March 21, 1998 – Saturday – 11:12 a.m.

Thank God, I am home.

First of all, we learned that the guy who was staying the jail we were staying in was the jailer’s son, and he was under some sort of house arrest for murdering a guy.  You’d think he wouldn’t be able to leave on his on will, but in rural Kentucky, when you are the jailer’s son, I guess you can.  The girls started to get really scared of this small town by the end of the week.  Even us guys were on edge.

Allen and Charlie locked Vince and Justin and Alex in one cell as a kind of practical joke.  I was walking by when Vince reached through the bars and grabbed my neck and told me to let him out.  I don’t think he knew how hard he was holding me.  I got really upset, punched the bars because I couldn’t breathe or talk.  My knuckles were bleeding.  Why didn’t he just ask me, I didn’t know the others locked them in and I wasn’t apart of that joke.  I got really angry and told Vince to just stay away from me, and then I was upset with myself for getting so angry.

We left Friday and got here last night around 10 o’clock.  Vince, Charlie, and Kate drove on to Chapel Hill.

I’m not sure if this trip was any fun.  It was definitely an experience, but I wouldn’t put it up there with one of the best times of my life.

I hope Sarah comes back today.

Heal me God.

You’re all I’ve got.

 

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March 17, 1998 – Tuesday – 11:10 p.m.

We went to a bean dinner last night at the local fire station.  We had a fun time with some good old country food.  I went for a mile and a half walk on the railroad tracks.  I felt so alive with the totally new surroundings, but by the time I turned around and walked back, everything was familiar.

This morning we went to the same house and finished up the work.  Today was tough, for last night all I did was dream about Sarah.  I haven’t seen or spoken to her in six days.  It will be another five days until I see her again.  I doubt I’ve really stopped thinking about her since she left for Florida.  I really do love her and that fact alone goes beyond my understanding.

During our lunch break today, I went for a walk into the woods and took a nap.  We are so deep into Kentucky country here.  It is very peaceful.  The wind never stops blowing.

After I showered for the first since Sunday, we all went line dancing.  It was actually kind of fun.  There are two other college groups here, one from New York and the other from New Jersey, and they all seemed pretty neat.  After line dancing, Allen and Justin and I went with a church group to a basketball game even deeper into the country.  Everyone was really into it.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many white people excited about a basketball game.  I could care less, so I just played ping pong with some local children.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that I’m surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of new and different people, people very amazing and very alive, yet my thoughts are only occupied with one girl, a girl none of these people have ever met.  How can they make it through the day, without knowing Sarah.  How dead I must have been before I met her, yet to everyone else, she is just a girl.

I do not remember myself without knowing the Lord, I can’t comprehend how dead people must be if they are without him and he is not just a girl, but God.

I’m counting down the days until I get to hold Sarah again.

March 16, 1998 – Monday – 8:00 p.m.

The guys and I came back to sleep in the jail last night.  I have a room to myself, complete with bars and a metal toilet.  This place is so isolating it’s scary, but we all sang praises to our God as if we were the imprisoned Paul and Silas.  The acoustics were amazing!

Today we went out toward Saint Helens, KY and worked on a young family’s house.  We painted and tarred the roof.  A guy named Rob, but we called him Joe Bill, was our man-in-charge.  He was hilarious.  Come to think of it, everyone here is hilarious.

The day was cold, but soon became warm.  I think Bobbie Sue’s hot potato soup had something to do with it.

A hawk or some other kind of bird flew over our heads all morning, and a lovely little dog named Jake flew around our ankles in the afternoon.  This is a beautiful land and it seems like the people only know two things: loving God and loving people.

When we were driving into a nearby town here, we saw several strip mined areas and ruined mountain sides.  Allen asked, “What do they mine here?” and Alex respond with, “They’re own business.”

Too true, too true.

March 15, 1998 – Sunday – 10:55 p.m.

I’m in Beattyville, Kentucky with Vince, Allen, Justin, Alex, Charlie, Kate, Sherlive, Shannon, and Ellen.  We are here working with Habitat for Humanity.  I’ve been asked to keep a detailed journal while on this trip, so I’ll try my best.

In a way all of this is ridiculously hilarious.  The guys are sleeping in a prison next to an inmate that is technically “in jail” but still gets to come and go as he pleases, and the girls are sleeping at the habitat house with a bunch of other girls with safety pins and other such nonsense pierced in their faces.  Three of the guys comedically made a competition out of who would be able to kiss the first girl while on this trip, but after seeing the girls here in eastern Kentucky, they quickly called everything off.

An older version of the briefcase boy at school is one of the “in-charge” guys at the habitat house.  If he becomes an important character this week, I’ll simply refer to him as Vista for a hilarious reason only our group of ten will understand.

Herman is the other guy’s name.  We’ll meet up with him at nine tomorrow to start working.

As for tonight, we went to Beattyville Christian Church, a nice country church.  The girls are having second thoughts about staying with the safety-pin head chicks, so the church will consider giving us their activity center for the week.  This is where we are now.  There is a drum set and our group brought a total of four guitars.  Constant noise surrounds me.

We’ve met some neat people and this church has welcomed us like Christians should and like Jesus would.

The surroundings are different though.  These mountains aren’t like western North Carolina mountains.  This is old coal mining country.  It feels very poor, whereas our region of North Carolina is covered in the wealthy summer houses of rich Floridians.

I’ve been in a quiet mood since we left Banner Elk.  I guess I just know all of these friends are about to vanish from my sight after graduation and I just try to linger in the fleeting moments of appreciated them.

I feel so different from everyone, yet we are all alike in so many ways.

We all have fears.  We all have loves.  We are all sinners, and we have all been forgiven.

Oh, and we all have eyes, very deep eyes.  I feel as if these new eyes here know a pain I have never known.

September 26, 1997 – Friday – 11:30 p.m.

I am in Louisville, Kentucky.  I’ve never been here before.

We left at 11:00 a.m. this morning, twelve and a half hours ago.  Charlie and I rode with Dr. and Mrs. Martin from our church.  We came upon the scene of an accident that had just occurred seconds before, since he’s a doctor, we pulled over and he helped out.  It was a single car accident where the high winds picked up the trailer and pulled the truck off the road.  The two passenger’s were okay, but the driver got hit in the head pretty hard.

We had a fun trip up here and went to the first seminar earlier this evening.  The speaker spoke on sexual purity.  We are now at a Days Inn in Louisville.  I’m sharing a room with Charlie and Jamie.

I’m kinda tired, but it’s nice to be in Kentucky.  Tomorrow will be a full day.

September 22, 1997 – Monday – 7:30 p.m.

Church was great this weekend.  We had an awesome meal on Sunday night.  After church, about 12 people came over to my room.  Justin and Paul played guitar and we had a praise and worship session.  Ann-Marie, Abigail and Tracey were there as well.

Marisa called last night, as did Jeni.  Jeni was sad because Rich Mullins died in a car accident.  She’s coming down on Thursday to see Sounds Across America.

My uncle Jim from California is working in Boone.  He’s going to take me out to eat tomorrow night.

I leave for Kentucky Friday morning.  I’ll spend the weekend there in Louisville.  I’ve never been there before.

Horsemanship was so awesome today.  I rode so fast.  It’s getting darker earlier, the leaves are changing, the air is cool, and my time on that horse every week is simply magical.

November 17, 1994 – Sunday – 10:55 a.m.

I’m in the passenger’s seat of Jeni’s car.  We’re headed back to Lees-McRae.  It’s raining.

I’ve enjoyed my stay here.  It was a good Thanksgiving.

Last night Jeni and I were talking; she was telling me how sometimes she gets impatient when thinking about us.  She said she knows she still has to wait four years until she can be my wife.  The comment made me feel a little uncomfortable so I asked her if she would ever let me propose to her.  She said, “Of course, Jacob, the final decision will be yours.”

Then as we talked some more I told her I was scared.  I was scared because although I would like to spend the rest of my life with her, I’m still not sure if it will happen since I am so young.  I just wanted to play it safe.

That made her doubt.  “I just realized who I am to you Jacob.  And who you are,” she said.

“Who are we?”

“You have hardly dated people before.  How am I supposed to know that the feelings you have for me are as strong as the feelings I have for you?!”

I immediately turned over (we were lying on my bed in the sewing room) and faced the wall.  My heart had been stabbed.

“Don’t cry Jacob.”

I began to cry.

“Jacob…”

“Just hold me.”

She held me.

“What does that mean, ‘I never dated anybody?'” I asked.  “I’ve been hurt many times in my life Jeni.  There are many other girls I’ve had affections for.”

“I know Jacob.”

“Jeni, when I said what I said about playing it safe I didn’t mean it to be bad.  We’re young.  Just let it be love.  Let’s be free.  All I want is to go through each day and love you.  That’s all I ask.  That’s all I want.  And if this continues and years pass then I would very much like to be your husband.  But we have a long time until then.  I was praying earlier today.  And I asked God if you were the one he had set apart for me.  I told Him I was going to take a step of faith and the next phrase that entered into my mind I would believe were His words.  But before I could even finish the phrase He told me that I already knew.  And the answer was ‘yes.’  And I instantly doubted it, but not because I don’t want to be with you, but because while I know it in my heart, my mind doubts because I have been hurt so many times.  I am expecting you to hurt me, but you never do.  And sometimes it’s hard to accept the fact that the one thing I want the most, wants me in return.”

“Thank you Jacob.  You are so much wiser than me.”

See, Jeni dreams a lot and she knows it.  I am a dreamer too, but I don’t tell everyone about it.

She was getting ready to leave and go to bed, but I asked her to stay and hold me a little longer.

She did and I prayed for us.  I started to cry.  God is so good to me.  Jeni held me and tears rolled from my eyes.

I love her.

We are in Kentucky now.  It’s raining very hard.  Jeni’s dance concert is tomorrow night and Tuesday.

My life continues.  It never stops.  Jeni and I grow closer every day.  Each day is full of simple love.

And we still dream.

My heart has a burden for the world.  I want to show the love of Jesus through story and film.  Jeni wants to serve.

We dream, but these are not Winter Dreams.

They are hardly summer dreams.

They are our lives.

A reality.