Pentecostal Youth Fellowship Experience – Alana (Burnette) Anderson
I was accepted into Ole Miss Pharmacy School and came to Ole Miss in August of 2001. I had lived in Jayess, MS, all of my life and the first time I drove through Jackson, MS, by myself was when I was moving four hours away from home and to a place where I did not know a single soul. I went from a sheltered environment of New Bethel Christian School followed by Christian-led Southwest Mississippi Community College to Ole Miss. Enters reality.
I know this is about Pentecostal Youth Fellowship (PYF), but I have a difficult time keeping PYF and First Pentecostal Church of Oxford separate. They came to me hand in hand. My first week in Oxford, I was getting nervous because I had not found a church to attend for Sunday. I saw an Apostolic lady in Kroger and attacked her with questions concerning where she went to church. It turns out her father-in-law Rev. John Vanderford pastored. I was at church that Sunday, met the overseer of PYF Bro. Larry Woodward, and never left. The Vanderford and Woodward families became my own.
Now being on one’s own and away from everything and everyone she has ever known gives opportunity for new growth and new experiences. This can be good or bad. It obviously can go either way. Thankfully, I had heard Rev. Larry Booker preach a message years before that stuck with me: “I Planned This When I Was in My Right Mind”. I drew a line in the sand that I would not cross and I clave to the church. God kept me.
I was introduced to PYF probably the first day I visited the church. Shortly after, I was attending every meeting on campus and involved in every PYF activity on and off campus. Via this fellowship, I became acquainted with several students from other surrounding churches and even a few that did not attend church and accidentally visited our meetings. We looked for reasons to celebrate. We cooked out and played Frisbee in the Grove, partied at the Woodward home, partied in the church fellowship hall, tormented each other, and prayed with each other.
I am still harboring an odd and humorous level of resentment for one particular party. Now in Jayess, when we had a tacky party, we set out to be TACKY QUEEN. Soooo…in Oxford, I assumed the same. WRONG! I wore the at-the-time-popular mustard-colored grass skirt, a fancy baby-blue Apostrophe jacket, dark green and white striped undershirt, borrowed my roommate’s female version of men’s work boots, stuffed a thigh/hip-level undergarment with couch pillows, split my hair into Pippy-Long-Stocking-like braids supported by a clothes hanger with the ends teased, freckled my face with a brown marker, and blacked out a few teeth with a permanent black marker. I strutted proudly into the party to be met with faces aghast. Those little city slickers thought a tacky party meant wearing a red bandana and cowgirl boots. I got Queen…hands down. No questions asked. (Thank you John David and Jason for at least looking like you strove for King…not mentioning that you would have backtracked if you could once you saw the Queen.) Just in case anyone wonders why I was the Old Maid of Pentecost…
I left in 2003 to finish my schooling in Jackson and then, after completion of my degree, went back to Jayess. I am now married and living in Arkansas. I hope to never forget the memories, love, and family that I acquired in Oxford, Mississippi, and through PYF. Though I am no longer in direct contact with the majority of the fellow student in PYF…if you are reading this, I love you John David, Lorelei, Chauntay, Emily, Stacy-Gwenny-Pooh, Brannon, Amber, Adrian, Leslie, Nicole, Jessica, Ray, and Jason. Thank you for your friendship!!!
To future Ole Miss students and potential PYF participants, make Christian fellowship your goal. Do not try to live right in a difficult environment by yourself. Put an arm around a fellow student and encourage each other. When they fall, lift them up. When you fall, they will return the favor. When you leave Ole Miss, leave with a greater confidence in and relationship with God.
Once again, thank you Pentecostal Youth Fellowship and First Pentecostal Church of Oxford. God Bless!
Alana (Burnette) Anderson
DeValls Bluff, AR