The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Voluntourism, part 6

This is a long-overdue continuation of posts of our travel during Thanksgiving week 2013.

Our main purpose in going to Boone, North Carolina was to work alongside my folks at the processing center of Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.   They go to Boone every year and since kiddo was now 13, we could go, too, and have a hand in the works. It was fun to meet new people as we worked and great to see the inner workings of an organization that helps so many people- both here and around the world.  Being there has made me want to double the number of shoeboxes we prepare next year- and to be more thoughtful and deliberate with the things we include in our boxes.

Of course, no trip is complete without seeing some of the local places of interest, so we enjoyed scenery, shops, historic sites, and one of my favorite places, Mitford.

What?  You say there is no Mitford?  You say it is a fictional place made up by author Jan Karon?  Nonsense.  It is real- as real as the town that provided the inspiration for Karon- Blowing Rock, North Carolina (conveniently located right next to Boone...).

We managed to visit Blowing Rock more than once during that week, and each visit brought back memories of the Mitford books.  Did you know that Jan Karon used some of the names of the townsfolk in her stories?  And- some of her characters were based on actual people- past and present- who lived around Blowing Rock.
The house the Jan Karon rented while living in Blowing Rock.

Another angle of the yellow house where author Jan Karon lived.

This church was the inspiration for Lord's Chapel

I can just picture Father Tim walking to the church to minister to the people of Mitford.

Lots of trendy shops.

We were there for the tree lighting ceremony.  Funny thing is, the whole middle part of the tree didn't light up!  I guess they'll have to check every bulb on that strand...

In one of the shop windows.

The town has a Nativity scene.  

We bought popcorn at the fudge shop. 

The local theater group put on a Live Radio Play of It's a Wonderful Life

The play was at the high school auditorium.

Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!

Kinda makes you want to re-read the Mitford books, doesn't it?  (I'm on book eight...)

Well, now you have seen our whole trip.  It was really a nice time and Boone is a special place. No wonder my folks like to go back time and time again.  

I would love to be able to do this type of volunteering more often, but my teaching schedule really only allows it in the summer.  It's too bad Samaritan's Purse doesn't do some shoebox processing in the summer.  It's not like anything in the boxes could spoil if they were processed that early.  It's also too bad there isn't a processing center in the Pacific Northwest.  Maybe I'll write them a letter and bug them about that.  You never know...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Voluntourism, part 5

For me, there are three parts that make a trip awesome:

1) The anticipation- this is where I make lists and pack things and feel smug when it all fits into the carry-on bag.
2) The execution- the actual trip (Except for the flying part.  Flying used to be awesome but it isn't anymore.)
3) The reflection- looking back and putting the photos into scrapbook pages.

I've been deep into part three lately (when I haven't been unpacking boxes and making decisions about where to put things).  Got nine scrapbook pages done yesterday- most of them about the trip and there are many more to come!

On Thanksgiving Day, the processing center for OCC was closed. So we went for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and saw this big house MANSION on a hill that overlooks Blowing Rock, NC.  It's gorgeous and it provided the inspiration for Miss Sadie Baxter's home called Fernbank in the Mitford books.

In real life, it was owned by textile magnate Moses H. Cone.  You've heard of Levi Strauss?  Cone provided him with denim.  Cone died in 1908 and his wife in 1947. They never had kids, and the mansion was donated to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital upon her death, and then to the National Park System a few years later.

Today the grounds have beautiful trails and the house itself is used as a shop to sell items made by local artists and craftsmen.  We spent a lot of time browsing, but there wasn't anything in my price range that I couldn't live without. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, so I can't show you any of the beautiful carved wood, stained glass, and textile items for sale.  I guess you'll just have to use your imagination.

Can you just imagine living there?  What beautiful views to wake to every morning!