Cousin Verna died last week. She lived in Arizona and was ill for many months. I never spent much time with her as she grew up in Kansas and moved to Arizona a number of years ago. The only time I saw her was at three-year Yoder family reunions and other sporadic reunions.
When I was a young boy I can remember Verna and a friend coming to stay at my family’s house while she attended Bible School at Pleasant View Conservative Mennonite Church. She always had a ready smile and a wry sense of humor. I can remember hunting “snipes” at night when she stayed here, and roasting cashews. What is a snipe anyway? I remember getting sick after eating too many cashews.
Verna was a light in my life and the life of my family. My family was only sporadic in church attendance at that time and never talked openly about a person having faith in God. I recognized then there was something different about Verna and some of my other Conservative Mennonite relatives.
Dad and Verna’s dad Jake grew up Amish. I think Dad was the first of his family to leave the Amish church, but he did not leave for religious reasons. I think Uncle Jake, on the other hand, left the Amish and became Conservative Mennonite because they had an emphasis on salvation by faith in Christ.
It was obvious to me that Uncle Jake, his family, and Cousin Verna were different. They had a ready smile, love, and acceptance of my family. I didn’t know it at the time, but I now know it was Jesus living in them that made them so different.
I firmly believe Cousin Verna, her family, and many of my other relatives with obvious faith in Christ helped influence me to accept Christ for myself. For that I’m eternally grateful.
See you next time.