Back in the day, I was a member of the Myrtle Beach Ward for several years. I loved it. I had some great friends there, and even today, I think fondly of Mary, Gail, Carol, Wendy, Cora Lee, Frances, Barbara, Sarah, Dorothea, and too many others to mention. Truly, these “sisters” were and are dear to my heart. Not only did I enjoy their friendship, but I also admired and appreciated the many contributions they made to my children’s spiritual growth.
Carrie might never have gone to Washington unless Frances Radvansky had taken it upon herself to take Carrie and two other young women for a few days. Her daughter Kim was Young Women’s President and made an everlastingly strong impression on both Carrie and Elizabeth. For anyone reading this blog who thinks that’s an exaggeration, you just don’t understand the impact of strong leaders and examples. Linda Moore was one of Elizabeth’s favorite Primary teachers. Cora Lee Jennings was also quite a role model, and more than once the girls would hear, “Remember Cora Lee,” as they ventured out on jaunts with their friends. And Gail Atkinson. I will never forget our afternoons on the beach and at the Springmaid pool as we yakked away about any and everything while Paul and Taylor swam. Honestly, I could write an essay about each of these “elect ladies,” but I don’t have time or energy tonight.
Life was grand. Then one day I noticed that several Stake leaders were present, and there was a good reason. They had an announcement to make. Beginning the following week, certain families who lived more in the direction of Conway were to begin attending the small Conway branch. Huh? It didn’t really hit me until a couple of hours later as I sat in Relief Society and realized that that would be the last time I enjoyed the companionship and proximity of the women who were so instrumental in my life.
The next Sunday came, and as Frankie and the kids and drove into the parking lot of the new church, we felt a gamut of emotions ranging from anxiety to downright resentment. Why did we have to move?? Not only that, but the edifice itself was a triple wide modular unit far different in appearance from the Myrtle Beach chapel. Plus, we had to sit in regular chairs, not pews. What had we gotten into? There wasn’t even an organ, just a piano! Little did I know at that point just how strongly I’d feel the “spirit” in that small, holy building.
There are far too many great things that happened during those years to list them all. I mainly wanted to convey this one point: Serving in this tiny branch was probably one of the best things that could have happened to my family, especially the children. Carrie, a college student, became Primary President, and it wasn’t long before Elizabeth and Paul were old enough to assume leadership positions that allowed them to grow in ways that might not have happened so readily in a bigger ward.
Today the Conway branch is the Conway Ward, and the members meet in a beautiful new building, one that was recently renovated and enlarged. I love visiting there, and so do the children. Lib and I visited there on a recent Sunday, and we felt nothing but warmth and acceptance during the time we spent with our fellow Saints. Carrie and her family are at the coast this week, and she’s ultra excited about visiting Conway Sunday.
I’d like to join my daughters and grandchildren, but I’ll be attending the newly formed Camden Ward. I’ll miss Connie, Cindy, Telene, Kristi, Christy, Darla, Valencia, Lisa, Laresa, and all my other friends who are now members of the newly formed Elgin Ward. Still, I’m looking forward to the changes ahead for all of us, and I KNOW that we will all grow…just like my family and others did in Conway years ago.