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Dawsonville, our town
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It was a great week.

I had an opportunity last week to participate in two community events that inspired this writing.

So often we rush through life without noticing the grace and beauty that our Provider bestows upon us; but last week I was able to see fine examples of such right here in our community. It wasn't hard to find; rather, I just had to pay attention.

I volunteered to chaperone a second grade class on a trip to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta.

Two classes from our local Kilough Elem-entary went along with about 900 other elementary age children from around our state. It was interesting to see our children jumbled in with kids from other areas, some arriving from prestigious, private institutions, others from inner city schools, and most from suburbia communities on the outskirts of Atlanta.

Without an intentional effort to take note of anything special as I was focused on herding kids through the various exhibits, I began to feel a chord being struck in me.

Our children from Dawsonville are a good looking bunch. Now it would be inaccurate to say that 900 children are anything but a beautiful sight, but our kids, our Dawsonville kids are really something to behold.

The parents had dressed them well; the girls were adorable with bows in their hair, the boys tough and rugged with cool haircuts and boisterous attitudes to match.

But this was a lot more than superficial looks. Our kids had it all. They were very inquisitive, they asked a lot of questions of the guides, and they observed the voluminous exhibits of exotic fish with fascination. And when it was time to be interactive they jumped at every chance to participate.

They were learning. It was beautiful.

Their minds were opened in this exciting experience, and our kids from Dawsonville did exactly what all of us would want them to do; they threw themselves at the experience with a joy and exuberance that is a gift God gives children.

Behavior was impeccable too. I didn't see one child act out, misbehave, throw sea urchins (although tempting) and to my knowledge all fish, stingrays and horseshoe crabs are still living after the visit.

I came away from this experience really appreciating our community, our parents, our teachers and those involved at all levels with our children. Sure, the other kids from around the state were fine, but I was especially proud of ours.

Had I been a total stranger to everyone and had to pick a group to belong to, I'd pick the crowd from Dawsonville every time. You are beautiful people.

OK, that was the warm up.

At last census the county had about 20,643 people living here. I think I saw most of them at the Bethel Baptist Live Nativity Scene on Dec. 10.

I have lived here since 2005 and have not attended this event previously, but an invitation by a member of that church prompted us to load up the kids and head over to see what all this fuss was about.

Whoa was I in for a treat.

We had heard a partial description, but didn't have any idea how special of an event this was going to be.

Bethel Baptist Church on Hwy. 136, at the intersection of Shoal Creek Road, has for nearly 30 years put on a show stopping production of the life of Christ.

More than 200 people have parts in the program, and the event encompassed about a 45 minute ride by tractor and wagon through a 40 acre set.

There was singing, scripture reading, biblical reenactments and so much that touched us deeply as this was one of the most moving displays of people's love of our Lord that I have ever witnessed.

The congregation of Bethel Baptist not only put on this production as a gift for the community of Dawsonville and beyond, but they also fed everyone who came as well.

Their fellowship hall was packed with people of all walks, there to praise Him for our blessings and receive the Good Word.

I came away from this experience being so thankful that I live in a community where my fellow Christian brothers and sisters would put out such an effort all for the Glory of Christ.

This is confirming, restoring and comforting to know that the soul of America is alive and well.

Not only was this an authentic Appalachian experience, but also an American cornerstone in our culture's history. Religion isn't gone in America, prayer hasn't been taken out of anything, we are devoted to a "Closer Walk with Thee;" at least we are here in Dawsonville.

As I think of these experiences, our beautiful children, the people of Bethel Baptist and the wonderful community that I live in, I have tears of joy in my eyes.

Thank you to the people of Dawsonville for being such a wonderful community. We are blessed to be here.

Lee Tigner is a Dawson County resident.