I had a great time on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at the Mose Yoder reunion. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family and a great heritage.
Two of my uncles got up front to tell stories, many funny, of Grandpa, Grandma, and their travels between Kansas, to Ohio, back to Kansas, and finally back to Ohio for good.
Uncle Eli is the oldest living brother of my Dad’s family. He is a very friendly, gracious man, and the love of Jesus just emanates from him. At 93 years old Uncle Eli said that he still goes out and uses a weed-eater and does some other outdoor work. He was Amish for many years but now attends a Conservative Mennonite church.
Uncle Henry was the youngest member of the family and he and Eli are my only remaining uncles on my Dad’s side. He is 85 years old, but he is still full of energy and fun. When my son was still very young Uncle Henry gladly took him on his first buggy ride and Uncle Henry smiled the whole time. Uncle Henry was the main storyteller at the reunion. He remains a member of the Amish church.
One story was about Grandpa who was a “slater” that installed slate roofs on buildings. Uncle Henry told how Grandpa fell head-first off a roof onto the ground below. He said a man saved Grandpa's life by literally pulling his head back up from between his shoulders. That story made me cringe.
Cousin Mel, a son of Aunt Elma, my only aunt, showed us a picture of Dad with a strange woman. Dad traveled quite a bit and his sister Elma jokingly said that instead of having "a girl in every port", Dad had a "girl on every porch". I never knew Dad to be such a ladies’ man, but I did often hear he was full of wanderlust, always looking for the greener grass on the other side of the hill. He left the Amish church for good at the age of 22.
Uncle Eli told me that Grandma was hurt by Dad leaving the Amish church, but Grandpa did not seem adversely affected. As I was growing up Dad visited Grandpa or his brothers and sister at least a couple times per month. Unlike so many others leaving the Amish faith Dad was never shunned by his family, and I am really thankful for that. I wish that many Amish leaders would learn the lesson that it is not necessary for Amish parents to shun their children that leave the Amish church, and that the Lord can bless a family that has open arms to all members of the family in various stages of trying to find out what the Lord has for them.
Cousin Paul, who is still Amish, shared with me how he started a hardware store in Mt. Hope, Ohio in early 60's after he was newly married and still in 1-W Service (a Military Selective Service status for conscientious objectors). The former hardware store in Mt. Hope had gone out of business and had a poor reputation of not paying its debts. Paul said he started the new hardware business with very little money but made it grow so much that Lehman Hardware of Kidron, Ohio, which was well known in the area, bought him out to make a satellite store. Lehman Hardware hired Paul to manage the store. Paul managed it for many years until recently, and now only works about two days per week. Paul asked me about my involvement with Mission to Amish People (MAP) and the "Amish boys" that come to a Bible study at my home. I had spoken to him last year about the Bible study.
Cousin David, one of Eli’s middle sons, moved his family from a long time living in West Virginia to a Conservative Mennonite community in Maryland. He said he and his family moved there because the community in West Virginia was changing too much to suit them. He was friendly and I appreciate him a great deal. We talked about our common faith in Christ being the most important thing in life. I am not sure what he thought of me, a person that is no longer even Mennonite, being a born-again Christian.
I spent a long time talking to Roy, who was the host. I enjoyed the time I spent with him a great deal. He is the production manager for what used to be called Wayne-Dalton garage doors, and he rides his bicycle six miles to work and six miles home every day in rain, snow, sleet or sunshine. He said that about the only time he drives his buggy is on icy days. He was very humble how he became the production manager, and he is looking forward to the day when he can retire and just farm. It is interesting to think of an Amish man being a production manager of a major company with all the technology it uses....and he rides his bicycle six miles to and from work!
My cousins Steve and Verna seemed interested in the involvement of my family with Mission to Amish People. They were especially interested in the story I told about Mose Gingerich from Missouri who was in the television show “Amish in the City” about ten years ago. They smiled widely when I said that Mose gave his heart to the Lord during a National Geographic filming in our house about three weeks prior.
I did not talk very much with my cousin Ernest from Kansas, but my wife and he were engaged in conversation about MAP and his daughter Rhonda Shrock who lives in Indiana with her family and has become a well known writer for several newspapers, blogs, and colleges. My wife is also a writer so they had something in common to talk about.
I could go on and on talking about all the relatives I visited, and the ones that are gone whom I learned more about. I really missed talking with my cousin Ed who is my age. But all in all we had a really blessed day! I pray that many of my relatives that do not know Christ come to Him and find the joy and happiness of serving our wonderful Savior.
See you next time,