June Rice writes about many things in her weekly column. Her words carry wisdom and great insight. I often have a smile after reading a column. And I always appreciate her reports about Kentucky WMU and Kentucky Baptist life. Here is her 2014 Annual Meeting Report, shared with her permission.
I had been healthy all winter, and two days before the meeting I had been planning to attend convened, I developed a bad cough and runny nose. My daughter Cathy and I had reservations to stay in Winchester for the whole meeting. She, of course, was obligated to go, because she had been nominated to be Recording Secretary of the WMU, but I was going along to give her support and see all my WMU friends from all over the state that I had met through that organization. I had been on the State Board three different three-year terms, and was looking forward to seeing many friends at the giant yearly family reunion.
Besides seeing old friends, the Annual Meeting, which is held in a different church each year, is part business (electing officers, etc.), part inspiration (great speakers), part revival (the music is heavenly), part circus (two “church ladies”, Bertha and Bernice, furnished laughter), part support for a great cause (778 Hospice Kit Buckets were provided for those dying of AIDS in Africa.)
I was so sorry when Cathy left on Thursday afternoon to be there early Friday morning without me. After her school was out that day, Patti called and said that if I felt up to going to the meeting for one day that she would come to my place that evening and we would be able to go to Winchester the next day and at least be there when Cathy got elected. If I felt too bad, we could come back any time. I was delighted. So that is what we did.
We were so happy to see our friends, Gene and Uneva Graves, who were leaders in First Baptist Church at Paintsville, and Patti was in Uneva’s very vibrant youth group there. Uneva also taught a few years at Paintsville High School and has been my dear friend ever since. They are members of Central Baptist Church in Winchester, where the meeting was held. The Central Baptist members were gracious hosts to the several hundred guests. It is a privilege, but it is a whole lot of work. Peggy Craycraft, who was on the Board when I was once or twice, was the overall chairman, and she arranged everything beautifully.
I was so glad when I found that Susan Bryant, a young lady who became a WMU Board member twenty years ago, when I was a member, became Kentucky WMU President. We became fast friends that three years, and I almost felt I had two daughters elected to guide Kentucky WMU. I did not know Shelby Castlen, whose husband is a former Director of Missions in south central Kentucky, but Bunny Dixon O’Bryan, one of my surrogate daughters, posted on Internet that Shelby is her good friend.
I found out that our 14 hospice buckets were a part of 778 bucket that were packed and loaded to be shipped to Africa. Joy Bolton, the Kentucky WMU Director, and her husband, Stacy Nall, the State children’s leader and her husband, Susan Bryant, and I don’t know who else, went to Africa in December of 2013 to personally deliver some buckets.
These buckets are five gallon plastic buckets with tight-fitting lids that can be bought at Wal-Mart or Lowes. The buckets and contents cost about $100 or less. The contents are things that a sick person would need. Each bucket has exactly the same items: a waterproof pad, 2 twin sheets, 2 pillowcases,1 thin towel (a thick towel will make the bucket too full and take too long to dry) 4 thin washcloths, 2 Chapsicks, toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes, a scrub brush, 2 pairs of cotton socks, plastic gloves, long drinking straws, 4 bars of unscented Dove soap, body lotion, a plastic garbage bag to store the materials in if the caretaker needs the bucket for some other purpose. They must be loaded in the exact order suggested or they will not fit. Exact instructions can be found on the WMU website.
The most inspiring story was told me privately by Susan Bryant. She said, “I was so busy getting ready to go that I did not have time to think about getting my two granddaughters Christmas presents before I left. Of course, they are like all our children, they have electronic games and just about everything anybody else has.
“We took one bucket to a house in Africa where an eleven-year-old boy, just the age of my oldest granddaughter, was dying of AIDS. His parents must have already died, and his grandmother was caring for him. We opened the bucket, and when the grandmother saw the two pairs of warm socks, she cried. The child was too sick to open his eyes. We told them that we were representing Jesus, and explained that we came to do what we could to help in His name.
“When I got back, I couldn’t bear to do Christmas shopping the way I always had. I couldn’t think of a thing my grandchildren needed. They had everything. I got them a few little things, and then I bought everything that went in one of those buckets, and wrapped them up individually and put them under the Christmas tree with no names on them. The girls started opening the packages and were puzzled to get a twin sheet, four bars of soap, until it dawned on them who the presents were for. So we packed a bucket on Christmas Day, and their bucket will go to Africa to ease the pain of someone who is dying.”
Susan cried when she told it, and so did I.
I was so blessed to get to go to Annual Meeting for one day.