Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jodie sent me this story this week and because it really touched our family, I wanted to share it here. Thanks, Jodie

I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy, 12, and my older sister Darlene, 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things.

My dad had died 5 years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money. By 1946 my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home.

A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill.

Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us baby sat for everyone we could. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We make $20 on pot holders.

That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the Pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church!

On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly.

I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt so rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us girls put in a $20. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way.

At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1. Mom put the money back in the envelope.

We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the fork or the spoon that night. We had two knives which we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor.

That Easter Day I found out who we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed that I didn't want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew we were poor. I decided I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time.

Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never known we were poor. We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse.

At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they need money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people? We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church."

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100." We were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary said so? From that day on I've never been poor again.

Easter Sunday

Here's how we spent ours. We had a special Easter service at church that began with...eating. We had a chocolate fountain surrounded by plates of several different kinds of fruit. It was a new thing for most people, and I'd never seen one before. For the service we had Pierre-Luc and a group of his musician friends lead the worship time and he preached the third sermon in a series--after Mark's message on God's holiness, then Tim's on man's sinfulness. As I'm sure you can guess, PL's message was on bringing these two stories together by sharing the hope we have because of Christ's sacrifice and His ressurection. There was a lady there for the first time (a neighbor of one of our church attendees) who was really emotional during the service and walked out crying. Tim and Barb actually had been invited to have lunch with her and Carole--the woman who comes somewhat regularly to our church. They had the chance to talk for a good long while that afternoon about what it all means. Interestingly enough, her name is Pascale (which means Easter).

Then after the service we went over to Francis and Armelle's for a fabulous lunch. The kids had an Easter egg hunt (inside--we still have mounds and mounds of snow), we looked at Noè and Léa's baby picture albums, Francis and Mark listened to music together, and we took a walk--a pretty short one as it was pretty cold and we weren't adequately dressed. We got home around 5:00 and just relaxed together.

The kids and their dads dividing up the spoils from the egg hunt

Francis and Joel finding some chocolate.

Mark and Marc's Photography Experience
Mark had a fun morning last week when Marc Bazin (our friend the doctor who, actually bought us two of our camera lenses last year) asked him to go take pictures with him at a butterfly exposition here in town. Here are a couple of my favorites. It was definitely hard to choose just three.

Look what I found today....
This picture was taken soon after we arrived here in 2001.

These next two pictures show how I often find those two boys these days. They love to look at their football cards, rearrange them in their card books, and trade. Sam keeps his very neat and always in a particular order. Jack, on the other hand, has a bit of difficulty caring for his, and I often find stray cards under the couch or on the bar or on the bathroom floor. You should know that I always am very kind and don't overreact when I find cards strewn about the place. Well, maybe sometimes I'm a little irritated. Okay, I perhaps don't show too much compassion...All right, I have some work to do in this area.

And look at these precious toes...they belong to one Joel David Billington who was enjoying a book and a brief pause from play.

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