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Sunday, February 20, 2011


We're packed and ready to begin an adventure in the sunny south at the stroke of midnight. Our Sunday school children have been collecting money for many months to build a house for a poor lady in Nicaragua. Now a work team of six adults (four men and two women) is going down to construct the house. I can't hammer a nail straight to save my life but I'm sure they will find something for us women to do. I know we will be doing some cooking but we'll find out what else they have for us to do after we're there.
We are meeting at 1 a.m. and will drive to Baltimore where our flight departs at 6:15. If everything is on schedule we will get to Managua, Nicaragua, at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. Then we have a two hour drive to Leon where we will be staying.
We will only be there one week and return next Monday, 28th. The 90-ish days they have right now will be quite a switch from what we are used to around here. Gerald will be here to look after the place while we're gone. I don't expect to have internet access down there so there will probably not be any more posts until March.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Law and Grace

I was reading this morning about Moses receiving the Law from God on Mt. Siani and had one of those sudden moments of insight on law and grace. Law is strong and grace is gentle. They are opposites and yet twin attributes of God's character.
When God gave the Law to Moses, the man went up into the mountain to meet God. Thunder rolled and and lightening flashed while God wrote the Law on hard tables of stone. Wham! There it is. Do what it says or else.
Centuries later God exhibited the opposite attribute of grace when His Son came down to meet multitudes of people on the mountain. There on the peaceful slope above the Sea of Galilee, Jesus quietly sat down among the people and gave them the principles for a life of peaceful co-existance. His own life was the model of grace written on the fleshly tables of the heart.
God does not excuse sin any more than He did when He gave the Law to Moses. But His grace has provided a way for us to meet the requirements and a pattern for us to follow. I'm glad I live in the day of grace!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

House with Nobody in it

Last fall we walked through an old house north of Bowmansville. A date stone written in German says it was built in 1813 by Christian and Judith (Weber) Musselman. The main section of the house contains a large fireplace with folding doors in the kitchen, much of the wainscoating, woodwork, other original things. (See post from October 11)
The place is for sale. The seller is looking for a buyer who will restore the house to make it a comfortable modern home without destroying its original charm. I thought of this house today when I read this poem.

The House with Nobody in it
by Joyce Kilmer

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.
I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known. \
But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Take Heart

It's Valentine's Day and the temperature has sored into the 50s. That's all the encouragement this Snowdrop needed to bloom. The first little brave flower of the season! Spring will play hide-and-seek the next six weeks but here is the first evidence it's on the way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Piecing and Collecting

Yesterday I visited the Muddy Creek Farm Library at Ephrata to take some photographs I want to include in the article I'm writing on the Burkholders for the historical society. Bishop Christian Burkholder owned a copy of the Martyrs' Mirror, printed at the Ephrata Cloister in 1748. He also owned a Froschauer Bible published in Zurich in 1551. Both of these valuable books are preserved in the Muddy Creek Farm Library. (Objects in front of the books are the strap hinges which have fallen off.)

I also wanted to get a good photo of Christian Burkholder's gravestone in the cemetery at the Groffdale Mennonite Church. Since the cemetery is only a few miles south of the library and the sun obliged by shining brightly, I went there first. I have other pictures of Christian's stone but none of them is good enough for publication. This time the light was right and I got a lovely shot of the stone.While the light was right, I spent about 45 minutes walking through the oldest part of the cemetery and taking pictures of all the Burkholders I found. Then I went up to the library. Amos Hoover, whose collection is housed in the library, brought out more books with Burkholder signatures and I wound up being there over lunch time. Amos was ready to go home for lunch and insisted I go with him. Since his wife, Nora, is my first cousin, I agreed to go along and visit with her over lunch.
Nora showed me the quilt top she is currently piecing. I saw her sewing room with stacks of fabrics she uses to piece quilt after quilt. Then she showed me the pretty dishes she is collecting. She is a typical Mennonite lady, piecing quilts and collecting pretty dishes. I enjoyed looking at her things but have no interest in doing those things myself. I'd rather dig through courthouses, old newspapers and books, tax lists, etc. to find pieces I can use to put a family line together. The things I collect are photocopies of documents, books, and photos of gravestones. I guess I'm in a bit strange but that's the piecing and collecting I enjoy. I used to think when I get old I'll do a lot of sewing but I know now it isn't going to happen. I'll never be a typical Mennonite lady.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The World Keeps Going 'round

Our church Sweetheart Supper is being held tonight. We were asked to tell about how things were in the "old days" when we were dating and married. Come on! 1965-67 wasn't THAT long ago!
The things that have changed the most since we were dating are the methods of travel and communication. Leroy was in service in New Jersey most of the time we were dating. Out-of-state phone calls were expensive and used only for emergencies. But I got a letter from him every Wednesday or Thursday. Why make an expensive phone call when four cents will mail a letter? I still have all those letters up in the attic. (Maybe I should look at them and see if I really want my children to read them someday.)
One winter night he got stuck in a snow drift on his way home after a date. He spent the night in his car until a farmer was able to help him in the morning. Before he could call his parents to tell them where he was, his mom called me and asked if he was still at our place. No, he had left at the usual time. Then we were both worried. He didn't have a cell phone in his pocket to let us know where he was.
Young people usually went to a youth meeting at a church somewhere on Saturday nights and then did something afterward. We often went to the Twin Kiss which sold mostly ice cream and root beer at that time. Fast food places were still in their infancy and not on every street corner like they are today. We didn't always get something to eat but hung out there mostly to see who else was there. There was a Twin Kiss at Ephrata and at Myerstown, about 15 miles apart. Sometimes, if we went to the one and "no one was there" we went to the other one. We couldn't call each other to find out where our friends were and get together on the run. We usually made our plans in advance for the next weekend and it didn't change after we were on the road.
We did not eat out as much as young people do today. If we went somewhere for a day we packed a picnic lunch. The times we went places where tickets were required for entrance were rare rather than regular events. We did not fly all over the world. Traveling to a neighboring state (by car) was about as far from home as we went.
Although the methods of travel and communication have changed the way young people get together and pair off, the object of the dating game is still "guy gets girl" just as it has always been. Guys chase girls who are often quite willing and eager to be caught. Girls pass messages to guys with their eyes and guys either take the bait or keep on fishing. Sometimes they do the catch-and-release thing but eventually most of them get hooked and their generation pairs off to produce another generation that will repeat the process. And so the world keeps going 'round!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All That Glitters

All that glitters is not gold. Some of it is ice.
This is especially for all you deprived folks in the south who don't get to see the this kind of beauty in nature.

Fortunately, the power has not flickered once and it is now above freezing so we should be on the safe side. But it's still a good day to stay inside and work on scrapbooking 2010 memories.