Ok, here goes our United Pentecostal Church story.
In the beginning, newly out of bible school and desperately wanting to work for God, we had several ‘offers’ to come help churches. We accepted one in Ohio but my husbands District Super uncle convinced us to come to another state and work the campground that summer–he would ‘make it worth our while’. Sounded like fun–but it wasn’t.
I was 6 months married and pregnant but didn’t know it. I was exhausted but the uncle demanded I get up each morning and help clean and prepare the campground; I literally dragged myself through the tasks assigned, becoming more and more exhausted but still not knowing it was b/c I was pregnant and should be resting.
I worked blisters on my hands, had a sunburn, and at one point was stung multiple times by a nest of ‘mud dauber’ wasps flying up my skirt while cleaning a bathroom. After a month, I miscarried on the 4th of July. I was left alone in a strange state, strange city, strange hospital, to watch the fireworks in tears from my hospital bed. My very young inexperienced husband was still ‘working the camp’ as demanded by his uncle.
When I got back to the camp, I couldn’t call my parents b/c the uncle had a block on his phone (this was before cell phones). It was at least a week before I could let my mother know and by then I was very sick. Our conversation was in front of the uncle and aunt so I was very limited on what I felt comfortable saying and my parents had no idea what was really going on.
I would go sit in a very hot car with all the windows up trying to get warm (in this state small children and dogs died when forgotten in locked up cars) but nothing made me warm. The uncle’s wife demanded I do my husband’s laundry, so I literally dragged myself to the laundry room.
She washed uncle’s white shirts after I finished and they came out with ink on them. She went into a rage and blamed me even though NONE of my husband’s clothing had any ink on it. She demanded I ‘clean’ the washer and dryer of all the ink. I waited until everyone was gone and then actually crawled to the laundry and cleaned the machines.
I felt very alone and desperate. I ended up back in the hospital with an infection and finally got some medication to begin healing. When camps ended, I still wasn’t completely well and we got an offer from a church a few hours away to come help.
The uncle gave us $100.00 for our summer at camp and ‘very generously’ another $100.00 that he said was ‘under the table’, oh and a bag of the disgusting yellow rice we had been eating all summer, along with a pound of butter.
We couldn’t leave fast enough! (an aside) The uncle had adorable twin 2 year old daughters –he played teasingly with them until he was tired of it and then if they didn’t stop immediately, he beat them with a belt. I cried as much as they did. Neither is in church today. He is dead. The aunt is raising one of their sons; I don’t think they ever married or had other children.
So, the new town was really awesome. The pastor seemed like a nice guy. The pastor’s wife was weird –like the little girl with the curl, when she was nice she was very nice and when she was bad she was TERRIBLE. I was still sick, tired and thin.
They helped us find a roach infested apartment above a garage for around $40.00 a month. I had NO experience with roaches or palmetto bugs and nightly sprayed a ring of bug killer around our bed, blessedly unaware that these things could fly 😉 There was no air conditioning or heat. We had a fan in summer and bought a kerosene heater when winter came.
We both found jobs. Our apt. was painted black and dark purple by the former hippie inhabitants so the pastor’s wife loaned us money to buy paint to repaint it. We were expected to and did pay 10% tithes and 5% offerings.
I had a car accident and totaled our car. The pastor convinced us that the rapture would happen very soon, so we should buy a van to do church work (we would never have to pay it all off b/c of the rapture. 🙂 Oh how young and ridiculously dumb we were 😮
We worked in the church preparing it and the sunday school activities and canvassing for children to bring to sunday school every saturday pretty much all day, but we were happily married newlyweds and it really was fun a lot of the time. We picked up people for church every church service and a host of kids on sunday mornings.
The church people seemed to like us a lot and were kind, inviting us to dinner or to go out to eat. We worked really hard and at one time actually had 39 kids in our VW van on a sunday morning!
The pastor’s wife varied b/t loving the church people and chasing them off with her sharp tongue. Looking back, I am pretty sure she was manic/depressive but that was before this was such a well known condition. After a couple of years, she had really worn us down and we decided to talk to the pastor; she came in at the end of the talk and realizing it was likely about her, she attacked. She told me I had a mental problem and needed ‘help’.
I was again devastated and my now getting older and wiser husband decided it might be time to move on. We bought a tiny camper trailer (you could almost touch all walls when standing in the middle of it hahaha). We lived in it while we saved enough money to leave –of course still religiously paying our 15% to the church each week and continuing to donate all our free time.
A lot more happened at this church but I would have to write a book to cover it all. The sunday before we left, the pastor’s wife organized a ‘going away’ party. Our gift was a painting of the Bible with Acts 2:38 highlighted, painted by an old oneness preacher, Bro. Hudson I think, in the congregation. We eventually donated it to a oneness church. It was only 1973 and we had no idea what we would eventually live through 🙂 ; our ideals and altruistic desires were still firmly in place as they would be for years to come.