Thelma Patterson : A woman of God
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 Seventh-day 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.