Good morning, y’all. I’m mighty proud to report we didn’t melt into a giant glob of butter like I was predicting. The rains came through, a couple of times in fact, and cooled us off considerably. I’m happy to have more of the same. Looks like our good fortune is being provided by a tropical storm off of the coast of Florida. The weather map shows a wide area being effected by monsoons. Not Biblical mind you, unless you live in Houston. I think Houstonians are waiting for the locusts.
Thinking about Biblical prophesy, floods and such, puts us back on track for the history of the Little Church in the Valley. About 4PM, on day three of Summer Revival 2010, Elder Diggum checked his spreadsheet entry for the evening’s lineup. The Excel spreadsheet showed Brighton Early opening for Hap T. Johnstone in Tent One, Bill Foldes opening for Rocky Rhoades in Tent Two, and Al DaBino opening for Dale E. Bread in Tent Three.
Elder Diggum was particularly interested in watching Bill Foldes work. So far Elder Diggum had confined his attention to Tent number one. “That’s where the money is”, he had joked to his partner, Elder Cheatum. With multiple reports coming in about the strength of the healing powers of the novice Bill Foldes, Elder Diggum felt obilgated to follow the young minister more closely. The Little Church in the Valley might be auditioning a “diamond in the rough”, and if the church could lock up a potential super star, it behooved the committee to give the “diamond” every opportunity to shine.
As Elder Diggum did his walk around, he noticed that the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s gigantic Cadillac SUV’s were still parked where they were when they had returned the day before. Hap’s crew had shown up for the lunch provided by the Ladies Auxillary, but Hap had apparently taken his meal with his assistant in the tour bus. Not that Hap eating privately was not as planned, it just was not the best public relations move. Folks breaking bread together is one of the most bonding experiences that can be preformed. By shunning all of the followers of the congregation, Hap created a separation that was not perceived as positive. Dietary restrictions aside, Hap could have enjoyed a glass of sweet tea at lunchtime and given the people devoting their time and resources to his success, a feeling of appreciation.
Elder Diggum walked by the T-shirt booth and noticed that the spray paint trainee was in place and getting the fine points of the trade from the current painter. If things worked out, there would be enough business to keep both painters busy. If not, the master painter could push as much work to the trainee as necessary to keep from aggravating his carpal tunnel. Since the painter’s were being paid by the piece, it behooved the master painter to handle as much of the business as possible.
Elder Diggum walked by the new “Fruit Bowl” booth, and asked sister Constance Winer for a sample. Constance reached into one of the three, four-gallon wash tubs, to pull out a sample of their most creative work. Once one got past the concept of fresh fruit being packaged in a cup labeled with the Pepsi Cola logo all over it, the other shortcoming became evident. The fruit was sealed in the cup with Saran wrap. The plastic wrap had a tendency to come away from the cup when plunged into the ice in the wash tub. Constance told the Elder that they had gone through a couple of trial and errors before figuring a way to insert the fruit into the ice without mishap. Not to worry though, they had recovered and reused all of the spilt fruit. Elder Diggum complimented Constance on her ingenuity and pushed on to his next concern, the crowds had already begun to arrive.
Promptly at 6PM, the visiting ministers and Hap T. Johnson’s entourage met at the picnic tables setup by the Ladies Auxillary for feeding the workers. There appeared to be some tension between Hap’s people and the Reverend Dale E. Bread, but no cross words or overt actions were noticed. Reverend Daniel Hawker took the head of the table to deliver the blessing, as he had done on the previous nights of Summer Revival 2010.
Reverend Daniel beseeched the Lord for a good competition, much the same as a referee would beseech two fighters for “a good clean fight”. Reverend Daniel prayed for a competition that would result in the Lord’s chosen servants gaining a new minister that would give them year’s of faithful service as the Hawker family had done. Reverend Daniel finished by asking the Lord for “just a few more days of good weather”. The last request was delivered in a joking voice to let the listeners know that Reverend Daniel would never ask the Lord for something as trivial as good weather.
While the prayer was being delivered, Hap’s assistant, Crystal Leer, delivered a message to one of Hap’s security guards, who immediately rushed away in the direction of the tour bus. Crystal stayed behind, and kind of floated aimlessly about the tables. Perhaps she had a curiosity about the down-home Southern cooking being presented with such care by the Ladies Auxillary. Apparently the smell of country ham and collard greens and black-eyed peas were too strong attraction for Ms. Leer. She slipped into the only available seat, which happened to be next to the Reverend Dale E. Bread. Each gave a polite nod acknowledging the other, and then proceeded to acknowledge the ham and side dishes. After his fourth cat’s head biscuit, Reverend Bread cried, “enuff”, and declared he’d have to be wheeled to the pulpit in a wheelbarrow if he ate one more bite. After thanking the Ladies Auxillary for “as fine a meal as any man ever ate”, he headed back towards the tents. Ms. Leer followed along shortly after.
Crystal Chandle Leer was caught between the rock of having a name that provoked laughter, and, the hard place of changing her name and dishonoring her parents. The Leer family lived so far back in the woods that electricity had just recently come to their area. The idea for Crystal’s name had come from a school trip to the Governor’s mansion when Crystal’s daddy beheld the beauty of the natural light reflecting through the prisms of the gigantic light in the foyer of the manison. He was so transfixed by the shimmering lights that his teacher had to move him along for the rest of the tour. When Crystal was born, he named his daughter after the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, a crystal chandelier.
Crystal had worked hard to pull herself out of the poverty that trapped her family, and to prove that she wasn’t a joke. Her beauty had gotten her into beauty pageants, but her name had prevented her from ever winning. In desolation, and at the end of her rope, she had decided to “give Jesus a chance”, and wandered into one of the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s revivals. The Right Reverend was as awestruck by Crystal as her daddy was by the crystal chandelier in the Governor’s mansion. That night she started traveling with the minister as his most trusted confidant. The position of Executive Assistant included the subtitles of scheduler, secretary and chef. Truth was, she didn’t even have to cook if she didn’t want to. Crystal’s position was just another bargaining chip the Right Reverend used to up his daily fee. Crystal knew more about Hap’s empire than Hap did, and Crystal hoped to parlay that information into a better situation for herself.
Crystal ran a few steps closer before calling out, “Reverend Bread”. The tall good looking man from Florida turned and responded, “I must have died, I hear an angel calling my name.”