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Hannah and Dexter: Being thankful | News | The Press and Standard

by | November 24, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: November 22, 2016 at 10:49 am

By SHIELA MARTINA
shielamartina@yahoo.com

My name is Hannah Maccabee and I have a best friend named Dexter Baker. We are only 9 years old, but we know the value of being thankful. For an upcoming annual tea at their church, Dexter and his family invited me and my family to come as their guests. We were a little reluctant at first, but I persuaded my mom to take us. During the church program, I was pleasantly amazed at what I saw and heard.
My family and I were able to witness thanksgiving first hand. As the program started promptly at 6 p.m. Dexter’s mom (Mrs. Baker) opened first with songs of praise. To my surprise, Dexter was on the drums and his sisters, Debra and Deanna, were helping their mom with praise and worship. Their songs ended so quickly that I didn’t realize they had been singing for 30 minutes. After the prayer, scripture and welcome address, Dexter’s father (Mr. Baker) got up to introduce special visitors. Dexter and his sisters gladly waved at us smiling.
The next thing I observed made me realize why I should always be thankful. A middle-aged lady got up and did a Bible portrayal of Queen Esther. The lady was dressed in a Queen’s authentic clothes, had a crown, and spoke kindly. She looked as beautiful as Esther would have looked back in the Bible day. The lady gave the history of Esther’s life and mentioned everyone that crossed her path. Then she went into a special rendition in Queen Esther’s voice about what she  did and this is what she said:
“I am Esther of Persia. I am the queen but I am a Jew. God blessed me to be raised by Mordecai (my uncle). He taught me to be kind, loving, and a servant. My life changed when King Ahasuerus chose me. As soon as I became queen, I helped whomever I could. I made sure my servants were treated fairly. Wherever my husband needed, me I was there. My goal was to the best queen I could be.
“Then my uncle Mordecai told me of a plot by Haman. (Second in command to King Ahasuerus) Because uncle Mordecai did not bow down to him, this made Haman angry enough to destroy all Jews. It was up to me to save my people. Uncle Mordecai told me that I was chosen for such a time as this. We prayed, fasted, and prayed some more.
“Then I bravely went to the king without being called. Anyone who went to the king without being called was to die. But prayer was before me and I went anyway. God touched the king’s heart and I was not killed. Instead, he asked me to tell him what I wanted. I invited him and Haman to a special dinner. It was then that I told the king of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews. I also told my husband for the first time that I was a Jew. My husband was so upset that he walked away. Haman ran over to me and grabbed me. The king came back and caught Haman. He ordered Haman and his entire family to be hanged on the gallows. The Jews were saved and Uncle Mordecai became second in command to the king.”
In all the times that I have heard the story of Esther, I never heard or saw it like that. I was truly thankful for Esther, her Uncle Mordecai, and even King Ahasuerus, because my father is a Jew.
Just when I thought church could not get any better, the children’s choir came up and sang a beautiful song. The name of the song was “Life Can Be Beautiful.” The message of the song was if you learn to love, your life can be beautiful. They took up a public offering to help with the building fund. There were also five teams who raised funds, and each captain thanked their team members for giving. Dexter’s family was on Team 2 and their team raised the most.
Church was not quite over because Mr. Baker got back up to introduce the speaker, who was a guest pastor who was very funny. He was poetic, made us laugh and shared the importance of being thankful. He said, “We should be thankful for life: we should be thankful for family; we should be thankful for being in our right mind; we should be thankful for Jesus, God’s son.”
After this preacher spoke, he invited people to come up for prayer. I wanted to go but no one moved. The preacher persisted in calling those who needed or wanted prayer, and I saw Dexter’s sister Debra bravely get up and go up front. That gave me the courage to follow her. Before I knew it, most of the people in the church were at the altar, even Dexter.
After a good prayer by the preacher, I went back to my seat, but did not see my mother or brother. When I looked around for them, I saw my mother on her knees crying with my brother being held by Mrs. Baker. It seemed like a long time that mom stayed at the altar crying with women thanking Jesus all around her. When she did come back to her seat, I hugged her as tight as I could. Before they gave the benediction, the church announcer gave the total raised and welcomed everyone to go for dinner in the fellowship hall after church.
This was more than dinner. This was a Thanksgiving Feast. All of my favorite foods and new favorite ones were at the table, from fried turkey to stuffing to collard greens to perlo rice to sour cream pound cake to sweet potato pie to punchbowl cake to broccoli salad to bread pudding to chewies.
My family and I plan to visit Dexter and his family’s church as often as we can. Not just for the good food or the sweet fellowship, but just to be thankful for all the good things that God has blessed us with. No doubt my family was not the same after this church service.

(Shiela Martina is the pseudonym for the Colleton County Memorial Library’s Children’s Librarian Shiela Martina Keaise.)

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