Elementary days (1-6) and growing up UPC

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? 
Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Zechariah 13:6 (KJV)

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic...

Well five years have passed and I had already come through a lot for such a little girl. Just to recap; within the first 21 months of my life I had had two major operation; the first when I was 12 days old, the second when I was 17 months old. On both occasions the doctors did not offer much hope. Matter a fact after my second major operation at 17 months, the doctors advised my mother not to even allow me to put any weight on my legs. It would be by God's grace and healing power that, in spite of what the doctors had to say, I did walk and I accomplished every challenge that any other child would face during these growing stages. A third major surgery would be considered when I was 3 years old to have my bladder brought out, but thank the Lord, God came through and heard the prayers of a praying mother and the saints, and that surgery did not take place. Now I would like to stop here for a moment and share something that my mum would tell me later on when I got older, and I share this because I want to help those of you reading to see the kind of teaching/thinking of the UPC churches that I grew up around back in New Brunswick.

Around this particular time there was an Evangelist by the name of Freddie Clark. He would travel all over and hold tent meetings. He was not particularly liked by the UPC and the folks were discouraged in going out to hear this preacher preach. During one of his tent revivals in Fredericton NB, my family were visiting with my aunt who lived just outside of Fredericton, and they decided to go and hear him. Now the doctors had told my mum that they would give me six months to see if my bladder issues would resolve themselves, and if they didn't, another major operation would be scheduled. Towards the end of the service Freddie Clark was calling different folks out and my mum felt this tug to take me forward, and she did, but not before some inner debate. Mum explained the situation to Freddie Clark and he picked me up and began to pray. After this there were many occasions at fellowships and at Harvey Camp where ministers would want to pray for me, but mum would say that it was already done. However; when the question would be asked of her as to who it was that had prayed for me, she would never say. We returned to Montreal, my bladder issues still unresolved, however the doctors gave me another six months. 

We were at home and my mum was sitting in her chair reading her Bible, thinking about the issue at hand, when she felt the Lord speak to her. She said that she heard him say; it's not about Freddie Clark, he is just my vessel, I am the ONE Who does the healing. You see my mum was so worried as to what folks would think, let alone the UPC ministers, if she ever told them that it was Freddie Clark who prayed for me. But after her encounter with the Lord, the first person to ask, and everyone after that, she would tell them; Freddie Clark. It was only after she took this bold step to go against what was being said of Freddie Clark that results began to be seen. And on my next trip to the doctors everything was in working order. Praise God! After this it would be just some corrective surgeries and one exploratory operation when I was four.

It was September of 1974 when I started grade one. My first week into it and I would experience my first of many bouts with bullying. I was inline waiting for Mrs Fife to see that my mum had signed my homework. I was just standing there when the next thing I know this boy, Paul Dube, swung a punch right into my gut. I remember doubling over and trying to get my breath. The boy was sent to the office,nothing was resolved, and stuff like this would soon become the norm for me; and on a weekly bases. I would be called names or I would be taunted on the play ground. I didn't have very many friends unless I had something they wanted ~ candy. 

I remember this one time during lunch in the gym and my mum had packed a peanut butter toasted sandwich and some chocolate milk. I loved dipping my sandwich in the chocolate milk and so that's what I was doing. One of the kids made such a fuss about it that a the teacher came over and then sent me to the corner. Another time I was inline to file my papers away. The box that held our files was on a table. A boy came up behind me and pushed me right into the corner of the table. I blacked out and sometime later came too with my head in the lap of my teacher. The following are a few more examples; I was flipped over while sitting in my desk, I had bugs placed in my desk, I would be pushed or tripped in the hallways, I was even hit by a hard ball on purpose during a gym class which later would result in cracked ribs,and I had snowballs and chunks of ice thrown at me. This went on for six years but it wouldn't just be in the school...

Sometime during my elementary years we would get a new Pastor and family at our church. This family would consist of a girl and two boys. Also around this time a young family was living in the basement, which was also the Chapel beneath the parsonage. The bullying that I was going through at school was now starting at the very place it should never have, the church. The kids there would shun me, call me names. When a new family started to attend church, the pastor's daughter tried to convince the new girl not to be friends with me. But that didn't happen. This new girl told her mum who in turn told my mum. The other little girl's mum made sure that we always remained friends. 

Another incident that took place at school, which involved the preacher's son, about a half dozen boys cornered me by a wall while outside at recess, each boy in turn spat on me. The last one to do so was the pastor's son. Somethings I just did not expect...The family who were living in the basement of the church; one Sunday morning we had arrived early, the other kids were there when the name calling began. But on this day, there was a quick stop made by the wife of the family who lived there, and from that day on there was never anymore name calling.

I use to love memorizing Bible verses and we would have these contests in Sunday school to see who could memorize the most. Or we'd have this game called the "hot seat". A piece of paper would be taped to the bottom of the chair and whoever sat in that chair got a prize. Well, this one Sunday I ended up sitting on the "hot seat". When the Sunday school superintendent walked over to me with the prize, as he held it out and I went to reach for it, he pulled it back and said that I had won way too many prizes and that someone else should have the prize. Without a second look, he passed it off to another child.

I remember other situations as a child seeing my family being hurt in one way or another by this very church we attended under different pastors. Some pastors were good and then some not so...But as a child I did not fully understand. And in my day, children were meant to be seen and not heard. When painful acts would be made, as a family we would walk away from the church, only to walk back in at a later time.

The UPC's dogma on salvation is based in their interpretation of Acts 2:38. It can be summed up in three points "plus"; Repentance, Baptism in Jesus Name Only, and receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost/Spirit with the "initial" evidence of "speaking in tongues. The plus I call every thing else that is added on after that; such as the dress code, length of hair for women/men, and a list of do's and dont's.When it comes to the three points; if you have one out of three or two out of three, you are not saved; you must have ALL three in order to be considered saved. And then you have to keep up to the list of do's and dont's, as they too, are considered apart of your salvation. I had a cousin, who all his life to my knowledge, never left the church or went out into the world. He did everything according to the UPC dogma, but all I ever heard from the adults was the sadness and the, "remembering him in prayer", as he wasn't saved all because he didn't speak in tongues. I remember several of my aunts sitting around the table with my mom as they wept because their children were unsaved, based on the UPC dogma, that they weren't going to the "right" church. And again my dad; who from my point of view, did everything according to the UPC list, but because he didn't speak in tongues was considered unsaved. Now; again I don't share this next story to place blame on anyone, only to show the indoctrination of years growing up within the UPC.

I was seven years old and my family was at Harvey Camp. This was a camp owned by the UPC where every year there was children's camp, followed by junior youth camp, followed by senior youth camp, culminating with family camp. Growing up UPC, I attended every one. But back to when I was seven; it was at a Family camp, they were holding children's church in a dorm area a couple roads over from our cabin, the Evangelist had ministered and now the altar call was given. The Evangelist asked us kids if there was anyone who wanted to ask Jesus to come into their hearts, to raise their hands. I did not think twice and I put my hand up. Next; those of us who raised our hands were asked to go forward to the altar. Once at the altar I repented of my sin (however much sin a seven year old can do), confessed my love for Jesus, asked Him to come into my heart, and gave Him my life. I was so excited, I couldn't wait for service to end so I could tell my mum that I had just gotten saved.

The service ended and I ran as fast as I could to our cabin. When I opened the door my mum was standing by the sink. With great excitement I told her that I had just gotten saved. As she wiped her hands on her apron she knelt down beside me and hugged me, she was so happy. Then she asked me this question; "Paula, honey, did you speak in tongues"? I wasn't quite sure what she meant but for sure I knew that I didn't speak in tongues. What I did know, was that I had just asked Jesus to come into my heart and I was over joyed. I told my mum, no. At this she pulled away a bit and with great sadness said; "Oh Paula, honey, mummy is so sorry, but you didn't get saved. Maybe the next time Jesus will fill you with the Holy Ghost and you will speak in tongues and then you will be saved". In that moment I knew just one thing; at one point I had the feeling of being over joyed and now I felt like the floor was just swept out from underneath me. This would be the beginning of struggling with God's love for me. Later on at the age of nine I did speak in tongues, but again I can tell you, that the over joyed feeling I felt when I was seven I did not feel at the age of nine. After this I was then baptized at the age of ten. In the eyes of the UPC...I was saved!

As mentioned above and in my last posting; I had come through a lot with regards to medical surgeries that left me scared, a colostomy, and a limp. Having these issues along with being seen as different because of my religious background, were cause for the bullying that I endured at school. I was nine and I so wanted to be just like all the other kids. I just wanted to be "normal". The word "handicapped" was never a word used around the home, and so I never felt that I was. But one day I was playing with a couple of kids. We were batting a ball against a wall when the ball went trailing off. One of the kids said; "Paula; I'll go get it, you're a handicap". I remember feeling very hurt. I wasn't sure what the word meant but it felt like it wasn't meant to be a nice name.

My family and I were at a fellowship meeting. Fellowships were more or less a huge church service, which would be held at another ministers church, somewhere near our hometown, and could last a few days even a week. In this particular fellowship meeting the minister leading out made comment that the "miracle baby", as I had become to be known, was in the building and wanted my mum to bring me up front. And like all the other times we complied. The minister expressed all the wonderful healings that God had done for me and then looked at me and asked if I believed God could perform a complete healing of my body, a miracle. I was nine. I knew what God had done for me up to that point. And yes I believed He could completely heal me. I was nine. I went to school every day and every day I was being teased and bullied, yes I wanted and believed God could completely heal me. Yes. And once again all the ministers gathered around and began to pray.

I was nine. I was a child. I was tired of the name calling, the bullying at school every week. As a nine year old little girl I left the meeting that night believing that God was going to completely heal me. What did that mean to a nine year old little girl who was getting teased and bullied? It meant that God was going to do as these ministers said. He was going to make my legs the same length so I could run fast. He was going to heal my back so I could play around freely without worry of getting my back hurt and becoming paralyzed. He was going to take away the colostomy so that I would never be called any more names when I "broke wind" or when I had a bowl movement. But guess what? I went to bed that night believing I was going to be a "normal" little girl the next morning like all the rest of the kids and when I did wake up...I was the same as the night before, nothing had changed. At that moment in my life I began to experience my first bout of depression. I became a child who cried a lot.

Life went on and though sometimes it would get tough and confusing, I some how maintained my love for God and a desire to follow Him. Often I have said that I wished God would have given my mum a blue print when I was born so I could read it and see what was going to happen in life. I'm thankful that He didn't, because life was going to take some twists and turns and I'm sure that I would have tried to avoid them. But God uses these trials of life to develop our Christian character and He was sure working on mine...

I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.





  1. ...Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God....I've learned to depend upon His word. Beautiful testimony dear Paula, because you have overcome the sorrow and sadness. God Bless you.

  2. ...Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God....I've learned to depend upon His word. Beautiful testimony dear Paula, because you have overcome the sorrow and sadness. God Bless you.


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