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 19, 1998 – Thursday – 6:03 p.m.

Wednesday, after we worked, we went to Lexington to go to Southland Christian Church. It was very huge and really awesome!  We ate at Taco Bell that night and then drove back to our prison home.  It took an hour and a half to get there.  I slept both to and fro.

Today was definitely our last day at the one house we’ve been working on.  We finished up the porches and cabinets and even built a staircase.  Half of the group left to go dig ditches.

The week has flown by.  It has been loads of fun, but terribly stressful.  My patience has grown very short with Alex, Kate, and Sherlive.  I love them all to death, but their habits and personalities annoy me.  Earlier today I wasn’t enjoying the company of those around me, so I took about 30 minutes, sat down, and stared at my picture of Sarah.  Afterwards, the whole world was beautiful again.

Ron (Joe Bill) was one of those beautiful sights.  He’s been a great leader this past week.  He is so poor though.  He makes about $100 a week, and is sterile because he grew up around his father’s work and got lead poisoning.  He can’t have children of his own, and yet this poor man bought everyone dinner this evening.

This trip has caused me to appreciate Lees-McRae again.  And honestly, I think that is the only true reason I came….to see what Sarah means to me, to discover what my comfort means to me, to learn what I can live with and what I can live without.

I miss my music, you know, the music I listen to when no one else is around.  I miss my shower.  I miss my apartment as the Resident Director.  And, oh I miss everything about Sarah.  I miss those slight indentions on her forehead from when she had chickenpox as a child.  I miss the curve of her back.  I miss her laughter, her voice, and her smile.  I miss her hair, her smell, and the way she looks at me.  I miss her touch.  I miss my hands on her.  I miss talking and sharing with her, talking about nothing and talking about everything.

I love you Sarah.  May we dream of each other tonight.

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.

March 15, 1997 – Saturday – 10:22 a.m.

We went to Busch Gardens on Thursday.  I separated from the group for a couple of hours.  I haven’t had much alone time this week, so the time was precious.  I saw a beautiful bird show.

That afternoon we all swam in the lake.  These are good people here.  Kate’s family is a little weird.  The mom never talks.  I’m not sure I’ll ever come here again.

A new music store had it’s grand opening that night.  We went to it.  I bought some guitar strings for Paul at church.  I got a free T-shirt as well.

Charlie just said that this day was sad.  We are now leaving Tampa and on our way back to Banner Elk.  I miss my room and my close friends.  So, this day is wonderful.

On Friday we went to see Return of the Jedi.  I missed not seeing it with Josh though.  We were supposed to go wavering, but the weather was too bad.  We watched the sunset instead, but I walked off on my own.  It was nice.  The gulf swallowed the sun.

We ate at Applebee’s for dinner.  I had the best steak in the world.  I went for a walk that night.  The stars were beautiful.

I miss Jeni, Tracey, Ann-Marie, and Abigail.  I need them now.  They make me… me.

March 12, 1997 – Wednesday – 10:17 p.m.

We went to the Florida Aquarium yesterday.  It was very nice.  My favorite were easily the jellyfish.  So beautiful.

Afterwards, we came back here and swam in the lake.  That was relaxing and then we ended the night with the hot tub and a game of UNO.

Today we went to the Museum of Science and Industry.  We saw an IMAX film and played with all the little gadgets.  It was really cool.  We went to a bookstore and then watched the sun set.  We ate at the Stone Turtle for dinner.

Ellen met up with us today and she’ll spend the rest of the week with us.

These days are nice, but it’s hard to find time alone.  Fun memories are being made, and I couldn’t ask for better friends.

This world is really big.  There are so many people just in this city.  There are so many eyes and ears here, and I feel it is my calling to tell them stories.

But I’m only a stranger, a pilgrim passing through.

I will work here.

But this is not my home.