Monday, October 1, 2007

a mountain retreat

last weekend, a portion of communality traveled to the southeastern edge of kentucky for our annual retreat.  we were in eolia, kentucky with a group called "ecco."  organized by ryan, it wasn't like our past retreats.  for this one we worked.  we spent time with two couples who are working with small, local initiatives (with the mennonite central committee) to support life in this rural, almost-forgotten place of poverty.  as a team, we assisted them in extending a deck on the community center (in which we slept) where the locals can access a thrift shop, a food bank and other forms of assistance.  they do it in the name of christ. 

the area is beautiful and scarred by coal mining and unjust practices.  it is rich in history and tradition and we witnessed this as guests of a fall mountain festival on saturday evening.  this area is fully dependent on coal mining for its economic viability.  they water is barely potable.  i felt really convicted when i couldn't bring myself to drink the rank, sulfur-smelling water that came from the taps.  the creeks are polluted and some of the stunning hilltops bald.  this isn't the developing world; it's our home state.

it was a delightful time.  we relaxed together.  we accomplished something with visible results (a rare treat for us slogging along in the slow, long work of mission here).  we experienced the outwardly-oriented love of god in the saints living and working there.  our eyes were opened to a beautiful, hurting place in our own land.  it was a real blessing and i was thankful that our children joined us for it.  stay tuned for photos from geoff.

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