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At age 24 I was sent from Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida be a missionary pastor, and by 1980, I had lived for thirty years in the city, and was making plans to move to Sarasota, a Mennonite Mecca. I had a house to sell in Tampa, and the financial institution of a prospective buyer had stipulated certain repairs that should be done if the buyer was to qualify for a loan. This troubled me because I was manually unskilled and a busy pastor. God’s answer to my need tested my faith in man and God, and utterly surprised me.
On a Wednesday, I happened to be in a nearby Publix parking lot when an unfamiliar person asked me to loan him 5 dollars to buy food, and added, did I happen to have some work he might do. I had lived in the city long enough to know that loaned money would not likely be returned, and that a stranger was not to be trusted. Yet, I gave him the 5 dollars, and supplied him with my address where he could come to work . He promised to be on hand the next morning. . With city-bred skepticism I watched him walk into the store with my money.
Out of the blue, my mysterious friend showed up the next morning for work. We examined what needed to be done and negotiated an hourly wage. True to form, he asked for an advance on his wages so he could go to the store to buy breakfast. Again, I watched my money being carried away by a man about whom I knew nothing and with no work done, yet
He did return before noon, and finished out the day working, but was unfinished and days end. We discussed work for the next day, but he informed me that he honored the Holy Spirit by not working on Friday. I learned that he did no work on Saturday to honor God, the Father, no work on Sunday to honor God, the Son, and did no work on Monday to honor the Virgin Mary. But, yes, he would work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
He reappeared on Tuesday morning for work and left that evening after receiving his wages. He worked on Wednesday and Thursday as promised. My last work for him was to help me move by truck several hives of bees to a new owner in the country. I explained that I would close the entrances to the hives after all bees had returned in the evening, but I could not guarantee no stings. After the hives were successfully delivered to their new owner, my friend asked to be dropped off at his sleeping place.
We stopped at a Dairy Queen on 22nd. Street that had been robbed and abandoned. I watched as he crawled through the broken glass door, ostensibly for the night. That was the last I saw of the stranger who earned his wages, kept his promises, and faithfully honored the Triune God and the Virgin Mary.
Yesterday was appropriately marked on the calendar as a day to honor mothers. The day began with Conrad picking up me, Joyce, and Jill in that order. We went with Conrad and Jill to their newly discovered church known as The Vine. The meeting place was near the Old Bag Factory in Goshen.
We went for the first service and chose seats on the 3rd row as we would do at College Mennonite. It is a fast growing church which aims to change Goshen. It attracts young families. The ambiance was much as I anticipated: Loud singing with a platform of musical instruments. . What I had not anticipated was the sermon by a young woman on the question, Who says who we are? Her answer was simple, God does. She supported this answer by careful exegesis of the Biblical text. It was a powerful sermon, and I could not leave the meeting without telling her so.
Then Conrad and Joyce’s daughter Jill took us to Niles, MIchigan to the new home of Joyce’s other daughter Beth and her husband, Mark Hooley.. The Hooleys have purchased a large house to rescue from depredation by a dog that was never seen out of doors by the neighbors. The house stinks!
We ate delicious food in an outdoor patio warmed by fire in a firebit. The food was grilled chicken, baked beans, potato salad, green leaf and fruit salads. As the afternoon wore on clouds broke and we were warmed by the sun.
Beth and Jill were born six years and six months apart, and their choices have tended to keep them separate. Joyce happily saw her daughters begin to really know and care for each other. She told me that it was the only Mothers Day in her memory as adults that the three of them had been together. Her daughters honored her with cards and gifts. She was surprised and pleased.
Conrad and Jill brought us home in late afternoon. I walked into Apt. 83, sat on my chair at my computer desk and fell into a deep sleep. In the middle of the night I awoke thinking of my own mother. The mother of my mother died within a year of giving birth to her youngest daughter, my mother. So my mother did not remember her mother.
When my mother thought of heaven she often spoke of the future joy of meeting her mother for the first time to know and remember her.
If you live in Northern Indian you know spring was late coming in 2018. I’m told that Indiana farmers are concerned about the abundance of rain that keep them out of their fields. I go to sleep each night to the song, “The Farmer Feeds them all.” Here are the words of this reminding song Click here for the words pictures and music. If you want to hear the song sung in country style click here.
This forenoon it was rainy, but I believe it will be clear enough for me to ride my scooter to the grocery store for avocados. The avocado is the prime ingredient for my evening smoothee. Cousin Nate and Kathy Lehman used their iphone for a face to face telephone call this morning. He sent me by email the title of a book he recommends. It is: “What about Now?” By Gina Lake, available on Amazon. We are reading “Radical Happiness” also by Gina Lake. I also recommend any book by Gina.”
In return I told them about “The Same Different as me” which is the story of an unlikely friendship between a white millionaire art dealer and a black sharecropper who is an illiterate and homeless man who lived on the streets of Fort Worth. These two men were brought together for a life-long friendship by a woman who was forgiving, caring and insightful. The men learned that they were the same despite their vast differences.
Joyce and I read another book that stretched our understanding of cultural differences and scientific dilemmas. The book title is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta produced cancer cells that continued to live and multiply after they were excised from her body. The immortality of her cancer cells gave scientists the opportunity to experiment with them and find cures for many difficult diseases that plague humans. The history of these cells was researched by a persistent white reporter named Rebecca Skloot. This lead her to a small community south of Baltimore, Maryland.
Joyce and I have each lived a long time. In 2000 the average life in the USA was 77; in 2015 the average span was 79 years. Joyce is older than that and so am I. As we read about Henrietta Lacks we wondered if the immortality of her cancer cells has anything to do with our longevity.