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Entry 5 Hope Went Viral: "Over Capacity"

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

After arriving home, I sat down on the couch to post reminders available on the website. Talking to volunteers and visitors today made it seem the schedule was difficult to keep up with. It was clear on the website, but everything was in transition. Before leaving campus, I noticed visitors seemed more desperate to get into Hughes and was concerned about the 4-5pm hour when the chapel was officially closed to the public over 25 years old. I quickly scanned social media to see if any new chatter appeared. The amount of comments about Asbury “ending the revival” continued to increase. I quickly posted and replied to logistical questions. My youngest son, Oliver, started begging me to go to the store. “We have no food, Mommy.” Jesse and I laughed. We did have food, but it was getting down to a few items which required extra prep we didn't have time for this week. Oliver had just turned eight years old a few weeks prior on the weekend I found out Asbury was eliminating my position due to budget. I decided to sit with the news for a week before telling everyone so I could focus on celebrating him and process it all with my husband, Jesse. Oliver was obsessed with sour candy as he had watched many YouTube sour candy challenges recently. He desperately needed to go to the store so he could take on the dare. He had been asking me for 3 days, so I knew I couldn’t put it off this time.

The local grocery was difficult to access due to tourists' cars and pedestrians. Many sang praises for the business Mr. Fitch was receiving, but it was actually the opposite. The amount of cars parked in front of his modest grocery were those attending the Outpouring, navigating regular customers away. Reluctantly, we drove to the nearest Kroger, 20 minutes away. On the way there, it occurred to me that Oliver hadn’t seen the amount of people in Wilmore at all. His school bus didn't require passing by campus as he is the last one to be picked up due to living so close. I decided to drive through the traffic so he could see all of the people. Before I turned right at the stop light to reveal the crowd, I told him it was very important to remember what he sees. He asked for a piece of paper and pencil.

“I don’t have a piece of paper or pencil, I’m sorry. Why do you need it?” I said.

“You said I needed to remember, so I need a piece of paper to count how many people I see.” he replied.

As we entered the scene on Lexington Ave, he was shocked.

“Why are there so many people? What are they doing?” he asked.

“They believe God is in the chapel.” I replied attempting to explain simply.

“But He’s not.” he commented.

I knew he thought that because he has been inside Hughes many times and he didn’t recall seeing anyone that looked like a God inside. Oliver has shown little interest in the Bible, prayer or spiritual matters. Both boys hate going to church Sunday morning. But recently, we had been talking about heaven and hell at bedtime. Only a few days before, he decided he wanted to learn more and stayed up late reading his picture bible. He kept saying, “I want you to teach me, Mommy.” As if he understood for the first time that a knowledge of scripture and a spiritual practice was important. So, in order for him to understand the event, I connected it back to previous conversations we had had during bedtime. He is incredibly easy to persuade so I talked to him as neutrally as I could to help him decide on his own. “Maybe He is in there?” He concluded.

As we were shopping in Kroger, I noticed a girl in a red coat on the phone in deep conversation while she slowly picked out some peppers. As we walked by each other in the aisles, I overheard her say, “Yea, I’ve been on campus since Thursday (5 days).” I noticed others saying similar things. It was as if you were given credibility for the amount of days you were at the event - gathering context and perspective to how large the crowd grew and a stronger source of the Outpouring's authenticity. As we drove back into town, a large road sign alerted travelers planning to turn left off the main highway into Wilmore. Flash “Revival at capacity” Flash “See Livestreaming” Flash “".

I cooked some shrimp for dinner after putting the massive amount of groceries we purchased in the pantry. I predicted I would crash at some point when the excitement wore off. At that point, I wanted to make sure I had a bunker of easy to cook meals ready as the town only has one Chinese restaurant open in the evenings. I hadn’t volunteered near as much as others, but I did continue my work with the students while writing until midnight most nights to archive my experiences. During dinner, Jesse and Emery weren’t in the best moods. There was some bickering likely due to fatigue and hunger. Ollie picked out “Hot Cheeto Kraft Mac n Cheese” he so badly wanted to cook tonight. The powder made the noodles almost hot pink. Once everyone took a bite we all made a dramatic facial expression, all silently agreeing it was completely disgusting. “Well, it was worth the experiment.” I said trying to be optimistic. With only a few pieces of shrimp and some peppers left, no one was satisfied. Ozzy, our new puppy sat patiently watching us eat, hoping someone would drop anything. To improve the mood, I decided to feed him a hot Cheeto noodle. As I handed it to him, everyone shouted, “No, don’t do it!” After eating it, he licked his lips dramatically and repeatedly due to the very spicy flavor as we all burst into laughter.

On the way to Kroger, I snapped a photo of the endless line of cars waiting patiently at the one of two street lights as visitors enter Wilmore, KY. Photo by Heather Hornbeak.

Photo by Lisa Weaver Swartz.

View from lower level door of Hughes Auditorium at stroller parking as visitors wait for up to 7 hours to enter the chapel. Photo by Heather Hornbeak

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