house burned right after it was built, but its owners immediately began rebuilding), the house is not an antebellum home, though it is still representative of the gorgeous old mansions the South is famous for.

Nobody was home, so we peeked in the windows and took in the view from the front porch — the highest point for miles around before piling back into the vans to head home.

Onward, Mississippi

Michelle poses with a rather large teddy bear on the porch of the Onward Store.
We've seen lots of firsts on our trip — including this armadillo basket.
Just the thing to add some, uh, life to a dull dinner table.
No, it's not a motivational cheer or command: Onward, Mississippi is a tiny little bend in the road a few miles south of Cary — a bend with history. We stopped by today to learn more.

President Teddy Roosevelt came to this part of Mississippi to hunt for bears in 1902. The story has it that the president's hunting guide  had arranged for a bear to be captured and tied so that Roosevelt would be sure to get a bear — and that Roosevelt refused to shoot the tied-up bear, leading to the manufacture of stuffed toy bears by companies like Cracker Jack. Teddy bears. 

That's the story, anyway.

Hard to believe

Sun coming up on the tiny little town of Cary.
Team Witt and the gang from Northwestern College gather out in front of the admin building
after devotions  for one last photo.
Somehow it's Friday morning — already time to leave. . .

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Brighten the corner where you are

Leigh, Kate, and Tyler teamed up to conceptualize a mural for the hallway in the Children's Village — then spent several hours bringing it to fruition. The result: a lively spot of colorful inspiration for passersby.

There's just something about the Mississippi

. . . that makes people feel reflective. Or epic. Or awed. (Or in the mood for skipping stones!)

We got a treat this afternoon when Robert Jackson, taking a break from his usual schedule at the Center, took us on a quick trip to see this legendary river. The Mighty Mississippi. Father of Waters.* The largest and longest river in North America. Huck Finn's playground. . . Big water, indeed.

*In a letter dated August 27, 1863, Abraham Lincoln wrote, "the Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea," referring to General Grant's capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi — though, officially, the word Mississippi comes from an Ojibwa word meaning "big water."

Photos (from top): 1) Michelle, 2) Tyler, 3) Sarah and Kate, 4) Team Witt plus Robert, and 5) NOT the splash made by the rock thrown by a certain young woman from Wittenberg (who may or may not have narrowly missed hitting a Witt faculty adviser while attempting to skip a stone, later confessing, somewhat horrified: "Nobody's going to let me forget that. I threw a rock and missed the biggest river in the United States.")

Across generations

Our man Moses and Dick Dyk, a long-time volunteer at Cary Christian Center who makes the trip all the way from South Dakota every year to spend several months in Cary and help out, joined efforts today to get the soil ready for planting the community garden on the Center's grounds.

There's probably 60 years difference in their ages — and a fairly noticeable difference in their raking styles — but I found it very moving, watching them work the soil together, preparing it for future growth.

Little-known fact

Tilling can be fun! (That's Oge at the tiller: Who says aerating soil has to be dull?)

Sometimes it's all about getting down to work

. . . and sometimes it's about getting down.

Audrey and McKenzie mixing it up after devotions with Carl at the piano.
McKenzie and Sarah run Anna and Cathy through the dance they'll be teaching the kids.
And the whole house is rockin'!
After it was discovered that both she and Cathy were drum majors in high school, Star,
who works with Carl at The Village (the Center's on-site educational branch),
shows she's still got the moves.
Anna and Heepke get into it, too, dancing along with McKenzie and Sarah.

Toto, I've a feeling . . .

we're not in Ohio any more. Had to make a quick trip to the Sunflower grocery in Rolling Fork to pick up snack stuff for the after-school crowd, and just look! A WHOLE SECTION, just for grits!

A different kind of "homework"

Michele helps with the new floor.

Leigh and Genesis take a break to give the camera a smile.

Worksite supervisors Barb and Ken, standing next to the Center's handy tool shop on wheels.
Under the tutelage of Barb and Ken, volunteers from Michigan who have been volunteering at Cary Christian Center for many years, Team Witt painted the interior of a house, laid tile, and did a variety of other home repair tasks for a very grateful homeowner named Sandra.

the real Breakfast of Champions

Exhibit A: Isaiah Twitty (a.k.a. Twitty) student at Northwestern College and all-round athlete extraordinaire, about to dive into a bowl of the good stuff.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The best part of the day

Reflection time. That hour or so at the end of each day when we gather (in the girls' dorm — so that the larger Northwestern group can have the great room out front) to talk about we have experienced, each of us sharing a high and a low from our day. Lots of laughter, some tears, much gratitude for the opportunity to be here — and for this wacky and wonderful community to share it with.

Scenes from a thrift store

Several of our folks have spent at least some part of every day this week working at the thrift store, unpacking boxes, sorting items, putting clothes on the racks, creating displays, discovering interesting finds, and getting to know the delightful Miss Audrey, manager of the thrift store.

Just here for the kids

Oge, in a classroom in the Children's Village —buried in an after-school boy pile.

Heepke and a new friend.

Watching volleyball with Anna.

A routine but hugely rewarding part of the week: Helping out with the after-school program at the Children's Village. Making snacks, helping with homework, singing and dancing, playing on the playground — all in an afternoon's work.

Meanwhile, back at the distribution center

Just a few more boxes to sort through, y'all.
Many of us have been spending time this week at the distribution center (a warehouse-type facility that feeds into the thrift store in Rolling Fork). As we sort through donated items, some get sent over to the thrift store, but the rest get baled and shipped to other parts of the world where people are in need.

So what is baling, you ask? Take a look at the handy pictorial below. . .

BALING 101: A Handy Pictorial
1. Help Ken unload the truck.
2. Wheel the cart over to the baler.
3. Sort and toss, setting aside things that either can't or shouldn't be baled.
Everything else goes into the baler.
4. Close the baler door and prepare to be amazed.
5. Baler doors open to reveal. . . a bale!
6. The bale then gets loaded onto a forklift and stacked out in the paved area
behind the distribution center to await pickup.
(Requisite artsy shot of bales in the driveway!)