Trip to Arkansas

October 2-9, 2005

We left Nashville shortly after 4 am for the drive to Newport, Arkansas so we could go to church with the family. We crossed the mighty Mississippi River at Memphis and headed across farmland toward Newport.

It is always nostalgic for me to drive through the cotton fields of Arkansas. I spent a good bit of time in my youth in those cotton fields chopping and picking, as well as planting and cultivating.

My connections to this area are still strong after almost a half century away. I identify with the small cropduster plane on the rural dirt landing strip, and the level-cropped top of the harvested rice. The soybeans were dry in the field and ready for harvesting.

We drove straight to the First Baptist Church of Newport to join in the morning worship service. We joined Dorothy, Bobby and Suzanne, Shirley, Brent and Mandi and Garrett in the worship service. Suzanne plays the piano and sings in the choir. She sang in the alto section with the women's ensemble that sang a beautiful worship song in the service. It was nice to be back in the church where I grew up and was baptized. Even the big oak tree by the street has been there all my life.

Suzanne had cooked a wonderful Sunday dinner for us after church. Brenda and Garrett help serve. We were amazed to see how big Eli was at two and a half, and how much he looked like Garrett.

Dorothy, Shirley, Brenda and Suzanne at a great family gathering.

Bobby's mother joined us for dinner, and we enjoyed hearing about her's and Dorothy's Sunday School class. Sounds like a good community of faith that cares for each other. We were pleased to find out that she and Dorothy were in the same class.

Garrett seems pleased with what he has collected for dinner. I enjoyed talking with Brent about the details of caring for rice through its growing season - a detailed application of science to agriculture.

Hmm! Brenda, Dorothy and Mrs. Lassiter are getting ahead of me. I'd better put down this camera. Actually, that's my plate at left, and I hardly ever get left out.

After visiting in the early afternoon, we joined the First Baptist Church "Gather at the River" fellowship at Jacksonport State Park at 4pm.

Brenda, Dorothy and Suzanne at the casual gathering. Eli is still sleepy from his nap, so he is sticking close to Mom.

With a nice flat grassy area on the river bank, many of the young men couldn't resist the lure of a football game. Brent and Garrett await the start of the game.

More of football game

Croquet and other games were also underway as everybody relaxed and had a good time.

There were train rides for the kids on the First Baptist train.

The gathered group enjoyed a concert of inspirational music arranged by the music minister.
Suzanne sang two songs for the group gathered by the river.

Eventually these guys got everybody's attention with the smell of those hamburgers cooked in the open air by the river.

This was Pastor Mike Smith's first "Gather at the River" service, he having just come to the church seven months ago. After he had brought greetings and had a blessing for the food, we gathered around the food tables.

It was very pleasant to be in the rural setting by the river, with cows and horses in the pasture across from us.

Leaving this gathering, we headed for Fairfield Bay.

We went over the blue bridge at Newport and headed down Hwy 14 through Oil Trough and Batesville and across to Draco and Greer's Ferry.

I enjoyed seeing the haying operations along the way. It was quite a bit different from the open loads and pitchforks I used as a boy, and I had never seen the big round bales in Arkansas before. We have seen them around the country, but when we baled hay at home, we used the small rectangular bales.

On curvy two lane roads, it was a long 70 miles into the darkness. But we finally found the place to check in to Fairfield Bay and settled into our housing for the night. We were tired and kind of stretched out, but one of the neat things was that all the people we encountered in rural Arkansas were very friendly and helpful.

On to Fairfield Bay

  Nave Album Go Back