I will never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my younger sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene was sixteen. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us understood what it was like to be without many possessions. My father had died five years prior, leaving my mother with seven school-aged children and no money. By 1946, my oldest sisters had married, and my brothers had left the house. A month before Easter, our church’s pastor announced that a special Easter offering would be collected to benefit a disadvantaged family. He encouraged everyone to save and donate sacrificially.

When we came home, we discussed what we could do. We planned to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live off them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 from our grocery budget for the offering. Then we reasoned that if we kept our electric lights turned off as much as possible and avoided listening to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s power bill. Darlene acquired as many home and yard cleaning jobs as she could, and both of us babysat for everyone we knew. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders for $1. We made $20 selling potholders.

Potato nutrition facts & health benefits | Live Science

That month was among the best of our lives. Every day, we counted our money to see how much we had saved. At night, we’d sit in the dark and speak about how happy the impoverished family would be to get the money from the church. We had about 80 individuals in our church, so we estimated that whatever money we had, the offering would be at least 20 times that amount. After all, every Sunday, the pastor encouraged everyone to save for the sacrificial contribution.
The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery shop and asked the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for our change.

We ran the entire way home to show Mom and Darlene. We’d never had this much money before. We had trouble sleeping that night since we were so eager. We didn’t care if we didn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We couldn’t wait to get to church. On Sunday morning, it was pouring. We didn’t have an umbrella, and the church was nearly a mile away, but it didn’t seem to matter whether we got wet. Darlene had cardboard inside her shoes to plug the holes. The cardboard fell apart and her feet became wet, but we sat in church proudly, no matter how we appeared.

I overheard several youngsters chatting about the Smith girls wearing their old dresses. When I saw them in their new attire, I felt extremely rich.
When the sacrificial sacrifice was taken, we were sitting in the second row from the front. Mom put in a $10 dollar, and each of us daughters contributed $20. We sang as we walked home from church. Mom had prepared a surprise for us over lunch. She had purchased a dozen eggs, and we enjoyed boiled Easter eggs alongside our fried potatoes

Late that afternoon, the minister arrived in his car. Mom walked to the door, talked to him briefly, then returned with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say anything. When she opened the envelope, a large amount of money dropped out. There were three crisp $20 banknotes, a $10 bill, and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back into the envelope. We did not speak, but instead sat and stared at the floor. We had shifted from feeling like riches to feeling like poor white trash.

We kids had had such a happy existence that we felt sad for anyone who didn’t have our parents and a house full of brothers, sisters, and other children who came by all the time. We thought it was fun to share utensils and see who got the fork or spoon that night. We had two knives, which we distributed to anyone needed them. I knew we didn’t have many of the things other people did, but I never imagined we were poor. That Easter Day, I discovered we were poor. The minister had handed us money for the poor family, therefore we must be poor.

I did not like being poor. I was so embarrassed by my dress and worn-out shoes that I refused to return to church. Everyone there undoubtedly knew we were impoverished! I thought about school. I was in ninth grade and at the top of my class, which had over 100 pupils. I worried if the kids at school realized we were impoverished. I decided I could stop school now that I had completed eighth grade. That was all the law demanded at the time.
We sat silently for a long time.

Then it got dark, so we went to bed. We girls went to school and came home for the entire week, and no one said much. Finally, on Saturday, Mom inquired what we wanted to do with the money. What did the impoverished do with their money? We did not know. We had never realized we were destitute. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom insisted we go. Despite the fact that it was a sunny day, we did not converse on the way. Mom started singing, but no one joined in, so she just sung one verse. At church, we had a missionary speaker.

4,861 Small Church Interior Images, Stock Photos, 3D objects, & Vectors | Shutterstock

He discussed how African churches construct buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they require funds to purchase roofing. He claimed that $100 would cover the cost of constructing a church roof. The minister asked, “Can’t we all make sacrifices to help these poor people?” We grinned at each other for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and brought out an envelope. She handed it to Darlene. Darlene passed it to me, and I delivered it to Ocy. Ocy placed it on the offering plate. When the offering was counted, the minister reported that it was little more than $100.

The missionary was excited. He had not expected such a generous contribution from our small church. He went on to say, “You must have some rich people in this church.” Suddenly, it hit us! We had donated $87 of the “little over $100.” We were the richest family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary just said this? Since that day, I have never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how blessed I am because I have Jesus!

Similar Posts