I like to smile at strangers in stores. I’ve gotten some interesting responses. Sometimes I get a friendly smile back. Sometimes I get a “Wow! I can’t believe somebody smiled at me” smile. But most of the time, I get no smiles.

I went to a store after the Sunshine Ladies Missionary Fellowship (SLMF) met at our church on Mar. 13. I noticed a contrast. All day I had been smiling at strangers, but all day I’d gotten smiles in return—friendly, “Hi, sister. Isn’t God good?” smiles. I felt so refreshed from the fellowship and challenged by the messages, both spoken and sung. I’m glad my boss let me attend as a reporter. (Read my official report at www.BaptistBulletin.org.) I’m also grateful for Lee Dusing, who took photos all morning and then lent me her camera to use after she had to leave.

Ruth Rhoden and Lorraine Hooser greet ladies and help them sign in.

The morning began with a continental breakfast provided by the church. I didn’t see Beth Brown, but I know she worked behind the scenes to organize everything. Then Evelyn Dinsmore, Dorothy Albritton, Dot Malcolm, and Mary Pence served and cleaned up both breakfast and lunch. The breakfast was a great time for reconnecting with ladies from other churches and meeting ones I didn’t already know.

Evelyn Dinsmore, Dorothy Albritton, Dot Malcolm, and Mary Pence serve and clean up so others can enjoy a great meeting.

From there we went into the chapel, where the SLMF president, Maribeth Smith, welcomed everyone. Then Bea Ide spoke on behalf of the Faith ladies. “We love you all, and we’re glad you’re here,” she said.

Bea Ide, liaison between the SLMF and Faith, welcomes the ladies.

I won’t give a detailed account of the day, but I would like to touch on some highlights and our ladies’ involvement.

Sheila Vegter, accompanied by Rebecca Tarquino, sang “I’m Surrounded by His Love” during the morning session and “Don’t Quit” during the afternoon session. Both songs were written by Doug and Donna Lowry. When Sheila introduced the first song, she mentioned that she is related by marriage to Doug Lowery: he is the brother of Jerry Vegter’s wife Diane. (Jerry is Bill’s brother, Vi’s son, and so forth and so on.) Doug is an evangelist; he and Donna travel the country as a ministry team.

Sheila Vegter sings “I’m Surrounded by His Love
Rebecca Tarquino accompanies Sheila

I noticed several of “our ladies” looking over the book table, brought by Connie Overholt from Heritage Baptist Church. Maribeth thanked Connie and the others from Heritage for bringing the books. Then she plugged her brother Larry’s book, Elephant Trunk Steaks and Other Adventure Storiesabout growing up as MKs in Africa.

Carla Gaswint and Ellen Balsley visit the book table, managed by Connie Overholt (Heritage Baptist, Lakeland, far right)

Margaret Tolosa, the SLMF secretary/treasurer, told us about this year’s project. EBI (Editorial Bautista Independiente) has put together a 26-book library for pastors in Spanish-speaking countries outside the U.S. A pastor can pay $20 for his library, but it cost $150 more to publish the books. So EBI is asking for others to donate the funds. (EBI covers the postage.) Ladies groups in the various churches have been saving money since the October 2011 meeting. When the offering was collected on the 13th, the project money amounted to over $730! That’s almost half of the SLMF’s goal to raise $1,500 to purchase 10 libraries.

Margaret Tolosa introduces the 2012 missions project:  purchasing 26-book libraries for 10 pastors in Spanish-speaking countries outside the U.S.

When we ladies divided into pairs or threes to pray, I had the privilege of praying with Margaret and with our missionary speaker for the day, Nancy Ball. Nancy was a missionary in Ghana for 45 years. She gave her testimony in the morning and showed slides in the afternoon. She was part of a literacy work, teaching nationals to read. (For more details, see my report at www.BaptistBulletin.org.)

Nancy Ball points to a stack of Bibles: two New Testaments and one complete Bible in the Waalii language of Ghana.

Stephen Simpson ran the sound so we could hear Nancy speak, Sheila sing, Maribeth lead the music, others make announcements, and Maribeth and her cohorts put on two hilarious skits about translating for American speakers. (For more details on the skits, see my report at www.BaptistBulletin.org.) It was good to laugh so much!

Stephen waits for the afternoon session to begin so he can run the sound system.

Maribeth Smith and Dessie Johnson demonstrate the language barrier when Americans use figures of speech and interpreters translate literally.

People who enjoy an event always tell those who weren’t there, “You missed a great time.” But really, ladies, if you weren’t there, you missed a great time. Think about attending the next meeting, October 9, at Bethany Baptist Church, Avon Park.


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