At 94, former President Jimmy Carter keeps a brisk schedule. On the weekend I visited Plains he had already given a commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday. Then flown home to prepare a lesson plan for his Sunday school class at Marantha Baptist Church in Plains. You can find his Sunday school schedule on the church website. I will warn you in order to get in you need to get there by at at least 6am. It’s a popular event and the church is limited in size, Plains is a very small community. Note that you are not allowed to bring anything other than your phone into the church due to Secret Service protocols.
Through the years I’ve read Jimmy Carter’s book on his life and humanitarian work. I’ve always identified with him because his farming and his interest in many of the same causes I get passionate about. His books and many speeches on human rights have inspired me throughout my life to work in the nonprofit sector and get involved in my community.
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His lesson plan the Sunday I visited was wonderful. He touched on politics and then moved on to preach about reconciliation. To hear him speak was a real treat. He is still extremely quick witted, funny, and sharp as a tack. He moved easily from talking about world affairs to detailed stories from the bible. After the Sunday School lesson I enjoyed church service and then the Carters were so generous to allow everyone who visited to get a photo with them. The way they open up their church and hearts to the world should be an example to us all of Christian love. Their were probably around a hundred people there that Sunday from all over our country and around the world.
Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter have not slowed down with age. When I stopped in Americus to tour Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Development and Discovery Center the lady at the counter told me that the Carter’s would be building homes in Indiana this Summer. I certainly hope that I can be that spry and determined in my 90s. The Carters are also deeply involved with the Carter Center in Atlanta which fights for human rights and freedoms around the globe. As world leaders they make numerous appearances around the globe throughout the year.
The Global Village Development and Discover Center was a fascinating place to tour. For those of you not familiar with Habitat’s good works, this organization builds homes both here in the United States and around the world. The homes are built by the family that will receive the home with the help of Habitat volunteers that include people with many different building specialties. Once the home is complete the family will begin paying a mortgage for the property. This mortgage will be at a 0% interest rate. This makes it affordable for the family and they also get an immense sense of pride for having been a part of building their own home.
This center is basically a showroom of Habitat for Humanity homes. The display first shows you a sample of a what many people call homes around the world. Basically a series of shacks made from scavenged tin, wood, and other debris an impoverished family can find.
The tour then takes you down a winding path with numerous homes from around the world that Habitat builds. Each country has differing environmental and cultural needs. Some homes are built from cinder blocks or bricks while others are from wood based on what materials are readily available. You can walk through each home.
Next I headed out to Plains to visit the Carter family farm which is now a historical site, Rosalyn’s Butterfly Trail, Carter’s Campaign Headquarters, and the Plains high school that serves as a Carter Museum.
If you need help deciding what exactly to see in Plains and the surrounding area stop at the visitors center that is located on the main road right before you enter Plains. You can also take a train tour of the area aboard the SAM Shortline.
I have always wanted to make this trip and I’m so glad I did. You don’t meet public servants like the Carter’s very often. They’ve given their entire lives to serving not only citizens of the United States, but also those of the world.
The picture taken below was taken during the introduction when they allow photos. I was not snapping photos during his lesson. : )