Mother Wanda

I am standing with my beloved Mother Wanda. On the left we are hugging after a church conference in 1998. (That’s my cousin photobombing us). The photo on the right is of us in 2021.

We became close through her niece, one of my childhood best friends, LaKeisha.

LaKeisha, Me and R’achel

LaKeisha was my Holy Convocation best bud.

Anyone who grew up in a holiness church can probably attest to the importance of church conferences, especially the Holy Convocation.

We became friends simply because she wore what I didn’t wear like tight African braids and painted nails and in contrast; I said all the things she didn’t say, like, “of course I like boys!” and “guess what I have a boyfriend!”

Sister Wanda didn’t know about any of that culture exchange stuff going on between LaKeisha and I. While she was very protective of her sweet niece, and did not allow her to hang around the huge temple with just anybody’s kids, she allowed me to show LaKeisha around. I, of course, introduced her to my cousins and best friends. They had one thing in common, they were from the south. I was the only one from the north.

LaKeisha had great respect for all adults. She would constantly ask me if my mom knew about all the crazy things I did- like getting water from the fountain to pour on John while he spoke to Mother Wood.

“Lystria, you shouldn’t be doing that!”

“Why? He hit me and now it’s time for us to get him back!”

“But not with water!!”

She’d run behind me holding my bag and books.

Before she could say anything else, and before Anthony could warn John, I splashed him and the elderly mother with cold water.

As if nothing happened, we then walked back into the sanctuary, just in time to join the saints in singing, One Way to God before Bishop Goodwin started his sermon.

LaKeisha would tell me about her life, her church in particular. She’d ask me questions that I’d gotten used to by all visitors. However, unlike my school friends who would frequent my church, Kee Kee (which is what we called her) was always thinking about aristocracy, interested in the pulpit. She didn’t ask incompetent questions about dressing and hair, but she’d ask questions about the structure of the church that I sometimes had as a little girl- which is why our friendship lasted.

Why are people who don’t know how to sing or play called up to sing and play?

We would giggle next to Sister Wanda before being given “the look”.

Then the sermon would start and she would ask-

Do you have your Bible? Do you know how to find the scriptures?

We would find our way through the Bible and act really serious until she’d pass me a note about the church mother sitting next to us, why is she saying amen to everything Bishop says?

And we would hold our laughter.

Sometimes we got into trouble. Sister Wanda became like a mean auntie then. She’d separate us then explain to both of us why she was doing it. LaKeisha would roll her eyes but I was afraid to roll my eyes or even talk back, because she could have done worse. She could have sent me back to my mom who was also looking at me with a warning eye five benches behind! Yep, we were at the front of the church acting up.

Somewhere between middle school and high school, Keke stopped coming. As young adults, now in college, LaKeisha and I caught up just to tell each other we were alive… via Facebook. But in real life, My mom and Sister Wanda connected. They talked about their similarities. Age. Birthdays. Growing up in the same state. Whatever adults talked about.

Soon the only two left were Sister Wanda and me.

My mom passed.

Long before the church appointed Mother Wanda as a mother, the highest title for women in the church, she reached out to me as a mother would, without any title.

Now introducing the Freemans

After the wedding, I met the Freemans. A couple native to South Carolina.

What a conversation!

(Sometimes in my head, I have thoughts of the American south and even if they are stereotypes or images of the past, they just don’t go away. It’s thoughts like that that leads to romanticizing the south. Meeting the Freemans did my imagination justice.)

I stood outside talking to family members, when I was approached by Mother Freedman who introduced not herself but both of them.

“Praise the Lord, We are the Freeman’s. And you are?”

I gathered from our conversation that even though it looked like they were married for a while, they were newly weds and very much in love.

“How did you meet? If he is from the North and you from the South?”

“We knew each other and would talk over the phone.”

“Then you just decided to meet and marry?”

“Yes. I told Brother Freeman if he wanted to marry, he would have to move to the south!”

“And he did, so he must really….. love you! Congratulations!”

I, of course, was interested in her dress! I thought it was an amazing outfit!

She also found me interesting and had a lot of questions to ask me about the “Big City”!

The next day, I was happy to see the Freemans again. Once again as a couple.

Holy Temple

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I ran into my pastor, Bishop Green, when I was coming out of the post office. He was just as surprised to see me as I was him.

Raspberry Jam for Mother’s Day

The Little Flock made raspberry jam for mother’s day. It was a fun, quick and easy process. The children were eager to do everything from washing the dishes to mashing raspberries.

I am not a raspberry lover. I actually don’t like the taste but seeing them eat the raspberries like candy, made me want to try some.

After mashing the berries, one child was picked to measure and pour sugar. Then, we placed it on the stove for two minutes.

I stirred the mix and soon it was ready.

Each child washed out a mini mason jar and I filled it up to the brim.

Then, while I cleaned up the kitchen, they raced upstairs to wrap their gifts and present it to their mothers.

Now I am thinking, what can we do for father’s day?

 

Sunday Dinner

After church on Sunday, we ate out at Texas de Brazil. I was the only one eating the sweet plantains…until little Ardas tried them and agreed with me that it was something to devour.

Cooking for Church

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The last friday in March, the young adult choir hosted a fish fry for the saints.

When I was a little girl, I would look at the adults cooking in the church kitchen and hope never to have to labor in that way (the big pots and pans scared me and sometimes still do).

However, I am not sure when I started volunteering my cooking services…as I don’t consider myself the best cook around.¬†However, I did and it’s an experience that I only enjoy when it’s all over.

Cooking is not my favorite pastime but I do cook. I cook more for a necessity. The more people in the kitchen with me, the more merrier I become, especially if those around me cook as their hobby…like my sister, April!

 

 

Big Hat and Selfie and Wise Child

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You see the little boy? He was watching his aunts have fun while taking selfies. Then, I came by with my camera and asked to join the fun.

Everyone kept repositioning their faces to fit the frame. Your hat is too wide they kept saying.

The little boy simply got up and tuck in his little head. I told him there was no way he was going to get in the photo.

But, as you see, a child knew better than an adult once again!

Sam & His Friends

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Last Sunday, my brother friends took him up on his invitation to church.

Little did they know that that night they will have to fix a flat on the mini volkswagen they were riding around in.