When I grew up, life was simple. We lived on a farm and had no modern conveniences. Our water came from a pump, we had no indoor plumbing, we heated with wood, our men worked with homes, winters were hard and cold, but somehow we all survived.
We were raised as Catholics. My parents were diligent to attend church, bringing us to catechism and doing all the things good Catholics do. I really wanted to be a good Catholic, but somehow I never felt I could measure up. I was timid and fearful, filled with guilt. I didn't really know what love was because we all had a lot of problems but hardly knew what to do with them. We went to confession, but the priest was a stranger to me. He barely knew I existed. He was very strict, often pounding the pulpit, which scared me, to make his point about how awful sin was, but never gave us the way out of our dilemma, except to point us to the confessional, where, I must say, I never found forgiveness. I felt just as guilty when I came out as when I went in. I hated the thought that once a month my dad insisted we all go. As I grew up I went less and less, and after awhile gave up altogether.
In those days fathers were the authority in the home and the women submitted.You learned to respect your parents.You were obedient or you were disciplined,and they didn't spare the whip or paddle. In school you obeyed your teacher. She was the authority away from home, and if you disobeyed,you were disciplined, and then she would send a note home with you and you were disciplined again. There was seldom a problem keeping order in school. You were there to learn and not be a distraction.
In 1929 the crash came and life changed drastically for many people. Businesses, homes, farms, and jobs were lost, banks closed. It was a stressful time for all. Since we owned our farm, we were able to survive, but for many this was not the case. There was no welfare in those days. There were overseers in towns and cities who provided help for needy families. Many people took to the road and rail, looking for work. Children tried earning a few nickels here and there. You had no fear of anyone who came to ask to chop your woodpile so they could have a meal. People were helping people.
By this time I was in my upper teens and we started hearing rumors of wars. Defense plants and industries started calling people back to work. The economy was picking up.
On December11, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.The war we had all dreaded became a reality for us. Our boys either enlisted or were drafted into the services. It was a time of tearful partings as some never saw their loved ones again. Everyone was behind them. We all knew our freedom was at stake. We supported them every way we could.
At this time defense plants were in full swing. I left home to help support the war effort. Women who had never worked outside the home left house and children behind. Money was good. We had never had this much. At home children were often left to fend for themselves,some taking to the streets to fill their empty lives. Many husbands came home very disillusioned by what was happening to their families. Life was never the same again.
After the war I married a fine man and we raised a family of five children. We bought a farm. It was hard work. There were hard times and good times. There's a lot of satisfaction in hard work. Our children were diligent to work hard and support us. It builds character and causes children to be thrifty. Yon can't be wasteful on a farm or you won't make it.
As our children grew up and went away to college, life was changing for us too. I started to feel the empty nest syndrome. I felt lonely and empty. It seemed like my husband and I were drifting apart instead of drawing closer to one another. He had other outside interests and I would stay home and knit, not knowing what else to do. We were still going to church, but more and more I hated the thought.
My husband and I purchased a set of encyclopedia sat this time. It was interesting and educational. My husband got interested in reading about religion. He read about the popes, the Inquisition,and the holy wars. The popes rather fascinated us. We started seeing that the popes who were supposed to represent God on earth were really very corrupt and evil and some had mistresses and illegitimate children. My husband said, "We sure had the wool pulled over our eyes." It was also at this time that the laws about eating meat on Fridays were changed. It was no longer a mortal sin. I said, "Whoa! What's going to happen to all those people who died and did eat meat? What's going to happen to them?" We started to see how false this religious system was, that could regulate sin. We continued to go to church for a while and I'd say to myself, "It looks and sounds so good, but it's so false. What do we do now?"
At this time there were prayer meetings that had started in our town. I started going with a friend. These people seemed so sincere. They were diligent to pray and read from the Bible. It seemed like I had found a purpose for my life. I enjoyed making new friends and gospel singing. After the second meeting, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. When I got home I said to God, "If you are really up there, I want to know you," and I woke up the next morning with a peace I had never known. I was finally content. Life was good.
This went on for about one and a half years. I met a couple from town. Somehow I was drawn to them. I visited them often. We would pray together, and over time others joined us. We enjoyed being with one another. We were all going to the same prayer meeting. We were all Catholics. After a while I started getting bored with the prayer meetings. We always seemed to be hearing the same message and the other three couples felt the same way. We had a meeting one night with the whole prayer group. This meeting caused a split. We went our way and they went theirs. Only a few stayed with us and eventually all fell away, leaving only three families and myself... We knew we needed instruction and started praying for a teacher. We were involved with several who our brothers decided were not the real thing. This set us to praying again. We had prayer meetings in one of the couples' homes for more than a year. Through different circumstances we all left the Catholic Church. We would gather twice a week and had prayer and Bible study at this time, but we knew we couldn't go very far the way we were. We needed teaching and we prayed for this.
Our God was faithful and sent us a man and his wife who were newly arrived from Chattanooga, Tennessee. For the first time we heard the gospel. I hardly remember anything they said, but I saw something very real -- love.These people had something we wanted.
They continued to come to teach us for a few months, and then they started to move us one family at a time to Island Pond. I was alone again. I cried out, "Lord,what about me? What's going to happen to me?" I was devastated and really thought I was abandoned. But my husband, out of the goodness of his heart, saw I was not happy. So he told me I could go to Island Pond on weekends, and I also went and spent time during the week occasionally. I was grateful. This went on for seven years. Then one day God spoke to my heart and said, "Leave the fatherhood of Adam and come into the fatherhood of God." I thought, "How am I ever going to tell my husband?" But God provided the grace and the occasion. I left my husband behind. He said he couldn't live with so many people, but he wanted me to be happy. I gave up my home, my possessions, and I came to live in the Community in Island Pond.
It was very difficult at first. My children didn't understand what I was getting into. Even though I tried to explain, you can hardly explain something that hasn't been done for 2000 years. But they wanted me to be happy. They just wanted me to visit them and they would come when they could. All in all I felt our Father smoothed the path for me.
Life in community was difficult at first, hard because I was used to getting up when I pleased. Here I got up about 5 to 5:30 am. Working in the kitchen was hard. Before I had had a warm kitchen with good kitchen equipment. Here it was cold at times. We worked with what was there. I had strong opinions about certain things. Correction was hard. I'd get offended. I thought, "I wonder if I can survive this." But with much patience and love from my sisters, I came to give up my pride, my selfishness. My many wrong ways are now being healed. I'm learning to love, to be patient, forbearing with others as they do with me.
My heart gradually is changing. I want to be like our Master Yahshua. He gave up His life and went to death for me. He gave me a new life, filled with the peace that passes understanding.He gave me friends I can depend onto stick by me no matter what happens. He gave me hope for a new life, not only in this age, but in the age everlasting. He's my friend. He wants the best for me. His death on the cross paid for every sin you and I ever committed. The work of redemption has already been accomplished. We have just to accept it and give Him our life. Life for life. He's worth it. He didn't have to do it. We should have been on that cross and suffered in death for our own sins. We deserved death, but He took our place. He wanted to set us free to accomplish His purpose. He is now calling a people together, a bride, a royal priesthood, fit to rule and reign with Him in the next age. When we were born, we had nothing. When we leave this world, we bring nothing with us. It will all burn. Our life is so short here. Let's not live it in vain. Cry out to Him who can save.