Monday, May 12, 2008


“How did we get someone the caliber of a Vonda Skelton in Raymondville, Texas?” seemed to be the common question asked May 10th at the First Baptist Church. Vonda is a nationally known speaker and writer, famous for her humorous vignettes and timeless truths. First Baptist invited Vonda to provide the program for their first annual May Tea.

What’s a May Tea, you may ask. It’s a Tea held in May to celebrate womanhood and sisterhood. Is it a fundraiser? No, it’s a mood-lifter — an event designed especially for ladies from all walks of life in all seasons of life. Women invited to park their problems at the door and enter a worry-free zone for a two-hour time of refreshment and camaraderie.

As ladies arrived at the corner of 5th and Raymond they knew right away good times were ahead. Yellow-vested members of the Raymondville Noon Lion’s Club greeted them and directed parking in the 100-degree heat. They even offered free valet parking if the driver so wished. Entering the Fellowship Hall they discovered bright and festive decorations festooning the tables, walls and ceilings. Conversations buzzed and hugs were given as women connected with women.

The theme for the event was “Peel Away the Mask” and masks of various sizes, styles and colors represented the theme. Betty Young handmade eighteen different plastic canvas masks, customizing each mask to be unique. These, along with feathered or sequined Mardi Gras masks and glittered mask-themed “funeral fans” were given as door prizes.

The event officially kicked off with the warm welcome by pastor’s wife Kathy Carlton Willis. Kathy invited the women to wave their napkins in the air — those with gold-colored napkins cheered when they discovered they won the door prizes, while those with purple or green napkins groaned in disappointment. So no one was empty-handed — all received a tea-packed party favor, beads, and bookmark. After a prayer asking God to bless the Tea, attendees were dismissed by table to load their plates in the colorful and fresh buffet line. The menu included: chicken bundles, mini-quiches, assorted tea sandwiches, watermelon boats with fresh fruit, Asian slaw, spinach strawberry salad, fruit/cheese picks, assorted muffins, tea cakes, mini-cupcakes, lemon bars and other assorted desserts at the sweet station. Many brought food for the buffet, but those also assisting with the catering included: Charlene Fambrough, Lois Land, Barbara Chappell, Kim Fambrough Williams, and Jamie Kirman Morris. Bonnie Brown and Virginia Denny decorated beautiful watermelon boats.

The sanctuary was also decorated for the event. Every fichus tree and topiary draped with baubles and beads. Brenda Kirman, Jamie Kirman Morris, Kim Fambrough Williams, Barbara Chappell and Nelda Moreno assisted with decorations. Gaynell Karseno created the colorful flower arrangement perched on the church organ.

Women flooded the sanctuary for the program, provided by guest speaker Vonda Skelton from South Carolina. She is a busy author; her latest book is “Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe.” Vonda’s poignant message about celebrating womanhood inspired hope and joy. Laughter pealed through the sanctuary one minute, and tears slipped down faces the next. Vonda sung familiar tunes with new words, entertaining us with her real world examples of teen girls and senior ladies. And her hilarious vignette, “Solomon’s Beloved” can be viewed on You Tube.

At the conclusion of the program, women exited with hesitancy, ready to face the real world again, but sad to leave the glow of their two-hour mini-vacation now known as the First Baptist Church May Tea. But don’t worry; the church is already making plans for its next community event.

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