Sunday, October 29, 2006

Investments and Returns

Today Justin (good friend, former seedsacker at our warehouse, and Paul’s former student) showed up at church with Marina, who is from Ohio and whom Justin is Officially Courting.

"I feel like I already know you," I told Marina.

And over Sunday dinner we discussed the fact that as a family and church, we feel like we kind of "own" Marina and Justin. They’re not just an entity to themselves. We’re all invested here, and we’ll all be watching.

See, we have been keeping up with Justin’s life through conversations, email, his blog, his mom, and now Marina’s blog.

In a similar vein, I felt like Jenny was the whole church’s baby when she was born 7 years ago. It seemed like everyone in church helped me survive that horrible pregnancy. Various women brought supper in for weeks, Paul’s mom and Dorothy did laundry for me, Barb cleaned my kitchen every Saturday for a while, everyone prayed for me, Paul gave pre-sermon updates on my condition, Louise bought me a beautiful maternity outfit, Bonnie gave me a little newborn-size outfit to keep my eyes on the goal, and on and on.

And when Jenny was born the church threw a big shower for her. I felt like everyone joined us in loving and welcoming her. And dear old Ralph Holderman buttonholed Paul after church one Sunday and said, "I just want you to know that I think your baby is unusually cute!"

Similarly, I feel invested in every graduate from our church school, every young person that is baptized, every child I teach in Sunday school, every young person my children hang out with, every young mom that comes to me for advice.

A very urban-professional friend of mine read my column last spring about our ladies’ retreat at the coast and confessed to me that she could hardly imagine being part of such a group. "I have to admit it sounded almost smothering," she said.

Not everyone at our church is comfortable with sharing their lives publicly, and that’s fine. I admit I have my moments when I want to move to Tahiti and live in a grass hut on the beach and not see anyone for about six months.

But most of the time I think there are enormous benefits to sharing your life with a group and having their collective skills and wisdom to draw from when you need it.

I hope Justin and Marina don’t feel smothered. I hope they feel cared for and supported and cheered on.

And I can’t wait to have a good chat with Justin’s mom after Marina leaves. (Bwahahahaha!)

Quote of the Day:
"Aunt Dorcas is full of insightful truths."
--Jessi. (I like Jessi. Today is her 19th birthday and I feel like I kind of 'own' her too.)

Friday, October 27, 2006


I am done canning grape juice. I think.

Last month I got 16 quarts of juice off our little vine south of the house. I hoped for more, if someone had extra grapes to give me.

In the old days people canned grape juice by filling a jar half full of stemmed, whole grapes, adding some sugar, and filling the jar with water. And then canning it in boiling water of course. It was then ready to strain and drink at will.

I bought a steamer several years ago. It is a wonderful invention. You put a gallon of water into the bottom section and a whole pile of grapes into the strainer section at the top. In the center is a large kettle-like piece with a clever volcano-like thing in the middle that lets the steam percolate up from the bottom and then collects the juice that drips down without letting the juice drip into the water.

A little hose with a clamp efficiently puts the hot juice into the jars. I put the lids on and they seal with no more fuss, usually. This method makes a delicious concentrate—1 quart canned juice turns into 2 quarts of drinkable.

My friend Regina borrowed my steamer a few times and gave me a couple of big buckets of grapes in return. I canned them.

And Norm and Sara gave me about 5 buckets of grapes. So I canned them too.
I figured I was done then.

Then Norm and Sara wondered if I could use still more. Sure, why not? They gave me another 5 buckets full. I got 4 dozen jars from Paul’s sister Lois, who has three fewer young men at home than she had a couple of years ago.

I canned the grapes and then scrubbed all the purple drips off the kitchen and figured I was really done.

Then my friend Verna told me there’s a bachelor in Halsey with grapes going to waste in his backyard. Oh my, I can’t let this happen. I spent an afternoon picking and an evening canning. Then I scrubbed the kitchen again. This time I was done.

But no. Paul’s mom told me that Richard and Trish are gone hunting and their grapes are going to waste. Do I want them? I said no, I’m finished.

Well, a true Yoder by birth cannot sleep at night if there is food going to waste. Reluctantly I called Anne back. No one had taken the grapes.

Two days ago I drove to Trish’s and picked 5 buckets of grapes. Yesterday I went to Eugene and got 6 dozen jars from a woman who had read my last article and thought I might need more jars. Bless her.

Then last night I stood at the sink and washed grapes until my legs ached and steamed 23 more quarts of juice. I now have 146 quarts.

I also made 26 quarts of tomato juice, since someone had offered me 3 buckets of tomatoes and I couldn’t say no.

I told Paul to tell me I have to stop canning. He took me by the shoulders and said firmly, "If anyone offers you more grapes, or tomatoes, or apples. . ."

I interrupted him. "Well. . . maybe not apples. . . "

Quote of the Day:
"Are we about done cleaning the kitchen? And don't tell me to look around and see because when we're 'nearing the port' to you we're already in the port and unloading to me."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Emily's Notebooks

Emily has always loved notebooks. Spiral school notebooks, cute round notebooks with cats on the front, funky pink notebooks with thick black spirals and a high-heeled shoe on the cover, diaries with locks, tiny notebooks on key chains.

Recently she resurrected a round pink notebook (with a long illustrated story in it--read more here) out of the box of memorabilia in the laundry room.

On our last road trip, I think she had three different notebooks along--as I recall: one for stories, one for a diary, the other for notes and ideas.

She loves notebooks for Christmas and birthdays, and spends her hard-earned money on the newest and latest pink-striped, hard-cover notebooks.

This evening Emily took a notebook inventory in her bedroom. Then she came downstairs. "Guess how many notebooks I have, Mom."
"Nooo, way more than that."
"Way more."
"I give up."
(Grin) "I have seventy."

Quote of the Day:
"I thought these things are supposed to be fun, and they just eliminated that with those two cautions."
--Ben, when his new disc-shooter package said, "1. Never shoot at people or animals. 2. Always use with adult supervision."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tech Stuff

For those of you who keep getting three copies of Life in the Shoe from FeedBlitz, I just went crawling around in the bowels of their website and tried to remove two of the three subscriptions. I hope it works.

And since I am so techno-savvy and all, I started a website today, since my friends such as Tom and experts at writers' seminars have told me for years I need to do this. I must say that directing Tom to my website is like baking a sour cream lemon pie and taking it over to my SIL Bonnie's place. Here it is.

Quote of the Day:
"When I leave home you're going to have to pay someone for tech support."
--Matt, after advising me about I told him maybe he's pursuing the wrong field, since he's the kind of guy we would all like to have on the other end when we call tech support. He can explain computer stuff to me without making me feel stupid--a rare gift.

More Writing Class Results

Here are the rest of the blog posts from writing class.

By Stephy
On the way home from school, I ride in a big van that takes a bunch of kids home that live in the same area as I do. Sometimes on our way home, lots of funny things are said, interesting conversations are had, and various topics are heatedly discussed. We argue about anything from whether or not mermaids are real to whether Superchick is stupid. A couple of days ago, I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but Justin said something about how Jenny thought he had girl lips. That made Trenton remember that he heard that one of Amy’s aunts thought she had turkey lips. Then Trenton piped up that he thought I had horse lips. What are horse lips anyway? Then my brother, sticking up for me said, "Don’t worry Stephy, you don’t look like a horse." That was comforting. Then Isaiah pops up and says "Horses are pretty." He said it so matter-of-factly and not trying to be funny that it made me laugh.
Then, one day Ben had Kyle’s water bottle and was trying to take a drink from it without touching his mouth to it. There wasn’t very much water left and so he was squeezing and shaking it to try to get all of the water to come out. He wasn’t succeeding so Kayla told him to squeeze harder. He heeded her advice and squeezed harder, I think a little too hard. That resulted in the lid popping off and all of the water falling down on him. He gave a little yell and then said, "Well, I guess I won’t have to take a shower tonight!" You can tell that in the bus (or you can call it Jerome*) the rides home are never boring!
*We named the bus Jerome after some football player whose name was Jerome Bettis but had the nickname of "the bus."

By Drennan
Bible Memory Camp
At our church, we do something called Bible Memory Camp. It is for kids ages 9-14. The ministers pick about 50 verses out of the Bible, and you have to memorize them. Then you have to say them to one of the ministers with less than three mistakes per passage.
I went to camp the first time last year. We left at about 1:00 p.m. We went in 3 different vehicles. First I was in the car with one other guy, but when we were about halfway there, something happened at Mr. Smucker’s warehouse. So we rearranged and squished together and fit two more people in the van.
The second day we were there was the most fun day. The guys got up at about 7:00a.m. It felt like it was about 20* because of the wind. It did get warmer, but it was still cold when we went out and jumped waves. That was lots of fun.
The last day we were at camp we had a sand castle contest. There was four different teams. My team made what we called King Kong’s Kool Kastle. One of the other teams made a starfish. Bible Memory Camp was one of the most fun experiences that I ever had.

By Steph C.
This past summer I went on a camping with a friend and her family. We went up to Blue River Reservoir. Three was one specific day that was the best out of the whole week…and that would be the last day. That day I went tubing with Dave and his wife Kathy, his two sons Jared and Nic, his nephew Chris, and his niece Carissa. Dave has a really, really nice boat so we took his boat tubing. We hooked the rope to the tube and then looped it around the knob on the boat then the boys, Jared and Chris, got on the tube because they were a little to big to fit in the hole. Once they got situated Dave took off! The boys were being thrashed around and were almost falling off. It was amazing that the boys never fell off! Chris did once but that was because Jared pushed him off. Dave was going crazy with the guys and I was telling Carissa I didn’t want to go after all when the boat stopped…It was time for me to make my decision. Carissa was tugging at my arm telling me to hurry up and Chris was handing me the life jacket. What else could I do??? So I put the life jacket on, and jumped in the water. When we got situated in the hole we gave Dave the thumbs up sign and he took off! Oh my goodness…I never had a ride like that before! My feet kept going underneath Carissa’s legs and I was sitting on her legs and it was painful Carissa thought it was great and kept telling Dave to go faster and faster. I honestly thought I was going to fall out!!! They boys were laughing hysterically at us and then I was laughing and Carissa told Dave to speed up again! We were literally flying across the water and we kept going over all these waves that the boat was making and water kept hitting us in the face and I kept biting my tongue! Finally we stopped and it was the boys’ turn. They went for a little bit then we girls went again. This time I didn’t resist. I was the first one in the tube. Finally we were all done tubing and we went back up to camp and about an hour later I went home. What a great camping trip!!!

By Justin
Th incident of the kitchen geyser happened at youth camp. It was in the morning and after breakfast I, along with a few other guys, volunteered to do the dishes. Everything was going fine and we had almost finished. Heath was going to wash some dishes that couldn’t go in the dishwasher. He turned on the faucet and some water was leaking out of the handle. He decided he was going to fix it. He found a screw driver and was working away when all of a sudden the handle popped off and water went shooting wildly toward the ceiling. Everyone stood there with their jaws dropped not knowing what to do. Meanwhile water was spraying all the way to the ceiling and making a huge puddle on the floor. Finally someone got the water turned of before damage was done to anything. I guess the good thing was that the handle did end up getting fixed, just not quite the way we all expected.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Writing Class Results

I am teaching a writing class to the older children at Brownsville Mennonite School, and their first assignment was to write an interesting blog post (as opposed to "yo all my shweet PeEpS i no its been a long time.") which would then appear on an actual blog: this one. So here are four of their posts. Feel free to comment on any of them.

By Preston:
The First and Last Flight
One cool, sunny Saturday morning I went out to fly my model airplane. Me and my dad tested all the things necessary to make it go. Finally after a long process of making sure everything was ok, it was ready for takeoff. The plane zoomed of the field and it flew really nice. The engine was running smoothly and it was turning good. Then all of a sudden it happened. I was flying and when I turned the plane, it got into a twirl. The plane went down down and crashed in the field below. The fuselage was all broken and the wings were too. The tail, the rudder, and the engine were all okay. Overall flying the model airplane is very fun.

By Ben:
Imagine that you are in a valley. Now imagine that there are 3’000 foot cliffs at each side. That in simple terms describes Yosemite National Park, and if you’ve never been you should, and here are some reasons why. Back in June, Dad and I went down there. We had a great time just looking at the scenery. Looking up at those massive cliffs just about gave me the woozies. Also in Yosemite are many beautiful waterfalls, including Upper Yosemite Fall, a 1,500 ft waterfall.
Another thing Yosemite is famous for is its bears. Although we didn’t see any they used to be a huge problem because people would feed the bears, so sometimes they would raid cars in an attempt to get food that was left in there. Another little interesting thing about the bears there is that even though they are Black Bears, they range in color from blonde to cinnamon
red to black. So, if you’ve never been there you are really missing out.

By Kayla:
Our Camping Trip
Around three weeks ago Dad took Shane, Kyle, Bryant, Tyler, and me camping. Mom would have gone, but she was sick with a bad cough and headache. We drove along the McKenzie River to Blue River Reservoir. The scenery was beautiful.
We got to our campsite at about 7:30 in the evening, and had to set up camp. Shane and Kyle helped Dad with the tent while the younger boys sat around the campfire. I helped by getting the blankets and food out. The nice warm fire felt real good since it was so cold.
The next morning we ate our breakfast of blueberry muffins that Mom had made for us. Dad then took us down the Reservoir farther, and we went fishing. The water was real cold, but the weather was nice except the morning was cold. The boys caught five fish in all. I didn’t get lucky and catch one, although I had several bites. The couple next to us gave us six fish so we came home with eleven fish total.. Dad and my brothers got to clean the fish. I didn’t help because all the guts and blood were to disgusting. We had a great weekend camping with Dad.

By Emily:
Last Wednesday, as I was eating lunch, the light in my desk turned off. My first thought was that the electricity went off, but as I looked around the room I noticed that almost everyone else’s light was still on.
It turned out that Justin had absentmindedly kicked the back of his desk, jarring the plug behind it. Since Justin, Preston, and I sit in one long desk separated into private offices by dividers, this made all three of our lights turn off. Another swift kick made them turn back on.
The boys must have thought this was pretty cool, because for the rest of the day the lights kept blinking on and off and on and off and on and off. Every once in a while the lights wouldn’t come back on when the desks were kicked and the whole row had to be shaken violently. On one such occasion I got my fingers pinched. When I complained Preston said, "Well, sometimes you need to sacrifice your fingers for the light."
But something was changing. The more the lights turned on and off, the easier it became to make them go on and off. By the next day the slightest bump of the desks would plunge us into darkness. It was time for drastic action.
We pulled the row of desks away from the wall and looked behind it. The poor plug was dangling half in and half out of the outlet. But we couldn’t go behind and plug it in, because our way was blocked on one end by the bookshelves, and on the other end by the filing cabinets.
About this time the teacher came and asked what we were doing. We told him our problem. He had a solution.
Walking to the other end of the room, the teacher fetched Bryant, a spry first grade boy. He lifted Bryant over the back of the desks, where Bryant proceeded to plug the offending plug back into its outlet. The lights came back on, we pushed the desks back in, and Bryant was squished. Just kidding! Actually, the teacher lifted Bryant back out first. And the lights have never blinked out since.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Those Amazing Seedsackers

I have written before about that intrepid band of men called Seedsackers. Now one of them has branched out into. . .RAP

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Maybe I'm Just Shallow

I have a theory that no matter how heavy and serious literature is (fiction, poetry, articles, essays, etc) it should be basically understandable the first time you read it. Later readings may reveal deeper and deeper layers, but it should be readable at first go.

I base this on, first of all, Scripture. Especially if you read it in a current version of your first language, you can sit down and read without pausing to scratch your head and say, "Huh?’ and backtrack in bewilderment.

Time and further study of Scripture of course reveals depths unseen at first read, phenomenal symbolism with the temple and sacrifices and all kinds of things. But first God made it accessible even for the depth-challenged among us.

I have an issue with much modern poetry on this point. I’m fine with mystery and subtlety, but please give me words that I can actually read, not:
Calibrate and cynicism
And cats painting
A mother’s denial

In high school and college, we read The Great Gatsby and For Whom the Bell Tolls and Huckleberry Finn, and learned to dig and scratch like hens for Themes and Symbolism and Deep Hidden Meanings.

Then I took a literature class in which we read Tristan and Iseult, and at the first discussion all the recent high school graduates started talking about all the Subtle Themes and Deep Hidden Meanings they had found. And the teacher said, "Listen, it’s first of all a story. Learn to enjoy it first as just a good story."

Now that was liberating.

On a slightly different angle, right now I am on a Jane Austen kick and just read Mansfield Park for the first time.

Personally, I found it a good read, with passages that made me laugh or think, but I was disappointed in the ending--not because things didn’t turn out right, but because to me it reads as though her editor was emailing her every day that she was way past deadline so she quickly tied up all the loose ends and sent it off.

I don’t read that much fiction but when I do it’s often Lori Copeland or Lori Wick or something else that happens to show up around here that I can read in a hurry and finish in a day or so. I don’t especially like either author but sometimes I just want a quick story to digest. This is very poor preparation for reading Jane Austen.

There’s not much action in Jane’s books. Minute events are expanded into whole chapters. We have the garden, and how it’s laid out, and what the weather is like, and who walks down which path with whom, and who they meet, and what they say, and what happens while one fetches the key to the gate. Another chapter revolves around which necklace to wear to the ball. Long conversations composed of lengthy flowery sentences cogitate about the minutest details of life. The plot advances as effectively as any modern one, actually more so. But it’s obviously from a different time period and a different pace of life.

So, we wade through 367 pages of this, waiting, waiting, waiting, for Edmund to finally, finally, finally, come to his senses and realize that Mary Crawford is NOT the girl for him and Fanny IS, (DUHHH, Edmund!), and I confess that we are hoping for some really flowery rapturous paragraphs where he finally sees the light and apologizes and tells her how wonderful she is and what an idiot he was and how fitting she will be as a clergyman’s wife and begs her forgiveness and so on, and she finally feels loved and cherished and vindicated. Considering how they can go on about taking the carriage vs. walking, this exchange should take two or three pages at least.

He does rattle on for almost six pages about how disappointed he is in Mary Crawford. But he doesn’t yet think of Fanny in any romantic way. And so we wait for the Big Declaration. And do we get it? No. All we get is this:

"Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Carwford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well—or a great deal better; whether Fanny herself were not growing as dear, as important to him in all her smiles, and all her ways, as Mary Crawford had ever been, and whether it might not be a possible, an hopeful undertaking to persuade her that her warm and sisterly regard for him would be a foundation enough for wedded love.
I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion. . . I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny, as Fanny herself could desire."


So maybe I’m just shallow and all the literary people out there are sighing with disappointment like my English teacher, Mr. Rubis, did in 1980 when I suggested Moby Dick should be condensed, but is it so much to ask that a novel have a good tasty satisfying ending?

I’m sure there are Deep Things that I completely missed in Mansfield Park, but why not give even a shallow reader a reward for plowing all the way through?

Quote of the Day:
"If you don't come right now I'll put 5 bows in your hair!"
--Amy, waiting in the bathroom to comb Jenny's hair. Jenny tends to dawdle but doesn't appreciate a lot of fluff and frou-frou in her hair

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Too Much Internet Time Today

Today I found an article that said:

Could 4, 5, even 6 kids become suburbia's new status symbol?

Hmmm. . . .imagine a choice of mine actually being fashionable?!

And then I found a test to see what your spiritual gift(s) is/are. Mine, according to that, are first knowledge, then teaching, then mercy.

Now what on earth do I do with that information, besides continue to tell my children that moms know everything, a handy shutoff valve when they distrust my credentials.

Some time ago I gave a talk at a church and one woman buttonholed me afterwards and gave me a "word from the Lord" that my spiritual gift is teaching and I should pursue it further and I forget what else she said because I was too distracted by her face. She looked young and old at the same time, Asian and Caucasian, and simply confusing. Her face was smooth as glass, but now and then she blinked just right and a hint of very old-lady bags appeared under her eyes. Finally I realized I was talking to a woman who had just had her face thoroughly tucked. She was trying to sound so very spiritual but I'm afraid most of her lengthy speech was lost on me.

I don't mean to be sarcastic about spiritual gifts but I have never been quite sure what slot I fit into and furthermore, what to do about it if I find that I have the gifts of, say, knowledge and teaching and mercy. I still need to get the tomatoes canned before they go bad and teach Jenny to pick up after herself.

Quote of the Day:
"AAAAH! Ewwww! I squeezed its guts out and it's still wiggling!~! Eee-he-he-he-hew!! I seriously popped its guts out!!"
--Emily, when she stepped on a spider

Monday, October 09, 2006

Offer for Writers

I heard Dick Bohrer speak at an Oregon Christian Writers meeting a couple of years ago, and today I got this email which may be of interest to the writers out there who have yet to hit Oprah's list and thus appreciate all the freebies they can get. I reprint it with his permission:

I am a long-time member of the Oregon Christian Writers and an occasional speaker at meetings. Remember when, in our spring meeting, I put notebooks on a table and gave away textbooks I'd written for the college students I'd taught?

Now I'm putting everything in my larder on the internet at no charge in hopes that you will download them and find them useful. I have eight juvenile school mysteries (five of which were published by Moody Press) in my J. Edgar Beanpole series: Football Detective, Volleyball Spy, Soccer Sleuth, Night Watcher, Stage Snoop, Basketball Hawk, and Sink It! Sink It, Becky P. along with They Called Him Shifta, a murder mystery I wrote following my three years teaching in Ethiopia).

I've also put 24 lessons on how to write stories for children, 24 on how to write feature articles and 24 on how to write your opinions (letters to editors, reviews, columns, etc.). These are free for you to use.

In addition I've put three of Dr. John G. Mitchell's commentaries (John's Gospel, John's Letters and Romans) as well as two Bible studies with questions (Luke's Gospel, Leviticus-Hebrews). Dr. Willard Aldrich's "The Battle for Your Faith" and my paraphrase of John Newton's Letters are there. In addition is "The Bible at a Glance," a breakdown of all 66 books in an interesting form.

I'd be delighted if you would download these and tell your friends. What I've learned through 40 years of teaching and my editorships of two newspapers and "Moody Monthly" magazine (Jerry Jenkins was my boss), I'm gladly sharing with you.

By way of note, I still have a few copies for sale of the feature writing text ($14), the opinion writing text ($17), Easy English fun and games grammar text ($13), and "Hey! Christian Kids, Let's Write Some Stories ($14). These prices include postage. Write me at 2174 SW Mossy Brae Road, West Linn, OR 97068.

My website's name is:

Dick Bohrer

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Back in the days when I was trying to learn Oji-Cree and was very proud of myself when I could go to Sara Kenequanash's house and buy three strands of beads without speaking any English, I learned that there are something like 7 levels of language proficiency. The beginning ones of course are the basic "hello" and "thank you" and "I need a loaf of bread, please." The final one is when you understand puns and get jokes and subtle meanings.

Steven's English has improved tremendously in the almost-two years since he came. And knowing what I did about language proficiency levels, I was very happy to overhear this conversation in the back of the van this morning:

Quote of the Day:
Ben: Are we making cider tomorrow?
Emily: Yes.
Steven: I'm all excidered!

October Letter

Here's today's Letter from Harrisburg.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Amish Stuff

Paul's nephew, Byran, recently wrote this on his blog:

The Amish Got it Right
I am a Mennonite after all, so I'll comment briefly on the Amish school shooting. In short, they're making me proud to be an Anabaptist.Say what you want about the Amish and their lack of spirituality, but they have truly lived out Jesus in a powerful way during this situation by showing virtually immediate forgiveness and even actively loving (that's nonresistance in action) the family of the man who killed their little girls.

I agree with Byran.

There have been plenty of times when I was ashamed of my Amish heritage--sometimes with good reason--but something about this episode has made me proud of it.

A tragedy makes us find points of connection. I think every mother of young daughters in this country is like me--seeing her little girls lined up against that blackboard. We see our little boys, terrified, leaving their sisters behind. A recent death in the family makes us remember the disbelief, the stillness, the pressing sadness. On a page of tributes on the Lancaster newspaper's website, people talked about how they loved to visit Lancaster County. To me it seemed that they grasped for whatever point of connection they could find. And those of us with Amish in our history or distant relatives among the bereaved feel compelled to let everyone know.

I'm not sure why grief makes us do this...perhaps we want to reassure ourselves that our deep feelings are justified.

For some reason, seeing the pictures and reading the news has set me forth on a sea of Amish memories. I can vividly picture the wakes and funerals and meals afterward when my grandparents died. I remember the long German sermons. I can still hear the group of young people who sang while we buried Grandma Miller. The girls' black shawls flapped in the wind and they sang in high voices a "fast" song, unlike the slow church chants, a song about angels, "die Engel."

I remember what it was like to be in the funeral procession, both as a child in a buggy, with the non-rubber tires rasping on the road and with the horse behind looking into the little window in the back of the buggy, giving Becky and me the giggles; and as an adult in one of the "veltlich" (worldly) cars following slowly behind.

I am thinking in German much more than normal, and remembering words I thought I had forgotten, such as "die Laut" (the casket). I remember the endless line of people who filed by Grandma's casket, women in black dresses, men in black suits. They came and came and came. I knew they had all been in the house somewhere--but where? I remember the meal after Grandma Yoder's funeral, when there must have been 400 people packed into one smallish house, and walking across the living room, holding 1-year-old Amy, was a 15-minute ordeal. "Excuse me." (Wedge my shoulder between two people) "Excuse me." (Squeeze between two more.) At one point I was stuck and while I waited for an opening an old woman behind me started feeding Amy off her plate, without asking me or making any fanfare about it.

Like I said, I'm not sure why I'm reminiscing like this. Am I trying to prove that I qualify to grieve with them, or what?

The truth is, when a child dies, it's not "us" modern people and "them" folks in their buggies; it's all "us." Losing a child is losing a child, Amish, Muslim, Catholic, or anything else. We are all justified in reading the news and weeping.

And any of us who have ever chosen forgiveness over hate can claim a connection with these Amish families and gain strength from their example.

As we would also, they will need our prayers for a long, long time.

* * * * * *

And as I found with Leonard's death, there can be touches of humor in the darkness. Today I read that a reporter tried to dress Amish and sneak into one funeral. A policeman was suspicious because she was wearing --hang on--a pink dress. I threw my head back and laughed out loud, remembering the sea of black at Grandma's house.

And I also remembered today how my BIL Rod, the high-powered MIT-educated Englischer, looked at Grandma's funeral-meal, backed up against the wall, looking out at this room, packed with black, with what looked like terror in his eyes. I have seen Rod crack jokes with Yemeni tribesmen with Kalishnikovs in their hands, but I've never seen him look as ill at ease as he did at that funeral. Then a little elderly woman came up to him and said, "Now who are you?"
He said, "Uh, Rod 'Smith.'"
She looked confused. "Who are your parents?"
Rod said, "My parents are Chuck and Nancy 'Smith' from Seattle, Washington."
The woman looked at him in great bewilderment. "I don't know them," she said.
Rod fled outside and sat in the van with Paul.

(Rod, that's how I remember it. Add your corrections if you wish.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Amish Victims' Fund

A fund for the victims and families of the Amish school shooting has been set up by the Anabaptist Foundation (and recommended by our friend Merle Burkholder, who knows about these things, so it's solid and reputable). Click here.

And for an interesting perspective on grieving for five children, read my SIL Laura's blog. (Click on 'show original post' when you get there.) She, also, knows what she's talking about.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Amish Tragedy

I seem to be constantly drawn to the computer to read all the updates on this horrible event at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.

Two little sisters have died, aged 7 and 8. I keep thinking of Becky and me at that age, way back when, in our little Amish dresses at our little Amish school. To experience something like this would be unthinkable for any child, but to have absolutely no context, no words, no concept for this kind of violence. . .unimaginable.

The world seems a bit less safe, our children a lot more precious.

And I'm stunned at how some people just don't Get It. One reporter, on a video clip I saw, said, "Some of these parents didn't find out til 6 in the evening where their children were! Do you think the Amish will finally realize that it's time to join the modern world and at least get telephones and automobiles?"

I thought, Duh, Lady, do you really think the modern world will look more appealing now, instead of less??

I talked to Becky in Yemen this morning, and she had CNN's world news report on while we spoke, and she was amazed at how much time they devoted to this tragedy. So this news is all over the world, and maybe something redemptive will come out of this if people see an example of Christian forgiveness and hope.


Last night we had our family pictures taken. (Yes, the children wore their school shirts.)

Then we went out for Chinese food at a buffet called China Sun.

Quote of the Day:
"I just realized it's impossible to eat jello with chopsticks."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Screen Saver

Every so often someone will put a scrolling screensaver on our family computer, and then someone else will come along and add to it, and someone else will change it a bit, and so on.

Recently someone wrote:
Go Ducks! woohoo!!

Someone else erased it and wrote:

A third person added:
that could be true but I think the Ducks
are even better than the Smucks

And a fourth person finished it with:
oh no! oh no! that can't be true
for ducks are ducks but Smucks are YOU!

(I love this family of mine.)