There are four different people listed on my childhood mentoring timeline. Beth Ann Smith, who miraculously is the manager at the mission housing where we are staying right now (see previous post), the Henemiers, an older couple who taught me Sunday School, and then Pastor Wes Evans.
I was the second of fourth girls. I was one of the earliest in my class to have braces and glasses – all at once. And crooked blonde bangs. And a book worm. But Pastor Evans – despite all these things — somehow thought I was a neat kid. He nicknamed me, “The Rotten Kid.” The reality was — I probably would have done better to be a bit rotten. So the nickname was our little joke. He even had a t-shirt made for me that said, “I’m a rotten kid.” He made me feel special! And probably did this for all the other kids he loved on, but to me, I was his favorite and that was all that mattered.
In seventh grade, they left our New Jersey church to go to a new church calling in Michigan. It was an incredibly sad event for me and many others! We saw him a few times in the coming years, and he was always the same jovial, faith-filled Pastor Evans. We invited he and his wife to our wedding, but they couldn’t attend. They have received our newsletters over the years, and we have loved receiving an occasional Christmas card. But it’s been at least 30 years since I’ve seen them…
Last week, I got a surprise phone call from — Pastor Evans! I knew his voice as soon as he said my name. They were going to be in town, and so on Saturday we all met at a nearby park. Our family, Pastor and Mrs. Evans, my Dad, sister Beth her husband Gene, and sister Allison and her family. We bought our favorite MacMillan donuts from our childhood days, and sat around a picnic table reminiscing and catching up on each other’s lives.
I was proud for Pastor Evans to know that I actually have become a bit more rotten – he didn’t seem surprised one bit! And we left convinced that he is still an amazing guy who has chosen to minister in average Baptist churches while helping lots and lots of average joes and sues begin believing that they are something special. Maybe even rotten.