Prairie View

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Wrap Up--10/28/2012

Back to back Sunday Wrap Up posts provide clues to the kind of life I'm living at the moment--either boring or too busy to be reflective, or at least to write down such reflections.  My life is seldom boring, so there you have it--an oblique explanation for the boring titles that signal a busy life.


Ervin Miller is steadily declining.   Since this past Wednesday he has not eaten, his kidneys are shutting down, and he is almost entirely unresponsive.  He is 94.

His youngest daughter, Lillian, left on Tuesday of this past week, after several months in Kansas, to return to her family's home in El Salvador.  A son lives in Romania.  A grandson, Ellis, also left for his home abroad last week, and a granddaughter, Regina, is traveling with her husband and family throughout the eastern US on a publicity tour concerning their ministry in an orphanage in El Salvador.  Another granddaughter, Norma, is  my co-teacher.  Obviously, what seems to be Ervin's final illness also affects many other family members.  I've named only a sampling of them.

Ervin's family grew up "out west," along with our family, although they were farther out west than we were.  Ervin and my Grandpa Levi rented land from the same Mr. Bostick.  Later, Grandpa's farm was inherited by his daughter Virginia MacArthur, and Ervin's land was inherited by another daughter, Georgeann Russell.  When the last of these two daughters died, the land was sold, and my uncles Ollie, Mahlon, and Perry bought part of it, and Ervin bought another part of it.  Dad owned part of it at one time, and Crist Yoder owns part of it now.  There may have been other purchasers of the land that I'm forgetting at the moment--Packebushes or Terrills, perhaps.


We finished up the first quarter at school last week.  The first two evenings of this week we have parent-teacher conferences scheduled.  I do enjoy these usually, but it makes a long work day.  There is almost no down time between the end of school and the first conference.  The last appointment begins at 8:30 I believe.
I still have a bit of grading and a lot of averaging to finish up.  Grrrrrrr.  I thought I was working all quarter to avoid this.  Having two days of convention time last week with the attendant travel and disruption didn't help a lot.


Our grandson, Tristan, had his first birthday on Friday.  We had a party for him the evening before, because it couldn't work for all his local closest family members to gather on the evening of his birthday.  He's a very typical one-year old--usually sweet and sometimes demanding--always loved and always fascinating.  He's not walking yet, but loves to climb.  The other night at his party, he tipped his yellow dump truck on its side in front of the book case (Shane's boss gave it to him, a truck like his daddy drives at work) and perched himself smartly on the wheel above the back axle, which gave him just enough additional reach to access the camera and other goodies on a shelf beyond his reach from the floor.


On Saturday Hilda's sister Yolanda hosted a baby shower for the baby expected in about three weeks.  The shower was a lovely, dainty affair.  I think I was the only lady in the family who had not worked diligently on food or decorations.  I don't know when I would have found the time--one of the sad realities of having a regular job.  There appeared to have been no lack of good ideas and special touches for making the event memorable.

All our early face to face grandparenting for the expected little one will have to be crammed into the first six months or so of her life, given the plans for moving out of the country after that.   We plan to make the most of the time we have together.  How to do that we'll figure out as we go along.


One of the unexpected pleasures of the shower was having Hilda's dear friend, Susie Peters, present.  She lives in Texas with her pastor husband, except that for the next few months, they will be living at Cottonwood, in Marvin's house, in Kansas.  They were in church this morning with two of their children.

Susie's husband is on sabbatical right now, and they are intentionally exploring life in various other church communities during this time.

Earlier, when Hilda taught school in Copeland, in the Old Colony Mennonite community, Susie's husband was the pastor there.  Hilda and Susie have maintained their friendship since then, and Joel and Hilda stopped in to visit them on their honeymoon.


Brandi, the Corgi who lives here a lot of the time, went home with Shane the other day because he wants her to have her puppies in the warm place he has ready for her there.  They're due any time.  Clarissa has already put in her bid for any runt in the litter.  We're all smitten with the personality of these dogs.  They're just right for small children too--not overpowering, but ever-so-patient and friendly.

Brandi was busily digging a hole in the dirt floor of her kennel within the past few days--which is what Lexi, her litter mate and companion, had done before she had her puppies.  Lexi had the poor judgement to give birth in that "hole" instead of in her heated doghouse, and several of her puppies were dead the next morning--too cold.  Shane was plotting to lock Brandi into the dog house to avoid a similar development.


The young people of our church had their annual retreat this weekend.  In an unheated building, with the outdoor temperature having gone down to 22 degrees the first night, they didn't all sleep well, apparently.  Several of the girls hurried home the next morning to thaw out with a warm shower and to gather warmer clothes to take back with them.  They were at Kansas Bible Camp.

The absence in church of the young people, members of the Ervin Miller family, and at least four of the ministers' families (the ministers were at Arlington, in Oklahoma, at Cornerstone, and at the retreat) made it the smallest Sunday morning gathering I can remember in recent years.  Sunday school classes dispersed and re-gathered all over the place.

Plainview had their church retreat this weekend, so Melvin and Gertie attended at Center, but they obviously didn't swell the numbers significantly.


Sanford Yoder from here, who is one of our Sunday School superintendents, had the devotional at church this morning.  Later, Sanford Yoder from Costa Rica preached the sermon.

The Costa Rica Sanford is in his eighties, and with his wife, Martha, was here to visit their daughter Judy, and family.  Judy is my sister-in-law--Lowell's wife.

"I like Sanford's preaching," Hiromi said on the way home from church.  I agreed.  Sprinkled with stories and straight-from-the-heart admonitions, his sermon was proof that profound truths need not be subjected to severe organizational constraints or public speaking rules to be communicated effectively.

Among other things, Sanford said that as a young man, he hoped to continue his education, and he hoped to marry someone who shared that ideal.  Instead he married a wonderful woman who hated school with a passion, but he understood that the qualities she possessed were worth more than further education for him or her would have been.  Sanford started to give young people some advice along the lines of seeking a spouse, and then stopped and said, "I guess the young people are missing.  This is too late for most of you."  Everyone laughed and he went on to give the advice anyway.  To summarize, he recommended not being overly impressed with externals, but more aware of qualities that are important in filling the role of spouse and parent.

Sanford also freely admitted deficiencies and failures from his past, especially when it came to finances.  He always admired his in-laws' expertise in such matters and knew that he couldn't match their record, but recognized certain actions of his own that he knows now probably stemmed from misguided efforts to try to do so.

All of us who have  known Sanford for many years can see that he has accomplished much good in the Lord's work, and we don't see an overall picture of failure at all.  In an ironic twist, we know that having the humility to speak of  personal failure is part of what gives us the confidence that his was a life well-lived.  No pretense here--just honest striving to continue in a walk of faith and obedience.

Sanford also referred to the challenges of aging.  After a serious heart attack within the past year, he has adjusted his diet, which he admits is not always to his liking, but he is also having to listen to his children, who now have made it clear that he should not be driving any more--a development far worse than the food issue.  From the pulpit, he also acknowledged that his cardiologist says he shouldn't be preaching.  I guess Sanford is still insisting on making a few of his own choices . . .


On the building questions our church community is considering--After a site selection vote in which a small majority (54%) favored a neutral site rather than a church campus site for the construction of permanent grade school facilities, the process has moved forward one more step. The Partridge Road site and the Pleasantview site will both be considered, going forward.


Roland Marc, the newborn son of Joseph and Leanna, appeared in church the first time today.  He was apparently not overly happy right after church, and, at different times, I saw Grandma Elizabeth, Titus Y., and Melvin Fannie all try their hand at soothing him.  Melvin Fannie seemed the most successful, but I doubt that she could have kept up the vigorous bouncing for too much longer.  She's in her mid-eighties.


Julia Stutzman turned 40 yesterday.  Friends helped celebrate her birthday.  She was unable to be in church today.


 Most of you will not appreciate this as much as I do, but, thanks to Joel and Shane's help, we now have our monster treadmill residing in Grant's old bedroom instead of in the basement, which has increasingly been given over to undesirable environmental characteristics.  Granted, all God's creatures are marvelous, but I still don't idealize encountering a large sampling of them in our basement. Water on the floor is less of a problem since the pump that gathers condensation at the site of the furnace/air conditioner has been replaced, but it too added to the unattractiveness of the basement as a regular exercise site.  The low ceilings and the dark are other negatives.  So now that you know that the treadmill is in place in the light of an upstairs bedroom, ask me how it's going to make use of it.

As is often the case, the things I feel a need for are provided promptly once Hiromi feels the need for himself also.  Getting the treadmill moved upstairs was on my Christmas wish list last year.  In this case, his doctor has noted that his cholesterol and blood sugar are creeping up, and he's been told that watching his diet and getting regular exercise are usually effective counter-measures for both.  Now that a professional has told him so, and threatened him with prescription medications, he's on board with the program--even more so than I've ever been.  He's stabbing his finger every morning for a blood sample, he's measuring out his rice for the first time ever, and he's eating more tuna than eggs for breakfast.  He's also issuing reminders and directives regularly for my benefit.  No half-hearted measures here.


We're enjoying a wonderful assortment of Japanese pickles which Hiromi made from diakon, Chinese cabbage, and leaf mustard--or takuwan, hakusai, and takana--depending on which language you're using.  I guess I've gotten used to it and don't really notice it, but Joel and Shane smelled "pickles" when they walked in on Saturday evening.  It's probably not something anyone would choose as kitchen perfume (think sauerkraut smells) but we all know it signals wonderful tastes, and don't really mind.


Last week I reminded my comp class of several more written or verbal oddities I've encountered and hope to have them avoid.  On last week's list were these:

--"Supposed to" which is correct, instead of "suppose to," which is incorrect.  It's a strange expression though, when you think about it too long.
--"All of a sudden" which is preferable to "all the sudden."  It had showed up on one of the written reports I graded recently.  One of my students asked presciently whether it wouldn't be better to just say "suddenly."  Exactly.
--"Pored over" which should be used when intense study is being referred to.  "Poured over" doesn't fit unless you've just had a bad liquid spill of some kind.

Let me know if you think of other oddities I should cover in comp class.


Speaking of spills, we had a fairly dramatic one at school during the regular Friday cleaning when a pen filled with liquid ink got whisked into the vacuum via the beater bar, and the pieces of the pen rattled up the long vacuum hose into the wall receptacle it was plugged into.  On the carpeted floor, however, a large ink stain remained.  We blotted at it fairly futilely, and our principal contacted the trustees for help.  Someone came over on Saturday and worked on the stain, and it was less visible than before when I saw it late in the day.  Unfortunately, it didn't all disappear, and I'm guessing it might not be possible to get rid of it all.  Bummer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Wrap Up 10/21/2012

Yesterday, while driving along and without apparent provocation, I realized that I didn't adequately cover some of what I've heard from others weighing in on the subject of healing.  In the previous post on healing I had simply eliminated some of the more distressed and distressing comments.  In the interest of fuller disclosure, I'm adding to the list here.

--"That view [promoted at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and by people associated with that place] is heresy.  Even the people in the Vineyard movement (Charismatic) call it that."  This came from someone who has encountered Vineyard missionaries abroad.

--"It feels like a divorce."  (Family member dealing with the fallout of shifting loyalties--away from the local church, toward the distant school, etc.)

--"I wonder now if I ever knew ____________ [name of person involved omitted].  This doesn't seem like the person I thought I knew."  Others have also expressed a sense of deep betrayal.

--Comment at the meeting at church:  "Miracles can come from Satan as well as from God."  (Another person commented then that it's wrong to attribute to Satan what is a revelation of the power of God.)

--Doctrinal error, especially about the nature of Jesus' divinity.


This morning I sat in the row of chairs at the very back of the sanctuary.  Mailbox stuffing duties delayed my entrance somewhat, and  my usual spot was already filled.  In the row in front of me sat Julia, with her mother next to her.  Julia has liver cancer, and, of late, her condition is worsening, but she was there for the communion service.  She has not sought treatment, and this will almost certainly be her last communion service.

Just before we began partaking of the emblems Lyle (Julia's brother) led us in singing "Just As I Am."  Julia sat there singing this song with her eyes closed, her upturned hands right next to each other raised to the height of her chin.  I'll never hear that song the same way again.

"Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bid'st me come to Thee.
Oh Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot.
To Thee Whose blood can cleanse each spot
Oh Lamb of God, I come. I come."

Inner healing is clearly underway, and ultimate redemption is near.  This is a hard time, but I see a triumph of faith--not a failure to exercise faith.


Wess Stafford gave the closing address at the ACSI conference last week.  He leads the Compassion International ministry, and has written several books I'd like to read.  He is perhaps the consummate child advocate, believing that much more of our mission emphasis should be directed toward children.  He cited statistics that show that most people who come to Christ do so at a fairly young age.  He also emphasized the significance of one minute in a child's life.  He said something like this:  "If God puts a child in front of you for one minute, you're responsible to use that minute to bless the child."

He shared the story of a very difficult part of his own childhood and told how it awakened in him a passion for reaching children.  He was a missionary child who was sent to a boarding school at the age of six.  He and the other children there suffered terrible abuse.  I had heard some references to an investigation of that school, but had never read the story as it was printed in Christianity Today.  I read it after I got home.  It's very similar to what we heard at the conference.  You can read this compelling story here.

One part of the story we heard, and that is missing in the CT article is how Wess was able to avoid the most common responses to a deeply scarred childhood.  Some people buried the memories and reaped a lifelong harvest of pain.  Others spent a lifetime apparently trying to recover a sense of purpose--by becoming over-achievers in various jobs.  Wess found a third way around a campfire in his late teens.  He chose the way of forgiveness.  He recognized that, although his childhood had been stolen and nothing could change that, he could keep his future from being devoured as well if he chose to forgive.

Beginning in about 2007, the conditions at the boarding school were investigated and the people responsible were censored.  In addition, the mission policy changed to allow schooling to happen in other ways.  Also, a reunion of the children who were at that school took place.  For some adults, this was the first time they felt free to speak of their harrowing childhood experiences.


I'm curious whether the boarding school model is still being used by any  mission organizations for the children of missionaries.  If you know of any, would you tell me?

I'm familiar with the boarding schools in operation for many years in Ontario, where First Nations children were offered an education that was unavailable in the remote areas in which their families lived.  I have no reason to believe that children suffered abuse in this setting, and believe that the education they received there was a benefit to them.  I do feel some caution, however, about the boarding school model for other reasons, chiefly because of how it separates children from their family, culture, and community.

In Beachy missions, a teacher often is sent by the mission board to teach school for the children of missionaries.  In some cases, homeschooling happens.  In other places community schools are opened, and missionary children can attend there.  Any of these are better options than the boarding school one, in my opinion.

Community schools seem like a wonderful thing for missionaries to offer a community.  I'm wistful though about how doing so sometimes leaves illiterate parents out of the loop.  I idealize adult literacy programs where there are illiterate adults, with a followup program that equips parents to be teachers to their own children, at least in the early grades.  Providing curriculum materials to individual families would be much cheaper than staffing and running a community school, and the bond between parent and child would be fostered in such a program.  Also, parents would be empowered to take responsibility for their own children's education, relieving the mission of some of the "burden," and enhancing the ability of adults to contribute to the ministry of the local church.

Given the fact that we've not even begun working out such systems in many of our stateside communities, however, the prospects for doing so abroad look dismal.  Here, the difficulty of the task would be far less than half as great because we do no deal with illiteracy.


The poetry contest at the annual Partridge celebration resulted in a number of winners from our school and from homeschoolers associated with Pilgrim.  Here's what I posted on Facebook about that:  Here's a shoutout to my comp students on the Partridge Pedal Party Poetry contest. In the 12-18 age group, here were the winners: Kristi Mast--1st, Nathan Yutzy--2nd, Marsha Ropp, Jonny Yoder, and Andrew Shenk, Honorable Mention. Congratulations also to adults and homeschoolers who were winners: Karen Miller in two categories, Derek Schumucker and Kristina Miller. Please add the names of anyone I'm forgetting. Congratulations to all.  I hope they publish their poems on their own Facebook accounts.

ACSI Trip Off-Topic Conversation

Jean Ann (handing Wesley a Styrofoam cup after we're all settled in the vehicle):  Here's the rest of your coffee.

Wesley:  Oh, I didn't drink it all?  Gotta make sure I get my dose of polystyrene.  (As he tips up his cup, Jean Ann says to me "He hates drinking out of Styrofoam cups.")

Wesley (continuing):  Every American tested has traces of polystyrene--or whatever the chemical is--in their body tissues.

Arlyn:  You would have to burst my bubble--just when I was beginning to feel better about Styrofoam because it's recyclable.

Me:  It is?  I didn't know that.

Darrell:  You probably should stop worrying about it.  In future generations we'll all be made of plastic and then we won't bleed if we get cut.

Me:  Assuming people will still be able to reproduce in future generations--unlike what is apparently the case for mice that have been fed GMO foods.


While driving in Kansas City traffic:

Arlyn:  This traffic gets my adrenaline pumping.

Me:  It gets mine pumping too--for a different reason than yours.

Wesley:  That worked.


I'm glad I like "us" when we're together outside of school.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quote for the Day--10/16/2012

Student:  You've heard about spitting into the wind . . . Well, awhile ago (but not long enough ago) I tried this trick where you spit into the wind and snap your head up just as you spit and it carries it way back over your head, and  I didn't snap my head quick enough and drenched the front of my shirt, and because it was going to be so cool, I had quite a supply stored up in my mouth . . .


Oh. My. Word.  The things I learn from my students . . .

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quote for the Day 10/15/2012

Jordan (reading from an exercise in his pace):  Ornate.  What does that mean?

Nathan (Nate--"helping" by using the word  in a sentence):    Jordan or Nate--which is more awesome?

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Last summer Harley W. asked me if I was planning to blog about divine healing.  I said I didn't have any plans to do so, and that I usually think about something a long time before I'm ready to say anything about it. I doubt that I'll ever be ready to make a comprehensive statement of any kind on the subject, but here goes with some small and simple offerings on the subject.

Earlier this week David uncharacteristically announced his subject for this Sunday's sermon, and asked people to pray about the subject and for him as he prepared.  At that time he also announced that a Sunday afternoon meeting was planned for whoever was interested in discussing the subject further.  I just got home from the afternoon meeting.

The subject came to the fore in this community within the past few months when a person who grew up in the area offered a seminar in which he promised to instruct people in the matter of divine healing.  A number of people from our churches attended.  Around the same time, a family known to all of us made plans that became common knowledge--to leave the Mennonite church and move to a place in California where they planned to align themselves with a school and ministry that focused heavily on divine healing.

Some of us looked on with quite a few reservations.  Others were obviously fascinated with what was being discussed.  Our ministers responded by talking directly with the presenter of the seminar, then talking with our congregation, and then attending the seminar.  Today's sermon and meeting were followups.

I have never heard anyone express reservations about the reality of supernatural healing.  In fact, quite a few stories of supernatural healing have surfaced recently among people I have known a long time. What I have also heard were reservations about the following:

--Making divine healing a primary emphasis
--Operating outside the accountability of a local congregation
--Limited openness to the counsel of others in the brotherhood
--Shortsightedness about where certain courses of action can lead
--Falling under the spell of "counselors, prophets, & gurus" outside the local church
--Self promotion
--Throwing out the baby with the bathwater in terms of  lifestyle changes

Today I was really blessed in hearing from Uncle Perry, Lorne K, and Keith M.--all of whom have lived with lifelong handicaps personally or have faced the reality of such handicaps in their child.  Perry spoke of having stood in a "healing" line at a campaign in Puerto Rico, probably more than 60 years ago.  He believed he was going to be healed, and it didn't happen.  It didn't shake his faith though.  He just went on doing what he was already doing--preparing to serve in ways his handicap would allow.  He's still serving at the age of 87, although he retired years ago as a public grade school principal.  

Lorne pointed out that Jesus Himself prayed that if it were possible, he would be spared the cup of suffering. He prayed also, however, that the will of God would prevail above his own will.  Lorne sees his own situation and his daughter's as following that path, desiring deliverance, but being willing to walk according to God's purposes, in order to accomplish His purposes.  Lorne also spoke of looking forward to the redemption of the body in heaven.

Keith referred to the Scriptures where Jesus healed the blind man.  Before that happened, people asked Jesus who had sinned, the blind man or his parents.  Jesus said the blindness was not because of anyone's sin, but that the works of God could be made manifest in him.  Keith spoke of the courage they drew from this account, and the reality of seeing God receive glory in many of the events that transpired throughout their daughter's physical challenges because of spina bifida.

Earlier, in the sermon, David had told the story of his older brother William, who showed great promise as a young man.  I remember him myself as handsome, friendly, and conscientious.  He and his wife fell under the spell of people who prophesied over them, and they eventually moved to a remote area in Wyoming with others in the group.  He was not allowed to have much contact with his family.  Then late one Saturday evening, his parents got a phone call from William's wife saying that William had died about ten hours earlier.

I remember hearing from one of his sisters that William's wife had written in the family circle letter prior to this that they were about to see a mighty miracle from God.  She had not mentioned William's illness, but at his funeral, she told the family that she believes he died of cancer.  Apparently the group had expected him to be healed, and the long delay in telling others of his death may have been because they were expecting him to rise from the dead.  In a strange twist to the story, the pastor who had held such sway over his followers called about 20 minutes before the funeral was to begin and said he was sick and could not officiate at the funeral.  The family was delighted to conduct the funeral themselves.  They had pastors and song leaders among them, and were not dismayed at the prospect of an impromptu assignment.  The irony of the pastor who claimed authority over all sickness having to call in sick was not lost on any of the family.

Over the past few days I've pondered how it is that people who are enamored with the idea of divine healing  or natural healing, or whatever . . . , can so easily deny the realities in their own lives when the reality does not fit their chosen "reality."  I think of my friend Beverly, who traveled to another state to help her friend who had cancer.  Before she left home, Beverly had heard from her that she was not feeling well, but that the cancer was subsiding.  Beverly, who was a nurse, saw a very different reality when she arrived.  The friend was clearly dying, and Beverly had the unhappy task of breaking the news to her and helping her prepare for death.  Both of the women were Christians, but only one had a clear sense of reality about the situation.  The friend died within a short time.

William's wife was apparently the same way.  Her husband was dying before her eyes, and she could speak only of the impending miracle she was sure would take place.

I heard recently of another situation that, under any other circumstances, would be described as a reality that really "stinks."  But I assume that saying that would be tantamount to confessing error in past decisions, and could not be entertained because of how such an admission would challenge "chosen realities."

In contrast, the "chosen reality" I heard about today from Perry, Lorne, and Keith enables them to move forward, embracing the reality of suffering, actively offering their circumstances to God for Him to extract from it glory for Himself, engaged with life, serving others, preserving relationships with those who have invested in their lives over decades of time, and rejoicing that God will, in the end, redeem all things perfectly.  Meanwhile, the walk of faith goes on--not effortlessly, but  purposefully.  Divine healing?  I'm sure Perry, Lorne, and Keith would receive such a gift in a heartbeat, but they already know what many younger and more idealistic people have not had the chance to learn:  Sometimes healing is delivered in packages wrapped with suffering, and the gift is revealed only after many layers of pain have been peeled away--perhaps the final one at the very end of life.  Determining to circumvent that process would be settling for second best.

I will continue to pray for healing whenever I face illness in myself or in those I know and love.  I hope I will remember also to commit myself to follow whatever path God appoints for His glory, even if it involves suffering.  The stories and teaching I heard today will help me do that, I believe.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quote for the Day 10/12/2012

Student (to me) :  There are some students here who are making it their goal to use words that you have to look up.


That's a kind of one-upmanship/rivalry/competition I can get excited about.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Matter of Debate

After the presidential debate last week, I happened to wake up early the next morning and took the time to listen to a replay.  After it was over, I hastened to shut off the youtube site before the commentary began.  I wanted to think my own thoughts--not hear right away what some commentator thought.

Oh yeah, people usually declare a winner for these things.  So who do I think was the winner?  

Well, they both gave some pretty solid-sounding facts. But both of them had the facts countered fairly convincingly by the other side. . . .  There was way too much interrupting and refusal to shut up when the moderator was talking--par for the course, I've noticed, in other kinds of debates also.  I think it was probably a tie . . . 

Silly me.  I had spent all that time thinking about what was said (except for taking note of some bad manners) and had failed to note that the president was performing miserably and the challenger was performing stellarly.  Frankly I had not expected perfection or epic failure from either one.  That's how I thought it had turned out.

I read the article on the debate in our local paper--a very balanced piece that pointed out many things that resonated with what I had observed.  The paper also elaborated on some of the fudged facts that both participants had put forth.  The current issue of Time further expands on that theme in their cover story.

At least four of my students were happy to inform me about the winner/loser situation.  When I inquired about where the information came from, it was either "Dad" or CNN.  Except for one, the students were all enthusiastic Romney supporters early in the "Elections" study we did at school--before we had made sufficiently clear that we were requesting a non-partisan approach to the study.  During the project they had honored the request, at least in my hearing.

That evening I did read CNN's take on the debate--a decent analysis, in my opinion.  I've also read that many others saw Romney as the clear winner.

"How do you determine the winner in a debate?" I asked my typing students during break, when we often talk about current events.  They didn't seem to have a clue.  Then I asked them to imagine that Brenda and Alisha (two students in the class) had each given a speech on the same subject, with differing viewpoints.  "If you had to declare one or the other as the winner, how would you decide who it should be?"

"Whichever one was the most convincing."

"Whichever one said what agreed best with the Bible."

"You'd probably choose the one you agreed with the most."

In a flash of self-awareness, everyone seemed to know that the last one probably usually carries the day for most people.

I wish everyone in the world were as insightful as my freshmen typing students.


We had a very good member's meeting at church on the night of the presidential debate.  I noted some absences and wondered if those people had stayed home to listen to the debate.


I do understand that some Obama fans felt that Romney outperformed him on the night of the debate.


Our principal, who probably wouldn't say this publicly, said rather cynically, "I don't know why anyone bothers listening to those debates.  There's never anything new.  People find support for whatever they already think."


My two oldest brothers have picked up again a debate that started near the end of August.  It's on our private family email group, and makes for some pretty interesting reading.  Right now there's a lot of discussion about whether Anabaptists have traditionally favored a limited government.  One says yea and the other says nay.  I'm keeping my ears open and my mouth shut so far on this question.  With advanced degrees in related fields, my brothers both have a far more extensive knowledge of history and Anabaptist theology than I do, so I'm happy to listen in.


Do you know what scintillating means?  Today in comp class I read a haiku that I had written for a poetry writing class in college:

A tired icicle
Scintillating, plunges down,
Knifing soggy snow.

Immediately several students wanted to know what scintillating means.

"Suave" was another word that needed defining for some students.

In typing class, during break, someone asked what haiku is.

High school is a wonderful place for learning words like this, but any other place will do as well.


Shane and Dorcas and the baby are headed east tonight to Virginia with Joe and Marilyn.  The main event is Mark and Mary's wedding--Dad to Dorcas and Joe and Rachel from here.  The long trip is not a pleasure for Tristan, and the event will surely be bittersweet for many who will find it easy to be happy for Mark and Mary and hard because of missing Esther, who was an important part of all of their lives, and who would so have loved to see all these people together.


Calling All Local Bakers and Crafters--or Just One of Each

Earlier our local farmer's market made plans to continue the market season roughly until Christmas by being open for business about every other week--a total of no more than four Saturdays from 10:00-1:00.  The minimum number of members needed to make the project fly was determined, and an up-front, one-time stall rental fee  for the extended season was determined.  A second meeting last Saturday revealed that we were short of the minimum number of vendors--by only two.  As it looks now, the project is unlikely to be attempted for this season.

Complicating the matter is that our local newspaper last week carried a front page article on the "plans" and on Sunday there was an editorial touting the project.  Now that this much free publicity has happened it seems like a real shame to let the prospect fail before it starts.  I contacted the market board chairman and asked if the decision could be reconsidered if two more vendors could be found.  This morning I heard back from him.  He said that he could not speak for everyone, but he thinks it's worth a try, and he would be willing to call for a special meeting to reconsider.

We especially need two kinds of vendors to round out the vendor mix:  bakers and crafters.

None of the regular bakers have committed to being there, so the competition during this celebration food season will be minimal.  I think it would be a stellar opportunity for some local skilled bakers to make some ready cash.  If more than one person commits, the competition will not be guaranteed to be as limited as I've suggested, of course.

Thanksgiving and Christmas centerpieces and Christmas wreaths are another option that no one is committed to provide, so far.  Other kinds of gift items would be a possibility also.  I believe this could also provide a wonderful financial opportunity for someone.

If you see yourself as a candidate for one of these positions, please call or email me soon for more information.  I can tell you what needs to happen further to get signed up.  For obvious reasons, getting the project "on" before the word gets out that it's "off" means better sales prospects, so time is of the essence.

If you know of someone that might be interested, feel free to pass on this information.  Vendors need to be from Reno County or an adjacent county, and all items offered must be hand crafted or home baked.

Contact information for me:  567-2123 or

Saturday, October 06, 2012


Not me--the Captcha I had installed to screen out spam in the comments to posts on this blog.

One legitimate commenter told me that it took multiple tries to get a comment published because it was too difficult to decipher the Captcha code.  I've also seen multiple comments containing the same content from the same person, who apparently couldn't tell if the previous efforts to comment had been successful.  Since I moderate all the comments anyway (grant or deny permission for them to be published), I decided to dispense with the Captcha inconvenience for people who wish to comment.  I had hoped earlier that the Captcha might replace the necessity for moderation.


In my classroom at school I have a Main Street Coffee House mug on display whenever I'm not drinking coffee from it.  It's a gift from Rhonda Schrock, who gave it to me after I won it in a drawing she announced to celebrate the launch of her new website.  She is a columnist for an Indiana newspaper, and the mug comes from one of her favorite writing haunts.  Rani, in our typing class, used to live in Indiana, and recognized the business name.

It's amazing how a coffee house mug earns credits with the high school-age crowd, or at least piques their interest.  When I explain where it came from, some of my students are happy to claim Rhonda as a relative, and the rest are amazed that she is a graduate of our very own Pilgrim school.  I reminded them that I had posted on my bulletin board last year the column she wrote about having come "home" for a reunion of her high school class.  Last week when I told the freshmen typing class that, I realized that they hadn't seen it because they weren't in school yet.

"I just threw that column away last week," I told them with regret.  "I found it in my school bag from when I had cleaned off the bulletin board at the end of school."  Then I had an inspiration.  The student who empties the recycling box in my room on Friday had forgotten to do the job.  Maybe it was still in that box.  I dug through the papers and found it and read it to the typing class during break.


Jesse and Janice got married today.  I loved being part of the celebration.  Besides people from the place in Missouri where Jesse is from, groups of people were here from Leon, IA where Jesse grew up, Estacada, OR where Jesse's first wife Sonya Bechtel was from, Nappanee, IN where Janice's mother grew up, and many friends who had worked with Jesse and Janice at Faith Mission Home, with Janice in Belize, or who were connected or related in some other way.  Janice had taught school here for 12? years, so her former students made up a sizable part of the group of guests.

At the reception we learned from Jonathan G. about "Janice showers" and "Jonathanizing" dishes--terms originating with Jonathan's wife and Janice, respectively, and growing out of their experience in living in the same house in Belize.  John Andrew, one of the people who spoke at the reception, is married to Jesse's sister.  I remembered him as a little third grade boy when I taught school in Ohio.  I hear he's preaching in church tomorrow.

I'll miss Janice on our trips to the ACSI conferences.  I learned to know her best at these times, sharing hotel rooms with her and the other ladies on staff at one of our schools, and on the 3-4-hour trips traveling back and forth to the meetings.


I dashed out and harvested a dishpan full of sweet peppers and a few flowers this evening, in anticipation of our first freeze of the season.  Hiromi had picked boxes full of green tomatoes yesterday. Today, imagining a freeze tonight was not hard.  The weather was cold and gray and windy.  If the skies clear overnight as predicted, the cold will likely settle down and create havoc, especially in the not-ripe milo fields.  Our average first-frost date is about two weeks away.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

A Tense Situation

I just read something on Facebook that reminded me of a quirky expression I've heard a number of times recently--always among people who have a Pennsylvania Dutch background.  On Facebook, someone was trying to date when a photo was taken, and said "It would have been . . . . [a certain time], or then it would have been . . . [at a different time]."

The tense of "would have been" appears to be the past perfect conditional tense.  Glad you asked.  One website describes this usage this way:  We use the perfect conditional tense in English (I would have been/done etc.) to speculate about the past situations which were theoretically possible, but did not happen in fact.The only problem is that the person writing on Facebook did not mean to express doubt about the fact of the "happening" (when the picture was taken).  She wasn't certain about the time though.  That makes the Dutchified expression a variation on this already unusual tense.

For the Facebook person's purposes, "would have been" could very simply have been replaced by "was."  "It was . . . [at a certain time], or it was [at a different time]."

The "or then" is an additional quirk.  The easiest way to fix this problem is to omit "then."  "Either" could also be inserted near the beginning of the sentence.

"Would have been" occurs among "Dutch" people in other usages such as:

"He would have been my second cousin."
"I would have been the second child in my family."
"I would have been in grade school when my grandmother died."

In every case, "was" should replace "would have been"  and all would be well.  Or is that "all would have been well?"

Searching for a motive or explanation for the strange expression is probably fruitless, but I suspect using tentative terms such as "would have been" instead of decisive ones like "was" simply feels better to people who are used to cultivating caution and humility.   Maybe it's a literal translation of an expression I'm not that familiar with in Dutch either.

For example:

Ow vwah maa second cousin gvest.  (I don't have a clue how to spell these words.)
Ich vwah 'ss tsvet kint in dee family gvest.
Ich vwah in grade schul gvest voe maa grussmommy kshtarva iss.

I'm used to saying:

Ow vwa maa second cousin.
Ich vwah 'ss tsvet kint in dee family.
Ich vwah in grade schul voe maa grussmommy kshtarva iss.

Now that I've written it out, I see that what I'm doing in the second set of Dutch sentences is omitting "gvest" in each one.  "Gvest" must be the equivalent to "would have been."

I'm glad we got that settled.

Does it all make sense to you?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Education Post as an Afterthought

A population explosion is expected soon at Center--each new addition arriving in miniature--seven or so in the next number of months.  The prospect of these babies arriving in a welcoming world, in their home and in their church family, is a great privilege for all involved, and not to be taken for granted.


A low of 38 degrees, with patchy frost, is predicted here for Saturday night.  I don't think I'm quite ready for this, but the the gradual cooling down that has taken place recently is certainly preferable to having warm weather until a bitterly cold system moves in that drops the temperature overnight to 16 degrees.  That happened one year.  Some of the milo is still green and needs more time to mature.


Our place looks much relieved since yesterday when Shane had a day off from his regular job, and spent most of it mowing around the farm.  I'll spare you the statistics on how tall the grass in the front yard had become.  He saved one stalk as evidence of the long neglect.


People have been seeing impressive rings around the moon, of late.  Lizzie N. says that if there are stars inside the ring, you can count them and know how many days it will be till the expected precipitation arrives. Moisture sounds good to me, and if its arrival reinforces someone's belief in the veracity of this homespun weather prediction method, I'm not opposed.  Neither am I holding my breath till I see it verified.


Let me know if you'd like more information about the poetry contest in connection with the Partridge Pedal Party.  Entries are due on Oct. 17, and contestants from six years old to adults can enter.  Cash prizes will be awarded in a variety of age divisions and content categories.  As a homeschooler, I often used occasions like this to focus on teaching that culminated in a contest entry.  I'm doing the same thing with my comp class.  I hope many locals consider entering or encouraging the people around them to enter.


I've been giving a lot of thought to what constitutes an appropriate personal and community perspective on education.  The education term is used broadly here.  I wonder how the following can effectively be countered:

1.  An overweening reverence for all things academic
2.  Disdain for knowledge outside one's own frame of reference
3.  Suspicion of efforts to investigate controversial matters
4.  An elitist or super-spiritual mentality about any given perspective or information

So far I've identified the following values I subscribe to:

1.  Learning can happen in lots of ways.  Going to school is one among many ways it can happen.
2.  A frame of reference needs only as much rigidity as the Word of God has rigidity.  Beyond that, extreme flexibility is desirable.
3.  Investigation of controversial matters may not be everyone's calling, but for those whom God calls, the summons can be safely obeyed.   Safeguards within the Christian community should be honored, and all activities should be carried out in the open, with appropriate accountability.
4.  Humility--not to be confused with silence, shyness, or conservatism--is always appropriate, no matter how much or how little "power" one possesses.  
5.  Questions are more appropriate than pronouncements in areas where knowledge is limited.
6.  Usually it's good to reference others with credentials beyond your own when you subscribe to or promote a given perspective.  Disdain for such credentials often reveals a lack of humility.
7.  Generally, information is egalitarian--and should not be kept within the purview of only a select few.
8.  Great certainty paired with minimal insight and experience should be challenged wherever it is found.