By Robert Smith
I I was thinking blueberries, which was nothing special since I was at the Blueberry Jubilee in Poplarville. One such small-town festival is the annual Blueberry Jubilee, which takes place in June, this one themed around sweet purple berries. This particular festival is high on my list of such events.
Blueberries remind me of businessman Bob Lawhon on whose property we picked blueberries in such abundance that we filled 5 gallon buckets. The buckets were green plastic pickle buckets we bought at McDonald’s. (At the time, McDonald’s offered them with lids!) Blueberries also remind me of Jimmy Robinson who asked me to place beehives near his bushes for pollination to increase his yield.
Later, when I went back to get my hives, he told me about his grandson. The bees chased the boy so he jumped into the pond to run away. When the boy showed up in the kitchen to his grandmother, he was wet and covered in bee stings. She said to him, “I told you to stop throwing stones at those beehives! Mr. Robinson took it all in stride, as was his nature. It was the same Jimmy Robinson who compiled A Pictorial History of Sandersville, Mississippi into a single volume.
But especially when I think of blueberries and the festival, I think of a phone. Exactly twenty years ago this month, in 2002, my family found a blue cell phone on the ground as we were leaving. At that time, I didn’t know anything about cell phones and didn’t own any. The next day one of my children scrolled the phone and I called the number for MAMA to try to return it. A lady from Poplarville answered and was unaware that one of her three sons had lost his phone. I explained to the woman how we came to own the phone and how the phone was used as an object lesson to teach my children not to keep things that didn’t belong to them. Through a process of elimination, the mother concluded which of her sons had lost the phone. Our friendly conversation caused this stranger to share her heart with me in an unexpected way. Without going into details, I will simply say that in the midst of tears, the distraught parent confided that his son’s girlfriend was pregnant and that he wanted to marry her. His son had taken a job and wanted to do the right thing, but his girlfriend refused to marry him. She was grateful to talk to a Christian about it and asked me to pray about it. Soon the son called us to thank us for finding his phone and offered to return it by mail.
Even today, when I see all those purple balloons in the streets, I remember that particular story.