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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)

TITLE: Remembering Mrs. Wheaton
By Betty Castleberry
10/19/06


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Jeffrey Brown removed his hat before entering the funeral home. It had been a long time since he had seen Mrs. Wheaton, and now he was coming to pay his final respects to her. He signed the guest register, noting that there were very few signatures there. Mrs. Wheaton had kept to herself, so he supposed she didnít have many friends.

He moved slowly toward the open casket, wanting to see her again, and at the same time, dreading it. Her face, though old and wrinkled, was still beautiful to him. He placed a hand over hers, and said a silent prayer.

His thoughts wandered back to his childhood. He was six years old again. Mrs. Wheaton lived by herself in a big house on the corner. She rarely came out, and when she did, it was usually just to pick up her newspaper. She was almost always covered head to toe in long, drab dresses, and wore her hair coiled on top of her head. The neighborhood children could hear her muttering to herself, and they were scared of her.

Once he chased a ball into her yard. When he looked up, he was startled to see her sitting on the porch. She smiled pleasantly at him, and asked him if he would like a freshly-baked cookie. Jeffrey had mixed feelings about going into her house. He wanted a cookie, but what if she did something terrible to him? What if no one ever saw him again? He weighed his options, and the cookie won out.

He followed her into the house. When he looked around, he didnít see anything particularly scary. Mrs. Wheatonís house didnít look that much different from his own. She handed him a warm cookie laced with cinnamon. Jeffrey thought it was delicious.

Mrs. Wheaton began to talk. Jeffrey listened, and found himself wanting to ask her why she often talked to herself. He was a little bit afraid, but his curiosity got the best of him. In typical little boy fashion, he spoke the truth, and told her he and his friends thought she was weird when she mumbled aloud. Instead of getting angry, though, she threw her head back and laughed. She assured Jeffrey she wasnít talking to herself at all, but to somebody called Jesus. She shared all kinds of interesting stories with Jeffrey, but the ones he liked the best were about this man she called the savior. Jeffreyís family didnít go to church, and although he had heard of Jesus, he didnít know much about Him.

He began to visit Mrs. Wheaton frequently. She always had cookies for him, and a bible story or two. One day she told him that she had always wanted to be a missionary. He didnít know what a missionary was, so she explained it to him. It sounded like a lot of fun to young Jeffrey. He wanted to go to a far away country. What fun it would be to ride in a plane, and maybe even see wild animals when he got there. The most fun of all, though, would be telling people about Jesus. When he asked Mrs Wheaton why she hadnít become a missionary, her eyes filled with tears. She told him it was complicated, but before she knew it, she was just too old.

Jeffreyís thoughts came back to the present. He didnít have a lot of time. He needed to get home and take care of some things, because he would be leaving soon. His first mission trip started in just a few days. He looked at the elderly lady lying peacefully in the casket. If not for Mrs. Wheaton, he might never have come to know Jesus, or become interested in being a missionary. He pulled a small piece of paper from his hip pocket. He always carried it with him, and read it frequently. It was a recipe for Mrs. Wheatonís cinnamon cookies. Long ago, he had scribbled these words at the bottom of the page, ďMrs. Wheaton is the best missionary in the world. All she needed to reach me was her love for Jesus, and a warm cinnamon cookie.Ē


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This article has been read 956 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler10/26/06
Your story went straight to my heart - a touching testimony about the power 0f an adult over the mind of a child. Let's all be "missionaries" to our children and grandchildren. Well told.
Marilyn Schnepp 10/26/06
Such a beautiful story, and well told too; one never knows from where or from whom comes the blessed Good News of a Savior. God Bless. I liked your story very much.
Donna Haug10/26/06
How sweet. I love it that her dream was being fulfilled in a future generation. You just never know, do you!
Lenda Blackmon10/26/06
I enjoyed your story, it reminded me of people who made an impression on me when I was a child. We never know how we can touch someone with a small gesture do we?
Jan Ackerson 10/27/06
Cool--I almost took a similar approach--great minds run on the same track, huh? I'd like to see this done with less of a narrative apporach and with more of the actual dialog between the woman and the boy--perhaps allowing readers to get to know them better? Something to consider...

This is very tender and sweetly done.
Ann FitzHenry10/27/06
Very lovely story!

My favorite line: He moved slowly toward the open casket, wanting to see her again, and at the same time, dreading it.

I've felt this way many times and you said it best!
Donna Emery10/29/06
What a sweet story! It brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart. How nice to know that this humble lady was a missionary in her own way...cinnamon cookies and all. Thanks for sharing this.

PS Can I have the recipe for the cookies?
Pat Guy 10/30/06
This is PRECIOUS! I loved the style you used in writing this. You mixed the simplicity of the child and the maturity of the adult very well.

You did a fantastic job on this! And yes - we ALL want the recipe!
Sandra Petersen 10/30/06
What a sweet story! I could almost see and hear (and taste) the whole interaction between Mrs. Wheaton and Jeffrey.

My favorite line, among many: "He weighed his options, and the cookie won out."

I wonder how many missed opportunities and Mrs. Wheatons are out there. If only she would have realized that her own neighborhood block was a mission field ripe for harvest!
Rhonda Clark 10/30/06
This was an easy read. The flow was excellent. Sweet story.
Ann Grover11/01/06
Thank you for sharing this... there are similar people in my past who left indelible imprints on me, shaped me, who were no less "missionaries," even though they didn't leave the neighbourhood. Well written, warm and clear...
dub W11/01/06
Wonderful touching story - I sure all of us have someone like Mrs. Wheaton. Thank you for sharing this.
Sara Harricharan 11/01/06
What a great story! Jeffery was a very 'likeable' character.
william price11/02/06
This was a real treat, I like reading a character that seems real and authentic. Super characterization. Enjoyed your story and message to. Great job. God bless.