We (Brenda, Nancy, Peg, Art, Eric and myself) left Fulton for Annville, KY. After traveling about 600 miles, we arrived in London, KY. Following our evening meal, we went to the local Wal-Mart to purchase groceries for the next week. We then drove the twenty miles to Annville, but found the guesthouse all locked up. I called Tommy Miracle, the campus manager, and shortly after, Tommy, his wife and sons arrived at the house, along with property caretaker, Chris, and his wife and daughter. The very first question was, “Where’s Arnie?” which shows that our Arnie is an unforgettable person. Chris unlocked the house, and we each chose the room that would be ours for the week ahead.
During the trip to Annville there was much discussion on whether the brush piles created last year had yet been burned—as per (Boss Lady) Nancy’s instructions to Chris. On arrival, we could see the piles had been burned, but only just before our arrival, and—due to the prodding of Chris by his wife.
On Sunday morning, we traveled about 15 miles to Gray Hawk Reformed Church for worship services. (In the past, we’ve attended services at the Annville Church). Pastor Jason Elam, who also works at Grace Covenant Ministries as an instructor, greeted us. The worship service was about two hours long but only felt like 30 minutes. The service was very informal and inspirational. Their choir sang, and our choir members joined them in leading that portion of the service. The service included a time of sharing, prayer concerns, announcements and greeting of all worshipers. During the announcements, Pastor Jason welcomed our crew, and Nancy as “the weed lady.”
On Monday morning, we met at the administration building to plan our week’s activities. Nancy gave Chris a picture of himself and Nancy shown pleading with him to burn the weed piles built last year. The picture’s caption was: “Boss Lady.” Nancy, Brenda, Peg and Eric then began the 2019 weed attack. Tommy’s sons, Landon and Clayton, kept some of the areas cleaned last year during their summer vacation. Art and I went to the Barnabas house to determine what supplies were needed to finish the two window replacements. That had been on our to-do list last year, but—with rain all week, the project didn’t happen until this year. Art and I caulked all the exterior opening gaps, and the seam between the two pieces of the window glass.
While this was going on, Tommy and an outside contractor were attempting to locate and seal off the four-inch pipe transporting water from the Reflection Center Lake. This water was used to supply the buildings’ boilers before city water was available. It was no longer used, but was leaking and draining the lake. This leak, along with the lack of rain this year, caused the lake to be about 3 to 4 feet lower than normal levels. With the pipe capped, and some much-needed rain, the lake should return to its normal level. The current lower levels had revealed a lot of pollution that could or should be cleaned up. There was some discussion about having local prisoners help with the cleanup, which made the Boss Lady ecstatic—at having MORE people to supervise and help with that very huge task! Those arrangements didn’t happen, though; so—it was back to the original landscape cleanup crew. Boo, hiss.
Tuesday morning brought sunshine, and the crew began to continue the cleanup. Gutters were cleaned out, whole abandoned flowerbeds were removed, and—most of all—Brenda was trained on how to drive the gator—used to haul all the removed debris to a dedicated burn location on campus. Driving the gator was Arnie’s job last year, and he had pretty much mastered the temperamental machine (although a nearby police officer busted into laughter once when it slammed Arnie into a very stationary building). Ow!! We were thankful for Brenda’s sake that the gator cooperated pretty well all week. Well, at least until Friday, when its transmission locked up and refused to shift out of “forward gear.”
Wednesday morning brought more vegetation removal while Art and I went to the trade store to restack steel roofing material needed for the section of the roof we were going to help install. The longest (29-foot) pieces that were needed for this project were, of course, on the bottom of the pile. We then helped Tommy, Chris and Jason install 2x4 and 2x6 treated lumber—spaced on the roof for attaching the new roofing steel.
Thursday brought more vegetation and tree removal. The walnuts were so thick on the ground that it was like walking on ball bearings. Brenda was under the weather with what she thought was the beginning of a sinus infection. Art and I helped with the installation of the steel on the roof.
Friday brought, guess what? We had our first rain—unlike last year when it rained every day, which, of course, instigated more weeds. Art and I helped finish the flashings on the side of the trade store roof on which we had installed the metal. We took the afternoon to get cleaned up, and start packing, and then went out for our last evening meal in London, KY.
Our other evening meals had been at the reflection center, and prepared by Pam, who treated us very well. On Tuesday evening Chris had brought his daughter, Kailee, to enjoy supper with us. This started a real bonding with Nancy. She observed that Nancy didn’t look like a “boss lady” as she was referred to in that ongoing joke with Chris. Kailee told us that her mother put the picture of Nancy and Chris in the kitchen so Chris could see it every day. Chris told us that, if Kailee had been their first child, there wouldn’t have been any more! She is the fourth child in the family, and says whatever she thinks. Kailee had many discussions—mostly directed to and with Nancy. We think Nancy really enjoyed it because the two of them would go for walks after our meals.
After our evening meals, Nancy led us in a Bible study on the “fruits of the spirit,” which led to the opening we did on the Sunday after we returned. On several nights, Art and Eric led us in good singing, accompanied with their guitars.
Well, the Holy Spirit is working! The Jackson County school board approved the extracurricular activity of having their public school buses transport 57 students from school to the Baptist church for Bible study every week. That is 12 more transported than on the previous week!
A gentleman, who had a fond place in his heart for the campus, had seen some of the improvements and realized the blacktop roads were badly in need of repair. He told Tommy to get a bid to resurface all the blacktop roads. The bid came to $80,000.00 and he wrote a check to cover the cost. The project was completed last week and the roads look great in the pictures that have been posted online.
On Saturday morning, we headed back to Fulton—arriving about 4:00 pm. Many times somebody would say something, and we’d all realize we truly missed Candie and Arnie. We all pray that God restores their health, and if the Lord is willing we can make this mission trip next year!