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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter Retreat

Winter is here and I'm going into semi-hibernation. This is the season I retreat deeper into my cozy cave while the winter winds howl. That does not mean I sit hunched over my fire and contemplate the flames. It just means I take on a few projects I don't have time for in the summer when I'm out and about.
When we were out with Cheryl in October, I brought home an appliqued quilt top she has had for several years and never got quilted. I told her I won't put it in until after Christmas. Now that Christmas is behind us, I pulled the top out of storage and put it in the frame on Monday. Since it is no hurry to get it done, I have not invited anyone to come help quilt--yet. I'll work at it whenever I have time and it won't matter if it takes me all winter. So I am retreating to the basement of my cave and stitching the winter away.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Present Crisis

Here are a few lines from a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) entitled The Present Crisis which might provide some comfort for you at the dawn of another year in these uncertain times.
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Flasehood, for the good or evil side; . . .
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.
Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea;. . .
Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,---
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
"Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Although wrong seems to be forever winning in this world, Truth is forever on the scaffold building a kingdom that will triumph in the end. Meanwhile, God is sovereign "keeping watch above His own."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bits and Pieces

This morning I did a double-take when I went back into the auditorium after Sunday School. The register up front reported that the amount of the offering was $153,000.00. It was a combined offering for Mennonite Air Missions and the Medical Aid Fund, but it far exceeded my expectations. I wondered who had emptied their savings account or sold a property to give that much. After church was over the secretary who had posted the amount went up and removed one of the zeros. That brought it down to a more believable $15,300.00. What a difference one zero can make!
This is the end of a four-day weekend and I've had enough of it. I'm ready to get back to normal. I'm beginning to wonder how I will manage retirement if a four-day weekend is all I can handle. I did put in a full day of housework on Friday but people were in and out of the house all day. I am used to shipping everybody off in the morning and having the place to myself. It's not that they were in my way on Friday, or that I didn't enjoy the Christmas dinner and socializing on Thursday, Saturday and today. It just feels like I'm not getting anything done with all the partying that's been happening the past week or so. I'm ready to wrap up this year and get on with the projects I have planned for the first month of 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas came to our house on Saturday, five days early. What a blessing to have a family who can get together and have a good time without any arguments erupting! It wasn't always this way. To those who are still in the thick of raising children, take heart. They do eventually grow up and are able to sit at the table without elbowing each other and demanding more space.
Cheryl and Richard had the furtherest to come and put forth the most effort to get here. Their basement flooded on Friday and they spent all day cleaning up the mess. They left very early Saturday morning to get here in time for lunch and had just gotten on the interstate when they had a flat tire. But after that they had smooth sailing and got here at 12:10, just in time to jump in the food line and fill their plates with a hot meal. I got my promised revenge and cooked the two infamous geese and a duck Gerald raised last summer.

We were not quite finished eating when the first grandchild asked the question in most of their minds. "Is it time for presents?" We selfishly made them wait until the women had put the food away and washed the dishes. Then they formed a circle and waited for their turns to receive their gifts.

One different activity we had this year was packing school kits which will be shipped to children through Christian Aid Ministries. We usually collect money for a charitable cause but did a hands-on project this year. We had enough supplies for each child to pack one kit.

After everyone left, Cheryl and Richard helped clean up the basement so it is at least half decent. (I'll get the rest of it today.) We all went to bed early, tired and happy.

Our plans for Sunday changed with a phone call in the morning saying church was canceled due to the icy road conditions. Snow and freezing rain were still coming down. The total accumulation didn't amount to much in the end, but it was very slippery in the morning. So we had a lazy morning at home with an easy-to-make dinner of leftovers (what else?!). The sun came out while we were eating and melted the ice on the roads. They were bare by the time Cheryl and Richard headed back to Ohio at 3 p.m. The setting sun highlighted the glittering ice, making it look as if we live in a world made of glass. It was a beautiful ending to our Christmas holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

As many other people who have December birthdays, I am used to having my birthday and Christmas present being rolled into one. This year was no exception. There was no way Leroy could keep my gift a secret this year. Here it is.

This is the sideboard that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Annie Burkholder. She got it when she was married in 1905, so it is over 100 years old. I bought it this spring from a cousin who had inherited it but never used it. The man who refinished it for me did not want to attempt repainting the decorative lines and design on the top. I took pictures of the designs before he stripped off the old finish so we could have them redone by someone else. As you guessed by now, it never happened. So last week Leroy took the pictures and the top to a professional sign painter and had the design restored. He brought the finished piece home this week and reattached it. So there's my present---the design on the top of the sideboard. It is completely restored and the lines really set it off. I wonder what Annie would say if she saw it now. I think it must look very much like it did when she got it 103 years ago.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday

Thanks to all of you who wished me a happy birthday. It's happening. It's not as exciting as the year the numbers were reversed and I had finally reached the magic number to get a driver's license and run with the young people. On the other hand, I do not want to have to go through that year of my life again. I'm not the same person I was when I was 16. I much prefer my stolid steady plodding pace today. I don't have to wonder what course my life will take for most of it has already been lived. I'm happy and content with my lot in life and being through the thick of raising a family. Now I have time to pursue my own hobbies and interests instead of spending my days meeting the immediate and urgent needs of the family.
This morning we had a very inspiring message on how the way the Christian walks is paved with the promises of God. No matter what happens, His promises give us comfort and security. I bought myself a special treat for Sunday dinner--Weaver's prepared southern fried chicken. This afternoon we visited an old lady in the neighborhood I have befriended. She misunderstood something that happened and wrote me an angry letter. So I took her a plate of Christmas cookies, stroked her fur while I explained what really happened, and we parted on just as friendly terms as before. I don't have an enemy in this world (that I know of) and I'd like to keep it that way.
This evening we plan to go to a candlelight service at the Coleman Chapel just north of Brickerville. I have often wanted to see the inside of that old church and this is the perfect opportunity. It was named for Robert Coleman who bought the Elizabeth Furnace from Henry Stiegel in the 1700s. Elizabeth Furnace was right next to the chapel. Stiegel also had an iron furnace at Charming Forge just a few miles from here. He lived too extravagently and was bankrupted. There was no government bailout in colonial days so he died a pauper. The candlelight service will be a nice finishing touch to a happy birthday. (And I won't have another one for a whole year.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bargain Book

I know this will not be exciting to some of you and won't know the difference if you skip reading this post. But look at the bargain I got on ebay last week!

This is a German hymn book printed in Germantown by Christoph Saur in 1763. It was printed for the Reformed Church but, according to Mennonite Encyclopedia, was also used by the Mennonites before they printed their own German hymn book. A stack of these unused books was found in the attic of the Groffdale Mennonite Church in 1925. I suppose they were retired to the attic after the Mennonite hymn book was printed in 1804. The writing on a flyleaf says the book was purchased by Elisa Barbara ? of Heidelburg Township on November 18, 1770 for 6 shillings and 6 pence.

The surname of this lady has not been deciphered but when I get a chance I will show it to my German expert and hopefully he can tell me what it is. At any rate, she probably lived just a few miles from here. Names of later owners written on other pages are Jacob Loop and Henry Bowman.

The person who listed this book on ebay was from Colorado and obviously did not know what it was. When I saw the bid was only $26, I couldn't let the opportunity pass. I have seen them sell for $1200. This one is probably not worth quite that much because the back cover is not attached to the spine, but it still is worth a lot more than I had to pay to get it. Of course, I paid a little more than $26 for it, but my winning bid was still a bargain price. Now I have to decide if I am going to sell it and make a large profit or keep it and let my children inherit the profits. I doubt I'll ever get another one this cheap.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Happy Thanksgiving

We usually get together with the Stauffers on Thanksgiving. If they are all there, the family numbers around 85. This year we did something different. I invited my sisters to come here for Thanksgiving dinner. One sister brought a son, the other brought a friend, and we still have one son at home. So the circle around our table was a grand total of nine!

We have developed the practice of having a Sister's Day whenever one of us has a birthday. The birthday girl gets to choose the activity. Since mine is coming up in December, I decided to make Thanksgiving double as Sister's Day and elected to bake Christmas cookies after dinner. We ended up with five different kinds of cookies which we divided among us. Baking cookies helped us work off the turkey dinner instead of just sitting around getting attached to it. I usually have my Christmas mail started by Thanksgiving but I have not done a thing yet. On the other hand, I don't usually have the cookies baked this early. It's probably an even trade.

This Thanksgiving was different than usual but just as much fun. The size of the crowd does not determine the level of satisfaction or quality of friendship. One of the things I am thankful for is sisters who are my best friends.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bowmansville Roller Mill

Yesterday we went to see the Bowmansville Roller Mill in action. They were grinding whole wheat with the ancient grindstones and sawing boards in the sawmill. All of this was done by water power. There was no sound of any engines. I took lots of videos.
For some goofy reason my camera was off-color and the pictures are too blue. I am really disappointed. But I guess that gives me a reason to go back sometime next year when they do another demonstration.
Although the color is horrible, here are a few videos to give you a small taste of the mill in action. This is the sawmill.

Here is the miller grinding wheat between two millstones. I don't know who he is, but he is not a Pennsylvania Dutchman. His accent betrays him. The man who operated the sawmill was local. He even spoke the dialect.

Maybe next year I can post better pictures. I fiddled around with the camera after I was home and it is fine now. I don't know what caused the problem or how it was corrected. Maybe it had a frog in it's throat or something from the cold weather. Snow flurries were flying.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No New Book

I am SOOO tired of being asked, "Are you writing another book?" I don't mind when the question is asked by another writer because it is "shop talk" rather than mere curiosity. But going to a reunion, party, or other meeting often results in being asked the same question a half dozen times in the space of a couple hours. That gets old!
I am sure when a person asks that question they do not realize how many other people have asked the same question or that they might be the sixth person in that particular group or gathering who has asked the same thing. If the answer is "yes," I do not want to talk about it until it is near the finish line. And if the answer is "no" I get strange looks followed by, "You're not?" Then I have to repeat, "No, I'm not." Either way, I wish they wouldn't ask.
At the moment, the answer is "NO. I AM NOT WRITING ANOTHER BOOK." Did you get that? "NO, I'M NOT." (And please don't ask again the next time you see me.) Several rumors have gotten back to me about books I am writing. If you heard any of those rumors, they are not true. One of them had a grain of truth. I did write a lengthy article for a historical magazine which will be published sometime next year, but it is not a book.
I have been doing some proofreading and editing of other people's writing, giving advice to aspiring writers, doing some research on things which may or may not develop into writing projects in the future, and trying to write some short pieces. But there is no book anywhere on the horizon. So if anybody asks you if I'm writing another book, tell them NO. And if you have any wise answers I can use when I am asked the dreaded question, send them on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sigma Theta Tau Mom

I found a long-stemmed rose in the kitchen this morning. Since Gerald came home after we were in bed, I assumed it came from him---which he verified.

A few weeks ago Gerald was invited to join an honor society for nurses, Sigma Theta Tau. Last evening he attended his first meeting of the local chapter. Each new member was given a pink rose. Gerald didn't really want the rose, so he passed it on to me. His grades have earned him a place in the honor society, but since I financed his education I think I have also earned the rose and am happy to have it. Since most nursing students are women, a pink rose is appropriate for them. With more men going into nursing though, maybe they ought to consider being prepared to give either roses or wrenches.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

This is the morning after the night before. After years of speculation, spending millions of dollars, and a lot of rhetoric, the 2008 election is over. The guessing and wondering is over, Barak Obama is the winner, and the process now begins to inaugurate the 44th President of the United States in January.
This election has been one of the most interesting we have ever had and I enjoyed watching it work its way through to the end. Way back in February, before the primaries had barely begun, I predicted that the Democratic candidate would win, whoever he or she would be. When Obama and McCain emerged as the candidates, I had no strong preference for either. I saw things in both of them that I thought could take the country in a wrong direction.
The vote I cast early on election day was, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I accept the election of Obama as God's choice for He says in Proverbs 8:15, "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." Daniel wrote, "He removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (Dan. 2:21). We may not understand what God is doing in world affairs, but we can trust His judgment.
Some people made dire predictions that we could lose our freedom overnight if Obama is elected. I find that hard to believe, but we do not know what the future holds. My security is not in any man or any government. No matter what comes, these truths remain:
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. Jesus will still love you.
5. There will still be room at the cross.
6. God is still sovereign and He approves this message.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Relative Terms

I came to the conclusion some time ago that "conservative" is a relative term. What you consider to be conservative is determined by your point of reference. After something I heard on Saturday, I have added another word to the list of relative terms. That word is "local."
We were eating a bit of lunch on Saturday at the Open House in Christian Aid Ministries warehouse when I overheard an interesting conversation between two people seated behind us.
He: Where are you from?
She: Hinkletown.
He: Oh, then you're local.
She: Yes, I could have walked here.
He: Well I'm a little further. I'm from close to Martindale.
How far is Hinkletown from Martindale? Less than three miles.
What is local? That depends on your point of reference. I'm sure those who had come to the Open House from other states (or Canada) would have said both of them were locals.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Piece Of The Puzzle

I spent Tuesday afternoon at the Lancaster County Historical Society and came home with a few papers I consider very valuable in my Powell research. One of them, filed in 1795, contains the actual signature of Edward Powell (bottom right line).

Edward is the progenitor of my Powell line. He was the great-grandfather of my great-grandmother, Emeline Powl. Finding his signature in his own hand settles the question of whether his surname was the Powell or Paul and clinches the argument that he was English rather than German. I am still trying to find out where he came from. Maybe someday the pieces will all fall into place.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Changing Of The Guard

Last week we enjoyed a prolonged spell of Indian Summer weather. The windows were open around the clock and I went barefoot outside.
Fall slammed into the county on Monday morning with a heavy killing frost. The difference between this week and last week is like night and day. The windows are closed and the heat is turned on. The screens for the patio doors are stored in the garage. The flower bulbs are dug and stored in the basement. Warmer clothes and bedding are coming out of summer storage and being put to use. This morning I raked the leaves in the front yard. After a couple windy days this week, the tree is nearly bare. Another sign of the change of seasons is the longer evenings as the sun retires earlier and earlier. This week I dug out the needlework I started last winter and began on that again. I had other things to do on evenings when it was light outside.
I don't look forward to winter the way I did when I was younger, but October is one of my favorite months. It is neither too hot nor too cold and the colored leaves add a beauty to the landscape that passes all too quickly. I'm glad I live where there are four seasons.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weekend in Ohio

We spent the weekend in Ohio helping Cheryl celebrate her birthday. They are living in the basement during their house addition/remodeling project but they made room for us to squeeze into the tight quarters for a couple days. At this point they can still use the bedrooms and bathroom on the main floor, but going from the basement to the bedrooms was like stepping outside because it means going through the unheated addition. I have a much better idea of the size of the rooms now and how they will look when they are finished.
This is the end toward the garage which has been extended about 10 feet. The windows are in the new master bed and bathrooms.

This is the addition from the back. The windows, from left to right, are the laundry, office room, and sink.

Before we left I took a family picture which they needed to submit for their church calendar. Seems like these children grew up when I wasn't looking!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Answer to Prayer

On Tuesday I went to Reading with Leroy when he signed up for Medicare. I took his appointment confirmation letter and birth certificate along, as per instructions. On the way home I realized the envelope with both items was missing. I immediately called the representative we had dealt with and left a voice mail message. Later in the afternoon she called back and said she does not have it. She had looked on her desk, in the trash can, and on the floor, but it was not there. I did not remember exactly what I had done with it but thought I had stuck it in the information book she gave us. I was sure it must have dropped out of the book somewhere on the street in town.
In these days of identity theft, Reading is not a good place to lose your birth certificate and a letter with your Social Security number on it. I did the only thing I knew to do---appealed to the One who knows all things. I asked Him to please take care of that envelope in one way or another.
Today's mail brought an envelope from the Social Security office addressed in the handwriting of our representative which contained Leroy's birth certificate. She must have found it somewhere in the office after all. Whew!! What a relief! There was not one word of explanation with it. I don't need to all the details; I just know God answers prayer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Best Life Ever

This was one of those weekends when there are more things to do than time to do them. Of course, we try to do everything we can and the result is a crammed-full schedule.
It started out innocently enough when I promised to keep all 6 of Dale's children overnight Friday night. Then Carol asked if we sisters could do something on Saturday to celebrate her birthday. I said OK, figuring the children will be leaving Saturday morning and I will be free the rest of the day.
The children came around 2:30 Friday afternoon. Around supper time Kayla said, "This is the best life ever." A hot dog supper at grandma's house was all it took to make life wonderful. But you know, if I could spend an afternoon with my grandma again I'd think it's pretty special too. You can be sure I'd ask her a lot of questions---of a different sort than I did before.
I left before the children did on Saturday morning, leaving Leroy to finish up the babysitting job without me. We sisters had a nice time at the Apple Festival at Joanna Furnace. When I got home I had my work cut out for me to finish up for the week and get food ready to take to the Stauffer reunion today.
This morning we had communion and then went to the Stauffer reunion. On the way down Leroy's mom asked if we would want to go to Fairmount to see Aunt Liddy after the reunion. Sure. Might as well add one more thing to the stew. Of course, while we were there we visited Aunt Nora too. And then we met Amos & Nora Hoover walking along the road at the edge of their property, and wound up going in to their house to visit for another hour.
All this meant we got home a lot later than we planned, but there isn't anything I wish we hadn't done. When I see the people who live in at Fairmount, I am just thankful I can be on the run even if some weekends are a little too full. This is the best life ever!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Did It!

Back in May when I painted the living room I said someday I want to add a border around the top when I find something I like. I really didn't know what I wanted. A couple weeks ago when I was in Ephrata I stopped at East End Mart to see what they have in stock and try to get some ideas. Leroy said I will need just over 60 ft. to go all the way around the top of the ceiling.
I looked at everything they had in stock and didn't see anything that struck my fancy. Then I rooted through the "odd lots" bin and found a roll that I knew instantly was perfect for the room. Another rummage brought up three matching rolls. The label said each one measured 15 ft.---15x4=60. Yipes! Could I made that reach? The clerk said it was doubtful because I would lose some in matching and the pattern has a 24-inch repeat. She suggested dropping it to the top of the door frame so it won't take as much. I wasn't sure that would look right but I knew I would not find anything I liked better and the price was right. Because it was a discontinued pattern, it was less than half price. I couldn't pass up such a bargain so I said, "I'll take it and figure out some way to make it reach."
This afternoon I remeasured the top of the wall. I needed 60 ft. 3 inches. Then I opened each roll and discovered they each measured 15 ft. 9 inches. Ah! That's 33 inches more than I needed. Next I numbered the rolls according to which were the closest matches. I could not believe my good fortune when I saw I was losing a total of only 14 inches in matching. One roll matched exactly with no loss. That left me 60 ft. 19 inches. I could do it!
So here it is, the finishing touch to the redecorating project. Whew!! That's closer than I like to cut it.

And a closeup of the pattern.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Evil Omen or Subtile Hint?

Back fifty years ago I remember my Dad talking about replacing his car when he saw his odometer creeping toward 100,000 miles. That was about as long as a car would last. I remember being relieved when he bought a new car and we were spared the disaster of the old one falling to pieces while we were in transit. I imagined the floor suddenly dropping out, leaving us sitting unprotected in the middle of the road.
Times have changed. We bought a three-year-old car in 1998 and passed the 100,000-mile mark a long time ago. Since I knew it would turn over again today while I was driving, I took the camera along and froze the historic moment so Leroy could see it. Yup! That's 200,000.

I pulled to the side of the road to take the picture---which happened to be right in front of Weaver Nut Company. Was that an evil omen or subtile hint? Is it time to replace this aging machine with something newer? Irregardless, we have now doubled the miles a car could be expected to run fifty years ago. It has served us well, but we all know nothing man-made will last forever.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Isaac Meier House

I visited the Isaac Meier house in Myerstown 25 years ago and often thought I'd like to go again to see how much progress has been made on their restoration project. Today was the day.

They have completed the restoration of two rooms in the main house and the kitchen which is in the small addition on the east side. A lady was cooking a meal on the hearth of the massive fireplace and was heating the bake oven with a fire so she could bake six loaves of round bread.

Twenty five years ago they were working on the sitting room/parlor/living room---whatever you want to call it. They scraped off all the layers of paint to find the original blue color and then matched a chip to repaint the woodwork. That room and the bedroom behind it are now finished. They have done a nice job on those two rooms.

I was also able to take a tour of the unfinished second floor where an exposed hand hewn beam reaches all the way across the house. We don't have trees that size any more!

Isaac Meier, son of Heinrich Meier was born January 4, 1730, in Heidelberg Township Berks County, Pa. In 1754, Isaac married Catherine Herchelroth (Hergelrode), daughter of Valentine Herchelroth who owned 249 acres of land on which present day Myerstown is built. In 1757, Isaac purchased the property, including the house which had been built by Valentine Herchelroth sometime between 1740-50. In 1768, Isaac Meier laid out lots for the town he called Tulpehockentown but soon became known as Myerstown. On the night of July 14, 1770, Isaac was called to a tavern, presumably on business, only to be shot in the back while sitting at a window. Isaac and Catharine had six children. Some of their descendants still live in the area.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roast Beast

We usually have Gerald's favorite meal of stir-fry for his birthday. This year we celebrated his 25th birthday with a mini-Thanksgiving type meal. He called it roast beast; I called it stuffed duck. We also had cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to go with it.

We have two more ducks and two geese waiting in the freezer for their turns to help us celebrate special events. I'm not sure the behavior of ducks roaming the property all summer is worth the trouble, but their dark, moist meat is very good. And the taste of revenge is sweet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seize The Moment

I haven't posted much the last couple weeks. Let me drag out my excuses. #1 Busy. Doing what?
Housecleaning, scrapbooking, proofreading a book for Lantern Books, poring through census from the 1800s and other records for footprints of ancestors, preparing for my workshop at the seminar next week, etc. etc.
Three years ago I did a workshop at the ladies' seminar at Martindale. I was asked to do a re-run of the same workshop on Tuesday and Thursday next week. My title is A Word Fitly Written (leaving a legacy in cards, letters, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, family history, etc.)
The main point of my workshop is that we need to write things down so they are not confused or forgotten. For example, too many people do not label their photographs and in years to come they are unidentified faces. My great-grandmother's photo album was filled with pictures of ladies in gorgeous Civil War era gowns. I would dearly love to know who they are, but no names were written on the backs of the pictures. It's too late now. There is no one living who can identify any of them.
Every time a person dies without recording their memories it is the same as if a whole library burned down. Too often we wait until our grandparents, aunts, and uncles are gone and then think of a lot of questions we would like to ask them. Seize the moment! The strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink.
Memories are a gift to be opened when the time we lived and those we love are far away. Life is so short and changes so fast. It might not seem like it right now, but these are the Good Old Days you'll look back on someday. Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you prove it wasn't all a dream?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cool Tool

If you would like to hear my famous brother, Merle Burkholder, preaching at the Womelsdorf Mennonite Church on September 7, 2008, you can download his sermon by clicking on this link.
The password is sermon. Then click on Visiting Speakers, find his name in the list, and download the sermon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer Is Over

Ya-hoo! That boom and crash you heard was me cheering and slamming the lid on the canner as I officially ended my summer of 2008. Many people consider Labor Day the end of the summer but that's not my end-of-season marker. I call summer ended when the porch amd patio are housecleaned and the canning is finished.
I cleaned the porch the end of August and crossed off the patio last week. This morning I canned six measely quarts each of pears and potatoes. I'm not doing grapes or pumpkins this year so that's the end of the line for the summer. I had so much left from last year I didn't need to can or freeze much this year, but I'm still glad to be finished and move into the next season. This has been a hectic summer due to going on trips, catching up when we returned, and trying to squeeze in as many of the usual summer activities as we could. I'm looking forward to the luxury of moving at a little slower pace during the fall.
What will I do with all the extra time? Well, for starters, my house needs a good cleaning. I'm having two workshops at a ladies seminar the end of this month. I have several writing projects started which were resting over summer and a couple ideas for new ones. A lady in Canada has asked if I would be interested in going to Bucks County to look for her Huber ancestors. I am still hunting for my own Powell ancestors and researching the Good line. I am hoping to do some quilting and I have a little pile of books waiting to be read. I may be moving at a slower pace this fall but I don't think I will be twiddling my thumbs---at least not away from the keyboard.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mom's Prayers

Many years ago the ladies Sunday school class at our church drew names for Prayer Partners. My mother drew the name of my sister-in-law, Bonnie. During that time, Mom gave Bon a Prayer Plant. A couple months ago Bon told me she still has that plant and asked if I have one. I didn't, so she started one for me. On Monday Bon gave me this lush Prayer Plant. She said she still has one just as big at home. I hope I can keep it alive and thriving as well as she has.

Mom died in 1993. I am delighted to collect one more thing that came from her. I was not an easy child to raise. Every time I see this plant I will be reminded it was Mom and her prayers pulled me through the difficult years.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shifting Gears

We're still in August but there are definite signs fall is approaching. The temperature usually goes up in the 80s during the day but is often in the 50s in the mornings. The only things still in the garden are tomatoes and potatoes, and we plan to dig the potatoes this weekend. The neighboring farmer started filling silo this week and the fields next to us are bare and empty. I have started another round of my annual one-room-per-month housecleaning schedule by scrubbing the porch and outside of the patio. We had our traditional first-day-of-school pancake breakfast on Tuesday when Gerald went back to Alvernia College. I thought we ended an era when he graduated from high school, but after a pause he went back to school. This time I believe we really are ending an era. By spring he should be able to add BSN to his name and begin his career. This fall we are shifting gears in more than one way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Know, Go, Show, Blow

On Saturday we went to the Missions Fest at Smoketown Airport. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS), New Tribes Mission, and other groups which work in remote areas came together to share information about their work. For a price, people could go for a ride in the JAARS helicopter or Wycliff Bible Translator's new Kodiak plane. The main attraction (for me) was Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint who was martyred in Equador along with four other men in January 1956. Steve flew a replica of his father's plane which was made for the filming of a documentary, The End of the Spear, produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the murder of the five missionaries. Here he is taking off in the plane to demonstrate the bucket drop his father used to make contact with the Waodani (Auca) Indians.

I bought a copy of Steve's book, also called The End of the Spear, in which he tells about his experiences living with the Waodani in Equador when he was a child and later as an adult. He signed it G.W.T. Story I.J.W.T. Book. (God wrote the story, I just wrote the book.)
The story of the Waodani is a powerful example of the power of forgiveness. The murder of five men seemed to be a terrible tragedy at the time, but their sacrifice was not wasted. As a result, the Waodani people are now thriving Christians who are reaching out to become missionaries themselves.

After the flying demonstration, Steve gave a talk in a tent behind the airport. He said we have not been commissioned to go out and evangelize the world, but to make disciples. People who have been discipled are then able to go out and make more disciples. That is the ultimate goal of missions; not merely to convert people to Christianity but to disciple them so they can repeat the process with others. As an illustration, he said his children were taught (discipled) to tie their shoes. He did not have to teach his grandchildren to tie their shoes; his children did that. They were able to pass on to the next generation what he had taught them. His shoebox formula for missions is Know, Go, Show, Blow. Know God and what you believe, Go tell others who have not heard, Show them how to live the Christian life, and then Blow out and let them disciple others while you go and start over somewhere else.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Matthew 16:15-19

Here is a theological question. I'd like to hear your opinion whether you agree with me or not.
The Sunday school lesson I taught the end of July centered around Peter's confession of faith at Caeserea Philippi when he said to Jesus, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God."
Jesus commended Peter for this correct answer which God had revealed to him. Then Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
These verses are the basis for the Catholic belief that Peter was the first pope and that the pope is infallible. The voice of the pope is the voice of God. We Mennonites reject that teaching but we have embraced the idea that in these verses Jesus is giving the church authority to make rules and excommunicate those who break them.
Are these verses really talking about church authority? I don't think so. Why would Jesus abruptly change the subject from faith to church authority? Here is my understanding of what Jesus was saying.
1. The church is not built upon Peter but upon the belief that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God.
2. God (not Peter) is the revealer of Truth. Jesus (not Peter) is the builder of the church.
3. Belief in Jesus (not keeping a set of church rules) is the key to the kingdom (the way to enter heaven).
4. Jesus entrusted this key to Peter (and all believers), giving us the responsibility to share the Gospel with all men on earth. Jesus builds the church but the job of spreading the Gospel has been given to human beings.
5. Those we do not share the Gospel with will remain bound in their sin and those we do tell the Good News can be set free (loosed).
I believe the church does have the authority to make rules and maintain order in the church. I also believe we are obligated to keep the rules of the church we choose to join. I just think these verses are talking about evangelism rather than church discipline. Have we swallowed some Catholicism in applying these verses to church discipline? What do you think?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fowl Update

The geese met their fate on the appointed date but we left the ducks for another time. I thought five birds might be a bit much for one day and was correct. The freezer score now stands at two down, three to go. By dumping the contents of two feed dishes together, and since ducks don't gobble like geese, there is enough feed left to fatten the ducks a few days longer. I hope Gerald finds time to dispatch a few more heads before he starts school on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Their Goose Is Cooked

If all goes as planned, these critters are enjoying the last day of their lives. Look close and you will see one brown duck between the geese. It's partner met an early death at the wheels of a car back in July.

They were cute little ducklings and goslings when Gerald brought them home in the spring. They outgrew that label long ago. The ducks aren't as bad as the geese. Their behavior has made me wonder if they are somehow genetically related to goats. They roost outside the back door and have turned it into a barnyard. They eat everything in sight. While we were at the cabin last weekend they ate every stem and leaf of the flowers I had on the porch. They not only ate ears of corn in the garden, but also march boldly into the neighbor's field where they continue to practice their thievery. They pulled the rubber seals off the patio doors, poked a big hole in the one patio screen, etc. etc. Their goose is cooked.

I've been "breathing out threatenings and slaughter" against those arrogant, messy geese for weeks and looking forward with relish to the day when they will be relieved of their heads. This morning Gerald announced that he had put the last of the bag of feed in their dish and he is not buying another bag. If they knew what is going to happen tomorrow morning, they would eat very slowly. If Gerald dispatches their heads and does the butchering, I will happily get revenge by pulling out every one of their feathers. They will move into a cool new home until Christmas when we will get the final revenge. After they are nicely roasted I will honk proudly to call my brood. They will flock around me and help eat them down to the bare bones. I can't wait!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Family Olympics

While the eyes of the world were on the beginning of the Olympics in China, our family spent the weekend hiding out in our cabin. Of course, since we have cell phones we are no longer totally cut off from the world at the cabin. But we let the world go by and did our own thing. Which included:
1) hiking

2) swimming3) chewing the fat (at the table and away from it)

Gold medals were won in the fields of pennyroyal tea and huckleberry picking with one loss which involved a cell phone landing in the bottom of the spring. The weather was perfect, being neither too hot nor too cool and only one brief shower before we got up on Sunday morning. This was our last scheduled weekend-away of the summer. All the traveling we have done this summer has made the season fly faster than ever. Only two weeks remain until we shift gears and go into a new school year. Although it was short, it's been a good summer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Shirktown Threshers

On Saturday Leroy and Gene went to the Shirktown Thresher's show near Churchtown. Leroy knew about this annual event for quite a few years but had never gone. I figured it was a guy thing and stayed home. It was much smaller than Rough & Tumble at Kinzers, but turned out to be larger than he expected. They demonstrated threshing with flails and a horsepower, as well as with this threshing machine powered by a Titan.

There were other things being displayed and demonstrated in addition to tractors and threshing machines. People of all shapes and sizes were there. Isn't this little guy adorable? I guess he'll "grow into" his hat. Bread was being baked in the old bake oven beside the house.
I might go along if he goes again next year. It looks like there is something interesting for everyone after all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Die Lenger Die Schlimmer

As I was straining tomatoes today I thought about a rhyme my mother used to say:
Die lenger die schlimmer
Bei uns geh immer.
It doesn't rhyme in English but means, "The longer the worse it always goes with us.
What does that have to do with straining tomatoes?
Well, here it is, the last days of July and I am doing the first canning of the summer. Yesterday I froze a measly eight packs of corn (1 1/2 cups each) and today I had a bucket of tomatoes. I used to start canning around Memorial Day and kept at it until sometime in October. Our garden covered about 1/3 of our acre of land. We were barely through the peas and strawberries until we had piles of green beans, pickles, and you name it. August was always the rush with corn, peaches, tomatoes, and applesauce to can and freeze. I would can 100 qt. each of peaches and applesauce and put six cups of corn in a pack. Feeding five boys takes a lot of food!
As the family began leaving home, the garden began shrinking. It is now less than a quarter of what we once had and the rest has become lawn. Not only do we not need as much food (thank God!) but my aging crooked back does not let me till and hoe like I once did. The only reason the garden has not shrunk to the size of a flower bed is because Leroy likes to work in it. We could buy produce at the local produce market and still enjoy the taste of home canned foods.
This year I will have the shortest canning season ever. We were in Israel during strawberry season, I have enough cherries, apricots, and pickles left from last year, and I buy peas and beans now instead of canning and freezing them. That brings us all the way to the beginning of the August produce season before I canned one jar or froze one pack of anything.
Die lenger die schlimmer
Bei uns geh immer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Year of the Traveler

I've heard that the weak U. S. dollar is making American vacations a bargain for foreign travelers. I have no statistics to prove whether that is true or not, but we are having more foreign visitors than usual this summer. Last week we had two overnight guests from Holland. Last night, while my sister was entertaining a family from Switzerland, we had company from Wales.
Sylvia Jones was born a Wenger and grew up in Lancaster County. Five years ago she married Peter Jones in Wales and has made that her home. They came back to visit her family this summer. She read my Sarah book and wanted to meet me and Sarah while they are here. They came for supper last evening and we had a nice visit which lasted until after 10 p.m. Peter was fascinated with things we take for granted, such as cicadas and fireflies. The PA Dutch meal I served, which included chicken pot pie and shoofly pie, was also unfamiliar to him. It was interesting to watch his reactions to these things.
Sylvia's brother, Larry, from California, and her sister Joyce & Dale Enck, from Lancaster County, were also our guests. Of course, Sarah was included too. She is a first cousin to Larry, Joyce, and Sylvia. Here they all are. Peter is on the far left and Sylvia is seated beside Leroy. Larry is sitting on the arm of the sofa and the Encks are in the corner. Which country will send us the next visitors?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trip Report

This afternoon I feel like the air leaked out of my balloon. I've been scrambling around for a week getting ready for and going on a research trip to Ohio, then coming home to have overnight guests the next day. Now that it is over, I am limp and exhausted. But it was worth it!
We left on Thursday afternoon, spent the night with Cheryl, and went on Friday morning to Elida, Ohio. We picked up Ginny Traycik at the Columbus airport and arrived at the Salem Mennonite Church just in time for the 3 p.m. meeting of Good historians.
On Saturday we attended the reunion of the descendants of Henry and Betty (Culp) Good. About 90 people showed up. I know more people now than I did when I arrived. The highlight of the day was the presentation Don Good gave on the immigrant Good ancestors who settled in PA. That connection is what prompted my invitation to the reunion. Below is Don deep in discussion with Martha Huber Good from Ontario. She has written a wonderful book on the Hubers. I am glad she decided to ignore her age excuse and come. She is 81 but knows her Huber genealogy just as well today as she did when she wrote her book several years ago.

Of course we visited the Salem Cemetery which is the oldest Mennonite cemetery in the county and contains 1300 graves. We also went to the Pike Mennonite cemetery a few miles away. Walter & Martha Good, her sister Florence Riehl, Don, Ginny, and I were more interested in finding documents in Fairfield County because more family history happened there than in Allen County. We all left Elida early Sunday morning and drove three hours to attend services at the Turkey Run Mennonite Church in Fairfield County. The pastor there invited all of us to their house for lunch and showed us around the area. We visited three cemeteries on Sunday where we found some graves of ancestors and saw some other historically signifigant things. But we did not find the grave of Susanna Beery Good anywhere. We know she died before her husband and his second wife moved from Ohio to Iowa, but where is she buried? We went back to our hotel mystified.

On Monday we visited the public library in Lancaster, Ohio, and raided the Fairfield County courthouse where we found some valuable information in deeds and Joseph Good's 1849 estate settlement.

When we finished collecting our loot, we had a very late lunch and then headed for home at 4 p.m. We made only two pits stops and got home at 11 p.m. Monday night. The next day Ginny and Don asked the right people the right questions and found an obscure little cemetery in the woods that contains eight stones marking Beery and Good graves. More research is required, but we are all inclined to believe they found the elusive Susanna Beery Good buried under a stone marked simply S. B. G.

I reget missing that adventure, but have not figured out how to be two places at once. I wanted to be here to host Gerlof and Machteld Born. We don't often have the opportunity to host visitors from Holland. They arrived at my sister's house two days earlier than we expected, which meant I had overnight guests the day after I got home instead of two days later. Fortunately, one of my cousins stepped up to the plate in my absence and invited everyone for supper Tuesday. Machteld is on the far left but Gerlof is half hidden behind the person in the right foreground.

The Borns went on to Lancaster County this morning and will be leaving the area on Thursday. We met Gerlof when we were in Holland in 1997. He was single then but married Machteld a year or two ago. He is the secretary of the Mennonite Mission Board in Holland and told us about their work around the world.
The last week has been a whirl of activity and lots of fun. I enjoyed every minute, but now I'm going for a nap. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Here We Go Again!

We sure have not spent much time at home this summer. We're home a few days and then off again on another trip. Last week it was a day off in the middle of the week to go to a cabin. We were home Thursday and Friday, and then on the run again all weekend. We were home the first three days of this week but this afternoon we take off again.
Through my genealogy work we were invited to attend a Good reunion in Elida, Ohio, this weekend. It begins on Friday afternoon with a meeting of Good historians who are comng from various states and Canada. I'm looking forward to meeting Martha Huber Good who has written a wonderful book on the Huber and Good family history. I was surprised to learn that although she is coming from Ontario she is actually a couple hundred miles closer to Elida than we are.
The reunion will be held on Saturday and then the Good historians will move on to Lancaster, Ohio, to do some research. We hope to find some Good gravestones and the properties where these people lived. I would love to stay longer to do more research but we will have to come home on Tuesday. Paychecks have been scarce and small this summer, but are we having fun!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Look Who's Forty!

Our Fourth of July weekend was full and fun. On Saturday we attended the wedding of a nephew who finally took the plunge at the age of 35. Cheryl and Richard were invited to the wedding so their family was here from Friday evening until this morning.
Sunday evening we all helped surprise Daryl with a 40th birthday party. His birthday is actually on July 21, so he was totally unsuspecting and we got him over him good and proper.
I can't believe my children are turning (or pushing) forty. It doesn't seem long at all since I reached the same milestone, but it's twenty years ago. How can twenty years go by so quickly? The most scary part is that another twenty years will make me 80. Horrors!
Let's think about the positive! Daryl has made a success of his life and we congratulate him for that as well as that big 4-0 coming up in two weeks. But fasten your seat belt, Daryl! The next twenty years will go faster than the first forty did. I know. I've been there.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sister's Day

For quite a few years my sisters and I have been having a Sister's Day whenever one of us has a birthday. The birthday girl chooses the activity. Betty Ann's birthday (we won't say which one) is July 6. She rented a cabin in Snyder County for July 1-3 and invited all of her siblings (and spouses) to spend the time with her.
Some of us left at bedtime on July 2, but we were all together a little more than 24 hours. Since Merle and Edith live in Canada, we don't often have the chance to all sleep under the same roof. We had a good time, but I couldn't help thinking how much our activities have changed since we went to the cabin together years ago. Instead of climbing trees and falling in the spring, we sat on the porch and talked.

The conversation has changed considerably over the years too. We've gone through several stages as we moved through life. At one time the main topic of conversation was our children and the struggles of child rearing. Our children and grandchildren are not left out now, but we discussed some topics that were never mentioned years ago---such as blood pressures and what medications we take. Thankfully, I didn't have much to say on that subject as I don't take anything except an occassional Tylonol for headaches.
We wrapped up the day by singing together in English and German. Then my preacher brothers serenaded us with songs in Creole and Spanish, which are the languages of the countries where they have served in missions. After singing, we shared some of the thoughts currently on our hearts and minds. We got our love of music from our father and love of books from our mother. Although we don't all live close together, we are close at heart. What a blessing!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


DNA testing is growing in use as a tool in genealogical research. Test results can be used to confirm a suspected connection between two families or disprove a connection.
Chromosomes are paired threadlike "packages" of long segments of DNA contained within the nucleus of each cell. In humans there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. In 22 pairs, both members are essentially identical, one deriving from the individual's mother, the other from the father. The 23rd pair is different. In females this pair has two like chromosomes called "X". In males it comprises one "X" and one "Y," two very dissimilar chromosomes. It is these chromosome differences which determine sex.
The presence of a Y-Chromosome causes maleness. This little chromosome, about 2% of a father's genetic contribution to his sons, programs the early embryo to develop as a male. It is transmitted from fathers only to their sons.
Most of the Y-Chromosome is inherited as an integral unit passed without alteration from father to sons, and to their sons, and so on, unaffected by exchange or any other influence of the X-Chromosome that came from the mother. It is the only nuclear chromosome that escapes the continual reshuffling of parental genes during the process of sex cell production. It is these unique features that make the Y-Chromosome useful to genealogists.
The Y-Chromosome has definable segments of DNA with known genetic characteristics. These segments are known as Markers. The father passes an exact copy of his Y-Chromosome to his son. This means that the markers of the son are identical to those of his father. They remain unchanged through the generations for hundreds of years.
Female DNA is not as as positive a marker as the Y-Chromosomal for men because the X-Chromosome passed from mother to daughter is not always identical.
Are you still with me? What does this tell you about the differences in men and women?
1. Men never change
2. Women are hard to figure out

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grandpa Knows Best

Grandpa was a self-employed carpenter. Because much of his work was outdoors, he lived with an eye on the sky and learned to discern the signs of the weather. One of his weather-prediction sayings was, "Rain before 7, clear by 11."
I remembered that this morning when showers began before 7 a.m. I went ahead with doing laundry as usual but let it pile up in the basket, waiting for the sky to clear. I do have a nice dryer that works very well, but it costs money to run and does not produce the fragrance of fresh air I get from my solar-powered washline. As the hours went by and there was no sign of sufficient clearing, I began to wonder if there are exceptions to the rule.
When 11 passed with no change, I was tempted to throw a load in the dryer and be done with it. But I got side-tracked with some other things and before 12 the sun was shining. My laundry is now drying as it flaps on the line and my faith in Grandpa's weather forcasting is renewed. Some things just never change. (So am I still his "schnickelfritz?")

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back to Earth

I knew the trip to Israel would take a big hole out of my summer, and it has. My life has been wrapped up in that trip for a whole month now. I was either getting ready to go, on tour, or catching up from being away. Today I placed the order for 495 pictures. Considering we took 1137 pictures, that's a considerable reduction. By the time I hit the "place order" button I felt like I didn't want to see another picture of Israel for a long time. I do want to get them in a scrapbook before memory fades, but I'm giving myself a break.
Every now and then something pops up that I had forgotten about while we were out of the country and otherwise occupied. One of these memory jogs came in the mail today when we received a notice that our tax stimulus check should be arriving this week. Ah yes! I had forgotten about that silly scheme. I'm afraid the President would be disappointed if he knew I'm planning to use it for ordinary living expenses rather than buying something new. What did you do with yours?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Taste of Jerusalem

I am catching up on everything that needs to be done around here after being gone 18 days and dealing with the backwash of the trip. Each person on the tour was assigned one or two days to write a diary of our activities. The tour leader will compile the diaries into a book for us. I was assigned two days and got one of them done yesterday. It took me a lot longer than I expected. I guess I am too picky about details and being sure everything is historically accurate.
I am also working on merging the pictures from both our cameras into one file in chronological order so I can order the prints I want to make a scrapbook. That is also turning out to be more work than I expected. I can see that project taking at least the rest of the summer.
Here are two pictures which show our different interests.

This link will allow you to take a peek inside Jerusalem. It is a live Webcam (works best with cable or DSL connection) showing the Wailing Wall 24 hours a day, plus other interesting things. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Home Again

We're back from out 18-day stay in Israel and I think I have recovered from jet lag. There is a seven hour time difference which explains how we could make an 11 hour flight home in four hours. It was nearly 1 a.m. on June 13 when we left Israeli soil and 5 a.m. when we arrived in Newark, NJ. I was able to sleep more on the way home than I did on the way over because we were flying with the night.
We had a good time in Israel. From May 28-June 5 we toured the usual sites of historical and Biblical signifigance. The things I am reading in the Bible and the newspaper make more sense now that I can picture the places. I can look at this familiar picture of Jerusalem and recognize more places than just the Dome of the Rock in the center.

Twenty-five of our group of 39 left after the tour ended (Thursday) and 14 of us stayed on for the work project. Fortunately, we had time to rest while the work was being organized on Friday and Saturday. Of course, Sunday was another day of rest. By Monday we were ready to get to work.
We were divided into groups to scrape and paint five houses. Some went to Bethlehem, but our job was in the old city of Jerusalem. We painted one room in Elias' house and two rooms in George's house, finishing both jobs on Wednesday.

Since our flight was not leaving until midnight on Thursday, June 12, we had another day to kill. We went to see Solomon's quarries under old Jerusalem and revisited the Garden Tomb before checking out of our hotel Thursday morning. The the group went to south of Jerusalem to see a few more historic sites. We visited Herod's summer palace, Abraham's home town of Hebron where we saw the tombs of the patiarchs, and the Valley of Eschol where Caleb and Joshua found the huge bunch of grapes. There are still many vineyards there.

We also went to the Valley of Elah where David killed Goliath. Leroy fulfilled one of his wishes there when he picked up five smooth stones from the brook which was dry at this time of year. From there we headed to the airport at Tel Aviv. The extra tour day was special in that we went to some places tourists seldom go these days. It was a nice finishing touch. I am glad we had the privilege of taking this trip, but I am also glad to be home again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blast Off

This is it. We're down to the last day of preparing for our trip to Israel. And we have a beautiful Memorial Day weekend to do it. Our clothes are drying on the washline and then I can finish packing. It still seems a bit unreal, but I suppose it will quickly become real when we head for the Newark airport tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to meeting my brother, Merle and Edith, there and learning to know the rest of the tour group.
We did not have someone step forward to pay half of the trip for us the way Merle did. But yesterday we went for a walk and found $2.76 in coins scattered on the road. Maybe if I had been a career missionary God would have sent someone to pay my way. Since I wasn't, I'm thankful for small blessings. :-)
At any rate, this will probably be my last post for awhile. We blast off into the blue tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ignorance and Apathy

As the story goes, a teacher once asked a student, "What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?" The student answered, "I don't know and I don't care."
Pearl S. Buck was a prolific writer who won both the Pulitizer and Nobel prizes for her books. Yesterday I read this excerpt from her book Fighting Angel, which is the biography of her father, Absalom Sydenstricker.

"I do not know the old and precise history of his [her father's] family, and I have not asked because it does not matter. Some time before the American Revolution they came from somewhere in Germany, for the sake of religious freedom. I do not know just when except that I know it was in time for one of his ancestors to be a courier to George Washington, and for two others to fight loyally under Washington's command. I say it does not matter because it is not as an individual that he is significant. If his life has any meaning for others than himself it is as a manifestation of a certain spirit in his country and his time. For he was a spirit, and a spirit made by that blind certainty, that pure intolerance, that zeal for mission, that contempt of man and earth, that high confidence in heaven, which our forefathers bequeathed to us."---Pearl S. Buck, Fighting Angel, p12-13

Prize-winning author or not, that reeks of ignorance and apathy! The book further reveals her ignorance when she says her paternal grandmother's name was Deborah when, in fact, her name was Frances Coffman. If Pearl Buck did not even know her paternal grandmother's correct name, I'm sure she did not know the Coffmans were Mennonites.
For the record, Frances Coffman was the daughter of John and Catherine Susanna (Good) Coffman. Catherine was born in Lancaster County, PA, but grew up in Rockingham County, VA. She was the youngest child of Jacob Good II, grandson of 1727 immigrant Peter Good.
The history of Pearl Buck's father's family DID matter and made a great difference in who she was. Her life would have been quite different if her Mennonite ancestors had stayed in Germany. Her father's life DID have meaning to others than himself. The choices he made in his lifetime made a signifigant difference in her own life and writing. If he had not been a missionary in China, she would never have written her prize-winning books about China.
Whether we know it or not, we are products of our past. All those who came before us played a part in making us who we are. How can you know who you are if you don't know where you came from? By the same token, the choices we make in our lives play a part in the lives of those who follow us.

We walk the path of the ancient ones,
soon the shadows of our footprints the dream ones will walk.
Will our footprints be deep enough to follow
or will the winds erase them for all time?

Joel 1:3 - Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (NIV)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


One week from today we will be on our way to Israel. Last week I started putting odds and ends in the suitcase, but this week I am doing some serious packing. Of course, I won't be able to finish until after I wash clothes on Monday, but I can pack a good bit now.
Lest I don't have time the last days before we leave, I will post our itinerary now.
May 27--Leave Newark, NJ 2:30pm for a 10-hour flight
May 28--Arrive Tel Aviv, Israel, 8am (1am EST), drive to our hotel at the Dead Sea and go swimming. Early bedtime!
May 29-- Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, Jericho, Jerusalem
May 30--Mt. of Olives, Gethsemane, House of Caiaphas, Bethlehem
May 31-- Old Jerusalem, Wailing Wall, Dome of the Rock, Pool of Bethesda, Judgment Hall, Garden Tomb
June 1--Day of rest in Jerusalem, free time to plan own activity
June 2--Jerusalem, Bethany, Temple Model, Western wall tunnel
June 3--Bedouin camp, Jordan Valley, Sea of Galilee, Tiberias
June 4--Galilee, Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon
June 5--Nazareth, Cana, Haifa, Megiddo, Caesarea, main tour group returns to Newark
June 6--Fourteen of us stay another week to do a work project in Jerusalem. This will be house repairs, painting, etc. for poor and/or elderly people.
June 13--Return to Newark, NJ at 5am
We have been told our phones will not work over there so I am planning on touching home base via e-mail on my brother's laptop computer, but I doubt I will be doing any posting here while we are gone.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ending and Beginning

Tomorrow Gerald takes his last test and finishes his third year of college. So tomorrow is the end and of the school year and the beginning of summer. He will begin his summer employment the same day he takes his last test. His textbooks will move upstairs and I will once again be able to call my desk my own--for awhile. I won't be here to enjoy the space very long.
I started packing to go to Israel this week. We are on the countdown now with eleven more days to go until lift-off. We talked about doing this sometime for nearly 40 years, and the time is almost here. Sometimes it still doesn't seem real. We will return June 13. Gerald will be here to look after the place and take care of himself. By the time we return maybe he will have decided if he wants to be a bachelor permanently.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stoltzfus House

Nicholas Stoltzfus was born in Germany in 1719. He married an Amish girl in 1744 and came to Pennsylvania on the ship Polly. The ship landed in Philadelphia on October 18, 1766. This is the sea chest in which he brought his belongings across the ocean. (How many of your belongings could you take with you if you could only take what fit in this chest?)
Nicholas and his son Christian bought land in Berks County in 1770 and built a stone house which still stands along the Tulpehocken Creek.

At that time, Berks County was a wild and wooly place to live. Nicholas died in 1774 and by 1801 his son Christian moved to Leacock Township in Lancaster County which was a more safe place to live. The Stoltzfus house passed through a long succession of owners. In 1989 it was inhabited by squatters and then was abandoned. Mother Nature took over and covered the house with a curtain of dense foliage so its shameful state of disrepair could not be seen.

While the house quietly stood its ground against urban sprawl, the construction of a super highway, industries, and the ravages of nature, the Stoltzfus clan who could trace their lineage to this spot blossomed and grew in other places.
In the year 2000, some of the estimated one million descendants of Nicholas Stoltzfus formed a committee to preserve and restore the old house at 1700 Tulpehocken Road, Wyomissing, Pa. Every year, on the second Saturday in May, a benefit auction is held to raise funds for the preservation and restoration of this historic house. This year we were finally able to get there. I had seen the outside of the house before, but had never been inside. I wanted to go to the auction mostly because the house was open for free tours.
This is the kitchen.

This is the front door which opens into the kitchen. A wooden panel at the bottom of the door slides up to cover the nine panes of glass in the top half of the door for safety during Indian attacks. For this reason it is called an "Indian Door."

The barn that once stood on this property collapsed in 1924. Today ground was broken to reconstruct a barn.
The Nicholas Stoltzfus House serves to remind us of the important part the Amish played in the history and development of Berks County. I think he would be pleased to know his descendants are maintaining both his property and his faith.

Christian Stoltzfus' German Bible