First of all, be careful of using phrases like, "I'll NEVER do such and such..." I always used to say that Alabama was one place I never cared to visit since I assumed it would not be a fun place for an interracial family. Lo and behold, we made plans to head to Bayou La Batre, Alabama: the deepest part of Alabama. The map below was the best I could find to show everyone where Bayou La Batre is located. Hopefully you can see the red circle to the east of New Orleans. Bayou La Batre is right along the Gulf of Mexico and is not too far from the Mississippi border.
Fortunately for us, the family we went to stay with was also interracial so we figured if they lived there and were still alive, then clearly there were no crosses being burned in their yard or bricks being thrown through their windows. :) So, just to help with any stereotypes of Alabama --- our experience there was totally uneventful regarding our mixed marriage. Contrary to popular belief, we found Alabama to be quite diverse and everyone seemed to get along just fine.
So...after 2 months of getting rid of most of our things, we left for Alabama on November 27th with just a van full of belongings, not having any idea what the next day would bring. We knew we had a certain amount of money to last us a certain amount of time and we also knew that we had a decent income tax return coming sometime in February. We were comfortable with this. We had money for food and we kept plenty of clothing and had the offer for a roof over our heads, so what more did we need?!? After almost 36 hours between driving, sleeping at rest areas and food/bathroom breaks, we arrived in Bayou La Batre on November 28th. And I thank the LORD for allowing our 3 little ones to be awesome for that entire road trip!
Our friends in Bayou La Batre were very kind to open their home to us. We appreciated their generosity especially considering they have 4 boys of their own and were expecting baby #5 while we were there! Josiah loved being there with all the boys --- their home was definitely his favorite stop throughout this trip!!!
We planned on going to Alabama and ministering there just like anywhere else until the LORD led us otherwise and within 2 weeks, we had an inkling that we would not be settling in Alabama. Before leaving PA, Dennis kept saying we could be there for 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or 10 years. (Note: He also said something about ending up in Mexico, although his mention of this overwhelmed me.) In the end, we were in Alabama for 5 weeks. We had various plans for our time there and although we were unable to see some of those through, we learned several lessons and so we feel that our time there was not a loss. Dennis was able to evangelize to some people here and there (including a woman who appeared to be considering an abortion), but it seemed that our stay there was more for our sharpening and refinement.
On a lighter note, we went to a park one day that was right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (Hannah called it "the park in Mexico"). It was beautiful, however, the mosquitoes were TERRIBLE even in December!!! Dennis might tell you the bugs were a deciding factor to leave Alabama lol! :)
Once we were in Alabama, we began making tentative plans of doing a “circuit”; spending summers in the north and winters in the south. The idea then expanded to evangelizing around the country (i.e. Arkansas, Texas, Nevada, California, Montana, West Virginia), being hosted by various friends/contacts and then making our way back to PA. It was at this time that Dennis began making calls to arrange hosts in various places. Since Dennis had 2 job offers in PA, we thought perhaps we could end up there or take a job anywhere he was led throughout our trip. During our visits around the country, we would do our best to evangelize, minister and spur on other believers in those areas.
From Alabama, our options were to go to Arkansas or Texas but in the end, Dennis felt a leaning toward some dear friends we knew from our time in Delaware who were now in San Antonio.
And thus began the next phase of our journey...