Thelma Pat­ter­son: A woman of God

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Gareth Davis Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

STONY HILL, Port­land: GROW­ING UP in the de­pressed com­mu­nity of Stony Hill, Port­land, was not easy for Thelma Pat­ter­son, a Seventh-day Ad­ven­tist Chris­tian, who has in­vested heav­ily in fam­ily life and is now reap­ing the fruits of her labour. Pat­ter­son, a hap­pily mar­ried mother of four chil­dren, re­counted that her child­hood years were both chal­leng­ing and painful, as she had to carry wa­ter on her head from a river to her house, which was ap­prox­i­mately one mile away up a steep hill.

“In those days, there were only a few cars around. As a mat­ter of fact, there was only one taxi that op­er­ated from Port An­to­nio to Stony Hill in the 1970s an ’80s. So it was no easy task hav­ing to wake up early in the morn­ing to carry wa­ter for do­mes­tic use and then hav­ing to get ready for school. But my fam­ily at that time was very re­li­gious, and obe­di­ence was the or­der of the day. But as the years un­folded, things got a lot eas­ier, and in time, I yearned to live a Chris­tian life­style,” Pat­ter­son told Fam­ily and Re­li­gion.

Fre­quent vis­its to the Seven­th­day Ad­ven­tist church brought her closer to Je­sus Christ, and shortly af­ter, Pat­ter­son sur­ren­dered her life to God.

Her mar­riage brought about three chil­dren – Del­roy, Jody, and Mar­ion, who were born in the Ad­ven­tist faith. With hus­band Morde­cai fol­low­ing suit shortly af­ter, the en­tire fam­ily jour­neyed to­gether each Sab­bath to Bound­brook Seventh-day Ad­ven­tist Church, where they would spend the en­tire Sab­bath day of rest hav­ing fel­low­ship with other mem­bers.

FI­NANC­ING COL­LEGE STUD­IES

Pat­ter­son, who by then was mak­ing plans for her chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, and with Jody and Mar­ion about to start their col­lege years, the mea­gre sav­ings that they had was sim­ply not enough to see the girls through col­lege. How­ever, through fer­vent prayer and fast­ing, the girls were ac­cepted at North­ern Caribbean Uni­ver­sity, a Seventh-day Ad­ven­tist, self-styled learning in­sti­tu­tion in Man­dev­ille.

“We al­ways knew it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult. But sac­ri­fices had to be made, and my hus­band de­cided to go over­seas to work to sup­port them fi­nan­cially. To­day, the girls have grad­u­ated with hon­ours, and it only proves that my ex­pe­ri­ence and the chal­lenges that I en­coun­tered as a child don’t de­ter­mine the fu­ture of my chil­dren.

“There were times when I went to bed with­out a meal, but I never re­sorted to steal­ing or any other crime. My prayer to God was that I wanted the best for my chil­dren and not for them to en­dure the hard­ships that I had ex­pe­ri­enced,” Pat­ter­son said.

PHOTO BY GARETH DAVIS

Thelma Pat­ter­son, a woman of God.

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