August 03, 2005

Country Revival

When Sweet One was one and a half, not quite two-years-old we lived in Central Louisiana. Our next door neighbors at the time were a lovely black couple with whom we became the very best of friends. Philip was a production manager to a local television station and his wife Shirley had a masters degree in speech pathology and worked for one of the school districts in the area.

When he was almost forty, Philip received the calling and began classes at a local seminary at night. After a couple of years, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. After he was scheduled to preach his very first sermon, he and his wife came over for dinner and invited us to join them for a revival.

We loved this couple. In fact, I was blessed to be asked to join them in the delivery room to welcome their first child, a child who was born ten years into their marriage after much longing and waiting.

The night of the revival we drove down back roads to a small shotgun-style clapboard church in Grant Parish named Rock of Ages Baptist Church. The sanctuary was basically a vestibule (with a very small closet-sized restroom) which opened into a large room approximately twenty feet wide and seventy-five feet long with an aisle flanked by wooden pews. At the end of this narrow room were three rows of folding chairs for the choir and a wooden podium for the preacher. It was back woods homey with a welcoming and sincere feel.

However, it was hot. There was electrical lighting, but no air conditioning or fans to speak of. We were all dressed in our Sunday best, as was everyone else. And there were a lot of everyones there with latecomers denied pew seats and relegated to standing in the back.

Now, I was from the South and brought up in a Baptist church. I had been to a revival before. I knew there was going to be a lot of music, more than one invocation, and quite a bit of hellfire and damnation. I was prepared.

At least, I thought I was.

What I did not know was Rock of Ages was a charismatic Baptist Church.

For those unfamiliar with that term, think tongues and reception of the Holy Ghost in body. Neither the eighteen-month-old Sweet One nor the then thirty-five-year-old husband was ready to see people falling out in the aisles, running around the sanctuary or speaking in tongues.

After three hours of song and no less than three invocations, I began to smell something terrible, vile in fact. I sniffed and cast a glance this way and that, then sniffed some more. It was strong and appeared to be coming from where the husband sat with Sweet One on his lap. As I was about to discreetly ask whether the husband smelled it too, I saw him look down and exclaim: “EEEWWWW!”

Then I saw it.

Sweet One had diarrhea and it had oozed out of her diaper and onto his pants leg. He immediately jumped up and carried her down the aisle to the small restroom in the front. With every third step he took there was a distinctive plop of offensive matter marking their trail.

Armed only with church bulletins, I dutifully followed and scooped what I could as I went.

By the time I had finished “cleaning up” the aisle, the husband and child were ensconced in the tiny, tiny bathroom. I beat a hasty exit to the truck to retrieve the diaper bag while the husband set about assessing the damage to diaper and clothes.

Let me emphasize, the smell was horrendous, it was hot, and the bathroom, vestibule, and church interior were all to be considered “very close quarters.”

This was one instance in which that “planning” gene definitely came in handy. I had ample baby wipes, two sets of clothes for Sweet One, and, most importantly, gallon-sized Ziploc bags to stash the offending diaper, soiled clothes, and “garbage” we had generated.

As I took over the clean up of the child, the husband doffed his britches in an attempt to clean the pants leg off in the sink. At most, that bathroom was five feet by eight feet and all three of us were in there. Have I mentioned the smell?

Unfortunately, I did not have another set of clothes for the husband or air freshener.

When we were cleaned up as well as we were going to be cleaned up, we extracted ourselves and our paraphernalia from said restroom. At which point, the husband began making his way out the front door.

“Just where are YOU going?” I asked.

“We’re going home, aren’t we?

“Like hell,” I muttered, “Philip hasn’t given his sermon yet.”

With an expression of sheer exasperation and terror, he responded: “Well, we surely can’t go back in there.

“Oh, yes. We can and we WILL!”

With that, I led them both back into the church proper. While it was still standing room only, it was no surprise no one had taken our seats.

Two hours later, Philip finally gave his sermon and we were much relieved to escape the site of our collective humiliation.

Once home I fretted over the impact of this incident on our friendship with the neighbors; however, I need not have worried. After they returned home, they came over to thank us for sharing in Philip’s special moment. In all the revival excitement, both Philip and Shirley had failed to notice our antics. When we revealed all, they laughed and insisted “stuff like that happened all the time.”

God, I love good friends.

Posted by Christina at August 3, 2005 09:33 PM

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Where in "central Louisiana" did you live? In the early 60s I spent 4 years in Alexandria, which is about as "central Louisiana" as one can get.

Posted by: Redhand at August 3, 2005 10:04 PM

I worked in Alexandria and lived in Pineville.

; )

Posted by: Christina at August 3, 2005 10:06 PM

Somehow I figured Alex. I was an Air Force kid. My father flew KB-50s out of England AFB 1960-64. We were bused to Catholic school, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, downtown. I also started HS at Menard Memorial, in the old building, long before they tore it down for a parking lot (as I recall) and built a new school near one of the highways.

We moved in 64, but I went back as an adult in the mid-80s, before England closed. Quite a sentimental journey. I can just imagine what the Baptist Church was like.

Saw that you're an attorney. So am I practicing immigration and employment law in northern NJ. What practice areas are you in, if I may inquire?

Posted by: Redhand at August 3, 2005 10:18 PM


Experiences such as this one ablaze with “an unselfishness of spirit” and are what I love about your blog. It also spotlights your glistening sense of humor.


Posted by: Edd at August 3, 2005 11:41 PM

this, like so many other stories you share on your blog, is classic feisty, and brings a smile to my face every time. what would i do without a touch of blogmom to add a certain sparkle to my day?

thanks; great post. : )

Posted by: amelie at August 4, 2005 12:13 AM

Again, wonderful post. I could feel the heat in that church!

Posted by: oddybobo at August 4, 2005 07:14 AM

great post, christina!!! yes, it's amazing what good friends will let you get away with...yourself included...thanks for your friendship!!

Posted by: shoe at August 4, 2005 07:24 AM

I've had an experience like this with clone, except it was vomit consisting of curdled milk and eggs... And a larger reaction from the surrounding people.

Posted by: Contagion at August 4, 2005 07:41 AM

I now know that we must be related somehow. I also travelled with ziplocks, multiple outfits, baby food, extra formula and wipes galore. Ahhh - the joys of being a pack mule..

Posted by: Kate at August 4, 2005 08:50 AM

Awesme post. It felt like I was there...well, minus the smell of course. :)

Posted by: Moogie at August 4, 2005 10:17 AM

Alexandria? Well you were in the heart of Pentecostal country, the baptists had to just keep up! :)
Wonderful story and I have so had it happen to me (as a Pentecostal and mother of a two year old, this is a regular campmeeting saga for me)...That's why everyone in my family packs an extra change of clothes :)

Posted by: Jody at August 4, 2005 11:00 AM

“Well, we surely can’t go back in there.

“Oh, yes. We can and we WILL!”

You are ruthless, woman. RUTHLESS!

Posted by: WitNit at August 4, 2005 05:25 PM

This post cracked me up.

Posted by: Boudicca at August 4, 2005 05:37 PM

Was there a sermon that night about it bein' more blessed to "give" then to receive?

I feel certain, that at that time of her life, and probably still at present, Sweet one is just tryin' to be a "blessed" soul. ;)

Daddy got the raw deal there, and it appears the plannin' gene forgot noseplugs.... who'd have thunk it though, I know I wouldn't have.

Posted by: RedNeck at August 4, 2005 06:24 PM

Oh how I lived through your smelly nightmare - but oh how I also laughed. BEcause it wasn't me, and I'm selfish like that :)

Posted by: DaFFy at August 4, 2005 08:16 PM

Heheh... pardon this, but "HOLY SHIT!" :)

Well told!

Posted by: That 1 Guy at August 4, 2005 10:50 PM

THat is so funny, Christina! Things like that have happened to me too and somehow you make it through. Phyllis

Posted by: Phyllis at August 5, 2005 03:13 AM

Ah, my clothes were often the collateral damage from diaper explosions.

That part is NOT the horrific part. Noooo, five hours in a baptist church with no air... THAT is the horrific part!

Honey, you are more woman than I! Seriously, there would have been a death in my family, my child would have had an ear infection, something, ANYTHING, from keeping me outta that revival.

Lying in such an instance is not sinful; it is self-defense. ;)

Posted by: Key at August 6, 2005 09:24 PM

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