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Sharing Our Story – Philip Thomas

Thinking back to a time long ago, the second son of Reverend Ed and his wife Louise, recalls learning how to interact and to understand other children who lived differently. My father was appointed to a small church in Denham Springs, Louisiana, and of course Mom supported Dad. Denham Springs is located in the “toe of the boot” in Louisiana. Crops of strawberries grew in the area. Most of the pickers lived in Florida but migrated to Louisiana during the Easter season. Mom immediately noticed that the children of the migrants did not attend schools since the “picker families” came too late in the season to attend the local schools. So, Mom, who always believed in the value of education, made arrangements for the migrant children to receive some educational opportunities while in the area. Mom set a perfect example of accepting and assisting those who had a different lifestyle.

Mom loved the migrant families. Not only did she find a way to help with their education, she also noticed their need for medical and dental care. I found it pretty amazing that most of the migrants did not even have a toothbrush. I tried to convince my Mom that I could help even if I was small. I held my toothbrush in front of Mom and explained that God loved children who shared and I was willing to share my toothbrush – actually donate my toothbrush – to a child who did not have one. Somehow, I never convinced Mom that was the right thing to do. But, she did find ways to get medical and dental care for those families.

As I mentioned, the migrants came into our area about the time of Easter. One year, my Dad, Reverend Ed, approached one of his parishioners who happened to be a chicken farmer. He asked Lokey if it would be okay to “borrow” thirty to forty dozen eggs. Dad and Mom organized an egg hunt of hard boiled eggs for the migrant children. The eggs were hidden for the migrant children to find. When all of the eggs were found, we wanted to recognize the child who found the most eggs. We discovered that would not be possible since the migrant children ate the eggs as soon as they found them. That was a memorable egg hunt, and a learning experience for this young second son of Reverend Ed and his wife Louise.

I was shown early in my life that not all children have the same life experiences. My parents opened my eyes to the fact that God’s ways are not necessarily the way of men. As children of God we must open our hearts to those who may not be exactly like we are and we are to accept them just as God loves and accepts.

~ Philip Thomas

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