Monday, November 7, 2022
Last Wednesday, November 3, after readying Beyond Blessed for travel we headed northwest. We were able to avoid the interstate (GPS was not happy), and had a beautiful drive from Johnston, SC through the north Georgia mountains to Ellijay, GA. Some of you may recall we attended the first Huddle for Switch It Up this same week last year. Just as last year’s event, the Huddle was at Talona Ridge RV Resort. Two of the first people we saw after arriving were the owners we got to know last year. We were so glad to see them again. They are such sweet Christian people and have done an amazing job completing the Resort. It was not complete when we were there last year when there was red mud all around and just a hole in the ground for the pool and hot tub. Some of us shared sites because not all the sites were complete. We all had a great time but it was great to see everything completed this year. Such a beautiful setting. The sites are very large and the amenities extremely nice. If any of you need a little get away, we can highly recommend Talona Ridge. For those with out an RV they will be building some cabins in the future. There are many attractions in the area too.
The Huddle actually began on Thursday evening but we went in Wednesday so we could spend some time with friends we had met last year. Wednesday evening as a pre-huddle event we had a chili cookoff. Some people brought their favorite chili which was judged by a panel of YouTube creators and Talona Ridge staff. The rest of us brought sides and all had a great meal and wonderful time catching up with friends.
Thursday we had some free time and visited one of the local apple barns. There was a good crop of apples this year with many to choose from, as well as all the cider, jellies and pies you could want. This year we tried the blueberry and the peach fried pies as well as some scuppernong cider and coated pecans. All Excellent!
At the Huddles we always do something as a “Give Back” to the community. This year we made 300 gift bags for the teachers in Ellijay as a way of saying thank you for taking care of all their students. Our members donated such items as pencils, pens, highlighters, markers, drinks, $5.00 gift cards, candy and several other items. Each bag included a note from the Switch Crew thanking the teachers for their dedication.
Friday afternoon we could choose from two different hikes. We had made some new friends at lunch Friday so we rode with them in their Jeep to Amicalola Falls for our hike. We did this one last year but it’s a beautiful water fall and is always a challenge due to the 604 steps you climb if you start at the bottom of the falls. There are at least two other ways to the falls involving some driving rather than the steps but we did ALL the steps. We actually think maybe we are in better shape from all our hiking and walking because we didn’t have to stop and rest as much this year. After dinner we gathered around the fire place and fire pits for a time of music, singing and building of community.
Saturday morning we all drove to Blue Ridge to take a four hour trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway thru the north Georgia country side to the sister towns of McCaysville, Ga and Copperhill, TN. We had lunch there and while we were exploring the little towns we heard a lady behind us mention they were from Canada. Anne turned around and said, “We are going to Manitoba next week.” That led to a conversation where a younger gentleman said he was from Manitoba. We had an interesting little conversation and then all went on their way, so more of Manitoba later.
Sunday, as is customary, we had a worship service. Todd and Shelia know that this service will be the only worship service some of the Switch Crew may ever attend. It’s not preachy, or judgemental, but Sheila does make sure she always shares the salvation message and talks about what Jesus means to her. This service was a wonderful service with Luke (who wrote the Switch It Up (SIU) intro used in their videos) leading our music with some familiar music and one fantastic song that he wrote. Sheila brought the message and along with the message of Jesus, shared how the Huddle last year was a turning point for she and Todd from SIU being all about their travels to being about the Switch Crew (us) and developing our community. Just as last year we witnessed the foundations of Talona Ridge being poured and this year it is nearly complete, last year’s Huddle laid the foundation for a change in direction and focus to the developing SIU community. Todd and Shelia nor the rest of us know where this will all lead but God does and it is our privilege to be a small part of this growing community.
That was it for us this year as we needed to return to our church for an important meeting. We headed back to Alabama about 10:00 and had an uneventful drive – the best kind – through the beautiful fall leaves. Now we are spending a few days at Sumatanga getting some work done, and packing for our next big Adventure. Stay tuned.