Jeffrey was mistaken about the Smyrna McDonald’s. Only the drive-in was open 24 hours. We were to be expelled from the restaurant at 11 PM. On this cold night there were no local hotel rooms to be had. Jeffrey would have asked to sleep in the local jail, but Movie David’s arrival gave us another option.
David drove us and our bike through night and fog, over uninhabited mountains, to Elkton, Tennessee.
From Elkton, we biked 10 miles this morning to Ardmore, a town that straddles the Tennessee-Alabama line.
Jeffrey left me in a pannier while he attended services at the First Baptist Church.
The service began with announcements. Then there was mingling and greeting—people were very welcoming to Jeffrey and David—and a moment of silent prayer.
We were told that the service was less formal than ususal, because time was set aside for the children’s choir to sing about the Ten Commandments.
After the service, Azie (who said his mother chose the name from a Hebrew word) talked to Jeffrey about northern Alabama, various life choices he has made, and family history. Azie was sympathetic when Jeffrey explained that our government gives people the right to apply for asylum but provides no help for them to exercise that right.
Youthful Azie said that he is 81 years old.
Then Jeffrey and David had a fascinating talk with Brian, the assistant pastor.
Jeffrey greatly admires the sincere practice of Christianity, and told the cultured, thoughtful pastor that in this region of strong religious beliefs, pastors have great potential to guide their congregants to honor the Bible’s command to love and protect the stranger and the foreigner. Brian taught Jeffrey about Christian approaches to this issue. Jeffrey learned a lot, and hopes to continue the discussion. He shared with the pastor a photo Jeffrey took in 2013 at the Museum of the Resistance, Amsterdam, which we may have published previously.
After the service, Jeffrey and David lunched at Cassie’s Cafe. Jeffrey was introduced to Cassie! Brittney served lunch and took some photos.
We biked another 28 miles through rolling hills, on smooth pavement, in sweet air with an occasional soft tailwind, often on bike lanes, to Huntsville.
To honor our efforts, Jigi gave us an extra discount on a room for the night. A member of the staff (she declined to be photographed) saw the signs on our bike, cheered for human rights, helped Jeffrey maneuver our bike into our room, and wished us a restful stay.
Jigi recently moved from Jackson, Mississippi, to Huntsville. She loved Jackson but she and her Mississippi-born children all will benefit from being near extended family.
Jigi soon will feel at home in Alabama. Eventually today’s Alabamians will see her as part of their home. That’s America. We’re on the move. And in the end, E Pluribus Unum.
So glad to have David to be your back up. You are really getting into the culture of these small towns in a happy way. Good luck on the rest of this ride.