Day 1: Sunday, June 17, 2018
Trip to Charleston
A few pics from my phone of our first day. Our travel to Charleston. Laurel, Kylee, and Kris having a swinging good time at a rest stop in the Hocking Hills in southern Ohio. Leigha and Lydia playing cards on the bus. Crossing the mighty Ohio River.
The pilgrims appreciate the prayers from Teri Hutchins, Beth Jagos, Jill Perry, and Dave and Mike Little on our journey to Charleston. At the time I am writing this, we are approximately 100 miles from our destination. The trip has been uneventful in the negative sense, but we are having a lot of fun. Thank goodness for the songs Laurel downloaded to her phone and a couple of movies we have watched.
We will have more of a report tomorrow. In the meantime, keep the prayers coming.
Laurel, Lydia and Bill
Day 2: Monday, June 18, 2018
Gateway Walk & Drayton Plantation
First of all, we would like to thank those that are praying for us while we our on this journey in Charleston. A special thank you to those who have signed up on the prayer list: Lisa Cronk, Nancy Day, Connie Hibbard, and Terri Hutchins. We appreciate your thoughts and love as we become closer to God and deepen our understanding of His love.
Today (Monday) we started our day at the Gateway Walk in the french quarter of Charleston. As we passed through each gate, we thought of the “gates” we come upon in our lives and how challenging they may be to walk through. We walked along a garden and ended up in an old cemetery. Nicole felt the spirit within the cemetery—she felt God was very close to everyone in that moment.
Then, as we drove to the Drayton Plantation, we looked at the skyline while crossing a bridge and were greeted by plenty of church steeples. Once we arrived at the plantation, we stopped to eat our packed lunches on some picnic benches under live oak trees. We were introduced to our guide, Lucy, and heard her presentation about the Drayton family’s history, including their enslaved workers and the horrible acts that were done onto them. We walked over to the actual Drayton house and began to marvel at the intricate, symmetrical details in every aspect of the rooms. We took a moment to reflect after looking at the two stories and walk-in basement of the house. Each of us went out onto the land surrounding the house and found a spot to journal about what we had just seen and heard.
After the plantation tour, we were separated into three teams and began our Stone Soup Challenge! We drove to a local grocery store and our Wonder Voyage leader, Susan, began to explain the challenge. Each team will cook dinner one night this week with what they buy at the grocery, but with only fifty dollars to spend on food for all of us. Once all teams have prepared their dinners Susan will judge who created the best meal and one team will become the winner! Tonight, Laurel, Lydia, Leigha, and Nicole cooked the first meal, which was tomato soup, grilled cheese, and a caesar salad. Tomorrow, Bill and Mark will be cooking dinner and we have a feeling it may be Mexican food. On Wednesday, Kris, Tracie, and Kylee will cook.
Kylee and Nicole
Day 3: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Greetings St. Jude’s,
Today’s activity took us to Middleton Place. This is another plantation, but unlike yesterday, it has been restored almost to the way it was before the Civil War. It is located along the Ashley River. Some of the buildings and most of the beautiful gardens date back to the early 1700s. The garden is where our tour started and you could see a lot of influences of French architecture and gardening techniques. The other thing that we noticed is that all of the ponds, landscaping and layering of earth were started in 1755 by enslaved Africans. While the grounds were very beautiful it was difficult not to think of all of the hard work and harsh conditions the enslaved people went through constructing this amazing plantation.
While most of the house was destroyed in the Civil War part of it remained and was restored. The family was well educated and active politically. Two of the Middleton’s were signers of the Declaration of Independence as representatives of the South Carolina Colony. Ironically one of their descendants was a signer of the of the Ordinance of Secession for South Carolina.
There were signs of God throughout the day. The marble statue of a sandal binder not only survived the Civil War and the Great Earthquake if 1886, but Hurricane Hugo in 1989. You can’t tell from the picture, but Hugo’s 135 mph winds actually moved the statue about an inch on her pedestal. Then there is the Middleton Oak, a Live Oak Tree said to be 1,000 years old. Think of everything that tree has seen from the time it sprung from the earth. It had marked an Indian trail long before Englishman came to the Low Country. And then there is Mary Vick, our sweet tour guide, who was a wealth of information and very accommodating. She declined a tip and asked that it be used for something fun for our group. So what else do you do in South Carolina when it is blazing hot? You get ice cream!! It was a nice gesture from a lovely woman.
Finally, it was Mark and Bill’s turn to make dinner and they simply out did themselves. Fresh guacamole appetizer followed by pan fried chicken with a cream sauce, roasted veggies and cheesy mashed potatoes. Mark even whipped up a lemon cream tart for dessert. Every one LOVED it. Special thanks to Teri Hutchins, Lynne Ronthi, Beverly and Jack Mills and everyone else sending prayers. We are seeing Gods work and wonder in the past and present. What we learn and experience here in Charleston will certainly help shape how we see God as we move forward in our journey. Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be action packed so stay tuned.
Peace and Love,
Leigha and Bill
Day 4: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
For Wednesday our pilgrimage word of the day was “ Community”, we looked for god in community in the activities we did today.
Today was an extremely busy day with gathering at 6:15 am to start the day with breakfast and morning prayer. Then we left to go to our service project with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: Shell research team. We loaded 350 bags of recycled oyster shells at around 30lbs a bag on a boat and took them to a location on the Stoneo River, where we then unloaded them and created an oyster reef for the purpose of creating an important habit for oyster reproduction and benefit of the coastal ecosystem. What we discovered in the process was we worked together as a team and a community to create a human chain to create the oyster reef with everyone having an important role.
From there, after an exhausting morning, we payed a visit to a tree named Angel Tree. The tree is a Live Oak the has been alive for around 400 year, an was a part of the Charleston city parks. There we ate lunch and marveled at gods creation as we ate lunch.
After that, we visited the Folly Beach where we swam and relaxed for a mid-day break.
Shopping and Dinner is what followed, we ate the Roadside Seafood restaurant in the Folly Beach area where most of us tried Gator tail bites which tasted like very salty chicken.
Afterward we returned to the Folly beach area and embarked on our sea kayaking expedition where we relaxed and grouped up as a community to listen to the stories of our very knowledgeable tour guide, Charlie, who also showed us how to group up and hold us together during rough waters. We encountered multiple dolphins who swam back out into the estuary we had just moved out of to talk about the importance of oyster in the environment, which also was heard about at our service project. As we kayaked back, we got to enjoy God’s splendor in the sunset the fell over the estuary and grass marshes ending our long and eventful day the focused on the importance of community and God’s love.
Mark Jagos and Laurel White
Day 5: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Hey Ya’ll from Charleston!!
After morning prayer, we had an unexpected treat and went to Waffle House for breakfast. It’s just one of those things you have to do when you are south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The word of the day was “Holy”, so it was fitting that after breakfast we made our way to Mepkin Abbey.
Mepkin Abbey is a community of Roman Catholic monks established in 1949 on the site of the historic Mepkin Plantation, north of Charleston. We were able to take a walking tour of the grounds, which included lovely gardens and sculptures from local artists. We observed Midday Prayer in the church and learned about a day in the life of a monk. Which can be summed up in four words: Pray, Work, Hospitality, Repeat. The monks at Mepkin Abbey pray up to 8 times daily. They live by the work of their hands, growing oyster and shiitake mushrooms. And they share their spiritual journey and communal lives with all seekers. The Bell Tower was of special interest. Named the Tower of the Seven Spirits, it gives a voice to the communities of people who lived on Mepkin land including Native Americans, African Americans who worked the land, and the monks that lived and are still living at the Abbey.
The pilgrims spent the afternoon trimming, raking and weeding the grounds. Then we spent the some reflective time writing down one sentence describing how each person in the group is holy (remember, that’s the word of the day). The reflection continued with a Labyrinth walk, followed by the Eucharist. This was one of the more touching and emotional times we have had in South Carolina.
Tonight was Tracie, Kris and Kylee’s turn in the Stone Soup Challenge. Schloppy Joe’s Cafe served up omelette’s made to order with potatoes, French Toast Stix and Bananas drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Everyone left feeling happy and satisfied before getting ready for Compline.
Did we mention it’s super steamy hot here? Thank goodness we had the prayers of Terri Hutchins, Crista Spencer, Amy Freeman, and the Pettiphers, to keep us going. And thank you to everyone at St. Jude’s for prayers and helping make this Pilgrimage possible. Today was a great day. As my co-author Nicole Jagos put it, “Today was a day to be spent with God.”
Peace and Love,
Nicole and Bill