On Saturday morning, a contingent of about 30 people split nearly equally between Galeed Baptist Church in Bladenboro and Suggs Grove Missionary Church in Fayetteville pointed themselves south down Interstate 95 and headed for Savannah, Ga.
This was the regular third-weekend-of-every-even-month mission trip to the Savannah Baptist Center, a trip I’ve become quite fond of over the past couple of years.
But this one was different.
Instead of taking my usual seat directly behind Miss Freida on the Galeed church van with Vicki Clark behind the wheel, my ride to Savannah on this trip was the Galeed church BUS. It was my first bus ride in about 15 years, and that one was in Honduras — which, interestingly enough, is something else that will pop up on this trip.
I was still near Miss Freida during the ride south. She was in the seat across the aisle, which was the good news. The not-so-good news was that we were the last line of adults before the final few rows of youth, which included a few … shall we say … high-energy, high-metabolism individuals.
Although Vicki wasn’t gripping the steering wheel, the driving was primarily handled easily by Barry Galyean, who kept the bus rumbling down the interstate at a steady clip — which, for the loaded-down vehicle, topped out at about 69 mph.
Once in Savannah, and since it’s tough maneuvering or parking a bus in the downtown area, we headed for Hutchinson Island, which is on the north side of the Savannah River. We converged on the waterway near the Westin Hotel and caught the free ferry that took us across the river to the Marriott, then up the river to a stop along River Street — the downtown, riverfront attraction featuring numerous shops, restaurants and street entertainers.
We were all armed with packages of crackers and bottles of hand- sanitizers that carried messages about Jesus, and our aim was to hand out as many as we could to those who were homeless and had gathered at the riverfront. Honestly, I didn’t see any. So after a walk down River Street, I poked my head into a few shops on my way back — and then I rode the ferry for several round-trips on the river until it was time to get back to the bus.
The rest of the day was filled with the usual — settling into our rooms at the Savannah Baptist Center, doing the shopping for breakfast groceries, getting the kitchen set up and deciding the morning duties.
But the highlight came during the evening devotional, when Justin Jones made the decision to give his life to Christ and declaring in front of the group that he was now saved. It honestly doesn’t get better than that.
The next morning at 7:30, I met my egg team of Jackie Galyean and Jackie Duarte to explain the cracking, whisking and cooking duties. They caught on quickly and cracked 360 eggs without leaving a single piece of shell and whisked every yoke successfully. They later got help from Lexi Tatum and Summer Winebarger.
It was during this process that I happened to overhear Jackie G. talking about Honduras, and it perked my ears up because of a mission trip I took there in the late 1990s. A few moments later, I asked her about it.
For the next 30 minutes or so, I became more and more impressed with a young lady who really seemed to have her goals set, her plans completely thought out and her head on straight. She told me she would be going to Honduras, again, for five weeks this summer to serve as an intern on a mission trip in the mountains.
She even met her boyfriend Carlos during one of those previous mission trips. He’s a Honduran resident who is on his way into the pastoral field.
Jackie G’s career goal is to work in the dental field as a hygienist in Honduras — and if the passion, determination and ambition shown as she spoke about her plans are any indication, it’s a safe bet she will do it all.
The breakfast we served to a small portion of the city’s homeless — and I will estimate we served about 225 meals that morning — went smoothly and brought its usual array of rewards. Despite it being Father’s Day, a time that can often be one of severe depression and unhappiness among the many homeless men, most showed nothing but gratitude for what we offered them.
Afterward, I had the pleasure of being part of a small group that was mesmerized and challenged by the mathematical brain-busters from one of those homeless men. I wish now I’d gotten his name. But for a solid 30 minutes, he hit us with one out-of-the-box math problem after another.
My favorite was this: You are a farmer with $100 to spend, and you have to purchase cows, pigs and ducks. Cows cost $5 each, pigs $3 each and duck 50 cents each. You must spend exactly $100 and you must purchase exactly a total of 100 animals (at least one of each). How many of each animal do you purchase?
After a church service, we boarded the buss and headed home — weary but once again satisfied that we’d accomplished a very good thing.
Oh, you didn’t think I was going to give you the answer to that math question, did you? If you think you have the answer or if it frustrates you to the point of serious aggravation, email me and I’ll verify your answer or give you the correct one.
— W. Curt Vincent is the general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.