Hey Joe Town! Joseph here again.
Today we pushed farther east. We saw the cities turning more and more industrial as we drove through Indianapolis. We even got to talk a little trash on the Colts as we passed Lucas Oil Stadium. This rust-belt industrialism is a staple of many cities of the Midwest east of the Mississippi. It’s hard to drive through places like this and not imagine the hard-scrabble immigrants who forged the early years of a burgeoning nation.
Hard-scrabble; I like that word. It’s a little gritty and describes people who push onward in the face of adversity. It’s a perfect word to describe Mansfield, OH where we performed this evening. Paul Lintern is a local pastor who has formed a special relationship with New G, and is often our host when we are coming east. No, pastor isn’t the right word. Enigma, force of nature, self-sacrificing zealot, community visionary, hard-scrabble dude… those are all better words to describe Paul. Our day in Mansfield started with Paul taking us to the Jericho wall, which is a project he is putting together with the community to honor the loss of life to drug addiction that has ravaged the community of Mansfield.
I, like you perhaps, was envisioning a beautiful tribute in the ilk of the Vietnam wall. Nope, it was a parking lot. That’s it. But Paul didn’t bring us there to see what is – he brough us there to see what might be – Paul kept using the words “WILL be”. He, and the other volunteers working on the project, proceeded to describe how they were organizing artists to come and beautify a retaining wall that runs the length of the west side of the parking lot. See, that wall was built in the sixties and wasn’t stable enough to bear the weight of the earth on the other side and it is leaning and misshapen. In the eighties, someone put in concrete buttresses to keep it from collapsing, and it hasn’t moved an inch since.
Paul described that wall as being like the city of Mansfield – imperfect but buttressed. He then had all of New G walk the wall and pray for the lives it was going to provide hope for, to imagine the beauty that could be there, and to sing. We sang an old New G staple, The New 23rd, which I feel was appropriately mournful and hopeful. What I think was largely taken away was the future of Mansfield, though hard-scrabble, was still unwritten. Unwritten – like our sermon opener says.
I think New G accomplished the task of bringing unwritten hope to Mansfield tonight. There were about 95 people in attendance at the performance, and it was HOT in that unairconditioned church. Regardless of the heat, the singers laid it all on the table and gave a performance to remember.
The singers are now at their host homes safe and sound. Most of the boys went to a host home who had a pool and they were excited to get to swim, but it has started raining some and I don’t know if they’re going to get their wish.
But us sponsors are finally in the hotel, so I’ll go ahead and sign off.
When we were staying in the hotel in Terra Haute, IN, one of the other people in the hotel noticed us and looked us up online and left us a $130 donation. He left this note with it:
“Seen you arrive at Quality Inn Terra Haute on July 16th while we were on vacation and we were impressed so we looked you up and were even more impressed! Awesome work you are doing, keep it up. Singers were very friendly.”
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