Prairie View

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Wrapup February 26, 2017

The parents of our daughter-in-law, Clarissa, came to Christian faith after they had several children.  Now Bob and Kathy have grandchildren the same age as their own children were when they became believers.  During all the intervening years, the family has prayed daily for salvation for Bob's parents, seemingly with nothing changing.  

Bob's father died of cancer several weeks ago. His body was promptly cremated, and no funeral service took place.  The family not having a chance to gather and grieve and remember seems sad to me, as does having had to part with a beloved family member.  Rejoicing is in order, however, since Bob's father made peace with God shortly before he died.  With that knowledge, a heavy burden is lifted.  To know that Grandpa is safe at home, pain-free, is cause for celebration.  


Steven Brubaker from Pennsylvania will be speaking at Center at 7:15 every evening from Friday through Sunday this coming weekend.  He will also speak on Sunday morning.  The topic is "An Anabaptist Worldview."


This morning in church we learned about the death of David Jesse Yoder.  I think I met him once when he was single, and traveling through Kansas with his parental family.  They knew members of our family from having served in El Salvador together.  He died of cancer in his early fifties.

My brother Lowell once drove to Central America with David Jesse as a passenger.  Even as young adults they were both big guys--over six feet tall.  They thought that might have helped them avoid becoming easy targets for thieves.  They had a safe trip.

Another death was Jenny Yoder, the mother of Stevie, who is married to the daughter of Mark and Rose from church.  She was in her early 50's as well and died during surgery (I think this is right) for bleeding on her brain from a stroke or an aneurysm.  Jenny was a native of Belize.  She had married an Indiana man and they raised their family there.

In each case, a large family remains.  


On Friday evening the Liverwurst and Fried Mush Fundraiser for Mennonite Friendship Communities raised around $15,000 for the continuing care fund for residents who have outlived their resources.  I love this food, and apparently about 849 other people do too.

Lowell Peachey, who is the CEO of MFC is undergoing treatment for lymphoma and was unable to be present.  People who wished to do so could sign a giant card for him.  Our BD son used to serve on the MFC board, so supporting this effort is always done partly in his honor.  


We had a few guests in church this morning who had come to the community for the Anabaptist Financial seminar yesterday.  We didn't attend, but I heard good reports about the meeting.  


I recently subscribed to the Mennonite World Review, a newspaper that my parents read regularly.  I was surprised to see in the Mosaic section a short piece lifted from my brother Ronald's "Observations" column (which he inherited upon Dad's death) in Calvary Messenger.  Dad would have enjoyed reading this.  Some quotes:  "Giving priority to family activities or church services is a vote cast with presence and absence . . . He wonders what it communicates when vacations and outings are scheduled to minimize conflicts with work but not the Sabbath."


Last week Linda gave me a booklet on wildflowers that had my name in it, along with Linda's and Carol's.  The names were written in my mother's neat handwriting, along with the family's address at the time:  Route 1, Box 51, Hutchinson, Kansas.  The book was published in 1960.  I remember when my mother gave it, along with a companion volume about birds.  I pored over both books for hours in my childhood.

I'm ever-so-grateful for how Mom encouraged us to learn about the natural world in this way, and I treasure this momento of her. 


Last Saturday Hiromi and I bought a new clothes washer.  In 35 years of marriage, we have only had two different automatic washers--both of them Maytags.  The first one was actually still working when we stored it because Mom's was still in place and usable when we moved to the farm.  Shane made an executive decision and tossed our stored one when we moved back here to the Trail West house.  He informed us there was a dead coon or something in there.  I think it might have been a blanket that got wet and grew mold.  We moved Mom's old washer along to Trail West.  It worked till now--sort of.  

The week before, the washer had committed an unpardonable sin and splashed black grease over my light-colored going-away dresses.  It had happened once a number of years ago, but the misbehavior did not reoccur so the washer did not get replaced then.  Since then it accumulated several other strikes against it--water leaks, mostly, and finally Hiromi decided it was time to replace rather than fix it.  We got a top-loading Speed Queen, based on Clare's recommendation after she researched the matter when their washer had to be replaced.  It's old-fashioned in most ways, which is fine with me, and a benefit in Hiromi's eyes. 

When we first got married, I did the laundry in a wringer washer.  We didn't have an automatic till after Joel was at least a year old.  I still feel nostalgic about washing that way, but I do enjoy the convenience of an automatic washer.


Yesterday I saw a cardinal in our yard.  This was notable because we have not seen cardinals at the bird feeder this year as we have in the past.  I don't know where this guy came from.  Either he was lurking here all along or he flew in from elsewhere recently.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Wrap Up 2/12/2017

Today in church we sang two of the congregational songs that we sang at my dad's funeral:  "Come, We That Love the Lord," and "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need." Shane led the singing, just as he had at the funeral.  The last line of the second song is "No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home."  In connection with that phrase, Shane referenced Dad's keen awareness of his identity as a pilgrim and stranger on earth.  It was a big part of Dad's way of living that we hadn't mentioned in the tribute, and I was glad it was not overlooked completely in the funeral service.


Singing at church is increasingly meaningful to me.  It's a compelling reason not to be late because the service is usually opened with singing and I hate to miss any of it.  We've begun using Hymns of the Church, known informally as the Purple Martin songbook (the compiler is John Martin and the cover is purple), and last year I found myself often wishing I could read over the words again at home and ponder them.

So I did what I've done before--bought my own Christmas present to save Hiromi the trouble.  I bought a songbook for myself.  I have used that songbook regularly during my private devotions ever since.  Since I own the book, I'm marking it up freely, according to the code I've developed as the need arose.

One of the first things I did was to check the Scripture Index to see if any of the songs were linked to the Sunday School lesson for the week.  If so, I read those songs and, if they were familiar, I sang them inside my head.  Those songs were marked like this:  H-1-1-17-SS.  That means I "sang" it at home on January 1, 2017, and it corresponded to the Sunday School lesson.  Inside-the-head singing is a kindness to Hiromi who is usually still asleep while I'm doing this.

If a song is marked with a C instead of an H, it means it's a song we sang in church.  If the date is followed by an asterisk, it means that it was a "new-song-of-the-month" at church.  Sometimes I add other notes.  For example, recently Menno's daughter-in-law selected a song in honor of Menno, who died within the past year or two, so I added the note "Sung in honor of Menno Nisly" after the date.

I usually read and reflect on the scripture verse listed with each song.  Often I follow up by reading the longer passage where it occurs.  

I have to write down the song numbers during church if I'm to remember what they were.  That's a slight inconvenience.  I just had an idea!!!!   What if those numbers could be added to the announcement sheet?  Maybe others would find it easier to worship through those same songs at home if this little detail was taken care of for them.


Last week our church hosted the Shepherd's Institute.  It was a week-long training session for pastors primarily.  The main presenters were Linford Berry, Chester Weaver, and Milo Zehr.  Only the evening sessions were open to the public.  Every evening featured a session on worship by Linford Berry and another on the story of the Dutch Mennonites by Chester Weaver.  These sessions were very worthwhile.  They can be accessed at

I can't give a very satisfactory summary of the content, but I recognized in one part of what Linford Berry spoke of--that what happens in our church and what happens at home for me is that we are speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  This is an important part of worship.

Chester Weaver's story revealed details of one of the two great blots on Anabaptist/Mennonite history--the Mennonites of Germany who became good Nazis when Hitler came to power (the other one is Muenster).  Weaver very studiously avoided making comparisons to anything happening in America now, but I find the parallels stark enough to be terrifying.  Those German Mennonites of Dutch ancestry had completely lost identity with the signature Anabaptist gift to the world:  the separation of church and state.  The life in Christ at the center of living faith had also been lost, and nationalism took its place.

Fifty years after the fact, even those Mennonite Nazis realized their terrible mistake and apologized.  Seeking forgiveness is a good thing, but it would have been better to seek "permission" from God fifty years earlier.  Thinking about that even a tiny bit might have revealed how completely at odds Hitler's agenda was with the Spirit of Christ, and might have led Dutch/German Mennonites to step off the political/government train that carried many others to death.   The Mennonites were not only complicit in it; some of them helped kill "undesirables" directly by volunteering for the SS--the elite forces involved in the killing machine.


I'm thinking a lot about social studies right now.  Our curriculum committee is formulating a philosophy statement as the first step in making good curriculum choices for our school.  We've gotten only so far as an incomplete rough draft.  Even that has called for a lot of background reading and pondering historical documents.

From many angles, I've had a chance to think about what it means to be faithful to Christ while living in a world where government, geography, economics,  history, anthropology, sociology, and psychology are facets of the reality we must deal with.

Many influences enter into my thinking about how to parse and synthesize the truths that must be taken into account in developing a coherent, cohesive belief and statement--the example of my dad's pilgrim and stranger identity, his firm belief that being a witness is incumbent on Christians, papers written by students, Francis Schaeffer's influence on how Christians think about these things, the Schleitheim Confession, the insights of a Christian Facebook friend who lives abroad, thoughtful columnists who write about our times, the book Pilgrims and Politics, John Howard Yoder's writings, Anabaptist history, interactions with people who are politically involved, and memories of things learned in college classes.  Doing it all under the Lordship of Christ is my goal.


Conversation with Chester Weaver revealed that he is a first cousin to a young man whose life intersected with mine for a time a number of decades ago.  His comment that "he never recovered" sent me scurrying later to search for evidence that I was not really as guilty as that statement might have suggested that I am--although I don't think he meant to assign blame.  He did, in fact, acknowledge that major cultural differences were present,  Hiromi and I laughed later about the incongruity of my having cited cultural differences in that situation and then "ending up married to a former Buddhist from Japan."


Hiromi and I had all five grandsons here for the evening last night.  We loved it.  Ryker, who is about 2 1/2 months old slept nearly all evening.  The rest ate heartily and played happily.  They're really fun little people--every one of them.  Several days ago Ryker underwent a procedure where multiple "ties" inside his mouth were "untied." He had lip, cheek, and tongue ties--multiples of each--which were severed by laser.  I find it painful to think about.  I never heard of such things until recently, and now I seem to be hearing about them a lot.  If the condition is more common than earlier, I wonder why.


In our mailbox at church today were valentines from the far-away granddaughters, along with a  letter from their mother.  The mail was hand carried by Nelson and Hannah, who returned from BD recently.  That extended the grandchild fix from last night into today.


I learned today that my brother Ronald is to be the speaker for the weekend pre-ordination meetings that will take place later this spring, ahead of a scheduled deacon ordination.


I can't believe it.  My sister from the KC area was here for almost a week and I never saw her.  Long days at school and evenings at the Shepherd's Institute took up all my time.  Carol came with her daughter's family when her son-in-law came to install some epoxy floor covering for a job my brother Lowell was also helping with.


Many times during the Shepherd's Institute I thought of how much my dad would have enjoyed it.  I've missed him many other times, often when I was sure he could have supplied some missing information or perspective, or when I wasn't sure what to make of something I was hearing.  He was good at bringing balance to discussions, and his knowledge of history was often instructive.  What he's experiencing now is surely better, but it's not yet better for me.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Roasted and Banished

I learned several weeks ago about a cause of fire that I had never thought to worry about.  This cause affected our son's property along K61.  Our daughter-in-law, Clarissa (Clare) first became aware of the problem when a fire truck appeared in the driveway.  Someone had seen that the pasture was on fire and had called for help.

The wind that day was from the north.  A power line borders the roadway on the south, marking the boundary between the public roadside and the pasture that is part of their 9-acre property.  The house and other outbuilding are mostly west of the pasture, although the pasture does curve around to the south of the buildings at the west end (my apologies to any reader not used to thinking in cardinal directions).

When the excitement was over, the cause was discovered near one of the power line poles.  It was a badly charred hawk--identifiable by his body shape, beak and talons.  He had apparently been electrocuted, with his feathers set aflame in the process.  When the flaming body fell onto dry grass, the grass ignited and the fire spread quickly under the force of the wind.  Two fire departments responded, and the fire was contained--not before it had burned all the way to the outside wall of one of the outbuildings.


A Great-Horned Owl has been frequenting our property of late.  I often hear its vocalizations if I wake up at night.  I've seen it perched nearby late in the evening and early in the morning.  Since these owls may nest as early as January, I presume that some of the hunting may be the work of hardworking parents.

In previous years, I often saw a Great Horned Owl perched in the evening on the cross-arm of a power line pole along the railroad on the opposite side of Trail West Road which goes by our place.

In recent months the entire row of power line poles along the railroad has been removed.  I lament the absence of the lines and poles for several reasons.  It makes the landscape more featureless, and it removes miles of perching space for songbirds and predator birds.

Training binoculars on a bird resting on a power line is relatively easy compared to locating it among the branches of a tree, so part of what I lament is that I don't have a clear view of birds as readily available anymore.  Also, I'm sorry that birds of prey don't have a good vantage point for hunting over the prey-rich un-mowed grass along the railroad.  That must be why the resident Great Horned Owl is busy on our  little 3-acre property.  I hope our cat and our chickens stay safe.  The Cottontail rabbits?  He can have those.  The mice too.