Chapter One: The Ones You Love
I went to church about once every two months and I never "found" God, I would even go as far to say that I didn't believe in him. I volunteered to go on a mission trip with my church to the mountains of Kentucky. I believed the usual stereo-types, hillbillies and rednecks. I was there to help these people, but in the end, they helped me more.
There were three families that my team of four youths and three adults worked for. The first was a digging job. In the small holler (a group of houses in a small valley) there was a small wooden house with a tin roof surrounded by thick brush and mountain forest.
We dug up coal, rocks and dirt for a week straight. After the first day, the young woman we worked for offered us popsicles because of the strange heat. While the rest of my group enjoyed their scrumptious treat, I lingered by our water cooler.
"Hey, my name's Aerolin," I told her along with my age and what school I recently attended. Her silence wasn't bad, no, she listened to each letter I spoke.
"Name's Kate," she told me with such a heavy accent that it was difficult to understand, "I'ma eighteen yers ole."
We got talking as my team started working. No one bothered us; it was part of our job to mingle with the people we worked for too. Eventually she told me that her mother died when she was twelve, her older sister committed suicide soon afterwards, and her father died of black lung from the coal mines a year ago.
As I listened, a blue-eyed baby cooed through the screen door of the trailer. Kate opened the door and picked up her darling babe. "This is Evan," she explained. Her face showed nothing but happiness and joy. "His daddy is up in them coal mines. He sends us checks. But he don't love me no more."
Evan giggled in her arms. "Things must be hard for you," I guessed, but her effortless smile couldn't've grown any bigger.
"Nahh, Errrlin. Aint you learned nuthn?" She said to me, "As long as you have them ones you love, nuthn can be hard."