VISITING TRAINING SCHOOL
I found the lessons I gave in my own home, with suggestions about sleeping, eating, working, worshiping, and doing all decently and in order, were being copied in their own homes as far as their poverty would allow. I will take my reader with me on a tour for the purpose of visiting some homes in which the wife or some member of the family had attended my training school in Morgan City.
I had visited, before this, some of them twice and helped them begin their Christian work. I planned in connection with this trip a few days' training school in one of the churches. I began my journey November 20, 1886.
Here are a few extracts from my journal:
"The railroad was new?and no depot at some of the stations. Midnight found me at West Melvern, La. The agent kindly took me with his lantern about half a mile to a very poor boarding house. The next morning being the Sabbath, I started early to sow Gospel seed. I first gave tracts and papers to about a dozen white men at the boarding house, and to six colored men at a place where they sold liquor. Whisky was in great demand by both races everywhere. Rev. Harris, the pastor, did not meet me according to appointment, but after a long search I found him and gathered a company and had a Bible reading. At 4 p. m. Rev. Burrel came and took me in a skiff seven miles to his church, where at night we had a meeting with about twenty-five of my women, also children and men.
"The next day, Monday, though the sun shone, all left the cotton picking, and we had a glorious meeting, never to be forgotten. The colored people were renters on all these plantations; their time was their own. Late that evening Sister Richardson and I went in a buggy eight miles to Rev. V. Redeau's church. Several met us on the way after dark and told us there was no use in going on, as no appointment had been made. But we did not belong to the class that turns back, so we pushed on to Sister Scott's home. Elvira, her sister, then went around in the dark and invited the people, and in they flocked. O, what a happy time we had! A large congregation gathered the next day, leaving the cotton for the time unpicked. These people are poor and very industrious, and it meant much for them to give up a day for worship. I found that two of my young girl pupils were married. That was all right. Our Bible lessons make them better wives. Girls, don't marry until you know something about the duties of wife and mother.
"Amelia Scott, an older sister, has never married; her parents died and left her the care of the young children. She has a small farm which she manages with great ability, and has educated the other children. She is a brave, sweet woman. Girls, there are a few grand, good things a woman can do besides getting married. I spent the night in this happy family. The girls had seen me make biscuits at Morgan City, so I made the biscuits for breakfast. I was pleased everywhere to see how well they remembered my lessons. Our next stop was at Rev. Davis's church. Here only a few would leave the cotton field. Later in the day a large meeting gathered at Rev. North's church. When it was nearly dark Van Sanner, from Leland University, took me seven miles to Rev. Lathan's church. The cold weather nearly frightened the people from coming to the meeting, but we finally had a crowd. Most of these churches have no fires, and there are cracks in the walls big enough to thrust your fist through. But they have a plan of building a big fire outside and running out to warm and coming in to get cold. The next day we hurried to Simsport, the place for our training school. Only a few earnest sisters were there the first day. We studied our Bible and forgot the cold. Pastors H. B. N. Brown, L. E. Harris, R. E. Lee, and N. Lathan cheered us with their presence. From 6 to 8 p. m. in a private house I met twelve children who had lately been converted, one only nine years old. This was the result of the work of my dear sisters in their homes. The children recited the Golden Glove, Rules of politeness, and a great many texts of Scripture. This church only numbers sixty-three, of whom forty-two are children, converted within the year.
"O, parents, if you could every day keep alive the church in your homes, what blessings would come to your children as well as to your own hearts.
"Rev. Haywood, the pastor, loves the little children and knows how to feed the lambs. Well, we had a meeting in the cold all that day and the next. Forty of my working women were present. I wish you could have heard those dear sisters thank God for the privilege of working with him and testify to the blessings that come to their own lives. Go on, dear sisters; read your Bibles, govern your tempers, teach your children and help your neighbors, God has a crown of life, a 'well done' for each of you at the end of the journey.
"We then crossed the Atchafalaya River in a skiff to St. Matthew's church, where we held a meeting in the cold. The next day the crowd of children met me in the pastor's home. One of my pupils is doing a good work here. After this meeting I went six miles to Rev. Hunter's church and conducted a meeting and crossed the river about dark. Then I went in a wagon about five miles to Sister Delia Thomas' home. Here I had a temperance meeting about five miles long, in the wagon with both colored and white. All were agreed in their love for whisky. The next day, Sabbath, I went to Rev. Edwards' church. The people were very kind and attentive, but the shepherd was absent. Many of these pastors like to be in a crowd; therefore, on some Sabbaths you will find two or three of them in one pulpit and two or three pulpits without a preacher. I next called at a church where there was a basket meeting, but you do not know what a church basket meeting is, so I will describe one.
"The pastor invites four or five other churches with their pastors to meet with his church. When all are assembled each pastor preaches a sermon. Of course it is very short when five must be crowded into one hour, but the sermon is only a little bit of the performance. The collection mingled with noisy singing and the preacher's voice pleading for money with far more earnestness than he pleads for souls is the important part. Some time there is a prize of a nice cake given to the preacher who collects the most money. After the preaching, the baskets are opened and dinner served. If one does not get as nice a piece of chicken as another he sometimes goes away grumbling, 'I gave my money; they do not treat us all alike.' During the preaching you will find more outside of the church than inside. Now, pastors, if I have not given a true picture of a basket meeting show me where I am wrong. During the last week we have discussed this subject in the churches where we have held meetings, and I think nearly every pastor has decided to stop this ungodly way of raising money."
The above is only a part of my trip. I visited several other churches before going home. We give this as a sample of the kind of work we did in some of the country churches of Louisiana. Much of the success was owing to the earnest, consecrated spirit of the women, who had so much work to do and little education. These women had given up whisky and tobacco. Most of these pastors were good men living up to the light they had. Rev. Redeau was one of the best. I gave these extracts to show the great help these women were both in their homes and in their churches, after the little instruction I gave them, in my training school and during my visits to their churches. For three years I kept in touch with them, but during the last ten years I have not heard from them. What they need and other weak ones need is help.
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