It had been about four months since I had seen the "Sweet Home Alabama" sign.
We'd made the trip as a family on the Fourth of July for food, fellowship, fishing and fireworks.
This time around, a short road trip east started when good friend and fellow elder at the Holly Springs Church of Christ, Jerry Moore, sent me a text message.
A man was wanting to bring bags of clothes from Montgomery, Ala., and leave them at a location in Hamilton. The clothes were for World Ukraine Missions, a work overseen by Jerry, his son Miles and father in-law Jerry Morgan. They have a warehouse here in Holly Springs.
I sent a text to Todd Clippard, minister of the Burleson Church of Christ, asking him about the possibility of the clothes being stored at the fellowship hall there until Jerry could get over to Hamilton to pick them up.
Ironically, the man from the Montgomery church had already contacted Todd. The good friend, John Kachelman, had performed Todd and his wife Rhonda's wedding ceremony 33 years ago. It's a small world, and even more so it seems when working through connected churches.
Jerry then asked me if I wanted to go with him the following Saturday to pick up the bags. I was eager to help, plus it was a chance for me to visit my old stomping ground.
I grew up about a mile from Burleson Church of Christ. I told Jerry he would not need his GPS for this trip.
I shared some memories with him as we rolled into Hamilton.
We passed what used to be a dairy freeze. I told him, "That was one of our places to eat after school and before ball games. It was great."
We stopped at a red light in downtown Hamilton and I pointed out a small, beautiful building for sale that was the bank when I was growing up.
About 10 miles out of Hamilton, we arrived at the church. Jerry expected about 50 bags. But there were a little over 100 bags big bags. We got a really good workout.
We had our sights set on a particular restaurant for lunch. It was not open. We picked a Mexican restaurant instead in an old shopping center that was once thriving in my teenage years.
The newspaper office, where I got my start, was in that shopping plaza. I recalled some all-nighters getting the newspaper to press.
Of course, I had to point out my alma mater, Hamilton High School, to Jerry. Peewee football was being played at Sargent Stadium.
It was a good Saturday visiting my hometown, sharing non-stop conversation with Jerry, and learning even more about the wonderful mission work he is now devoting much of his time to.
Not only are churches from multi-states contributing to the mission, but so are many individuals in Holly Springs and Marshall County.
I told Jerry, "When y'all opened the warehouse, you never thought it would explode like this."
He agreed and said, "The Lord has blessed us."
Another shipment from the warehouse went out Tuesday the second one this month.