I can't think of Southside with gratitude without thinking about the one person who is responsible for bringing us there with one simple gesture of kindness.
We were going thru a relocation from Augusta GA to Macon GA. It turns out that a lot of people from our current church were from that area, or thy had family in that area and they suggested that we move to Warner Robins instead of Macon. My online house hunting online turned up a few interesting prospects. One such house that I thought would be worth looking into was listed by the owner/agent. I contacted her by email with questions. Her response was quick and very pleasant. Because of this, when we planned a trip to WR and decided to use Anisa as our realtor. My husband talked to her a few times as they lined up a few houses for us to see.
Planning the house hunting trip was a feat in itself. We were trying not to make the kids miss too much of their final activities in the town we'd spent six years of their lives. Moving is already tragic enough and I wanted to make it as easy on them as possible. We tried not to take them out of school or away from any of their activities. January is the peak of our busiest season. Two cheerleaders plus two basketball players with all their games and practices equaled a crazy busy schedule. We scheduled the house hunting for a Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend with the intention of visiting one of the churches suggested to us by members of our current congregation. Michael had already started working in Macon and was coming home on the weekends. When he was at home we spent most of Saturday at the children's games. The week before this trip, I prayed all week long dreading the house hunting and church hunting process. Looking at the list of suggestions, my prayer was, "Lord, You already know exactly where you want us to serve you, would it be too much to ask that you send us straight there?" During one of the last conversations Michael had with Anisa that week, they discussed her church. It was one of the ones on the list, but not the one we originally planned to attend first. He called me and told me that he wanted to try Southside first. I smiled.
The plan was to drive down early Sunday morning in two cars and I would come back on the Monday holiday with the kids in tow. We left much later than we'd planned. If you know us, you're probably chuckling as you think," that's not a surprise." We arrived in WR just in time to meet Anisa. The new plan involved evening service after a couple hours of preliminary house hunting.
We finished looking at final house for the evening just about 20 minutes or so before the service was to start. Michael was ready to go to church, but I wanted to feed my children, then ages 15, 13, 10, 7 and 4. They had been very cooperative all afternoon going from house to house, missing lunch because we'd had a late breakfast. I didn't want to go to church with stomachs growling. So as we stood in the Anisa's kitchen quietly 'discussing' the issue, neither of us was going to budge. Anisa interrupted and asked if she could feed the children peanut butter and jelly to hold them over until after church.
We arrived at the church just a few minutes late missing most of the music. After Bro. Jerry's sermon, the service ended. Rachel came over to me to introduce herself and Larry started talking to Michael. They took us around separately, showing us the building and introducing us to people-- I met the pastor and Michael met the music pastor, Bryan. We decided to take the kids out to eat and planned to compare notes.
On the way to the restaurant, we polled the kids and they all answered "yes" to the question, " did you like this church?" Remember, they heard very little music and had not been to Sunday school or anything kid related. I'm floored! My five kids, who can't be more different from each other, agreeing on one thing? The same five kids who never eat the same thing causing me to find clusters of fast food restaurants so that I can do at least two different drive thru windows to make everybody happy? It must be a God thing. And if that weren't enough to convince me, guess who showed up at Fuddruckers? The pastor and his wife! We scooted over and he and Mrs. Debby, joined us. As if we needed further confirmation than all five kids agreeing, It turns out that we had a lot of friends in common and supported some of the same missionaries.
Oh, and I failed to mention that we'd also found the house we were going to buy that day too.
Of all the places we've lived, we were in WR the least amount of time but I feel like we have the closest ties there. We also go back there more often than any other place we've lived due to the fact that our very dear, family-like friends (the Hydes) live there. And to think, God made this all happen because of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I'm still grateful to Anisa for her small part in our very special blessing.
I colored the image with Prismacolor pencils.