Continuing to catch up on July… I did a newspaper article about St. Mary’s Church here and their “Appalachian connection.” Each year an outreach team from St. Mary’s goes to Kentucky’s Owsley County, one of the poorest in the country. It used to be coal, tobacco and timber country. But no more. What’s more, the opioid problem there is off the charts. The St. Mary’s people paint, fix walls, floors… and as with Habitat for Humanity, the homeowners work side by side. St. Mary’s Pastoral Leader said to me the help is motivated by “justice issues.” And as St. Mary’s parishioners are exposed to such dire poverty, they not only realize how blessed they are, but they also realize that “…it would be wrong not to give,” she said. Our position on poverty points this out in spades. And as president, I’d try to mobilize way more help into our poverty stricken rural pockets, inner cities and into the Third World as well… Speaking of poverty, I did another newspaper piece in July on a downtown Bluffton thrift store that has this phenomenal outreach into El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ethiopia… It’s called the Et Cetera Shop and all the profits go the Mennonite Central Committee for it’s outreach help into the Third World. The Et Cetera Shop director said that, not only is all this a help to those around the world, but it also serves as a “recycling” hub in the midst of an ever evolving otherwise “throw-away” society. This is the kind of ethos that is reflected on our position on the environment. Note: On the lighter side… Every summer Bluffton University here hosts high school marching band camps. Those of us who live within a half mile radius of the campus often feel like we’re at a perpetual high school football game halftime show. (“When the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield…”) Anyway, I was taking some photos of the Edison High School Marching Band for the paper. While the band is in Milan, Ohio, they call it “Edison” because none other than Thomas Edison (think: light bulb) is from Milan, Ohio. Milan is also the home of the annual Milan Melon Festival. So after taking the photos, I told the band my Milan Melon Festival joke: Question: Why does the Milan Melon Festival Queen need a chaperone? Answer: So she can’t elope. (Cantaloupe. Get it? I’ve got a million of ’em.) But you could tell that the band members were happy I didn’t tell them any more of ’em. LOL.