by irene bean
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SOME OF MY FAVORITE BLOGS I'VE POSTED
A Solid Foundation
Not Trying to be Corny
This Little Light of Mine
Love Ya, Sweetheart
We Were Once Young
Veni, Vedi, Vinca
U Tube Has a New Star
Packing a 3-Iron
Well... Come on in
There's no Substitute
Dressed for Success
Life can be Crazy
The New Dog
No Spilt Milk
Pretty Lucky Woman
Have Ya Heard the One About?
The Great Caper
Why I Don't Date Anymore
My New Security System
Dedicated to Katy
A Short List
2011-06-16 6:38 AM
Outreach at Mountain T.O.P.
The following is a compilation of journal entries since I arrived at Mountain T.O.P. in Coalmont, TN.
Preparing for my departure for Mountain T.O.P. was harrowing and fraught with a rare episode of sleep deprivation. The previous week included two delightful houseguests - staff members from Mountain T.O.P., I'd also assisted with the preparation of foods for a *Building for the Future* meeting with members of Morton Memorial, and then at the last moment when I should've been packing and organizing, I learned a new tenant was arriving to occupy the apartment attached to my home. I was swamped.
But here I am. I apologize in advance, but I'm feeling overly corny and sappy. The very real and true emotions that are sailing through my heart are so satisfying. There's no point in even trying to edit my joy and gratitude.
When I was in Morocco, one of the first revelations I experienced was a sense of belonging. The feeling sprung from the recognition that my fellow housemates and I, though insanely diverse, were linked by certain tenets regarding humanity. It was with great joy that I silently shouted, I "belong!" Well, that's how I feel at this very moment here at Mountain T.O.P. Though weâ€™ve only just met, I'm experiencing a deja vu feeling with a sense of belonging channeled through my fellow participants, the staff, the glorious landscape, the devotionals, the songs, and so many more indefinables.
My work in Morocco this past winter is when I started to act upon my heart's desires â€“ I prayed that upon my return to the Cumberland Plateau I would find a similar purpose - something I could dependably return to. I had never heard of Mountain T.O.P. I had no idea what it was or that it even existed. During a chance conversation, my prayers were answered and that is why Iâ€™m here today.
Mountain T.O.P. is an amazing destination with its almost hotel-like room accommodations and good foods â€“ yet still heavily imbued with the campy feeling one yearns for and expects. The bunks are sturdily made with two by fours and plump & comfy new mattresses. Individual air conditioning has been an unexpected and much welcomed amenity added to this year's upgrades.
Today while lunch orders were taken, I wildly waved my hand like a six year old when peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were offered. Yum!
Today started with a fabulous breakfast and as much coffee as I could gulp before we took off to pick up two young participants. One of my charges lives close to the I-24, which takes me to the farthest outpost for pick-ups. (80 miles roundtrip each day.) Once we returned to camp, I worked with the Comfort Doll project. I could hardly believe I was assisting with anything requiring fabric. These people obviously operate on great faith. Anyway, scraps of various cloths have started to transform into Comfort Dolls. During the construction the children wrote down on small pieces of paper different concerns, fears and worries. They then balled up the papers and tucked them into the dolls â€“ hence the dolls take on the worries and comfort the children. I hope I've described that well. I think itâ€™s an amazing concept!
The children who come to camp everyday are adorable. All come from impoverished families, while others struggle with the double threat of poverty and emotional disability. Much to my own surprise, before today I had a poor understanding of autism & aspergers. Taking charge of these children and organizing craft projects presents challenges I'd never before imagined... not for sissies! At the end of the day we all were exhausted - good exhausted, yet exhausted.
Many of the A.I.M. volunteers in residence this week work with major home repairs. People from the area apply to Mountain T.O.P for help with wheelchair ramp construction, roof repairs, bathroom installations etc. The program is structured with the homeowners helping pay for supplies so a partnership is formed rather than just a handout.
Most important, perhaps, of all my observations is that outreach is so good for the soul whether it's half way around the globe or a neighboring town or next door or the person seated beside you in a pew. Outreach comes naturally to me and not because I'm a Mother Teresa. I was a Child Welfare Caseworker in past years and also took care of my mother for many years. I now have the time. I still have the required body for the kind of physicality outreach often requires. Two new hips have made a huge difference. I love my life.
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