Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My speech at the Rex Scoles Ministry Retirement Party

Forty-two years ago this summer, that would make it 1969—for those like me who find it so hard to subtract since we passed the year 2000—the Rex Scoles family moved to Joplin, Missouri. When we moved here we had no place to live, no job to begin, six children, ranging from 12 down to less than 2, and the promise of maybe $50 per week.

We stored most of our belongings in Walter and Mary Woods’ garage and moved what we absolutely had to have to live into the four rooms at the back of the church. Mother and Daddy’s bedroom doubled as the living room. The kitchen was also utilized for “spit baths,” after heating some water on the stove, and hanging a blanket across the doorway. The other two rooms held the children and their clothing. That was before there was a restroom upstairs and it was a community project to go to the bathroom in the basement.

We kids thought it was a great adventure, living in the back of the church. Mother and Daddy tried to make it that. I remember on Sunday mornings after getting all dressed and combed, going out the back door and walking down the sidewalk, around the corner and going into the front door of the church. “We walked to church this morning!” we would tell the parishioners. And we were grateful to God.

God provided a job for Daddy through the connection of Ralph Hood to his nephew, Gerald, who had a heating and air conditioning company. God had prepared Daddy for that job the previous year when he worked for Grandpa Smith and learned the trade. Back then, the salary was $2/hour. And we were grateful to God.

God provided a house for us to buy and Grandpa Smith provided the down payment. The renters had to move out, so we lived in the back of the church until they did. For “real” baths, we would drive over to Miami to Grandma and Grandpa Scoles’s house on Saturday afternoons and get that weekly task accomplished for eight people. We got to see Grandpa and Grandma Scoles pretty regularly. And we were grateful to God.

I still remember the day we moved into 1101 S. Monroe. I’m sure Walter and Mary helped, no doubt glad to get their garage back. That evening, Mother cooked our first meal in the new house. I don’t remember what was on the menu, except that we had a big bowl of mashed potatoes. Some helpful little girl carried it over to the table, but it slipped out of her hands and crashed on the floor. I can’t remember which one of us angels that was, but as an adult, I have remembered it as a “moving experience.” I remember several of us cried.

The house at 1101 Monroe grew as we did through the years. The carport changed into another bedroom and bathroom. The storage room was turned into Daddy’s office. The new concrete slab we poured was added onto and made into “the new room.” At first it was going to be a screened in porch, but since that didn’t happen, a screened in porch was added later. The front bedrooms were enlarged and the porch with the swing changed the front of the house. When everybody was big enough to help, the garage was added and the prophet’s chamber upstairs. And we were grateful to God.

Walter and Mary helped with many of the building projects. They were the ones who would come by without warning to see what we were up to. Sometimes they would play ball with us—we used to have room in the backyard to play baseball—over the fence was automatic out and the pin oak tree was third base. Sometimes Mary would fold clothes with us if it was laundry day and that was what we were doing. I loved everybody in the church, but I think I loved them the most because they were there in our lives more than anybody else. We loved it when they came over bearing fresh apple pies Mary had just made. She occasionally brought apple pies randomly, but mostly when we had revivals and hosted the evangelist. Once when she was gone to Kansas City at the start of a revival, Uncle Walter brought over apple pies. We kids were convinced his apple pies were as good as Aunt Mary’s! It was some time later when we found out Mary made them for us before she left for KC. For years, every time they brought over pies, we asked which one of them had made them!

When we moved here, the church had theater seats. They were not the padded kind, either. There were three seats in rows on either side and five seats in the middle section of rows. There was a tiny vestibule before coming right into the church. In the back right corner was the stairway to the basement. It was open with a railing around it. The walls were white painted. The church got a much-needed facelift after Big Ray Smith was here for revival. His posterior was a little snug in the theater seat. The particular seat he was in had a loose, sticking up screw. It was more difficult than usual for him to get up and come to the platform. As he went, some noticed that his big Bible was over part of the back of his pants! I believe, and I hope it is true, that his suit had an extra pair of trousers. It was a good thing if that was true.

Years later, Big Ray told me that he carried a piece of fabric from that pair of suit trousers in his Bible to remember that service by. The devil may have intended to distract Big Ray and keep him from preaching the truth, but God came in that service and Big Ray never forgot it. And we were grateful to God.

Anyway, after ruining Big Ray Smith’s suit pants, there was nothing to do but modernize the church sanctuary! The entrance to the basement was changed by adding a wall and door and turning the stairs around. Carpet was chosen and laid. It was red with black flecks in it. And what a wonderful day when the pews were delivered!! Later the drop ceiling and paneling were put up. Our church looked brand new! And no one ever ruined their suit pants on the seats again! In later years, as the congregation aged, pads were added to the pews, the red carpet was replaced with gray, the vestibule was enlarged and the stairway changed completely, and the outside ramp was added for wheel chair use.

I remember the Sunday School teachers. Aunt Lucile Woods was the beginners’ teacher for many years. Mary Woods, Opal Hudson, and Mary Roland were some of the children’s teachers. Lee Ferguson and Walter Woods were youth teachers many years.

We sang “Everybody Ought to Love Jesus, and Everybody Ought to Go to Sunday School” and collected pennies, nickels, and dimes in the penny march every Sunday.

Memories of my childhood at Joplin church:

I remember our parents telling us kids to behave so we wouldn’t get voted out! This happened more in the springtime of the year, and we really tried to behave during the spring. On annual meeting nights, we had to leave early before “the pastoral vote” and went home in fear and trembling, waiting for the call that said whether we could stay or were voted out.

The baby of our family had the habit of falling asleep in church. One time we left him there, asleep on the floor after the service was over. It was totally accidental, and so emotionally disturbing that some members of our family claim it never happened and is a figment of my imagination!

Who could forget how fast the Joplin church used to sing? At least everybody else thought so. We thought all the other fellowship area churches drug their song services!

Sister Hudson told how long ago the Joplin church needed a pianist, and she prayed and the Lord taught her to play the piano! (Which she did until the end of her life, except for a couple years when she stepped aside to let me get some experience.)

I remember Brother Charley Roland coming up to put in his birthday offering and offering to play a tune on his harmonica. However, he could not play it with his teeth in, so out came his handkerchief to put his teeth into while he played. Mother would cover her mouth and tuck her head, shaking it just a dab.

I remember:

The sharp noise Mother made snapping her fingers when we were misbehaving in church.

The look that made you sure a spanking was forthcoming when we got home.

The many times when God’s presence came, and you knew you had “been to church.” A couple times I remember the words that brought the glory: “Thank God for Jesus” and “All that I have is yours.” God came and melted us all together.

The church people I remember from my childhood: Claude and Dora Smith singing “I’m just checkin’ up on my payments to the Lord!”

The old ladies who sat in the middle section: Sister Stretch, Sister Ada Belle Chapell (our own special midget lady), Sister Connor, so tall and thin, Sister Sovey, Sister Kilmer, Sister Stephens, who had to hide from her husband to read her Bible.

Walter, Mary, and Nancy Woods

Lester and Lucile Woods

The Allen Family

The Rolands and Frankie Copher and family

Lee, Kay and Steve Ferguson

Ralph and Winona Hood and Retha

Brother and Sister Lineback

LF and Dorothy Sams

Opal Hudson

The Dinwiddies

The Nivens

Sister Bessie Jewell, who was completely deaf, but lip read so well.

Kenneth Kelly

Ed Sumpter and his mother Sister Sumpter

There have been others through the years that have been part of the church but these were the ones from my childhood.

I remember when Frank Hudson got saved. We had prayed for him for years, but I had rarely seen him before he got saved. He was under conviction and told his wife he wanted to pray to get saved at the church. They came up to the church and he prayed at the altar. Long years before he had blamed God that their little baby boy died. It had been an obstacle for him for years. But that day all stumbling blocks were taken away. There was hardly a service he did not testify in. And when he prayed, I had to peek a few times to see if Jesus was there beside him. He talked to Jesus just like that. He testified that he learned to pray as if Jesus was sitting on the chair next to him. He was such a blessing in the few years before he went home to heaven! And we were grateful to God.

The area churches and especially the area pastors were always so special to us. The preachers’ suppers, Singspirations, revivals, the youth meetings, and youth rallies are wonderful memories.

I always believed that I had the best preacher in the world for a pastor and father. Only God knows the number of hospital visits he made through these 42 years, the home visits, the times of praying for people, helping people out who were in trouble, interrupting a chess game with a child because someone needed to talk to the preacher, the hours of study, the hours of prayer, crying with the grieving, preaching funerals, attending visitations, sitting in the hospital during surgeries… Daddy was there for his flock.

And we were grateful to God.

We kids didn’t know if there were problems in the church. Any problems were not discussed at home in front of the kids. We thought we had the perfect church. We were loved and appreciated and taken care of. And we were grateful to God.

Our mother was there for us at home. She enjoyed the Ladies’ Prayer Meetings while we were at school. She made the ends meet with the money from the church and daddy’s job. Looking back, I find that amazing! We had a secure and loving home. We didn’t have the privilege of Christian school, but we had the benefit of a Christian home where we talked about all the problems of school and people there who made fun of us for being different. We heard good advice: “If they are talking about you, they have a good subject.” “Don’t hold onto grudges.” “Don’t repay evil for evil.” “Payday doesn’t always come on Friday.” And we were grateful to God.

Mother started babysitting to have more money for giving. Her love language is giving, I’ve discovered through the years. She babysat countless children, many of whom are grownups now; one, Donald Wayne Lansaw, in the Joplin Tornado made it to heaven ahead of us. After Daddy retired from his day job, together they helped train many children.

We were loved; we were cared for and prayed for by our parents and the church people.

Time would fail to tell of all the evangelists and missionaries who were fed or stayed at our house. We were blessed by those associations. We were blessed to grow up as preacher’s kids, raised by one of the best preacher and wife combinations in the world. At least we think so! We love you, Mother and Daddy! And we are grateful to God.

Rex Scoles Ministry Retirement Party June 25, 2011

In another post, I have shared the speech I gave at my parents' retirement service. My parents have given their best to the Master. Daddy has been a pastor for 50 years, 42 of them at Joplin, MO. So many of the ones who have attended church there through the years are already in heaven, so my speech mentions many of them by name. We were honored by the 65-70 people who took time out of a busy day to come and celebrate with us. It was a hot day and the air conditioner at the church went on the blink before the party. We had fans going, moving the hot air around, but kind, gracious people listened and took turns sharing what Rex and Wanda Scoles had meant in their lives. It was wonderful!

There were at least 10 others who came that were not shown seated.

My wonderful and creative sister, Brenda, masterminded the decorations.

Her daughters, Rebekah and Leah were great help.

Some of the doilies Mother has made were used for decorating, along with many pictures from the past.

Leah, pictured above, made this beautiful cake.

Daddy visiting with some old friends.

Everybody had a good time.

While some were eating, others were watching a slide show of pictures from the past 42 years. Rowen spent many hours scanning and photoshopping the pictures to make the slide show.

It was a real blessing to us to be there and recall God's faithfulness through the years. I was blessed to be in the family with the parents God gave me. I love them very much.

30th Annual Woods Reunion

The 30th Annual Woods Reunion was held in Baxter Springs, KS on June 25, 2011. Below is a picture of everybody who was there when the picture was taken, except for my son, Randy, who was taking the picture, and about 10 people who arrived after the picture was done! Click to make it bigger if you care to.

Here are some miscellaneous pictures from the Woods Family Reunion. My daddy's mother was a Woods, so this goes back 3-4 generations. There are only three of the original Woods family still living: My great-uncles Walter and Lester Woods, and my great-aunt Velma Hinds. Walter is almost 96 years old and he and his wife Mary were the only ones of that generation to get to come this year.
Walter and Mary Woods

My brother, Lyndell, had gotten a Christian Flag for people to write a note to our daddy for his retirement from 50 years of ministry. Here my cousin, Caroline Taylor, and Aunt Elsie and Beth are planning what to write on the flag.

Beth, Emily, Micah and me waiting for the group picture in the gym.

Daddy gave the devotion and led the prayer time.

My grandsons, Quil and Micah, love the nursery in this church. It is well equipped with fun and educational toys. Micah playing the xylophone.

Quil playing the drums.

What is more fun than a "big cousin" to play with? Austin Scoles. Emily played with them too, but she was manning the camera.

Glenn and Melody Goodwin and children, Maggie and Max

Aunts Elsie and Joyce, sister Sherry, Mother and me

Cousins Andrew Owens, Austin Scoles, Leah, Rebekah Owens, Mandy Scoles

Joy, Quil, and Micah, Tim and Brenda, Charley Owens

Cousins: Tasha Wampler, Cody DeOrnellis, Mandy Scoles

Rowen, Daddy, and my sister, Brenda

Nephews Caleb Wampler and Andrew Owens, niece Leah Owens, and my mother, Wanda Scoles

Brother-in-laws Charley Owens and Tim Wampler, and Rowen

Niece Rebekah Owens, sister Marlene DeOrnellis

Sister Marlene, Cousins Glenn and Melody Goodwin, Christy Rowland

Daddy and his sisters, Barbara, Ruth, Leona, Elsie and Joyce

Brother-in-law, Charley Owens talking to Uncle Larry Goodwin. Larry was married to my Aunt Margaret, who is already in heaven. I enjoyed getting acquainted with his new wife, Ruth.

Cousins: Leah Owens, Mandy Scoles, and Andrew Owens

My daddy and his sister, Elsie, exchange a silly gift back and forth every few years.

She said she gets so nervous before she opens it and finds out what it is. They are both so ornery, that she deserves to be nervous!

Sons Randy and Tim talking to Aunt Elsie, Daughter-in-law Brenda talking to Aunt Joyce.

Scoles Sibling Meal

Last Thursday evening, I went with Daddy and Mother to Charlie's Chicken in Miami, OK to a Scoles Sibling pre-reunion meal. Most of my siblings also went too. This shows my daddy and his sisters: Ruth, Leona, Barbara (Bea).

Two more of his sisters: Joyce and Elsie. There is one more sister, Doris, who was not able to come. Daddy's two brothers and one other sister are already in heaven.

My uncles: Marvin (Elsie), Gene (Ruth) and Franklin (Joyce)

The whole group of Daddy and Mother and his siblings and their spouses.
Back: Franklin and Joyce Conley, Elsie and Marvin Spohn, Gene Spohn, Rex Scoles
Front: Leona Moore, Barbara Wimer, Ruth Spohn, Wanda Scoles

My aunts are really funny and delightful. They told stories about when they were young (a long time ago) about their school teachers and neighbors. They also gave gifts to each other. This is the main time they get together in the year. I was glad to get to go to this Sibling Meal. For years I have heard about the fun they have, and this was my first opportunity to witness it!

Miscellaneous pictures from our trip to Joplin

Except for Jeffrey and Jason, the rest of us went to Joplin, MO for last weekend. It was a busy time because of the Scoles sibling meal, Woods Reunion, my daddy, Rex Scoles's retirement from ministry, and packing in family time.
This is a picture of my mother and me in the nursery at the church where the reunion took place.

My sister, Brenda and me at Mother and Daddy's house. We used to look more alike, before I got a wig.

Brenda's kids: Andrew, Rebekah, and Leah

Here Quil is trying on my wig. Both of my grandsons were very intrigued by Grandma's lack of hair. If I didn't have it on, "Where is your hair?" If I had it on, "Are you going to take it off?"

Micah taking a turn with the wig. He looks like a doll.

Mother babysat these young men when they were little boys. Joe Austin Finn and his wife, Dallas, on the left, and Ben Bastings on the right. They came to the retirement party and it was so good to see them again, all grown up. Our kids used to wear hand-me downs from Joe and his brother, Jared. Their family was so generous to pass on their clothes to our boys.

My niece Leah, relaxing on the back step of the church, after the retirement party.

My brother, Lyndell, and his daughter, Mandy.

Lyndell's wife, Sharen, waving goodbye.

Beth and I at the reunion.