VIP Trust

One Person, no matter who he or she is, is a very small part of a population. Why are some individuals given so much artificially  created importance? It’s not artificial, you may say. People need  leaders, and it’s perfectly natural that the leader of a large group will be very important to the welfare of the group and will  bear a disproportionate share of the burden for maintaining that welfare. In at least one sense it certainly is natural.

The way humans treat their leaders–and the way some of them become  leaders–is at heart pretty much the same as the hierarchical social structures of, say, baboons or chimpanzees. Males fight one another with the hope of becoming “alpha male;” those who don’t win are subservient to him, and females are subservient to all of them, with finer degrees of hierarchy of their own. The differences between how baboons do it and how we do it are more in details than in the essence.

That’s not surprising. All of us–baboons, chimps, humans–are primates, with common evolutionary roots both biologically and culturally. Our social systems look like modified versions of theirs because they are modified versions of theirs. And it works pretty well, for baboon troops. Their hierarchies, for all the conflicts they entail, probably do serve the group’s long-term welfare by preventing more extensive conflicts that would likely arise if nobody were imposing some order, and presenting a united front to external threats.

Dr. Stanley Schmidt, Editorial: “VIPs”; Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July/August 2012.

In one fell swoop, Dr. Stanley Schmidt just described the sociological world of Herbert Armstrong in the Worldwide Church of God: A strongly hierarchical structure with him at the top over a group of primates, acting every bit like baboons.

Generally speaking, as civilization matures, the evolution is toward the individual having freedoms in a venue where it is recognized that, for the most part, there is an equality among the people and there isn’t one particular super human to become the supreme autocratic leader. This assumes that each member of the citizenry take ownership to maintain order and act responsibly. It would appear that autocracies based in a stong hierarchical structure are regressions negating our social evolution, obliterating the hope of pursuing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the singular individual.

It has become painfully obvious that Herbert Armstrong imposed order to present a united front to external and internal threats: It is obvious, because with his death, the conflicts have increased 700 fold and are certainly doing nothing to serve the group’s long term welfare. Even though Herbert Armstrong was one small fat short man, he rallied others to him as the “alpha male” to gain control of the group.

During his time, Roderick Meredith, Gerald Flurry, David Pack, Dennis Luker, Ronald Weinland, were all the losers and became subservient to him, with the females subservient to all of them, with finer degrees of hierarchy of their own. No real intelligence was needed: It’s pretty much social genetics, making the victims mere pawns in the evolutionary scheme of things, in yet another minor league cult. And yes, there are many more groups and larger groups of “baboons”, but what has happened in Armstrongism is instructive in the understanding of how locked into a system primates can be. In reality, Herbert Armstrong had absolutely no worth as either a person, an apostle or a false prophet, but he was in charge, and darn it all, we were going to believe and follow him, no matter what, without much thought put into it, following, as it were, our animal passions.

Dr. Schmidt continues:

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?

People need leaders, you may say again, and I must agree at least in part: Some people need leaders most of the time, and perhaps most do under some circumstances. We’re sometimes told that  people tend to be either leaders or followers, and in my experience many do tend to lean more toward one or the other–the in the complex hierarchies of our present societies, many people play both roles in different subgroups. And I don’t buy the idea that everybody has a natural preference for one or the other. Personally I don’t like to do any more of either than necessary. I prefer to work as independently as possible as much of the time as possible, and it’s how I usually work best.

Now, in the realm of religion, particularly Christianity, one would think that there would be more individuality: According to Scripture, when Christ died, the veil to the Holy of Holies was ripped down the middle, and symbolically, was a metaphor that the people no longer needed the High Priest as the leader to go directly to God the Father. One would think. It was to be a new world with the Old Covenant done away and a New Covenant written, so that there was no more hierarchy to get to God. The good news of the gospel is that your sins separating you from your God were covered and you had redemption. This was now a higher plane above, not just above the primates, but mankind itself. Old habits die hard. And there are a lot of successful con men out there, ready and able to recapture people as livestock to live off of them, promoting the very vision of the 1972 Princeton Prison Experiment, replete with the Warden Superintendant, guards and prisoners, reducing the supposedly spiritual plane back to the animal level: Herbert Armstrong invoked in us a regression to the primal.

Dr. Schmidt adds:

It’s also prudent for a large organization to have mechanisms built into it to ensure that its smooth functioning is not too dependent on which individual is currently doing whatever executive duties need to be done. That’s where most of them fall down. It’s nice to have a competent, well-liked and respected leader in those cases where you need a leader at all. If you’re lucky enought to have one, it’s naturally a sad thing to lose him or her–just as it’s a sad thing to lose any competent, well-liked and respected person. If that loss is a violent one, the perpetrator is a crimnal and needs to be dealt with as such. But it’s not the end of the world, whether violent or not, and reacting to it as if it were is likely to do far more harm than good. Wouldn’t it be better to have a social structure strong and resilient enough to deal appropriately and propotionately with both the loss and the crime, and meanwhile make the necessary adjustment to go on with the rest of its business in a reasonably normal fashion?

In the case of cults, no. Cults are cults because they focus on one man (or woman or a small cadre of “leaders”) to excess. It’s best to let them die. Now it should not have escaped any of you what the lesson here is: While it is true that Herbert Armstrong was a “success” in the sense that he got all he wanted out of life, he was a failure in providing a lasting legacy because people were entirely focused on him. In the aftermath of his death, there has been a vacuum left. Those familiar with science knows the old adage that nature abhors a vacuum.

Unfortunately, the “alpha males” rushing in to fill the void, simply can’t fill it. Armstrongism is a spectacular failure with sociopathic nutjobs popping up nearly weekly like mushrooms on the lawn after a rainy day. The final words of Dr. Schmidt in his editorial should give us all pause, even if taken out of context:

And if that happens, our reaction to any problem with it is likely to be as extreme and destructive as with any of its human predecessors.

So those now involved with Armstrongism — particularly now that we have the robust example of Ronald Weinland, the prophet that failed — have a clear choice: Make your own choices and be responsible for them or pursue social evolutionary regression to follow the baboon alpha male leader.

"Faith" Chapter Five

by Mary Ellen Humphrey

Chapter 5
Who can find a virtuous woman?
Proverbs 31: 10

The Women’s Meeting had begun exactly at 8 p.m.
Thirty-two women sat in a loosely formed circle in the
basement meeting room of the minister’s house. First
the minister’s wife stood up and everyone was suddenly
She held her Bible in front of her, briefly looked
around the room, and then started reading: “Romans 8
verses 16 and 17: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our
spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then
heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we
suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. My
name is Nancy and I am a Child of God,” she said, then sat
The elderly woman next to her rose. “My name is
Alice and I am a Child of God,” she said, then sat down.
Around the circle the process continued. “My name is
Faith and I profess to be a Child of God.” “My name is
Madeleine and I am a Child of God,” an older woman said.
A young girl, barely twelve sitting next to Madeleine stood
up and quickly said, “My name is Ruth and I profess to be a
Child of God.”
“My name is Rachel, and I profess to be a Child of
God.” She blushed and sat down as quickly as she’d stood.
“My name is Desiree and I am a Child of God,” a very thin,
frail-looking, elderly lady said in a squeaky high-pitched
voice. “My name is Laura…My name is Marianne….My
name is Gayla…My name is Esther…around it went, until
it came to another teenager who stood, “My name is
Kathleen and I profess to be a Child of God.” She glanced
around the room as if gauging the reaction and then sat
From the eldest, Desiree, to the youngest, Ruth, each
took their turn rising and announcing who they were and
sitting back down.
“Welcome to the women’s ministry,” Nancy said, still
sitting. We have been instructed to read Proverbs 31
tonight. Each woman took her Bible and turned to the
designated passage. Nancy started reading, “Who can find
a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
Nancy nodded to Alice who read the next verse, and then
Nancy nodded to another woman and so on until they had
read the entire chapter.
“Does anyone have any questions?” Nancy asked.
Ruth, the precocious young girl with short naturally
curly blonde hair raised her hand. Nancy nodded to her.
“Did they sell girls back then?” Ruth asked.
“Excuse me?” Nancy said.
“It says her price is far above rubies. Does that mean
that girls were sold for rubies?”
Nancy frowned. “Well, in the Old Testament days life
was different. Sometimes the families of women received
dowries or compensation for losing their daughter when
she married. It was different back then.”
Ruth persisted. “But, does that mean it’s okay to sell
“If it’s in the Bible it must be okay,” Nancy answered
Madeleine, Ruth’s mother, pulled her daughter back
down to her seat and gave her a stern look.
“Shhhh…”.she whispered loudly. “You’ve asked enough
Nancy looked around. “Any other questions?”
Esther, a young recently married woman raised her
hand timidly. Nancy nodded to her.
“I am confused,” Esther said. “I was told that women
didn’t talk about their husbands’ service and yet I find a lot
of us seem to do that. What are the guidelines?”
Nancy studied her for a moment, and then answered
succinctly. “Women are to remain silent in The Church
and their husbands’ service is not to be discussed in any
way that might cause division or competition. We all
know that women tend to be very competitive, especially
in the services they seek. Not all are called to be leaders
or serve in higher roles.”
The young woman looked confused. “But I thought
seeking service was a godly thing and something we should
strive for?”
“Strive for silently,” Nancy stated. “We must not
gossip or criticize our husbands or any other man’s
service. Our whole role is to serve. Can you give me an
example of what is confusing you?”
Esther shifted nervously. “Well, at services, while
talking with Laura and Marianne, they were telling me how
their husbands were assigned to different tasks that didn’t
fit them and that they were sure it was a mistake, it would
be better to let them do the tasks that were more natural
and compatible to their talents and education.”
Nancy looked at Laura and Marianne who were sitting
beside each other, and now both women blushed
nervously. “You have asked a good question that allows
us to clarify gossip, Esther. It is not the place of Laura or
Marianne, or any of us to decide which position of service
our husbands hold. It is presumptuous of us to believe we
are wiser than those chosen by God to lead and make
these decisions. It is disrespect for authority and
disruptive to the good of The Work.”
Faith and Kathleen ritualistically studied their Bibles
every evening after dinner. They would spend half an hour
each morning in secluded prayer.
Rachel saw this and wanted to comply as well. She
reviewed her notes from Mr. Robert’s sermon on
Saturday. She looked up each scripture he’d quoted, and
he’d quoted many scriptures.
One struck her, I Timothy 4:1. It read: “Now the
Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some
shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of devils.” Rachel decided to pray about it,
asking God to help her keep the faith and protect her
from seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
She was sure that other churches, some of the very
churches that her mother had dragged her to in the past,
were in fact such seducing spirits and devils. It was all
beginning to make sense, despite the teaching that one
could not understand The Truth without the Holy Spirit
which was only available to true Children of God, attained
when accepted by the ministers and baptized. Only adults
could be members.
Rachel hoped to soon be baptized so that she could
receive the Holy Spirit and then fully understand The
Truth. It was her all-consuming goal and she studied her
Bible diligently.
On Wednesday nights, Jeanette, another Deaconess,
came by to pick the three girls up for the women’s
ministry meeting. Jeanette was older than Audrey, also
single, the product of a divorce from a nonbeliever. She
had left her two teenage children with her ex-husband
when she joined The Church.
This was Rachel’s third such meeting having attended
while at Audrey’s. The topic was once again Proverbs 31.
While all of these scriptures were well-known to most of
those present, to Rachel they were wonderful revelations
of truth. They were jewels she treasured. She couldn’t
get enough. The more she learned, the more she desired
to know about The Truth.
When Esther asked the question about gossip last
week, Rachel took notice. She understood the harm of
gossip. She’d experienced it firsthand. Still, this was
different. What did the minister’s wife mean, women
were competitive? And what was this about service?
Were there roles specified for the brethren? Rachel was
curious and eager.
That Saturday, Mr. Critchett once again gave the main
morning sermon. He raged on about the roles of service
in the church. An hour into his sermon he announced that
two sisters had been suspended for gossiping about their
husbands. It was Laura and Marianne. Rachel was
astonished and puzzled. She realized that someone, most
likely Mrs. Roberts must have told the ministers about
their comments at the women’s meeting. She looked at
Faith and then at Kathleen who sat quietly and somberly.
“What does that mean, suspended?” she whispered.
Mrs. Andrews shushed them.
Faith whispered back, “it means they can’t attend
services for a while.”
“How long?”
Faith shrugged. “Usually three or six months,
depending on the severity of their bad attitude.”
All the women were somber that Sabbath. Their
usual bustle was gone. The hugs were a little harder and
more silent. It was as if they didn’t dare to speak lest they
say the wrong thing. Rachel struggled to understand this.
Pastor Roberts spoke in the afternoon about the role
of women in the church. Roberts pointed out that false
churches are referred to as whores in the scriptures. It
was Eve who seduced Adam leading to expulsion from the
Garden of Eden. But there was hope. It was faith. Faith
in God and his Truth would save women. Rachel was
determined to have such faith. She was determined not to
be one of these wicked women.
Roberts lecture continued. Women were not
allowed to speak in the church. They must have long hair
as a veil to cover their heads. They must obey their
husbands who are the head of the wife. He quoted
scriptures that assured that women would be saved in
childbirth if they were faithful.
After the service ended, Rachel asked, “What does
that mean that women are saved in childbirth?”
“You’d better be faithful since medical care is not
allowed,” Faith answered.
“Midwives are okay,” Kathleen added. “But it’s hard
to find someone. They don’t like to do home deliveries.”
“There is a doctor some of the brethren use,” Faith
said. “But he has come under scrutiny since Marianne’s
“What happened?”
“She began to hemorrhage…they had to rush her to
the hospital. She didn’t want to go, but the doctor
insisted. He isn’t too popular I guess and since then he’s
been reluctant to deliver other babies at home.”
“Jeanette has helped several women,” Faith pointed
out. “She was a nurse before finding The Truth. She had
to give that up of course, being that we don’t believe in
“I never read about this in the literature,” Rachel said.
“Of course not. We shouldn’t be telling you all this.
You should hear it from the ministers. They know when
people are able to handle such information,” Kathleen said.
“I can handle it.”
“I’m not sure I can,” Faith answered.

"Faith" Chapter Four

by Mary Ellen Humphrey

Chapter 4
So the last shall be first, and the first last:
for many be called, but few chosen.
Matthew 20:16

Audrey was as excited for the girls as they were
themselves. They’d found their own apartment. She
wanted to hear all about it. “Thirty-five dollars? That
sounds a little steep for a one-bedroom, third floor
“Penthouse,” Faith said. “We have our very own
“And with any luck, we’ll all have jobs next week,
too,” Rachel said.
Randy was sitting beside her on the couch. “There’s
no such thing as luck,” he said.
“What?” She looked at him puzzled.
Audrey explained that The Church doesn’t believe in
luck. It’s like gambling. Nothing is luck. Especially if
you’re a Christian. There’s a plan and purpose to
everything and it would be blasphemous to relegate
anything to simple luck. Better to be thankful to God for
providing the item.
“Oh,” Rachel said. “That’s very interesting. I’d never
heard that before. It isn’t in the Bible studies I did. I’m
sure I would have remembered that.”
“There’s a lot of stuff not in the Bible course,” Faith
“Yeah,” Kathleen added. “Lots of stuff—lots of good
The three girls were so excited they could hardly
sleep. They whispered and giggled late into the night. The
next morning they were dressed and ready for church
early. They thanked Audrey for her hospitality and headed
to Manchester, talking incessantly all the way there.
The official greeter once again hugged all three girls
welcoming them to Sabbath services. He didn’t pay any
special attention to Rachel anymore. She guessed she was
being accepted as one of the flock which was a nice feeling.
She belonged. Even though she didn’t like the hugs so
much, she liked the sense of belonging.
There were lots of hugs. As people got to know
Rachel, she was greeted by everyone, even the children,
with a hug. Sometimes even a kiss. Always a warm smile
and welcoming gesture. Women were the biggest
offenders. They hugged each other as if they’d been apart
for years, when it had only been a few days. Those who
lived close enough saw each other on Wednesday nights—
Women’s Meeting night. Rachel had attended her first last
week while staying at Audrey’s. From now on, she’d be
able to go every Wednesday night.
Of course, the official greeters hugged everyone at all
services. Rachel now understood their role went beyond
greeting. They were also screening to make sure no
uninvited people attended.
“Let’s go tell Wilma the good news,” Faith suggested
before the sermon started.
They approached the young woman who smiled
weakly at the three excited young girls. They began to tell
her about their apartment all at once. She waved her
hand. “Slow down. I can’t understand you all talking at
the same time.” The girls laughed. Faith explained what
had happened, how they had found an apartment on the
third floor–a penthouse apartment, and how they each
had jobs at a local manufacturing firm.
“That is great,” Wilma said. “Congratulations. It
sounds so exciting. I hope everything works out for you.
I wish I could join you.”
The three girls stood awkwardly. Kathleen glanced at
Faith. But Faith didn’t have the appropriate response. She
“We wish you could, too,” Rachel said.
“Thanks,” Wilma smiled. “Thanks,” she whispered
The sermon that morning was given by the local
pastor, Mr. Roberts. He was higher in rank in the ministry
than Mr. Critchett. He was his boss, actually, and usually
gave the first sermon of the Sabbath service. Most of Mr.
Roberts time was spent working with the two smaller
churches in Vermont and Maine, which weren’t large
enough yet to have their own full-time minister. This left
Mr. Critchett to tend to affairs in New Hampshire.
Mrs. Roberts, Nancy, whom Rachel had met that first
day she attended services, also led the Women’s Meetings
on Wednesday nights.
They had two children, James who was eight and
Justine who was eleven. These were the children Rachel
encountered her first service.
“The Roberts are both graduates of the college in
California and have been in the region for only a year,”
Faith explained to Rachel
“Faith is supposed to go to that college,” Kathleen
Faith grimaced.
Kathleen was surprised by this reaction. “You aren’t
honored by that? Geez, I’d love to be chosen to attend.”
“Don’t swear!” It was Mrs. Andrews who was sitting
in front of the girls.
Kathleen blushed. Faith went on to tell Rachel, “Most
pastors and elders stayed in a church area for a few years
and then are moved to another location.”
“We like Mr. Roberts. I hope they don’t relocate him
too soon,” Kathleen said.
“Not soon enough for Mr. Critchett!” Faith said.
Mrs. Andrews turned around and gave them all a dirty
When she turned back around, the three girls sat
quietly. They might get away with such talk now but if
they were actually Children of God, they could be severely
reprimanded for it. Women had been suspended for such
careless words.
Faith whispered to Rachel, “Mr. Roberts will be
more interesting than Mr. Critchett,” she said.
Kathleen nodded, rolling her eyes.
After the hymns were finished and the prayer given, a
young man approached the podium to give the
sermonette. He had red hair and a ruddy complexion, was
thin and athletic. Rachel noticed Kathleen straighten up in
her chair and listen closely. She glanced at Faith who
nodded and whispered, “She has a crush on him.”
“Who is he?” Rachel asked. “He’s Joel.”
Kathleen frowned at them and Faith giggled. Mrs.
Andrews was sitting in front of them and turned around
and gave them a dirty look.
Faith looked down, embarrassed. Rachel looked in
another direction and Kathleen just ignored the old lady.
When Alice turned back around, Kathleen looked at Faith
and Rachel and rolled her eyes. The girls stifled another
round of giggles.
“Shhhh,” Kathleen whispered. “I want to hear him.”
Faith nodded to Rachel a see, I-told-you-so look.
More hymns and then the main sermon began. Mr.
Roberts started with a question, “What is Faith?”
He looked at the audience with confidence. “Do you
have faith?” he asked. “Turn to I Timothy 3:13,” he said.
Pages rustled. He waited for a moment, then read the
scripture: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and
worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in
the things which thou has learned and has been assured of,
knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from
a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able
to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in
Christ Jesus.”
Mr. Roberts explained that faith was required for
salvation. He explained that they were chosen, a chosen
few, who had this wonderful gift to understand the
scriptures. Others were deceived by evil men, seducers,
religions that sounded like the True Church but were
actually clever counterfeits. He explained that the world
would only get worse and worse and that faith was needed
for salvation.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen,” he said, reading Hebrews
11:1. “Do you have faith?” he asked the audience again.
Two hours were spent on the subject. Rachel was
glued to his words. She was hearing The Truth. The
Truth. It was soothing to her ears and to her heart. She
was sure she did indeed have faith. That was what had led
her here, to God’s true church. Her faith and her prayers.
Otherwise, she was sure; she would have given up long
Pastor Roberts turned to the Book of Revelation,
chapter two, verse thirteen: “I know thy works, and
where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou
holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in
those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who
was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” Verse
seventeen: “he that hath an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh
will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a
white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which
no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
And verse nineteen: “I know thy works, and charity, and
service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the
last to be more than the first. (Verse twenty)
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because
thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a
prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit
fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Verse
23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the
churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the
reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you
according to your works.” Roberts explained that God
knew their hearts and how dedicated they really were to
The Work.
He turned to James chapter two. He started at the
first verse, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
(Verse 5) “Harkin, my beloved brethren, Hath not God
chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the
kingdom which he had promised to them that love him?”
(Verse 14) “What doth it profit, my brethren, though
a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith
save him?” (Verse 17) “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is
dead, being alone.” (Verse 19) “Thou believest that there is
one God’ thou doest well: the devils also believe, and
tremble.” (Verse 20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that
faith without works is dead?” (Verse 24) “Ye see then how
that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
And finally, verse 26, “For as the body without the spirit is
dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Pastor Roberts explained to the congregation their
duty to support the Work of God. He chided those who
claimed to have faith, but didn’t do The Work. “You must
give until it hurts,” he said. “Show God your faith by your
Lunch was sandwiches and soft drinks in the antiroom.
The three girls decided to take a walk. It was a
glorious late spring day. Rachel was excited by the
sermon. She’d never heard anything like it before. She
eagerly discussed it with Faith and Kathleen.
“Wait till she hears about the Place of Safety,” Faith
said to Kathleen.
Faith left with her parents at the end of the day, so
she could pack her things and come to the apartment the
next day, Sunday. Kathleen went home with her mother,
too. Each girl was assigned to bring whatever they could
find to fill the apartment, beds, dishes, linen, mostly
donated by their parents and some of the brethren.
Rachel avoided her mother, but got a chance to speak
to her younger brother briefly. “How’s everything?” she
asked him.
“Not that you care,” he said. He instantly looked hurt
and guilty.
“Of course I care,” she said, looking him in the eye.
“We found an apartment,” she told him, changing the
subject. “We’re moving in tomorrow. Maybe you could
come and visit sometime, if you want.”
The young man looked as if he would start to cry at
any instant. She didn’t know what to say to him. She gave
him a hug. When her mother started their way, Rachel
left. She could hear her mother’s accusing voice as she
walked away. She tried in vain not to be embarrassed.
That night as Rachel lay awake, her last night at
Audrey’s, her mind raced with thoughts about her new
life. The new information—The Truth—was so
wonderful. Her new friends, Faith and Kathleen, and
especially Audrey. It all felt so good. She could hardly
wait for morning, which turned out to come more quickly
than most as she soon fell asleep.
Kathleen arrived early with her mother and her
mother’s station wagon. Rachel put her suitcase in the
back and jumped in. They both waved to Audrey as she
watched them drive off. “I can bring lunch,” Audrey called
after them, but they didn’t hear her.
Kathleen’s mother had given her a full size bed and
box spring that was tied on top of the vehicle. She’d also
given them a set of sheets and two blankets, some odd
dishes and a few towels.
Rachel watched Kathleen and her mother interact in
the front seat. Kathleen’s mother spoke erratically, as if
her thoughts came faster than her words. Sometimes she
paused as if to allow her mind to catch up. Despite
Kathleen’s complaints, Rachel knew that Kathleen’s
mother loved her. She smiled. It was reassuring to her
that a mother could love her daughter. She hoped
someday she’d find that wonderful experience.
It didn’t take long to unload the station wagon.
Several of the young men and the Deacon who lived
nearby showed up just as the girls were struggling to get
the bedding up the two flights of stairs. They had the task
completed in no time.
Faith arrived with her father a little after eleven. She
had also brought a bed—twin size, and a bureau. Her
parents had thrown in two lawn chairs, two old lamps,
some dishes, and some pantry staples. They had bath
soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and cleaning stuff thanks to
Faith’s mother.
Soon Audrey arrived carrying a box of sandwiches and
a cooler of soft drinks. She included some cookies and
potato chips. The girls gave Audrey the grand tour. She
eyed the apartment doubtfully. The girls were unfazed.
The young men and Deacon left, as did Faith’s father
and Kathleen’s mother. They had other official church
work to do. Audrey joined the girls for lunch. They sat
on the floor in the living room where the mattresses were
temporarily set. You could hear the laughter down the
two flights of stairs and out onto the street.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Audrey said as she reached into
her handbag. “This came for you. I had to wait until
sunset to give it to you.” She handed Rachel a letter.
Rachel saw that it was from her high school. It was a
large manila envelop and when she opened it there was a
hand written note from the principal. He said they had
wondered what happened to her and tried to find a
forwarding address. Enclosed was her high school
diploma. Tears filled Rachel’s eyes.
“Guess you must have completed enough course
work before you moved,” Audrey said.
Rachel smiled. “I can’t believe it. I graduated.”
Monday morning Faith dressed and left for work at 7
a.m. She encouraged both Rachel and Kathleen to come in
as early as they could to see about a job. The two girls
were there at eight. Kathleen went into the personnel
office first. She came out fifteen minutes later with a big
smile on her face. “I can start tomorrow,” she told
Rachel. “He said to send you in.”
Rachel went into the office. A thirtyish man sat
behind an old metal desk. He waved to a chair for her to
sit down. She complied. “So, you want to work for
Penacook Components Assembly?”
She nodded. “Have you graduated from high school?”
She blushed. “Yes.”
“Are you planning to go on to college or anything in
the fall?”
Rachel hadn’t thought about that. Fall seemed so far
away. But she did want to go to college. She’d always
wanted to. It wasn’t an option. Her hesitation raised his
“We don’t want to invest in training anyone who isn’t
planning to work long term.” He looked at her sternly.
“I don’t plan to go anywhere,” Rachel said.
“Can you start tomorrow, too, with your friend?”
Rachel’s eyes widened. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, of
“Good. See you then.”