Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Romans 9:7 NIV
Bonay pulled weeds under a hot, Haitian sun. Hours later he carried an armful to the missionary’s gate. “For your new rabbit,” he said.
Judy Revis, known as Madam Steve, knew this boy from their village was not only thirsty, but hungry as well. So when she brought him water, she handed him a peanut butter sandwich as well.
“Merci,” Bonay said with a broad smile.
From this simple exchange, a new ministry was born.
Bonay ran and shouted to his brothers and sisters and all of his friends, “I traded weeds for peanut butter!”
Soon scores of children combed the countryside, pulled more armfuls of weeds, and carried them to Madam Steve. This time she had prepared lots of limeade and a basketful of peanut butter sandwiches.
Through out that afternoon the same children returned time after time as the weed piles grew taller. Too much food for one lone rabbit, but Steve soon acquired three goats and that problem was solved.
Still, Judy was puzzled. The children could not have eaten all the peanut butter sandwiches she had given to them in such a short time. She turned to Bonay and asked him,“What are the children doing with their food?”
Bonay hung his head, but then he looked up and told the truth. “They are giving it to others in our village who are hungry.”
Elated, Judy laughed and cried and hugged the little boy. The Haitian people had been too proud to accept “handouts” from the missionaries. But they were willing to enjoy the fruits of the children’s hard labor.
Before long, the supply of bread and peanut butter was depleted. But the story does not end there.
Word about Madam Steve’s “peanut butter kids” spread stateside and cases of peanut butter began arriving in Haiti, shipped by the Revis’ family and friends.
Months later, the children who first traded weeds for peanut butter began coming to the missionaries, not only for food, but for another reason: a backyard Bible study where they eagerly learned about the “Bread of life.”
More months passed. Then, some of the parents of those children asked the Revis couple if they would hold church services in their yards.
Look how God used a hungry, skinny boy with an armful of weeds and a missionary with bread and peanut butter, both with giving hearts, to bring hope to a Haitian village.
If you think you don’t have anything grand to offer to the Lord, give willingly whatever you have. The Lord will bless it and use it for His glory.
In my younger days someone might casually ask, “Do you work or are you a stay-at-home Mom?”
Even though I knew what the person meant, the question bothered me because the implication was that if you stayed at home, you didn’t work.
I taught school, mostly second grade, until my husband and I were blessed with our first child. Soon afterwards, I was fortunate to be able to stay home, and eventually helped raise two children. But I could never match the work ethic of two women in my life.
My mother nearly always had an outside job, from office work to managing a coal-camp’s commissary to seamstress and part owner of a drycleaners. Even though my sister and I, when we were old enough, had supper ready most evenings, she had other chores to do before her day ended.
My mother-in-law worked entirely at home. On their farm—that had electricity, but no indoor plumbing—she cooked three meals a day for her family plus field hands. She raised and canned vegetables, fed chickens, cows, and pigs, and washed endless mounds of clothes that she hung on lines in the backyard. She did all of this, and much more, with a stiff right leg. As a young woman she had contracted TB that resulted in a kneecap that wouldn't bend. I never heard her complain and her handicap never slowed her down.
Both women worked hard all their lives—they did whatever needed to be done—for their families.
When you were growing up where did your Mom work?
What were some of your responsibilities?
Coal Camp Living
Like children in most communities across our land, we dressed up for Halloween. In the early fifties, if store-bought costumes existed we weren’t aware of them. We scrounged around for old, usually over-sized clothes of our parents and outfitted ourselves as hobos, pirates, or my favorite—a gypsy lady with a long, full skirt and lots of jewelry. We set out with pillow cases in hand and a piece of soap in a pocket just in case someone didn’t have treats we would be prepared to mark on any window we could reach. We didn’t usually have to do any tricks because we knew all of our neighbors and they knew us, even though they pretended not to when they opened their doors.
Sounds like a calm, idyllic Halloween.
Yet there was bone-chilling fear about one place in our coal mining camp and we especially avoided walking anywhere near it on any day or night of the year: the miners’ bathhouse. It was as big as a barn and a scary place—I had peeked inside one time—with rows of miners’ clothes hanging on hooks pulled high up to the tall ceiling. In the early morning the men could leave their regular clothes here, put their work clothes on and then at the end of the day shower and make the switch again. So there were always clothes hanging there and to me they looked like men who had been hung in the dark shadows, minus their heads and feet.
If that place were not scary enough all by itself, an old man showed up one day and began living inside. He was homeless, and I’m sure harmless, but the camp children whispered horrible tales about him grabbing anyone who strayed too close. And if he caught you, you would disappear—forever.
Even so the camp’s mothers took up the task of feeding this man his supper every evening. When my mother’s turn came around, my sister and I had to carry his plate down our hillside, across a small bridge, across railroads tracks, and finally up to the bathhouse. Once there, we sat his plate down, banged on the door, and ran all the way back home. That was heart-thumping fear.
Did you celebrate Halloween as a child?
What were some of your childhood fears?
No, this is not the name of a new band or even a new song, though it could be.
My mother often told us about walking to school when she was a child. We have told our own children such stories about walking for miles in the deep snow, up hill both ways. No wonder they rolled their eyes.
But my mother swore this tale was true. On her way to and from school, she had to pass a neighbor who had monkeys in his trees and they screeched at her as she passed by. She was petrified that one, or more than one, would swing out over the fence and jump onto her back.
Every morning her mother would warn her, “Stay away from those monkeys.” Mother did her best, running as fast as she could go down the sidewalk. She didn’t slow down until she felt like she was safe.
We laughed at her story. Mother told us to call her older sister, Eula. “She’ll vouch for me. Eula remembers everything.” We called. She did not remember.
“How could you forget those awful monkeys?” Mother yelled into the phone.
And so we teased mother about monkeys in the trees. After awhile, she stopped being mad and laughed along with us. We started giving her things with monkeys on them. Daddy even gave her a huge, stuffed monkey that made terrible sounds and we bought little ones that sounded even worse.
Then came the monkey bags that an artist friend painted for her. Mother especially loved this one. She carried it to doctor appointments, to the beauty shop, and down to dinner in her assisted-living home.
Now I use it to carry books when we travel or my Bible to church, but I haven’t yet carried it to dinner. Maybe I should, in memory of my mother and her monkeys.
This page is dedicated to my inspirations and those who have enriched my life along the way.