Monday, July 22, 2013 7:49 PM
A special night at Bible school
By Lee Jennings | Special to the Times
The July heat had mixed with the abundance of rain in the past few days to create humid, heavy feeling air. It was enough to cause one’s naturally wavy hair to be in ringlets. No matter how much straightening and product were used, once outside, the hair did its own thing.
Sandy the farm hound lay on the cool hardwood floor of the Baker’s farm house kitchen, away from the mugginess outside. Yellow cupcakes with golden brown tops sat cooling on the counter top. They smelled rather heavenly.
Mrs. Baker and Emma would be frosting the cupcakes after they cooled, and Sandy hoped they would save an unfrosted one for her. Vacation Bible school would be starting in a few hours, and the finished cupcakes would be part of the snack that night.
To make things even better, the missionary at Bible school would be staying with the Bakers. The guest room upstairs was ready with freshly cut roses on the night stand. Sandy loved the way they smelled mixed with the clean bed sheets that had dried on the clothesline outside.
Six-year-old Emma Baker came into the kitchen to see if the cupcakes were cool enough to frost. She yelled to the other room with her cute voice telling Mrs. Baker that they were ready for frosting. Emma sneaked one to Sandy who ate it almost in one bite. While Emma and her mama worked on the cupcakes with the delicious homemade frosting, Sandy heard footsteps on the porch.
A knock on the door of the side porch meant that the visitor was probably someone that was a friend. Sandy walked with Mrs. Baker to the door. Who should be there but the missionary! His tanned face and graying hair paired well with his square jaw.
He had a big kind smile that caused his sparkly eyes to crinkle up at the edges in an engaging kind of way. He had strong arms from lifting and working hard. And his broad shoulders looked like he could keep one safe. When he spoke, his voice was kind and happy sounding.
Mr. Baker had been working in the sheep barn with Sandy’s 1-year-old puppy, Fudge, when he heard the missionary’s rental car come up the drive to the farm house. He left what he was doing to come greet the visitor from Ivory Coast in Africa. The missionary’s name was Jackson Thomas, and he and Mr. Baker shook hands. They had known each other in college, and Mr. Jackson, as he was called by all the children, had been on furlough in the states visiting his parents and cousins for about a week.
Once the cupcakes were ready and everyone had washed up, the Baker family and Mr. Jackson loaded the car with the snacks and their Bibles and headed to the little country church at the end of the road. The church was close enough that they usually walked, but with all the cupcakes, they decided to drive.
Since Sandy knew that the Bakers were heading to church, she and Fudge headed out trotting to Bible school. They were sort of permanent guests in the church yard any time there was a church service. They were well behaved and actually helped round up the children if they ran toward the road. Sandy loved all of the pets she got on her furry, blond head and the gentle scratches behind her soft ears.
She and Fudge sat under a crape myrtle tree that was full of white blooms. They could hear the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer being said inside the church. Then they heard happy singing, and soon groups of children were dispersing to different activities led by energetic leaders with their Bibles in hand.
Fudge had dozed off in the shade under the tree, but Sandy got in line with a row of children following Mr. Jackson to a Sunday school room. All of the children were seated as Mr. Jackson got out his materials for his lesson. He looked up to begin with prayer and saw Sandy seated behind the children on her best behavior.
Instead of disrupting the class, Mr. Jackson proceeded with prayer and his interesting lesson from his experiences in Africa. Sandy seemed to soak it all in with excitement in her eyes. The classroom felt cool and was a haven from all the humidity for a while.
When the next group of children came in for their lesson, Sandy was still there. She lay on the floor very politely like she was supposed to be there. Mr. Jackson led Sandy outside where she walked to the fellowship hall. It was a noisy place with crafts being done at one end, and snacks were being served at the other end. Sandy could see all this by standing on her hind legs and looking through the windows under the breezeway.
Mrs. Baker was serving snacks, and Mr. Baker was helping with crafts. He saw Sandy at the window and smiled. Then Fudge came over and looked in the windows too. All of the children looked at the two dogs, and laughter erupted throughout the fellowship hall.
Sandy didn’t mean to disrupt. She just wanted to see what was going on. As she and Fudge walked back to their tree, Sandy saw a little girl trip on the sidewalk as she followed in line with her group. The little girl had scraped her knee and began to cry. Sandy went over and barked to let the group leader know that she had a student who needed help.
The little girl stopped crying when Sandy sat down beside her and nuzzled her hand. The children cheered and all petted Sandy on the head. And the group leader petted her, too, as she comforted the child.
That night after Bible school, the Bakers and Mr. Jackson ate a late supper that Mrs. Baker had fixed earlier. They had fried chicken, homemade biscuits, gravy, green beans from the Bakers’ garden and pear salad. It smelled just as good as the cupcakes.
After supper, Mr. Baker and Mr. Jackson sat on the screened-in porch and finished their sweet tea while they rocked in the rocking chairs. A soft breeze came through, ruffling Sandy’s fur a little as she lay at Mr. Baker’s feet. Golden lights shone through the windows of the farm house as Emma got ready for bed and Mrs. Baker finished cleaning the kitchen from supper.
Sandy listened to Mr. Jackson as he talked about God protecting him as he had faced some scary things in Africa. He was a lot like Mr. Baker, and Sandy loved the sound of their voices as the ice cubes clinked in their tea glasses while they rocked.
Sandy was thankful that Mr. Baker was so kind and loving. She was thankful, too, for Bible school and all the children there. Their giggles and hugs were like good medicine. She was thankful that Emma had shared a cupcake and that Mrs. Baker loved to cook for her family and her church family. And she was thankful for her puppy that was now asleep on the rug beside Emma’s bed.
Sandy was also thankful that Mr. Jackson was staying at the Baker Farm for the week with his interesting stories and compassionate heart. Mr. Baker was another one with a compassionate heart. He loved people, and he talked to everybody as if they were the only people in the world. If you think about it, we all have a master who loves each person so much, that he offers us each eternal life with him.