As we have traveled, I’ve loved feeling the realness of the people and places we are learning about. After leaving Mississippi, we stopped at Old Cahawba, a ghost town near Selma. Two important rivers meet there, and it was made Alabama’s first state capital. Though the capital was soon moved to Tuscaloosa due to flooding, the town remained a thriving center of commerce, with some 3,000 residents at the beginning of the Civil War. During the war, a large cotton warehouse was turned into a Union prisoner-of-war camp.
After the Civil War and more flooding, the state relocated the county seat from Cahawba to Selma. By the 1870s, the town was largely abandoned.
We saw old houses and ruins of old houses and churches and stores. Being in that place, when not much was left of that place, helped me to feel the struggles and the successes of the people who lived there, no less real for them than my own experiences are for me.
In Selma, we drove over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named after a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and the site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday attacks by police on civil rights marchers. Time is a funny thing. Just traffic when we drove over the bridge in 2017; no billy clubs, no tear gas. Places like this bridge are good for us and the boys to see. Real people, real lives, real sacrifices. Real hate, real healing, real stumbling, real getting up.
Further down the road we had a chance to catch up with our friends Jared and Diane Garfield. We got to know them when we were living in Georgia. They’ve since moved down to Alabama and we had a great time catching up while the kids swam in their pool. We stayed over night and took them up on their offer to use a (yes!) full-size shower the next morning.
Then it was up to the Flowery Branch and Gainesville area northeast of Atlanta. We spent the first five years after college here and were lucky to have a good group of friends to lean on. We were far from family, just starting our own family (Burton, Ollie and Max were born here), first full-time job, etc. We had a fun night reminiscing and catching up with the MacPhersons, Lunts, Nicholiches, and Pooles. The next day was Lane MacPhersons mission homecoming, so we were able to see even more of our dear friends from our time in the Gainesville Ward. We got a glimpse of what Heaven must be like: warm embraces, bright smiles, and the strong bond that is formed from striving together.
Monday morning, Aug. 14th, we stopped by the AJGA before hitting the road. This was my first job out of college and a place where good friends, colleagues and mentors helped me to grow a lot personally and professionally. The summer is super busy for the staff, but we were able to say hello to a few old friends who weren’t out on the road. Tung made the drive up even though he doesn’t work there anymore—so generous! So many good memories with that great organization!