Sunday, March 15, 2015

Missions have been part of Sarah Landes' life since her introduction to the First Baptist Church of Austin in the early 1950's.   Most know that she pioneered the Juarez mission and forged our church's connection to Maggie Johnson Nursing Home, but Sarah's eyes are always open for new opportunities to help others. 

From her chair at the beauty shop one day, she chatted with her stylist about the Genie Carwash across the street.  The stylist knew the manager who confirmed Sarah's suspicions that some of the employees were homeless and very low-income.  From then on Sarah began collecting clothing, small household items and food to pass along.  One young employee was pregnant so Sarah organized a "tail gate" baby shower for her.  They all stood around the car with refreshments, toys, clothes and diapers for the baby to be, honoring the new mother.

Sarah Landes came from Louisville, Kentucky, as a junior in college, finishing her degree in Spanish at the University of Texas.  A member of Chi-Omega sorority, she met her husband at a "matched" party.  "I had not gotten the message. I got there and said, 'I'll help in the kitchen, I'm not dressed.'"  That's where Bob, a fellow coed, spotted her and came in to make conversation.  When asked if it was love at first sight, she answered with a grin, "It took me a long time to decide." Dr. Marney joked with Bob that he would introduce Sarah to the older ladies sewing circle so she could be an old maid.  Marney then advised Bob to just set a date that he was going to get married, whether it be to her or someone else.  Even through his humor, Marney encouraged the couple to marry.  Their relationship with the minister lasted throughout his life and when Marney returned to the church, Sarah remembers him shouting over the crowd, "You two still living together?"

In the 1950s, a friend talked Sarah into taking a job at the capitol.  When she arrived, there was little actual work to do so she got right to creating her own job.  On one occasion, the Lt. Governor suggested that she pass him candy and take messages.  That wasn't nearly enough action for Sarah who found work with lobbyists and drafting resolutions for Senators, earning her the title, "Chief of the BS division." She eventually became the supervisor of the parole division of the Pardons and Parole board.  After a hiatus from work to raise her children, Sarah returned to the capitol in the late 1980s.

Sarah continues to be a faithful servant to many, even as she deals with the effects of Parkinson's disease.  As she struggled to dress one day, her home health worker asked her what she truly cared about to which Sarah responded, "I want to get well enough to go back to my of job of taking donations and sewing."  Her helper answered, "Well, that's more important than dressing.  Let's work on that."

Through the last sixty years, Sarah has stayed focused on what is most important to her.  "The working poor touch my heart and letting them know that if nothing else, someone cares is what I want to do."  God bless this good and faithful servant.


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