Growing Up…White

In 1944 to 1946, I began my education in Des Moines, Iowa  at Nash Elementary and Kirkwood Elementary. The schools I attended were racially mixed. Race meant nothing to me. I played with anyone who would play with me.

I was raised in Iowa, except for three years, 1946 to 1949, when we lived in Oklahoma and Illinois. It’s interesting how impressions are made on children. Because I’m writing about the 1940’s and ’50’s I’ll use the word, Negro, rather than Black.

When we moved to Oklahoma, we lived in a town that was all white. I remember seeing a negro man walking along the railroad tracks one day. The thought that came to my mind was, he’d better keep walking because negro people can’t be in this town! If he wants to sleep overnight, he’ll have to sleep in the jail!  What a thought for a little child. What a thought to remain in my mind after all these years! Anita 1947

We moved back to Des Moines and for 8th and 9th grades I attended Washington Irving Jr. High. I have many memories of my two years there. There were many, many negro students. I don’t remember any negro teachers.

I wasn’t very athletic so gym days were tough for me. I couldn’t serve a volleyball and get it over the net… My hands stung every time I tried to hit the ball back over the net. One day a girl, who was getting very aggravated with me, yelled, “Niger”, at me! I couldn’t believe it…she was a negro! Later we became good friends.

A negro boy in my homeroom was named Matthew. I’d never heard of anyone named Matthew. I thought it was interesting his mother named him a Bible name! Today it’s a common name…I have a fine grandson named Matthew!

I had a very long way to walk to and from school. One day as I was walking alone, one of my classmates, who was also walking alone, caught up with me. We started talking as we walked. We enjoyed each other’s company and laughed a lot.

We were walking down a very busy street. All of a sudden, a car veered and nearly lost control. We jumped quickly, staring at the car. The driver caught my eye. He was staring, in disbelief, at me! Oh my goodness, we’d nearly caused an accident! Yes, my friend was a negro boy! So what! We were friends…simply that, friends. And good friends, at that! We continued walking together until we came to where he had to turn the corner but our mood had changed. We said good-bye. We were still friends but we never walked together again. I felt bad then and I still do today.

These are just a couple of memories I have of growing up white in a country of both whites and blacks. I have lots more, but these stand out in my mind.

Years later, I understood why I had such a feeling of comradeship with my black friends. My parents, though never saying so, had the feeling of equality with black people and had always encouraged me in this way. But it was more than that. My dad became Director of Interracial Evangelism, in the 1960’s, in our denomination, Free Methodist Church of North America. I was so proud of him then and still am. What a legacy my parents gave me.

 

 

 

Change At The Top

Change is always hard… I don’t like change. I like familiarity. This isn’t a political post… I’m not talking about electing a new president. I’m talking about my church. Changing pastors. It’s hard. I’ve been in my denomination, Free Methodist, since I was only about two years of age! So I’ve seen lots of changes.

There’ve been changes in policies and rules, like the negativity of the  40’s and 50’s. A few of them were movies, dancing, make-up, jewelry, bowling, I could go on and on. Today I’m free to do whatever I feel is okay in my personal life. So even though I’m free now, I do very few of those forbidden acts.

What I’m referring to, in this post, is the changing of a pastor. In the Free Methodist denomination, pastors are appointed, not hired by a church. When I was a little girl, it was common for a pastor to be moved after two or three years at the appointed church. My dad was a pastor and we stayed at the church in Des Moines, Iowa for four years during two different appointments! That was unusual!

I want to skip ahead to today. Pastors are still appointed, but the assignment may last for many years.  My pastor was here, in my church, for 20 years! I knew him well, he knew me well. I loved him and his wife. One day in May he made the announcement to a few committee folks (I was on the committee) that he had accepted a church in another state. We would be getting a new pastor. Oh…no…my heart dropped.

The committee I was on and our conference superintendent met numerous times in order for us to give the superintendent a clear profile of our church family and our needs. We  prayed for guidance for the conference committee in searching for a new pastor for us. This went on all summer! We were fortunate in having two assistant pastors who filled the pulpit, so to speak, over the summer.

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Midland Free Methodist Church

Finally as of one week ago, we have a new pastor appointed to our church! He’s not new to us. In fact, he was an assistant pastor here about fifteen years ago!

We, as a committee, were committed to prayer. We knew, without a doubt, that God had a person already picked out for us. We just needed to be patient. So we prayed, we interviewed, we discussed, we prayed…

Finally, another name was brought to us. We were surprised! We hadn’t thought of this person, even though most of us, on the committee, knew him.

Here’s his story. When he first heard our pastor was leaving, he began to pray for our church. After all, he knew us, he had been on staff as an assistant to our pastor, years before. Every now and then, our church came to his mind as he was praying and so he’d include us in his prayers. After a while, he asked God what was going on, why a new pastor wasn’t being assigned! Then he said, the thought came to him that maybe…maybe…he was the pastor to answer the call! He wrote to our conference superintendent telling him this and… the rest is history!

Pastor Gene LeForge has been assigned. This is a big change, but it’s one I can live with. I believe God is in it! “Thank You Lord, for Your guidance.”

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today started out as almost every day starts out. Autumn was just beginning, as it is now. A few leaves were beginning to turn color. That day, in the morning, I had an inkling to call my sister, Lorraine. But I didn’t because she lived in Portland, Oregon and I live in Midland, Michigan! There is a three-hour difference in our time zones. Or is it four? I’m in Eastern Time Zone and she, in Pacific Time Zone. We’d been getting together about once or twice a year because we’d visit our parents in Washington. Then she moved to Washington for their final years. So when I went to visit Mother and Dad I stayed with her in her apartment. About a year after Dad died, Mother moved to Colorado, where our brothers lived.

And in between those visits, we talked often, on the phone, but most of our calls were late at night, so we weren’t interrupted by anyone or anything. We both loved our visits. They were always long visits, two or three hours long! We had so much to talk about!

  • Our childhood, we were just two and one-half years apart, we had such fun playing house (dolls), paper dolls, school. She was always the teacher! We played jacks, jump rope, tag, hide and seek. We listened to the radio every evening. We reminisced about all of this. 2414_1029994670148_9430_n  This picture is of Richard, Me in the middle, and Lorraine. Grandma had curled our hair for this picture.
  • Our family life, back when we were young. Our parents had rules we didn’t understand but had to obey. Dad was a pastor/evangelist in an evangelical denomination, Free Methodist, and there were strict rules. No jewelry or make-up, no movies, no dancing, no mixed swimming, no bowling, so many things we couldn’t do. Lorraine and I had long braids. Mother had two very long braids that she wrapped around her head, twice! Mother 001When Lorraine was in about fifth grade she wanted her hair cut and fixed like the other girls. She begged Mother to cut her hair. Finally, Mother gave in. But Lorraine heard her say softly, “I hope the Lord will forgive me for this!” Lorraine never forgot that statement. kids 1947 In this picture of the four of us children, I have braids but Lorraine doesn’t.
  • Thank goodness the Free Methodist Church no longer has those rules for dress and behavior. I’m still Free Methodist today. I love God with all my heart. But for Lorraine, to live a Christian life was a struggle. We had many discussions about those old rules and what it means to be a Christian today. I believe with all my heart she made her peace with the Lord.Lorraine
  • We discussed private matters that we only shared with each other. Being able to talk with each other, knowing our conversations were, for our ears only, freed both of us from guilt feelings that sometimes can plague a person’s mind.
  • We discussed our children and grandchildren. She had four, all girls. Her oldest, Christine, was my flower girl when Jerry and I got married! I had five, three boys and two girls. She had eleven grandchildren. I have fifteen grandchildren. We both love all of them, with no favorites.
  • We even discussed our husbands! She had two. I have one.

We decided, early on, not to discuss politics. We didn’t.

Well, the day, three years ago today, went by, the urge to call her left me, with the business of the day. That night I was tired and went to bed earlier than usual. But not being able to relax and fall asleep, I got up and went to the loft when I collapsed in my ‘lazy-boy’ chair. I hadn’t been there long when my phone rang. Oh good, it must be Lorraine!

But no, it was my older brother, Richard! He was calling with bad news. Lorraine had died sometime during the day. Her daughter, Christine, found her. Whatever else he said, I don’t know. I was in shock. Three years ago today. I miss Lorraine so much.

My Wonderful Experience at GC15

Every four years the Free Methodist Church, my denomination since age two, has General Conference, where rules and policies are discussed and sometimes changed, our three bishops are elected and/or reelected. I’ve been privileged to attend only four in my life, but each one was a highlight for me. The first two I attended were in Winona Lake, Indiana in 1960 and 1974. The next one I went to was at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana in about 1996.

I seem to have unique, interesting experiences when I travel to General Conference, so here’s one. Later, I’ll write of another one!

I went with a friend, Wilma Kasten, to Anderson, Indiana. We shared a room in the university girl’s dorm. One morning we couldn’t get our door to open! We were inside our room, trying to get out so we could use the bathroom, down the hall, and then go to breakfast. The door would not open! We were trying, we were yelling for anyone going by to open the door from the other side, nothing worked! It would not open! Someone finally got ahold of maintenance and a man came with tools to open our door. It took a while before we were able to get out!!!  A few years later, someone wrote about this in the Anderson University newspaper. Most of the details were correct, except for one! The article claimed “two elderly ladies were locked inside their dorm room!” Believe me, I was not elderly! Yes, I was at the upper edge of middle age, but I was not elderly!

This year, 2015, General Conference was in Orlando, Florida at Caribe Royale Resort.  Orlando Caribe resort What a great place for General Conference! There were plenty of rooms for everyone to stay, there were plenty of meeting rooms, of several sizes, for large groups and smaller groups. The meals served, were great!IMG_1039 (1)  IMG_1040 (1)                                                   The swimming pool, for relaxation, was fabulous! Swimming pool Orlando  GC15 pool  Haleigh and friends swimming.

I went to Orlando early because I opted to go on a missions trip, General Conference was offering, during the same week but ending the day before General Conference ended! When I arrived on July 8, there were many folks already there. Some were going on mission trips and some were there for special meetings before General Conference began. So I got in on the last day and evening of General Conference, and what a privilege! I saw so many folks, both before and after the trip to Haiti, that I’m privileged to know but seldom get to see.

Okay, I’ll share my second funny story here. I was going on the trip to Haiti with my granddaughter, Haleigh. We had traveled to Florida separately and she arrived first. She had been on a teen missions trip to West Virginia and went directly to Florida from West Virginia. I flew from Michigan and my flight arrived late. When I finally got to Caribe Royale Resort after midnight, Haleigh was waiting for me! We went to the desk to get our key cards for our room. We were so excited! Our room was on the ninth floor! We opened our door and oh my! “Haleigh,” I exclaimed, “It’s a suite, not just a room! Oh, it’s so nice! This is the living room and, just look at the bathroom! So clean and nice!” Then we opened the bedroom door and switched the light on. What?!?? Oh, no! Someone was in bed, asleep!!!

The person in bed woke up and said, “Oh, Haleigh, you’ve arrived! I’ve been expecting you!” What? What about me? She didn’t know about me! Apparently she and Haleigh were assigned this suite. There were two queen size beds in the room. I insisted I sleep in the living room on the sofa. (I wonder who I was assigned to share a suite with?!)

The fact that impresses me the most, about the Free Methodist Church, is that we’re a global church! Being at General Conference was an exciting time with folks from all over the world! “The worldwide Free Methodist family includes more than 1 million members in 85 world areas. Only 7 percent of Free Methodists are in the United States!” Free-Methodist-Missionary-Summit1-e1438105689666This is a picture of missionaries that were present at General Conference. I see our three bishops in the picture too.

Mission:

To love God, love people and make disciples.

Vision:

To bring wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches.

This I have copied and pasted from the Free Methodist Church website. I love my church. (I don’t know how to make the print smaller, or I would!)

  • IMG_1039 Myself and Pakep from Myanmar, IMG_1041  The Myanmar representation and myself!
  • My new friend, Jamie Piper from McPherson, Kansas and the new Bishop from Haiti, Bishop Eliodor.IMG_1040
  • My good friend, Becca Doyle, missionary to Asia GC15 Becca & us slipped in beside Haleigh and me during a service!
  • A short but sweet visit with Bishop David and Yvonne Roller meant so much and was such an encouragement to me.
  • Other friends I connected with were former pastors, missionaries, bishops, and friends from all over the USA and even the world! What a great time of fellowship with fellow Christians and fellow Free Methodists!

The music at GC15 was outstanding! The worship team led by David Gaulton was so good! The muscians played guitar, drum, violin, and I forget if there were more! They were excellent! The last evening we were favored with a solo by a black man with a beautiful, beautiful voice! He sang a hymn and I would love to have a CD of it! If any readers can help me out here I would appreciate it!

General Conference 2015 was a huge success! Our three bishops, Matt Thomas, David Kendall, and David Roller were all reelected. It was such a privelege for me to be a part of this very special event.  The Holy Spirit blessed us with His Presence.

My Great Experience in Haiti Part I

I have returned from the little island of Haiti in the Caribbean Sea. haiti 100_5752                               Haiti shares the island with the Dominican Republic.

This was my third trip to Haiti, but whose counting? I went in 1971 with my husband. For three weeks, Jerry helped a group from Dearborn Heights, Michigan construct the Rensberry Free Methodist Church near downtown Port-au-Prince. I was hoping to drive by on this trip but didn’t get to. In 1991, I went, with a group of folks from my church, up to Dessalines to Ebenezer Glenn Orphanage. A very fine, self-sustaining orphanage.

When we landed in Port-au-Prince I was surprised at the new modern airport! 100_5757

I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic and would like to, but on this trip I could look over across the border and see the country! One hundred forty-two people from all over the US went on this trip and it was great! We went to the Providence University, an affiliate  of the Free Methodist Church, near Balan, Ganthier Province of Haiti. 100_5793 It’s a new university, still being built, and classes are already being taught. There was a fine, bright, young class of graduates this year.  The men’s dorm. 100_5773  This is kind of a greeting place and will have a small store for buying refreshments. 100_5775  The girl’s dorm and, I think, some classrooms in the first floor. 100_5774Haleigh and I had a room on the second floor, which we shared with two other women.                                                  We ate our meals,  cooked and served by very efficient Haitian men and women, inside this pavilion. It was good Haitian food!100_5766 100_5787 The kitchen was in the room on the end.

We also worshipped in here on Sunday. They took all the tables out and put in chairs. 100_5788 They played drums, guitars, and a keyboard. One of our US friends had her flute with her and was invited to play with them.100_5782

The work projects at the University were planting trees with the reforestation project, building desks, a medical clinic, VBS, and pouring cement sidewalks.  There were probably even more, but my mind can’t pull them up! I helped at the desk building project. First I was an errand runner, then I was a painter. We only painted the steel frames. There were 120 desks built! Haiti desks Two or three students at each desk. They will be distributed to Free Methodist schools all over the country!

This university is new and has a lot of promise! I’m so glad I got to go to see it and meet some of the people connected with the university and some who were in my group of workers!

One special group was from McPherson, Kansas. I’m in the middle of this group in a blue dress. Jamie Piper, Sarah Johnson, me, Chuck Singleton, Ali and Kyle Singleton, Joel Piper.100_5791

On Sunday afternoon, I joined the goat team! I had to say good-bye to Haleigh. Haleigh and me parting in Haiti          I knew she would be fine with so many folks watching over her!  We left and drove back, in the pickup truck. to Port-au-Prince. We were team #2. Donna Maxedon, myself, Lars Adams, Linda Roberts,  Ali Singleton, Marv,  and (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten his name.) Second goat team  There is so much more to tell you. I’ve only just begun! Check back in a few days and I’ll have another chapter done with more pictures!

My Baptism Days

Yes, my baptism days! I know, I know, a person need only be baptised once. But wait a minute, let me explain…

I was baptised along with my older brother, sister, and mother way back in about 1943 or 1944. I would have been about five years old. We were living in Des Moines, Iowa, Dad was our pastor. The baptising was done by sprinkling. I can’t find any certificate or record of this day, only the memory of Richard, my brother, and myself. I think my baby brother, Billy, was probably also baptised at the same time, although I have no record. There is a reason why we weren’t baptised before as babies or small children. Mother and Dad had become born-again Christians when I was about two years old and before that they hadn’t attended church, so no baptising.

The second time I was baptised I was an adult. I was married and had four children; one more baby boy joined our family later. Life was good. I had a personal relationship with Jesus and I felt it was time to be baptised as an adult.  I was immersed. Our new church building had a baptismal pool? tank? installed on the platform. I was the first person to be baptised in it! This means something to me but not to anyone else!

The third time I was baptised in the Jordan River in Israel! Jerry and I were both retired and on a trip we had often dreamed of. When we were at the Jordan River where Jesus had been baptised (it was probably not the exact site) we were told we could be baptised. Jerry wanted to immediately even though he had been baptised as a teenager. I didn’t want to, I had already been baptised and didn’t need to do it again. But then we were told couples could be baptised together! “You mean, at the same time?” I asked. Oh, we looked at each other and suddenly I knew this was right. So we were baptised together in the Jordan River! Our own Pastor Dave Kessler and the leader of our group, Dr Glen Williams from Indiana Wesleyan University baptised us. Baptised in the Jordan River  Dr Williams, Jerry, Me, Pastor Dave. What a wonderful, meaningful experience for Jerry and me. Even though we had established a Christian home when we were married, it was like we rededicated our lives and mainly our marriage to the Lord. We both felt so close to God and to each other!

In my denomination, Free Methodist, folks wanting to be baptised are free to choose immersion, sprinkling or pouring. Parents have the choice for infant baptism or dedication of the child to the Lord.

Jerry and I had all five of our babies dedicated to the Lord as babies. It was a very special time for us. We did our best to raise them in a Christian home. Baptism was left until they were adults and made the decision themselves.

The following is a paragraph from the Book of Discipline, Free Methodist Church, page 173. “It is therefore our privilege to present our children to the Lord and our duty to raise them in His ways. These parents now bring this child to offer him/her in dedication and to pledge in the presence of this congregation to bring him/her up in the Lord’s discipline and instruction.”

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

So there it is. I’m born again, definitely baptised and ready for heaven! How about you?

 

My Dad…Part V

“Someday, when the kids are grown, I’m going to take you around the world!” This statement, I remember hearing Dad say to Mother, back in the middle 40’s, finally came true! Scan_Pic0107  This picture was taken in about 1945. I’m the young girl between Dad and Mother. Richard and Lorraine are standing, Billy is on Mother’s lap.

Their first trip, in 1961, was an exciting six-week trip to Europe. Dad was Scottish-Irish; Mother was full-blooded Norwegian, so of course they went to Ireland and Norway.   They kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland! In Norway, they visited relatives who still lived on the farm that had been in the family for centuries! They also went to The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and France.

Coming back home to America they traveled by ship! It was a great ending of a great experience for both of them. Dad was invited to preach on Sunday! It was an unexpected thrill for him.

The next few years had many changes for Dad and Mother. They moved to Colorado where Dad was Conference Superintendent of the Colorado Conference of the Free Methodist Church. They lived in Canyon City and Denver. He wrote several books during that time.

Then they moved to a lovely retreat home on Horn Mountain! He became editor of the magazine: Sermon Builder, a widely used magazine for pastors and church leaders. At the same time, he wrote many articles, stories, and several books. Frank and Hazel, The Adamson’s of Kibogora in 1972 published by Light and Life Press; Repair My House in 1973 published by Creation House;  Geneva and On The Brink by Geneva Sayre with Glen Williamson) in 1974 published by Light and Life Press; Born For Such A Day, The Amazing Story of Western Evangelical Seminary in 1974 published by Le Sabre Press; The Doctor and Geraldine in 1975 published by Church Extension Service, Inc.; Gonzalo of Mexican Missions in 1976 and Brother Kawabe in 1977 published by Light and Life Press.

They traveled to Assisi, Italy where they researched for the book, Repair My House, a biographical novel of Saint Francis of Assisi. Repair my house was a command God had given to Francis concerning the Church. Dad and Mother stayed in a guesthouse run by four Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. The nuns it interesting that an evangelical minister was writing a book about a Catholic saint and gave valuable assistance to the production of the book.

Other countries they went to for the purpose of researching for books were Japan and Taiwan. “Brother Kawabe”, “Geneva”, and “On The Brink,”

On the way to Japan, they had a layover in Hawaii. They took in a luau and went to see Pearl Harbor. Then on to Japan where they were entertained by Dr. Lavern and Lois Snider. It was a dream come true! They met and ate with new Japanese friends, visited several Free Methodist Churches, and attended a Japanese wedding! Dad was able to do a lot of research on his book, assisted by Dr. Snider.

Taipei, Taiwan was next on the itinerary. They were met by James Taylor, Jr. Then they flew on to Kaohsiung where they were met by Carolyn Winslow and Dorothy Raber. They visited Free Methodist Churches and met wonderful pastors and lay people. One day they visited a heathen temple which made their hearts ache for people who haven’t heard of Jesus. Harry and Ruth Winslow took them to a wedding in Mutan, a mountain village! At a conference meeting of pastors and missionaries, Dad was the speaker, with the conference superintendent as his interpreter.

They took a train back up north to Taipei. It was an excellent way to see rural Taiwan. Rice, sugarcane, pineapples, oranges, bananas, soybeans, cabbage, watermelons, papaya, and persimmons were in abundance. James, Jr. and Leone Taylor and Wilma Kasten met them at the train station. They all enjoyed a delicious Chinese dinner and a good visit. Wilma was their hostess that evening and the next day, before their plane took them to Hong Kong.

John and Ruby Schlosser met them in Hong Kong and showed them all around the large city, explaining cultural ways and the church, as they went.

What a fruitful trip this had been for Dad and Mother. Not only did they meet with missionary friends, they made new friends, explored new cultures, and accomplished lots of research for the books Dad was writing.

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To be continued…