Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School

This past weekend we traveled a few hours south to see President Carter in his home town of Plains, GA where he regularly offers a Sunday lesson as part of the worship service at his hometown church, Maranatha Baptist Church. He’s 92, a warm and humble and welcoming human. You can visit him too, any weekend he’s in town (and that’s almost every Sunday this spring), we ecstatically recommend making the trip.

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Advised to arrive early, we showed up in the dark at 7am for what turned out to be a lightly attended day due to below-freezing temperatures, and had an hour wait in the car followed by the requisite two hours of Secret Service and church community member orientation. The church is small, with 25 active members and seating for a few hundred including the overflow meeting room in the back. This is an intimate small town ministry, as with so much of Plains and the Carters it is largely unchanged from 1976: they still live in the ranch home they built in the 1960s, and go to church with high-school friends and relatives, plus us curious visitors.

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President Carter spoke with the us for about 40 minutes, starting with current politics, reiterating his life-long commitment to furthering peace and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as embodiment of world religious ideals for living good lives in a global human society, and diving into the week’s readings from the Apostle Paul’s letters to Titus and Philippians. When he asks the congregation open-endedly “what do you know about Paul?”, you see a man confident in teaching, with no worries of being stumped on a favorite topic, and pursuing a life of Christ-like humility and disinterest in worldly measures of success.

If you stay on for the regular Sunday service of hymns and preaching by a guest minister, you can get your picture taken with the Carters, and attempt to match the glowing smiles of these two wonderful people.

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An autumn walk

Along the creek

The rain came early this morning, leaving space for a mild dry partly cloudy afternoon. After spending much of the day reading, we headed out for a walk. Our trees have left about half their leaves in our yard so far – or rather, half the trees have lost most of their leaves, and the other half are saving them for sometime less convenient in the winter. Neighbors have waist-high leaf piles bordering the road, or are holding out for one big rake.

Creek trail fall colors

Our house is between two brushy creeks on the west side of town, and a handful of powerline easements criss-cross on their way to the power substation to the east. As we walked along the unexplored loops and cul-de-sacs near but new to us, I eyed what I’d hoped to find: an access path towards one of the creeks without a house or private property no trespassing sign.

Quiet, only the most occasional glimpse of a roof or a sewer pipe crossing the creek, and wonderful woods smells and fall colors. A surprising splash of wild hidden within town, and a crisp but comfortable day for discovering it.

We eased back through a field along a powerline and back to the road, continuing our walk into dusk until our looping traipsing returned us home.

Creek trail fall colors

Moving to Milledgeville

About a month ago, just before setting off on our vacation, Stephanie received great news: a fantastic job offer to continue pursuing her college teaching career. As Georgia College and State University‘s new Assistant Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History, she’ll be teaching in her field at a small liberal arts school, with a supportive faculty and lots of freedom to design her classes and inspire students towards further study and excitement about Latin America.

Georgia College and State University

Her new professorship is a tenure-track position, up for review in 3 years. This means we know where we’ll be living and working for the next several years, little Milledgeville, Georgia (population 17,715; state capitol up through the Civil War). Smack in the middle of the state, it’s a reasonable drive to the coast (Savannah), and to most of Stephanie’s family (Atlanta is two hours away, South Carolina a three-hour drive). School starts August 19th, so the move is coming up in just over a month.

In addition to the great opportunity for Stephanie, I’m excited for the move for many reasons centered on the ruralness of the area. Surrounded by the Baldwin State Forest, and a short drive to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, we’ll have no shortage of nearby woods to explore. There are numerous small lakes in the area in addition to the large reservoir Lake Sinclair. Kayaks are likely in our future.

Compared to our tiny Philadelphia one bedroom apartment, we’ll be moving to a house with a yard. (We’ll also have room for visitors to stay with us comfortably again.) We’re optimistic our landlord will let us grow a garden, and in the long growing season of the south (USDA Zone 8!) I’m looking forward to quite the garden, and will try to even get in some greens this fall.

We don’t actually know where we’re going to live yet, whether we’ll find a nice place in town or a few miles out – perhaps towards the lake, or a lot buried in the woods – because we’re waiting until we can drive around and get used to the area before renting for the year. To make this feasible, we’re moving with a container service who will store our belongings for a month, and we’ve rented a short-term place for the three weeks of August by negotiating a cheap rate from a furnished vacation rental on the lake. But watching the rental listings, it looks like there will be some good possibilities for September (though I may have to settle for an electric stove).

Another new start to undertake, we’re thrilled to be heading south this year with a great future ahead of us.