September 16, 1947 - May 7, 2020
In 2015 God opened the doors for us to adopt five vacant lots on the 2300 block of East North Avenue. We were still living in Miami at the time when we began this effort to bring glory to God by transforming a piece of Baltimore City into a haven of hope and to proclaim the gospel to the lost. We traveled from Miami to begin this endeavor. After purchasing mulch, flowers, and supplies we stopped by our newly adopted lots to drop off the supplies. We dropped off the items and before we left a woman came out of the house next to the lots, it was Ms. Betty Barnes. She introduced herself and this began a beautiful friendship.
We came several times a month to the community garden and the highlight of our day would be when Ms. Betty would come out and shout “Hi yawl”. She would wrap her arms around us and if we didn’t use two arms she would say “You better use two arms to hug me”. Over the years we celebrated birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Christmas. We had deep conversations and shared many laughs. She shared with us her poems, stories about her life, favorite movies, and her hurts and pains.
Ms. Betty would come out and help us with the garden. She did this because she enjoyed helping but also because she loved to be with us, and we loved being with her. She handmade us oven mitts and made a blanket for our baby. When she gave us those gifts she would tell us how much she loved us as tears filled her eyes. One day she let us know she wrote us a letter and she read it to us as she fought back tears. Her love for us was authentic, genuine, and enduring.
She got sick and things changed not only in her life but in ours as well. As much as we love to continue the work in the community garden it's not the same without her. We miss her voice, her hugs, and her company. We moved 1,500 miles from Miami to Baltimore and if it was God’s plan for us to move just to meet Ms. Betty, to share the gospel with her, and to share life together than it was worth it. We had some opportunities to visit her in the nursing home and on our last visit a few months ago she was sleeping. She woke up briefly and was not the same. She was distant but we sat Samantha our baby who she didn’t get to meet on her bed and something happened. For a moment she had clarity and smiled and made funny faces at Samantha. We told her we loved her and sadly that was our final good-bye.
On May 7, 2020, Ms. Betty passed away, but her memory will last forever in our hearts. The Haven of Hope Community Garden on the 2300 block of East North Avenue will forever have her imprint. We love Ms. Betty and miss her greatly. Let us remember that life is but a vapor, we must place our faith in Christ alone and seek to please God in all that we do for tomorrow is not promised. However, for those who Christ redeemed, there is the hope of eternal joy dwelling with God and His people from every language, tribe, people, and nation.