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Friday, December 15, 2017

Icing On The Cake

I had a great 70th birthday. Gifts, cards, phone calls, and the works. Leroy brought me a dozen roses. I thought he was up to something when I saw him get some money out of my wallet but I knew enough not to ask questions on my birthday. If it sounds crooked that he took money from my wallet to buy them, remember he's the one who earned the money so it was his to start with.

We went out to eat for supper, using a gift card we got for our anniversary this summer. Since I didn't have to cook, I had the whole day to entertain myself however I wished. So I had fun writing a story.
The icing on the cake was an email from a fellow Burkholder researcher. We can now go back one more generation in our Burkholder ancestors. 
The earliest Burkholder to which we could document our line was Joseph Burkhalter who was born in the 1620s and married Elizabeth Widmer. They lived at Ruderwil in Switzerland. Now the church records from Trachelswald show that Joseph was born June 6, 1623, to Jost and Cathrin (Fueni) Burkhalter. They were married in 1612 and lived on a farm named Haslematt (or Heslimatt) within sight of the famous Trachelswald castle. Many Mennonite tourists visit this castle because Anabaptists were imprisoned there. We were in the castle and looked out over the countryside but did not know we had an ancestral home on the next hill. 
Haslematt is the house/barn in the foreground and the castle is in the background. It's only a few miles from here to Ruderswil where three generations of our Burkholders lived before the fourth generation emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1754.

Now that we know Joseph's parents were Jost and Cathrin, the next question, of course, is, "Who were their parents?" Since Jost and Cathrin were married in 1612, they had to be born in the 1500s. Genealogy research is never finished but I am delighted that we can go back one more generation. What a birthday present!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Numbers Roll

I have one more day left in my sixties and then Thursday the numbers roll to the big 7-0. Yikes! That sounds like a number for my mom or grandma, not me!
One of my friends who went on one year ahead of me and knows the ropes gave me this poem in a card.

Poem for Seniors

A row of bottles on my shelf
caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
goes to my heart so it won't stop.
A little white one that I take
goes to my hands so they won't shake.
The blue one that I use a lot
tells me I'm happy when I'm not.
The purple pill goes to my brain
and tells me that I have no pain.
The capsule tells me not to wheeze
or cough or choke or even sneeze.
The red one, smallest of them all,
goes to my blood so I won't fall.
The orange one, very big and bright
prevents my leg cramps in the night.
Such an array of brilliant pills
helping to cure  kinds of ills.
But what I'd really like to know
is what tells each one where to go.

I can laugh at that one because I don't have all those ills or take so many pills. But I can identify more with the second one she gave me.

On Growing Older
Everything is farther away than it used to be. It is twice as far to the corner and they have added a hill, I noticed. I have given up running for the bus; it leaves faster than it used to. And it seems to me, they are making stairs steeper than in the olden days.
Have you noticed the smaller print they are using in the newspapers? And there is no sense in asking people to read aloud; everyone speaks in such a low voice I can hardly hear them.
It is almost impossible to reach my shoe laces. Even people are changing. They are much younger than they used to be when I was their age. On the other hand, people my age are so much older than I am.
I ran into an old classmate the other day, and she had aged so much I didn't even recognize her. I got to thinking about the poor thing while I was combing my hair this morning, and in doing so I glanced at my reflection. You know, they don't even make mirrors like they used to!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Memories are Keepsakes

It must have been at least two years ago when Daryl and Velma said they want to give me a weekend at a cabin for my 70th birthday. I was supposed to think who I would want to invite and give them plenty of notice so they don't plan anything else for the first weekend in December. So I started thinking who I would invite to fill the seven bedrooms in the cabin. 
Of course, I can't do anything like that without my sisters so that was a given. Who else? My three friends from our teen years. We four girls hung out together every weekend and did all kinds of crazy stuff together until we got married. I am the last of the four to turn 70 this year. I told them way back in February this year to reserve the first weekend in December for my birthday party. There was still some room so I invited the sister-in-law who is closest to my age. That was a winning combination!
We went to the cabin Friday evening and people started trickling in about 6. I only had to pack our clothes and bedding because Daryl and Velma brought all the food and did the cooking and dish washing all weekend. We had the whole weekend to visit with our friends. We talked, ate, played games, put puzzles together, etc. What a party! Velma loves to cook and we were very well fed.

This picture has too much glare but it's the only one I have of us putting puzzle together.

This was our "gang" of four girls and still going strong more than fifty years later. Some friends come and go in our lives but we have stuck together through it all. We're all a couple months apart and lined up by age. Dolores was the first to turn 70 this year, then Anna Mary, Laverne, and me. You can see I'm both last and least.

We scattered to attend various nearby churches Sunday morning and then came back to the cabin for lunch. During the week before, two couples said they would go home Saturday night so Velma said I can invite four more for Sunday lunch. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have company without having to cook! I had a little trouble finding people on short notice but three more came, another old friend from teen years and a cousin and her husband. Sunday was the official birthday dinner complete with a cake. Velma avoided a starting a forest fire by putting only 6 candles on the cake.

These are the ladies who were there on Sunday. 
Lidyan (cousin) Betty Ann and Carol (sisters), me, Millie, Anna Mary, Laverne
We sisters dressed alike on Sunday. Carol got the fabric in Mexico this summer. 

We looked forward to this weekend for a long time. We had a lot of fun reminiscing about the good old days and catching up with each other's lives. All too soon, the weekend was over and passed into the memory category. Weekends only last a short time but memories are keepsakes forever.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

This is not original with me. I found it online and am passing it on because it is so true. 

Unlikely Things for Which to be Thankful

Before you slice into the turkey and pass the cranberry sauce, it’s fitting to ponder the goodness of God and give thanks.
The very basic of manners, saying thank you sets us apart as grateful people. As Christians, when we thank God, instead of . . . what do non-believers thank? . . . fate? luck? chance? . . . , we rightfully acknowledge the source of our blessings. James 1:17 reminds us,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Today, in the spirit of grateful thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks for some unlikely blessings:

1. A sink full of dirty dishes, because it means we’re eating well.
2. Long hours at work, because it means we have gainful employment.
3. The electric bill, because it means we have central heat to keep us warm on cold nights.
4. Many years of memories from large family dinners, because I have been blessed to have known good times with parents - grandparents & even great-grandparents.
5. Our sagging bookshelves, because it means we have enough reading material for a lifetime – and the ability to read it.
6. The dust that relentlessly appears on every piece of furniture in my home, because it means I have furniture.
7. The gas prices that keep changing, because I have a car to take me places & enough money to go.
8. The mess in my house, because it means I have people who like to spend time with me.
9. The changing seasons, because God keeps His promices.
10. The laundry basket full of dirty clothes, because it means I own more than one outfit.
11. My cluttered pantry, because it means I have so much food in my house I need a closet in which to store it.
12. The sad stories I hear on Facebook, because it means I’m connecting with friends & can pray for answers in their lives.
13. The husband who wakes me up in the middle of the night when he hears a strange sound, because it means I have a spouse who loves & protects me & our property & he has slept beside me for many years.
14. A bathtub and three sinks that need cleaning, because it means I have indoor plumbing.
15. Too many family members to fit around the Thanksgiving table, because it means our family likes to gather for family times.
16. The phone that never holds a charge long enough, because it means I have family & friends to talk to me.
17. The junk mail in my mailbox, because it means I have the ability to send letters to anyone in the country in a timely, reliable manner.
18. The hard times that I have made it through, because they have strengthened my faith in the God who has promised to be with me always.
19. The long list of people who have asked me to pray for them, because it means I can help lift their burdens.
20. The head full of details that need to be attended to, because it means I’m still in my right mind and can properly process information.
21. The sore muscles from exercise, because it means I have the ability to walk (and even run).
As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, why not take a few moments to make your own unlikely thankful list? It could turn your perspective upside down.

This year, thank God for something you usually take for granted. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Road Trip

We went to Ohio this spring for a graduation and cabin weekend. Other than that, we didn't get far beyond the Lancaster-Lebanon-Berks county circuit. One of the things on our wish list was to go see The Ark in Kentucky. When we are at our daughter's place we are two-thirds of the way there so Leroy said we'll go to the Ark the next time we go out to Cheryl. We usually go around her birthday in October but this year we waited until November because one of her children was being baptized. That way we could roll everything into one trip.
We left Saturday morning and got there around 2 pm. In the evening they took us to Cambridge to see the Christmas light show. The streets are lined with Victorian scenes and the courthouse is covered with an elaborate lighting display which is synchronized with the Christmas music. 

We were too tight to pay for a ride on one of the horse drawn carriages so we just walked through part of town until our toes were frozen and then called it quits.
Sunday was a quiet day of rest and worship. Jeremy was baptized in the morning service. They had communion in the evening but we stayed at their house.
We left at 7 Monday morning and headed for Kentucky. We used our car but Richard did the driving. He goes to Cincinnati often on the truck and knew the way. It was nice to sit in the back seat and not have to be bothered with driving. 
We got into the Ark at noon and spent four hours walking through all three floors. It was off season so we didn't have to battle with crowds.

The Ark is the size stated in Genesis but the inside is the product of imagination how it COULD have been. There are some animal cages, workshops, and living quarters for Noah's family. Notice the outline of a cross on the door. 

Most of the animals were models but the ones below are real--and watched very carefully.

Each couple has their own living space in the upper floor.

Noah's wife watches him catch a dove.

There are also many other displays on the flood, creation, science, and the Bible throughout the ark. A special feature was display of things on loan from the new Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. This is a Torah.

The oldest piece in the display was this Psalm Codex Leaf in Greek on Egyptian Payrus dated 150-400 A.D.

There is a small zoo behind the Ark. It was too cold to prolong our visit but it was worth it just to see this kangaroo with a baby in her pouch. It looked to me like Mama must not be very comfortable dragging that bagful of baby around.

We stopped for supper and finally got home at 10:30. It was a long but worthwhile day.
Naturally, we weren't in a hurry to leave Tuesday morning and didn't head east until about 9 am. We drove about half way home and got off the turnpike at the Somerset exit to see the Flight 93 Memorial. Again, it was off season and not crowded. The Memorial Plaza overlooking the crash site is outdoors and it was cold. The sloping wall on the left side of the walkway marks the edge of the debris field.

A boulder in the debris field marks the spot where the plane landed at a speed of 536 mph. It exploded on impact and blew down about 100 trees. Everything and everyone was blown to small pieces. What a senseless waste of 40 lives!

The walls at the Visitor's Center on the hill above the memorial indicate the path of the plane as it came down. The wall below is made of 40 individual slabs engraved with each passenger's name.

We spent another hour looking at the displays in the Visitor's Center where it was warm. Then we headed east again for the final lap of the road trip. We chalked two things off our "someday" list on this trip. And to top it off, it was an all-expense-paid trip using the gift money we got for our 50th anniversary this summer. Thanks to all who made it possible.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Open House and Refugees

On Saturday we attended the 32nd Open House at the Christian Aid Ministries warehouse at Ephrata. We spent the day there and were both challenged and blessed. The morning and afternoon consisted of speakers involved in various aspects of CAM's work. Several sessions focused on the work and opportunities in the Middle East. Their enthusiasm for their work was contagious.
One of the newest ministries is on an island off the coast of Turkey. It is an hour and a half across the water to the island. Refugees risk their lives crowding on little boats to make the crossing. If they can reach the island, they are in the European country of Greece. Sadly, some boats capsize and people lose their lives in the attempt. Many of the people on these boats are children and some have no identification on them. They wind up in the refugee camp waiting for resettlement. 
This is just one of many refugee camps. The refugees have been streaming out of northern Africa, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, trying to escape war. Many of the towns where they lived are totally destroyed and there is nothing to go back to even if it were safe to return.
Dean Taylor is working in a camp on one of these Greek islands. He said the majority of these refugees are Muslims. One of the reasons they have a bad impression of American Christians is due to the immodest dress which runs counter to their beliefs. When they see modestly dressed, meek and quiet Mennonite women, they get  different impression and are ready to listen. 
The refugees have come from countries which are closed to missionaries, but now God is bringing them to us and putting them in places where they can be reached. As they see Christians ministering to their needs, they become more open to the Gospel and are being converted. Dean is working on setting up a discipleship training ministry to teach these new Christians how to share the faith with their own people. It is an incredible opportunity and we should seize the moment while the door is open.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Arrival

This morning I picked up my copy of my newest book, The History of the John F. Martin Company. This is the second book published this year and number eleven in the lineup. 
I counted it a privilege to be asked to write this book for the company. John Martin was my uncle, married to my father's sister, Edna. We spent a lot of time with their family and I knew them well. I remember the butcher shop on the farm before the company was incorporated. 
John and Edna were married during the Depression and struggled to find solid financial footing while their family continued to grow. John's butchering business began with dressing chickens which he took to market in Philadelphia. Many years later he began doing custom butchering in the shop where he once dressed chickens. Then he got into the retail business and incorporated in 1961 as John F. Martin & Sons. Eventually the family built their own grocery store.
The business grew by leaps and bounds with products being shipped across the country. The company outgrew the plant on the farm, opened a second plant, and moved all the bacon production into it. Both plants include a warehouse department which handles products not made by the company. 
John would be amazed if he saw his company today. He was just trying to make a living to provide for his family and had no intentions of establishing a business of this size. But I'm sure he would be pleased to see his grandsons are now managing the company and this year two of the fourth generation became partners in the business.
If you would like to read the whole story, look for this book in local bookstores.