Little Rock, where all the roads meet, ot at least that is what it looks like when you see it on the map.

Our visit to Little Rock was to catch up with an school friend I haven’t seen since school days, otherwise we would probably have given this city a miss, and how stupid that would have been.

I am not really sure if it was the city itself or the friends we were with that made this place have such a neat feeling, that the thought did pass through my mind that I could actually live here. A combination of both I think.

Before we got to Little Rock, I have to admit to a worry in the back of the mind as to how we would relate to each other after so many years. But catching up on years of history and past combined memories and the laughter the followed, it felt like putting on a favourite sweater, so comfortable. But this was a revamped sweater that came with the addition of some wonderful additions that only made the friendship better.

We had a fun evening, catching up on what we have all been up to over the past few decades, lots of laughs at some of the memories of what we use to get up to way back when. One of TOH’s parting comments was as tomorrow was sunday, he wuld love to attend a Gospel church service.

Wow, how can I explain the thrill of attending Church on Sunday morning. After an early call it was a quick trip into town and off to the St Johns Missionary Baptist Church.

TOH has often commented since we arrived in the south that he wanted to visit and experience a gospel church. After years of seeing these churches services in the media and in the movies, it was a dream come true to attend a service. So to have our friend here in Little Rock organise to take us was a wonderful but unexpected treat.

When we arrived at the church the service had already started, so we tried to sneak in and take our seats quietly as we could behind Gladys who had been so kind to invite us to accompany her to the morning service. The atmosphere in the church was electric. Really it is something you have to experience and I am finding it really hard to find the right words to describe it.

As we took our seats, and feeling like we were the only white folk in attendance, we were greeted by an amazing 40 strong choir and band at the front of the church. What an amazing sound. As the voices rose and fell and they swayed along with those standing in the congregation I struggled to keep the smile off my face.

The Preacher stood for his sermon. To me he appeared as a slight grey haired well dressed man in a suit. His sermon began so quietly, initially I did struggle to keep up with what he was saying. His accent and the verses from the bible he was quoting were foreign to me. But as I let myself go and just felt the sermon I could fully take in the atmosphere.

What a sermon it was, the stories he spun. His cadence rose and fell, he was quiet and forceful. When he began to sing his sermon (and he had a great voice as well) I gave up trying to hold the smile back and just sat back enjoying the atmosphere, the moment and grinned from ear to ear.

Two hours later we were walking out of the church. I am a little lost for words to explain how I felt. Humbled and honoured to attend the service and be part of this community if only for a few hours.

To keep with the Southern culture, after church, we headed of for some good fried chicken for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Another place we can tick off our list.

Monday was spent touring the city. With visits to the state capital building which is a smaller replica of the Capital Building in Washington DC. It was completed in 1915 and like so many other state buildings we have visited, it is a beautiful piece of architecture. Again I have to ponder the buildings of today in comparison, where have all the master craftsmen gone that built such beautiful buildings. Will the glass box towers that we seem to be set on building today survive for our great grandchildren to look at in awe.

We also visited the “Old” State House Building which was built in 1842 and now is a museum. I was fascinated at the display of the dresses worn by many of the Arkansas Governors’ wives at the inaugural balls. How fashion has changed. One dress’s style that really stood out from all the others, the dress worn by Hillary Clinton (so different to all the others). Yet I imagine it was because it was designed for a younger person, as Bill was only 32 years old when he first became Governor of Arkansas compared to the age of other Governors and their wives.

Lunch was a treat. Not having been able to go Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, we were taken to its sister cafe here in Little Rock. It sells itself as a down-to-earth, no frills southern restaurant and it achieved it right through to our young waiter who happily told he had visited Australia. Not sure how disappointd he was when we told him we were actualy New Zealanders.

I would loved to have spent hours browsing the photos on the walls. So many famous people have passed through here and of course the Clinton’s and their political entourages have over the years made Doe’s their local . The meal of shrimp, tamales and of course steak was delicious and the steak lived up to all the hype we have heard. For my special meat-a-tarian friend back home if you ever get to Little Rock, this place is a must to visit.

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