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At the age of 95, Jimmy Carter still lives his faith on duty

Behind a white picket fence is a designated area where the press can watch how he works. Local news teams gather, but after a while they have the material they need for their evening programs and move on to get more footage.

Carter is still working.

The Carters are here in Nashville for the 36th Weekly Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter work project with Habitat for Humanity. They have built, refurbished or repaired more than 4,300 homes together with more than 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries.

The week in Nashville is a scene full of joy, sweat and tears, muddy boots and muddy faces. There is a spirit of togetherness, and it is, for the most part, a policy-free zone, as far removed as possible from Washington's fierce partisanship. Carter politely declined to answer a question about President Donald Trump and impeachment during a press conference.

  Jimmy Carter needed stitches after falling home, but he still traveled to Nashville.
Carter, the work boots, jeans, the same blue T-shirt given to all volunteers, and wearing a red bandana around his neck, stands out among the volunteers only in old age. The oldest living former president celebrated his 95th birthday earlier this month and though he is physically frail, he is astute.
He also has a bandage over his forehead and a visibly blue eye, the result of a fall when he got ready for Sunday morning in the church and needed 14 stitches. Nonetheless, he still traveled to Nashville that afternoon.

"I had priority number one and that was to come to Nashville and build houses," he told a lot of volunteers on Sunday evening at the Ryman Auditorium.

The only other sign that he is different from the other 1000. plus on-site volunteers is the silent presence of the Secret Service, which only comes to his aid when he drops unexpectedly, helps him nimbly and later suggests sitting on one of the many chairs provided.

Carter looks up at some point and I ask how he's doing.

"Well, until now! Nothing hurt," he says with an intact sense of humor.

It is a testament to his remarkable legacy of service and confidence in his post-presidency. It's a story of service, perseverance and love – an American story.

The Project

The Genesis of the Carter Work Project starts with a run in Manhattan.

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 in Americus, Georgia, just 10 miles from the Carters House in Plains. Georgia, where they have lived since their departure from the White House in 1981. Carter had been asked to join the organization and had volunteered, but only when he was in New York to meet and flee to the US Lower East Side, where the Carter Work Project seed was planted ,

"He was led by a group of students struggling for a Habitat project, and he commented," We need to do something to help these students. "Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, told CNN:

Soon after, the Carters made a bus ride back to Manhattan" with a boatload of people from South Georgia "to Manhattan and worked for a week at the home of Mascot Flats, The Carter Work Project, inaugurated in 1984. Volunteers – including the first couple – slept each night on the floor of a local church basement, and the Carters had been offered a small room in the church, which they handed over to a young couple who had missed the honeymoon.

That first trip, Reckford said, brought the organization to the scene.

"Then the world learned about Habitat for Humanity," he said.

Since 1984, Carter Work Project has had the first couple in the US and around the world from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, brought to 14 countries, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Hungary, the Philippines.

N SUPREME year, Carter said in an interview with CNN, the work would continue.

"We will travel to the Dominican Republic next year in 2020," he said.

Proceeding against the Carters

  Jimmy Carter, cancer-free, crusades against the Guinea worm

Rosalynn Carter was always present at the annual project. The two are married for almost 74 years, their intense bond is palpable.

The key to this successful marriage, former President told reporters on Monday, is "to give each other plenty of room to do our own things and try to find something we like to do together.

These common adventures include skiing at the age of 62 and 59, bird watching, tennis, fly fishing, habitat building and family time four children, 12 grandchildren and – so they say – 14 great-grandchildren, including two babies born in the last months.

"He says, 14, I agree with him," joked Rosalynn.

The two maintain an active lifestyle despite health problems over the years. They were both hospitalized in the spring – Jimmy Carter for a hip operation after falling on the way to turkey hunting, and Rosalynn Carter, who had fainted a few days later, was admitted for observation and testing. The former president also fought cancer in his liver and brain, stating that his cancer had disappeared in 2015.

"We've seen a decline in recent months, I'm 92, he's 95, and we thought it was time to stop doing it all day," Rosalynn Carter told reporters Monday. But they still have a busy schedule, she said, traveling to Atlanta every month to spend time at the Carter Center.

Carter has been living in the public sector since leaving office. Carter Center initiatives include monitoring international elections, tackling disease in developing countries, and seeking international peace. Carter traveled to Cuba in 2002 to present his vision for improving trade relations between the US and Cuba. He met with leaders of Hamas in Egypt in 2008. In 2010, he negotiated with Kim Jong Il for the release of a US citizen detained in North Korea. He talked to Trump about the trade negotiations in China.

Carter also teaches at Emory University monthly.

There was no sign this week that the couple, both walking with sticks, had plans to reduce their work on the job site. Rosalynn Carter said it was important that each of the houses built this week have "something we built".

"I'll stop if I have to, but I will not stop until I have to," Jimmy Carter told CNN.

The former president had a similar attitude on a New York Times assignment from this first project in New York, as here in Nashville on the 36th.
& # 39; It's okay if you want to take my photo with a hammer, & # 39; & # 39; Carter said at the time. "But as long as I hold a hammer, he will hit a nail."

Asked on Monday why they still bother to do the work after all these years, Carter said simply, "We've got more and more out of our habitat work when we put it in."

He added, "We have a net gain when we come to a Habitat project. There is always an emotional feeling among the volunteers and The homeowners somehow bind us together in a spirit of love, appreciation and mutual respect as well as equality. Treat everyone equally and try to help people in need.

Faith in Action

  Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School for the first time since breaking his hip

Jimmy Carter He teaches Sunday school twice a month in the Maranatha Baptist Church, where people from all over the world come to the plains to hear their lessons On Monday, Carter led a morning prayer for volunteers in Nashville before construction began.

He sat in a chair on a small platform and led the audience with the helmets through some questions.

"A decision that only you can make Decide: What kind of person have I chosen in my life so far? If you are not satisfied at any time, you can change. Every person … can be a complete success in the eyes of God, "he said.

Carter's faith and his entire ministry are aligned with Habitat for Humanity's mission:" Habitat for Humanity seeks to put God's love into action and brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. "

One of the best ways to practice my faith as a Christian is to participate in habitat every year," Carter said.

The impact

  Jimmy Carter rebuilt after cancer

Nashville, the Significant Experience According to Haby for Humanity's President and CEO in Greater Nashville, ants' growth and gentrification in recent years has been confronted with a crisis of affordable and available housing for working families. At the end of the one-week Carter project, more than half of the 21 brand new homes in Nashville will be completed. Work will continue in the coming weeks and most families will move in early 2020.

People of Habitat I want to say that it is "one hand up, no hand out".

Families pay zero and receive 100% financing, but pay a monthly mortgage with a 30-year term, Herron said. In addition to the closure costs, Habitat homeowners are asked to pay with sweat capital – they volunteer all week long.

Tara Morgan, 31, is moving into her first own home with her nine-year-old daughter just before Christmas. She played the role of the "catcher" on Monday.

"I'm standing on the floor, picking up the walls and positioning them, it's my job to keep walls up, I looked over there and saw how my neighbor did that How crazy is that I watch like my neighbor Build her house while I build mine, "she said.

This week with Carter Work Project means more than a roof over your head.

"I can really be a backbone for my daughter," she said. "This is the beginning of – that's mine, and that's me or my daughter, that's ours – this stability, this independence, after all, it just means everything."

Morgan said she did not believe it when she was selected by Habitat as one of 21 future homeowners.

"Part of me wants to say why, what's wrong with me, and at that moment, I just have to stop and say, 'God, I've asked for a change in my life, and now it's coming. Just let me in. Just let me know that I'm chosen because I'm worth it and deserve it. "So all I said was," Thanks, I'm ready, tell me what to do, "said

Carter built his consoles in Morgan's future front yard when she and her volunteers took home the house from a cast-in slab concrete to a fully framed house within hours.

At the end of the week, the roof was high

"It's things like these that give me that overwhelming sense of hope. That's what I want to fill my head with in the morning. For him As a former president, still doing this job – he is a great example. I was not alive when he was president, but I am so thankful that he lives to see him and that my daughter meets him, "she said.

In this world, far from Washington, seems

Republican Bill Lee, governor of Tennessee, spent some time with the Carters and the mayor of Nashville, John Cooper, a Democrat, as well as Janet Huckabee, wife of the former governor by Arkansas, Mike Huckabee and mother of former White House White House press officer Sarah Sanders, who wore a working belt with a black sharpie huckabile hammer and told CNN that she has been involved in the Carter Work Project for 25 years [19659002] Also among the volunteers: the "first couple" of country music, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who helped the Carters build homes after Hurricane Katrina in New Orlea ns and has now participated in 12 Carter work projects.

"We look forward to it every year," said Brooks. "It's the week of love."

Kimberly Arp Babbit of CNN contributed to this report.

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