Thursday, December 10, 2009


So after a record number of posts in a week last week, I have been a bit MIA from the blog world this week. That is because I got to spend much of Tuesday and Wednesday in Harlan and Bell Counties. For those of you who don't know your Kentucky counties, these are the 2 southeastern most counties in Kentucky. We are doing a planning study at work to improve one of the major roads that runs through these two counties, and as part of the study we had 2 public meetings this week (1 in Harlan County and 1 in Bell County) to see what the folks who lived there would like to see done.

Ok, so that is all the background as to why I spent a few days of my week down in eastern Kentucky. So, being from Ohio, I have never spent much time in eastern Kentucky. In fact, I had never been there until this past fall when we designed a some traffic signals for various locations throughout eastern Kentucky. It is definitely a different world from Lexington or Columbus. Lots of poverty, trailers, and people who live on government assistance. I even learned about the phenomenon of the first of the month. (As we were driving to one of our meetings for this project on September 1st there were all sorts of people with tables set up on the side of the road selling stuff. I found out that this is what happens on the first of the month because that is when everyone gets their checks, so people go out to the main road and try to sell stuff.) I don't say these things to belittle the people who live their or make fun of them, it is just the way it is, and it was all totally new to me.

Up to this week, the only folks from the area that I have had any interaction with are the engineers who work at the highway department, and some local elected officials that we had a meeting with a couple of months ago. So I went into the public meetings thinking that I was going to meet a lot of interesting people - i.e. poor, uneducated, lack of teeth, thick accents, etc. What I encountered was not at all what I expected. The folks who showed up to the meetings, were very polite and gracious. They were for the most part well dressed, and intelligent. They were so appreciative that we were trying to improve their road. They did have thick accents, but I think the stereotype that people from eastern kentucky get is for the most part unfair and inaccurate. I'm glad that I was able to get to know these folks a little and see that there are lots of folks who live there who are hard working, intelligent people who really care about the towns they live in.

My favorite person that I met was Hardy. He was the janitor for the school that our Wednesday night meeting was at, and he had to stay until our meeting was over so he could lock up the school. It was obvious to me that Hardy was a Christian. He just seemed so joyful, and humble and like he took pride in his job and was working for God and not for men. At the end of the night he helped us pack up all of our things and stayed late to put the cafeteria back in order so we could get home. I can't really put it into words, but his attitude and presence were that of someone who, though he probably doesn't have a lot, he knew he was blessed and just wanted to bless other people. And I feel like I definitely saw Christ in him. This may not make any sense, in fact, I'm pretty sure it doesn't. But I felt like I needed to share, because I feel like you don't come across people like that every day, and while I talked to him some and got to know him a bit, I'm afraid I didn't come across that way. So I'm not really sure what the point of all this is, other than to just be reminded of what it really looks like to be like Christ, and even though I am sure there is a zero percent chance Hardy would ever read this, just to recognize him as someone who really had an impact on me, even though I only talked with him briefly, and is doing a great job of sharing Christ with the world.

1 comment:

Lucianne said...

my family lived in harlan county right before i was born, including mandy!! :)