Greetings from the Chattahoochee Valley! We are here for the 2009 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, and what a great event it’s turning out to be. Today was just the second day of building, and it got rained on mightily, but it’s been a weeklong series of events.
Sheilla was able to join me for the first part of the trip and we got to Americus late last Wednesday night. We spent Thursday and Friday doing office work and visiting with friends. We came over to the Valley Friday afternoon to get ready for meetings on Saturday with the Board of Directors and Advisory Council. These are always good sessions. I’m amazed at the quality of the folks who have agreed to serve on these two bodies. Of course most of them were brought in by Millard who had a remarkable knack for attracting dedicated, talented people.
Sunday morning board members split up to visit area churches. We got to go to the First United Methodist Church in West Point and had a great time. This was the last Sunday of their Camp Meeting Month and it was old time religion in action! We sang hymns that were so old that they were no longer in the hymnal. We were honored to be included. It was also the last Sunday of their casual dress summer so I was about the spiffiest guy there in my tie and jacket.
When we first started planning the Valley Build a year ago Sunday had been set aside to celebrate Millard and Linda’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. Come February we had to change the focus, so on Sunday we celebrated Millard’s life. Over 1,000 people showed up to honor the Valley’s favorite son. Linda shared memories of the incredible 50 year journey she and Millard shared. Millard’s brother Doyle reminisced on their childhood and Morris Dees on their years together when fortunes were being made. President Carter came to honor the time they had at Habitat for Humanity and I had the privilege of talking about Millard’s last great ministry, The Fuller Center for Housing. Debbie Tollett, a Habitat homeowner and Fuller Center volunteer reminded us all of why we do this work, and The Young Singers of West Georgia and the Valley Gospel Choir provided musical tributes including the Fuller Center standard On Higher Ground. It was a fine tribute to a great man.
Monday was the first day of building and Sheilla and I showed up with our tool belts on, ready to go to work. Sheilla did a great job and represented our household well. I, on the other hand, had a hard time staying on the job. I got called for a TV appearance in the morning and then into a series of meetings with board members throughout the day. I’d pop in for a few minutes, pound a nail or two, and then get called away. Sheilla’s probably the better builder of the two of us, so the house crew got the best we could offer, but they pretty much wrote me off before the day was done.
Sheilla had to go home today, so I drove her to Atlanta. Saying goodbye is the hardest part of this job, but we are both grateful that we had a little time together. We lived in Americus in the 90’s and enjoy this part of the country, so we relish any time we get to spend together down here. It was overcast and misty for most of the trip, and by the time I got back to LaGrange it was raining buckets. The rain let up for a while and I was sending positive thoughts to the work site, but by the time I got to West Point it was pouring again. Turns out there was enough rain that by 2:00 they shut down work and everyone was sent to pray for better weather. It doesn’t look like the project is too far behind, so with a little extra work we should be able to get things back on schedule. For my part I hope to do some actual work tomorrow and try to regain a little credibility with my house crew. I’ll report in on the results.