Soldiers say notes from children really do matter
FESTUS—It all started a few years ago when a fourth grade Sunday School teacher named Mary Gans had a son-in-law who was sent to the Philippines for a tour a duty. It began with children writing to just one man and has grown to five men from First Baptist Church, Festus-Crystal City (FCCBC), who are now in the military.
“We just make cards out of construction paper,” said Gans, “and the kids just write whatever they want.”
They try to include the current memory verse for class, “God loves you,” and “praying for you” inside the cards. Imaginative children will write things like, “don’t fall off the ship and drown,” or “be careful of the snakes!” Other sentiments are more serious, thanking the soldiers and expressing a hope that they won’t get killed.
“One time we used glitter and I never dreamed how much they would put on a card,” she said. Her husband said the soldiers would probably carry the glitter on them and get spotted in the desert.
Some of the men have returned from Iraq and have come by to visit and thank the young children. On April 15, the class received a gift from Master Sgt. Troy Fredrickson and some of his men.
They sent them the flag along with a certificate that was presented to Pastor Tim Baker. The certificate that came with the flag said: “Let it be known that this American flag was aboard an American C-17A aircraft as it was providing combat support for Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron proudly flew this flag into the country of Iraq for FCCBC 1st grade Sunday School Class on behalf of Master Sgt. Troy Fredrickson. Flown on 2 March, 2007.”
Each Sunday the class recites the pledge to the flag. Fredrickson, who is in the Air Force, has been stationed in Qatar for a little more than three months. At home in Festus-Crystal City are his wife, Heather, and their two sons, Parker and Foster. Since Fredrickson, a 20-year veteran, has been gone they have been living with family in Illinois.
On Sunday mornings Gans has the class pray for the soldiers in the church. Besides Fredrickson, there are four other church members serving. They are: Sgt. 1st Class Keith Bauman, whose mother is a member of the church; a Marine who just recently married and boarded the USS Nimitz on April 2; a Navy sailor who is stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., and will be boarding the USS Enterprise in July; and an Army soldier who left for Baghdad April 13.
Before last Christmas, Lynn Messer, a member of First Festus-Crystal City, and her Mission Friends class worked with pre-schoolers to prepare and ship 10 care packages to Bauman and his men. These boxes included candy, peanuts, toothpaste and New Testament Bibles. Before they sent the boxes the children prayed over each box and the soldier who would be receiving it. Not long after Christmas, Messer said they received a note from Bauman.
“After a long day on the field, each soldier looks intently at the mail, hoping for just a simple note, package, or picture,” said a soldier. “We took so many things for granted before.”
The children of First Festus-Crystal City sent Bauman an Easter card which prompted this reply: “Please tell the children thank you for the Easter card. Hope everyone had a good Easter. Everything is going well here and I am doing fine. Thank you all so much for your support and prayers. It really does make a difference.”