I apologize that I am late getting another blog post up, so much has been going on!
We have been fully engrossed in the Memorial Invitation work. Our territory is very large and it is quite a daunting task to try to cover it all.
Service is starting to get better. People haven't been super hospitable because of the cold weather, they don't like to keep the doors open for very long. However, I had an interesting experience last weekend. I work as a cashier in a gas station on Saturday and Sunday evenings. This woman came in last Sunday, and my afternoon was going slow. I checked her out, but then she stayed at the counter and felt the need to tell me about how she tries to read her Bible everyday but is having trouble reading it and understanding. She told me that her grandfather really encouraged her to read her Bible and apply it, and that he had died recently. I thought to myself "I really need to witness to this girl." I was able to talk with her until her husband came in to see what was taking so long, but we talked for 20 minutes! I was able to get her name and address and I promised to bring her a Bible Teach book. This week I tried to find her, but as is common here, most streets do not have street signs. I am determined to find her this week. I did talk to some other pioneers and they gave her family a Memorial Invitation.
This is Donk- a donkey belonging to an old man in one of our territories. There is a brother and sister on the bridge and they walked over to give him hard candy.
This is a swing bridge that me and my pioneer partner, Molly walked across. Swing bridges are not uncommon here and there are several that we have to walk over to reach homes. There are some homes that we also have to cross railroad tracks to reach.
One thing that is different here is that everyone knows everyone and where everybody lives and who their family is. I stick out like a sore thumb, the locals can pick out right away that I am a "foreigner" so to speak. Most people are very friendly and ask where I am from and when I say Maryland the answer almost always is "Why in the world did you move to Phelps?" That opens up a door for me to explain that I came down to help with the preaching work and give a brief witness.
The Phelps area is very unique. This is a coal mining area and most rely on the coal industry to make a living. However, as it is everywhere, times are hard here. It has proven very hard for me to find a job in the medical field, most doctors are an hour away, and those close by don't have the greatest reputations. This area is afflicted by drug abuse, most commonly, prescription pill abuse. We had to ban two people from our gas station because they were dealing drugs on the property. Pike County is also a dry county, meaning no alcohol. However people will drive over state or county lines to get alcohol. I sometimes wonder if that contributes to the seeming proliferation of drug and alcohol abuse in the area. One thing I've also seen in service is these backwoods beer joints. Here's one I saw yesterday:
Another thing that is common here is cock fighting. It is against the law, however the police, judges and lawyers all participate in it. Saturday night is a big chicken fight night. Many people here treat their fighting cocks very well and they often have a lot of them. A typical yard might look something like this:
Yes, the rooster is tied to a traffic cone and that is its home.
Also, in this area many people live in mobile homes. Just like anywhere else, there are nice mobile homes and there are some that are pretty terrible. Here, some people just throw their trash in the yard, or burn it on the edge of the creeks. The scene above is not uncommon.
About three weeks ago, my dad came down to visit. Boy was I glad to see him! It was nice to have him visit and help out on the cottage. While he was here we got all of the flooring down! Thank you Dad, we couldn't have done it without you!
While my dad was down, the sister I work for insisted that we have a traditional country breakfast, aka, A Coal Miner Special. It looks like this:
I couldn't eat it all! And it kept me full until the very end of the day when I needed a little snack.
As a result of all our hard work, I was able to move in to my own place on March 12!!! I'm really enjoying having my own place and my puppy is too. Here's a little picture of the finished inside:
These are my new neighbors, two friendly goats from next door. They like to graze on the mountain.
I was also thinking I would share a little Kentucky terminology. Down here we identify our territories by "hollers." I live in Smith Fork holler. When you talk about where you are in the holler you use the terms head and mouth. The head is the very top, usually dead ending in a mountainside. The mouth is the opening of the holler, usually onto a more heavily travelled road. Hollers are usually narrow two lane roads, though most have areas where two cars can't pass each other. Another unique thing is some hollers have two names, an old one and a new one and most people will know the old one. An example is Popcorn Holler, which was renamed Swan Fork, most still call it Popcorn. We also have 'Bottoms' which I don't have a clear definition for. A 'Bottom' seems to be a group of houses. By no means would this be what northerners would call a development. It may more closely resemble a trailer park or just a random group of homes in a valley. But, when I asked my neighbor to watch out for my puppy, he asked if the kennel was in the bottom at my house..... Needless to say I was confused, and just told him it was in the backyard. His reply was "Yup, the bottom." You also can identify where you live by mountain names, like Big Creek Mountain, Phelps Mountain, Widows Branch, Calloway Mountain. Also, since six of us in the congregation live in the same holler, we travel to meetings together, yes all six in a sedan. It looks like a clown car when we pull up to the Kingdom Hall.
There are also some local terms that I've started using, like Pop instead of soda, being hateful(angry or rude), vaclipped (frustrated), addled (confused), schwarpped (drunk), blazed (high on drugs), sprigged (upset), what-n-all, might-could (maybe), wagged (carry around or take back and forth), pack (to carry something), gob( to gob off or be gobbed up means to block or stop up something, it can also mean clutter), reach (instead of hand someone something). Another thing I've noticed is using the term main, like the main back or the main head, to describe something all the way in the back.
People are also known here by their nicknames, like Groundhog, Porgy, Mountain Buzzard, Big Sexy, Gnat-Eye, Red, Big-I, The Boxer, Dinker, Wimpy (actually a guy's legal name), Crippled Bill, Hollywood, Cat Man and Can Man.
So this is just a little update as to some of my going's on. I hope everyone is doing well! I have really enjoyed the increased activity of the Memorial Season. I'm going home this weekend for the Special Assembly Day and then when I come back, we have our Circuit Assembly in two weeks. I'm really looking forward to meeting more of the friends in the circuit! I've got to go to bed now, tomorrow I'm helping in the Spring Clean Up at the Kingdom Hall and then we are going on a long hike!
Take Care Everyone!!!