Well, we had another fantastic day working in the great Smoky Mountains. The weather was once again very favorable, and our team responded with energy and imagination. We find that having limited access to tools and ladders poses a challenge to involving everyone all the time, but the young people are very understanding, and everyone is taking turns to make sure that each person is contributing to and participating in the work at hand.
We were amazed that on Wednesday we were able to essentially complete the large porch structure, including the roof. One of the things that I love about these trips is that it pushes all of us – including the leaders – out of our comfort zones. We were able to innovate and adapt with what we had on hand in order to get the job done.
Our evening on Wednesday had a decidedly different rhythm, and we were grateful for that. First, we enjoyed an amazingly bountiful potluck dinner at the Cherokee United Methodist Church. There was no program – just an opportunity for us to sit and visit with another work group ( from Ohio!) as well as members of this congregation.
Following the meal, we went to an outdoor ampitheater, where we enjoyed a live production entitled “Unto These Hills”. For about 2 1/2 hours, we watched local actors engage in some traditional Cherokee dancing, followed by a presentation of the history of the inhabitants of this area. We continued to soak in aspects of Cherokee history and culture of which many of us have been ignorant. The drama included some Cherokee mythology about the nature and purpose of the creation, but was mostly centered in on how the Cherokee people developed a peaceful agricultural community in these mountains. It narrated the history of relationship between Native Americans and the Europeans and included a glimpse at some of the ways that the various groups of native Americans related to one another. Of course, no telling of the Cherokee story would be complete without reference to the removal in the late 1830s and the “Trail of Tears” in which so many died. It was a somber moment for our group to participate in this.