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.
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 o n that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many
house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for
everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make
three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $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 talkabout how the poor family was going to enjoy having the
money the church would give them. We had about 80 people e 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. W e
didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the
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 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 kids 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 bills. 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 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 spoon or the fork that
night. We had two knifes that 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 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--I didn't even 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 that we were
poor. I decided that 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 needed money to buy
He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we
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. I've always remembered how rich I am
because I have Jesus!
being rich is a state of mind.