My Jimmy Carter Experience

In September 2019, doctors had given me just months to live. It was time to knock some things off my bucket list. So Laura and I made our way North to Plains, Georgia, home of the 39th President of the United States. We were not going to experience a political speech by the former President. No, we were going to hear President Carter teach Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church. Something the former President has been for close to 50 years.

So as Laura and I walked around the beautiful street of downtown Plains, we met some of the nicest people. As we interacted with people, I kept asking what’s the best time to arrive at the church to hear President Carter? We heard everything from 4pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday. So, Laura and I headed back to our hotel and decided to get some sleep. Then for some reason, we both woke up around 11pm. Since we could not sleep, we decided to go check out the line at the church. Let the adventure begin!

As we drove to the church, I prayed we would be in the top ten of people arriving and we would meet Mr. George. During our day in Plains, we kept hearing about this guy named Mr. George. Also everyone in town told us to say hello to Mr. George. I was excited to meet the man everyone called Mr. George. Now, let me explain the tickets. As you enter the church parking lot, Mr. George greets you and hands you a ticket. After receiving that ticket, your vehicle is unable to leave the premises. Why is this? Mr. George shared tour buses used to come by, pick up a ticket and then return on Sunday morning with a bus load of people. Definitely not fair to those who hung out in the parking lot all night.

So as we pulled up to get our ticket before midnight, we were able to meet the famous Mr. George. He asked were we were from and welcomed us to the church. Oh by the way, the number on our ticket was number 10. Praise God! As Laura and I settled into our parking spot, I decided I needed to talk with Mr. George. I am so glad I did.

I made my way over to Mr. George and asked if I could sit for awhile. I explained based on my health issues, I did not sleep much. I explained I might be up all night visiting. Not sure Mr. George believed I would make it an hour. Mr. George and I had the best conversations. He shared how he had known President Carter since they were youngsters. We talked about my health and Mr. George prayed over me. He even let me pass out some tickets. Around 4am Sunday morning, Mr. George looked over at me and said you really don’t sleep. Told you Mr. George.

Around 9am. Mrs. Jan, Mr George’s wife gave us instructions about what we could bring into the church and a few rules. I was a little concerned about walking through security. At that time, I had my voice amplifier, my feeding tube and my gastro pacemaker. Would this be an issue? As we got up front, security looked at my fluid from my feeding tube and shared I was good to go.

As we entered the church, Mr. George led us to seats. Third row middle aisle seat. Laura and I were so excited. A few minutes later, part of President Carter’s security detail asked us to come with him. We thought what’s going on? The Secret Service Agent led us to the front row. Are you kidding me! This trip just kept on getting better.

Not long after that President Carter and Mrs. Carter entered the church. President Carter engaged with the large crowd for a few minutes and started his lesson. I am sorry I cannot share word for word what the former President shared, but I do remember he spoke about loving, caring and serving others. Something the former President has truly lived out. After the service, Laura and I were able to say hello to President and Mrs. Carter and take a picture. It was a special moment An experience we still talk about today.

I have to be honest here. Meeting President Carter and Mrs. Carter was a wonderful experience, but I have to say meeting Mr. George and Mrs. Jan was the highlight of the trip for me. A few months after my miracle, Laura and I returned to Plains to see this incredible couple. Mr. George and Mrs. Jan are a special people. We still stay in touch with Mr. George and Mrs. Jan. Hoping to see them again soon. ~OC

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