Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Plaquemine Branch

How many times can I say "I Love These People?" We've been assigned to another wonderful little branch in Plaquemine.  I'm learning so much from these small branches and hope I can get it all on paper.  What you see here is what you get. There are no pretenses and nothing fake about these very unpretentious people. It won't take long to get to know them because they're welcoming and open and few in number.  There were about 30 members there today. Most of them are first generation members and some of those have married children in the branch (who are obviously second generation members).  Some have given up family and friends to join the church, and they're well in the minority. Most seem to be part member families. I don't think there were any "complete" (meaning father, mother, children or even husband and wife) families there today.  They give lessons straight from the manuals (no sidebars) and their testimony meetings are just that--honest and heartfelt testimonies. Because so many did not grow up with the gospel as a part of their lives they've had to study and learn everything that I grew up with. Sadly, I can now see how much I've taken for granted. There was one sister in Marksville who'd been a member for about 8 years. She's read Jesus the Christ 3 or 4 times. I've been a member since day 1 and only read it once.

My hope is to get to know and share some of their stories as I get to know these people.  Today's sweet sister is Louise Harris.  I know she was born in 1933 and raised in northern Louisiana, east of Monroe and one of three daughters. Her father left the family after the 3rd daughter was born. Her mother couldn't read so she worked at menial jobs so her daughters could be educated.  She said she'd eat soda crackers and water if she had to so they could get an education.  Her 3 daughters taught her how to read, but especially Sister Harris. Without mom having to exist on crackers and water, she did graduate from Grambling State University and went on to teach English and Social Studies at Plaquemine High School for 40 years. I asked her how she got through college.  A politician gave her a $125 scholarship. The cost at that time was $128/semester and $35/month for room and board. Sister Harris got a job correcting papers in the English Department which paid $16.50 so her mom made up the difference.   Her husband was the basketball coach there and at the junior high school for many years. Although he's been deceased for about 10 years, he was very highly thought of and yearly basketball tournament held at the high school is named in his honor. He was also the Branch President for many years.

The Harris's joined the church about 35 years ago and have 4 children--identical twin sons and 2 daughters, so their children were raised with the gospel. Both sons served missions and all 4 children are WELL educated--1 doctor, 2 attorneys and an educator with a PhD. Sister Harris is currently serving as the Relief Society President and also has a weekly scripture study in her home for any who'd like to attend. And there's no way that this woman looks 80 years old!

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