As Seivert reported, our team arrived in Mississippi a little after 7 p.m. It was a LONG ride, but everyone did well. The only mishap was a failure to follow the GPS in Memphis, and that resulted in an interesting, rather circuitous, route through the city. Other than that, the trip was fairly uneventful.
We stopped in St. Joseph's at iHop for breakfast this morning. Fr. Ries generously bought breakfast for the whole group. At each pit stop all missioners switched into different vehicles so we 'd get the chance to visit with various fellow missioners. We can already feel the team bonding.
Upon our arrival we were met by Lois Harrison and Kelly Tartt. They introduced us to what the Sacred Heart Southern Missions is all about. Something that surprised us was that Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S., and the county in which we are working is the poorest one in Mississippi. She described the pride of these people and how excited they'll be to meet us. They do not think of themselves as poor, but she says they most definitely are in great need. Many times they will actually give of their need because they are such a generous people.
We were given a quick tour of our living quarters. It is quite secure and comfortable. The girls were excited because there is a large room where they can all be together. Linda and I decided to bunk together, and Janet chose a room close to the kitchen, since she'll be in charge of overseeing meals. The guys will have to sleep in two or three separate rooms. There are more of them and the rooms were not set up the same way. The 'compound' is very nice. However, we had a (what I will call) Honduras moment when Abby found a spider in her bed. The girls were successful in eventually cornering and capturing the trespasser, much to their relief.
After our tour everyone got busy emptying the trailer and storing the materials. Janet and Dave got to work on grilling hot dogs and making beans, which we finally ate a bit after 9. By the time we had our 'junta' and a 'nuts and bolts' meeting, the team headed for bed around 11. They should be exhausted from the early morning, long vehicle ride, and the general excitement of the new mission experience. They get to sleep in until 6:30 tomorrow. Lois is coming at 8:15 to divide us into groups and send us off to work.
Oh yes, I see some of you are concerned about Jacob. Of course, he's with us. When he didn't show up at school and I couldn't reach him or his dad by phone, we drove to his house to find him. They saw us leaving the parking lot and followed us to his house where he climbed aboard. Everything is fine! We never considered leaving anyone behind. I guess that's one of the negatives of leaving cell phones behind: you just can't call them and find out where they are.
Speaking of electronic devices - they are only missing them a little. Within a day or two they won't even think about them. Remember, though, you can communicate with us through your comments. Those will be shared at the nightly 'juntas' so send your comments!
Take care, ya'll. Pray for a great mission. Like they said tonight, we are the #1 Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras team serving in Mississippi. We plan to set the bar high for any others who might follow us one day.