I knew today was going to be a delightful day when my wakeup call was delayed to almost 8 o'clock (well, it was supposed to be 7:30 but I was feeling pretty relaxed in that bed). Then we were off to the Spring Hill Baptist church where we were treated to a giant breakfast and some charming quartet doo-wop entertainment. Following breakfast about 2/3 of the AJM's and their host families moved upstairs for the church service part of the morning (the other third traveling to the Catholic church). All of us girls were ordered to "process" down the aisle of the church to the very front, passing innumerable beaming, proud faces of the Spring Hill congregation (that "proud" face that exactly resembles your grandparents..you know the one). The service was quite wonderful: the choir was fantastic, and one song even featured a young boy who is just returning to church after 2 years of battling cancer. There was not a dry eye in the congregation, I guarantee that. The following sermon was pretty cool as well, the message was certainly geared towards us Junior Misses, discussing competition and the necessity of "discipline" in success. As I looked around to the other girls I was pretty sure the speaker was "preaching to the choir" (church pun...) as many if not all of the young women around me seemed to have practiced self-discipline to do all that they have and get to this point. But it was still a wonderful message.
Following church and some downtime with the host family (I'm definitely gaining weight off of my host mom's cooking), we all shipped off for Fort Gaines, a pit stop on the way to the beach. At the Fort we were given more food, and also received a presentation of a cannon by a man costumed in the full wool Confederate uniform. I actually couldn't imagine the intense heat that he must feel everyday giving that tour describing (in detail..and I mean detail) the battle of Mobile and the fort in general. However, I really enjoyed the time at the Fort, especially when I had to bite my tongue from finally asking, "And who was it that won the Civil War again? Oh that's right...". And they say the South will rise again....
Finally we were off to the beach!! After a quick drive over to Dauphin Island, we whipped off our extra clothing and had soft, white sand between our toes in no time! The beach was absolutely gorgeous, and the water was so incredibly warm, not even close to the kind of Pacific Ocean temperature that I was used to. It was so much fun to just splash around, take ridiculously large group pictures, and laugh as some girls screamed bloody murder at the touch of a hermit crab on their feet. After this afternoon's fun, I really have a much greater understanding for the devastation that this oil spill will have on the Gulf community. The oil will probably be hitting the area we were in in a couple of weeks, and I even overheard a young "Host Sister" say today, "Well this is probably the last time I'll swim in the ocean for a year or two". It's so awful, all we can do is hope for a solution soon!
Well, this will be a big week this week, but I'm looking forward to more great memories made with these 49 other chicas and will do my best to keep reporting. Love and miss all my fam and friends :)
In the spirit of Junior Miss,