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Published: December 17th 2008
Pecan sorting rocks!
Pecans and music, perfect party combination.
Hello Sinners! Yes I'm talking to you. You know you need to cleanse your soul of your sins. That is why we are here in Koinonia, which is on the outskirts of Americus in Georgia. We are in an intentional Christian community and we are honestly enjoying every minute here. The rain was hammering down as we arrived on Wed and it didn't stop until the middle of Thurs. But people here were happy, not (just) because of their beliefs but mainly because they've had a drought here. This is America's deep south and it is hot! Today it has been in the 80s, which hopefully bodes well for Miami!
We are staying in our own mini-house, one of several that surround a common. The work here has been varied, though it has little to do with organic farming. Mainly we have been sorting through harvested pecans and as this is the main season for them there are plenty to go through. Our other main task has been to pick up sticks in the pecan orchard and I mean literally picking up sticks! But it feels good to get outside in the sunshine.
There is a big communal lunch each day
A Rose amongst the cotton patch
She likes it here when the sun is out. I won't mention that earlier Fiona wasn't so happy when she was up to her knee is some sort of quicksand (oops!)
and at our first we had to stand up and introduce ourselves to everyone, which embarrassed Fiona no end (though worse was to come). The community is a mix of those who live here permanently and those who come and go (mostly to return at a later date). Everyone made us feel welcome and the place doesn't feel culty, just relaxed. They even seem quite relaxed about the hours we 'work', allowing people the freedom to take time to think and enjoy the peace. Though bizarrely we have been doing longer days here than at any other farm, a bit of reverse psychology perhaps? Most people spend the evenings doing their own thing, which has given us more reading time.
Sunday was an eventful day. We decided to head into Americus to get a taste of a real southern church service and let me tell you that you haven't been to church unless you have been to one here. We were told that services in Georgia can be a bit 'Fire and Brimstone' but nothing could prepare us for the explosion of the senses that ensued. We arrived at 'Friendship Baptist Church' just in time to catch the call to
Here's looking at you
A new creature we haven't seen before. (Is this the way to Armadillo? - sorry I had to)
prayer which included a full band, choir and people singing and clapping in bright red clothes. The church is 99.99% Black which means we stood out like a typical British sore thumb, though we felt most welcome there. The pews were packed, some 400 or so people and we settled in to the singing and clapping. The music was fantastic, passionate, yet joyful, none of these grey tunes you sometimes get in the CoE. We were all settled in and the actual service began. Here they asked those new or visiting to stand, which turned Fiona's face a brighter red than the shirts people wore, particularly when they gave us a round of applause! More singing ensued and women were crying, with people waving their arms. Then we sat to here the Pastor preach and boy did he. I think I managed to follow the gist of what he was saying, though he kept picking up different threads and going off at a tangent that both our heads began to spin a bit. I think this had a similar effect on the congregation, who were continually shouting out 'Hallelujah', 'Praise the Lord' and 'Amen' at almost everything he said. There
They wanted me for the Globetrotters but I said I was busy.
was certainly no quiet contemplation of the sermon that you get back home, this was a fully interactive audio and visual experience. I'm not sure you could go to one every week, but I certainly haven't seen a church that full in a long time. Though it does take some stamina, a full 2 and a half hours later (yes you read that right) we made it out of there and they we are due to meet again later for a special meal! Talking about our experience back at the farm people told us that this is apparently short for a service!
Anyway when we returned to our house we found we had a visitor, not the other woofer (who still hasn't shown up), but a squirrel that had fallen through the old chimney pipe. It seems he had been storing his nuts up there, though they don't seem to hibernate this far south (curious?). He had made quite a mess of the window frames trying to get out and virtually destroyed the blind, but we managed to evict him and seal up the hole. We both needed a walk so we took a stroll along the Peace Trail here, upon which we encountered an armadillo (we think) which was more than willing to pose for us.
That evening we too had a special Sunday dinner, where people brought along dishes they had made and everyone tucks in. Well we racked our brains to think of some great English culinary experience we could bestow, so in the end we plumped for the traditional fruit salad (Del Monte of course) which seemed to go down well. The evening ended around the campfire with Fiona giving us some rhythm on the hand drums and me using an old beer can and stones for a rattle. It certainly was a full day, and one of the best of our trip so far.
On Monday we went Carol singing around the neighbours (well we needed something without BasOp) and we had a great time giving joy to the elderly folks. I think it was joy, though with having 30 or so people descend on your house with guitars and dodgy beards, the expressions on their faces might have been something else. It certainly got us into the Christmas spirit, even though it was 70 odd degrees. We had placed some pressure on ourselves though by telling one person (just one) that we are in a musical society back home. This spread like wildfire of course and so we got manouevered to the front at many of these houses, which wasn't too bad, except when you realise that in America they have slightly different versions of the old classics. Monday was also our 2nd anniversary and whilst not romantic, we did enjoy giving a little bit of joy to others.
Koinonia is a wonderful place, with some very colourful history. We didn't know that before Martin Luther King Jnr they were already causing quite a stir down here with black and white living together and being paid the same. The community is just building back up from a lull a few years back, but there are generations of families who live locally who have been touched by the work here (Habitat for Humanity started on the very fields).
We are having a great time here and are planning to stay until Fri when they have a big Christmas meal for the Visitors/Helpers. So long and enjoy the UK, hope it isn't too grey.
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