Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Before we leave Sewanee to return to Louisiana for the winter, Gail Drake, the proprietor of Lorena’s in Monteagle, TN, will sponsor a book signing for GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR, my book of verse released this Spring. Although Gail’s daily work revolves around her gift shop and natural food restaurant, she cuts a big swath in community affairs of both Monteagle and Sewanee, sponsoring local artists, writers, and musicians. She’s also active in LEAMIS, an international ministry that develops leadership teams and provides mission training for those who feel called to make mission trips to developing countries. Some of the projects offer opportunities for people to teach cottage industries, Bible studies, and work with indigenous pastors to help meet the need for safe drinking water in their communities.

Gail has led missionary teams to Africa numerous times and has assisted churches in developing countries in forming coops and obtaining small start-up loans for cottage industries. She’s the key person who helped the Sisters of St. Mary obtain a trainer to demonstrate how to use bio sand filters and a chlorination system to eliminate bacterial and viral contaminants in water. Many Louisianians donated to the purchase of this clean water system that the Sisters of St. Mary will take on a mission trip to set up in hurricane-ravaged Haiti in November.

Gail has also worked with Mountain T.O.P., a mission associated with the United Methodist Church and a TN outreach project established by her grandfather, George Bass, to help those who are among the poor in the far reaches of the Cumberland Mountains. The project sponsors Youth Summer Ministry, a Major Home Repair Unit, and other ministries dedicated to meeting the physical, social, spiritual, and emotional needs of the poor in the Cumberland Mountains.

Some days when we visit Lorena’s, Gail greets us, out of breath from doing her short-term and long-term ministries, and we have to be careful when we talk about mission and ministry possibilities, even on a community level, or she’d be off and running. “No” isn’t a word that comes easily to her, but we often encourage her to slow down before she burns out. I’m very proud to have a few of my books displayed in Gail’s busy “community center” and enjoy the witty repartee with such an industrious, mission-centered person. Her background and ministries rate more space than a short blog, but this is an introduction to an outstanding person I’ll write more about later.
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