Grandpa Mose Yoder died in 1977 at the age of 92. I wasn’t particularly close to Grandpa, for which I have some regrets. He was a hardworking farmer and operated a lumber sawmill until his late 80s when his family made him stop after he injured himself. His family said that when they went to visit him, oftentimes he was sitting in his little “daughty (grandparent) house” reading his Bible by lantern light.
Dad went to visit Grandpa at least once per month, usually on Sunday afternoons. He often longingly offered us boys the chance to go along, but we were way too busy playing or watching sports or watching Sunday evening TV. We just couldn’t miss Death Valley Days, The Wonderful World of Disney, or some other innocuous show—that would change our lives forever—not?
We had an auction at our place, I think around 1975. Dad had determined because Mom didn’t drive, and Dad was fairly handicapped with severe arthritis, that it was time to move up to Berlin, closer to stores, post office, and in general just have a smaller property to take care of.
Grandpa Mose, almost 90 years old at the time, was at that auction. I was about 21, and I remember standing next to him in our small barn, and I tried to strike up a conversation. But after so many years running the sawmill, likely without hearing protection, he was very hard of hearing. I felt sad that I went so many years without communication with Grandpa, and now it was almost impossible.
So, when Grandpa died about two years later, I felt very sad, lonely, afraid, and unloved. I had a good job at the time and was making plenty of money—but I felt very empty. I likely didn’t show it on the outside, but I was very distraught on the inside.
So, after Grandpa’s burial in the Amish Cemetery about two miles away, I didn’t go back to the farm for lunch. I drove for miles on country roads. I had no remedy for the way I felt. I had no answers—no psychological insights at that time, as I became a mental health worker many years later.
It was just me, myself, and I on those lonely country roads—or so I thought. I’m kind of a crybaby, so I was crying profusely. I’m not sure what prompted me in my pathetic state to pray, because I had only prayed rote prayers in the past—like “Now I lay me down to sleep”. I had gone to church in the past, although not regularly. But for all the times I went, I still didn’t know anything about God and how He worked in peoples’ lives.
But—God heard my cry to Him, and my desperate plea for help—and he answered me. I can’t explain it, but He was just—there. I knew without a doubt that God heard my prayer. I no longer felt alone.
I went from extreme sadness, loneliness, fear, and emptiness—to ecstatic joy, peace, and love. I went back to the all-day funeral gathering a changed man.
I don’t want to insinuate that I’m glad Grandpa died—or even that I was very close to him. But I think his funeral was the catalyst for my life-changing encounter with God. And for that, I want to thank Grandpa Mose Yoder.