Back row: Rachel, Ben, Dad.
Front row: Grandma Kraybill, Aunt Fannie, Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Emily
This is to me a picture of happiness and peace. As I look at them I know they lived what they believed and served the Lord in all they did.
I want to share part of a letter that Aunt Emily wrote to me in 1988.
I am sitting at the desk in the enclosed patio. I am looking back on the farm. On the third year of teaching school in September I had typhoid fever, a long siege that was 8-9 weeks of not conscious and delirious, taking just a little juice and milk for nourishment. Mother, Father and the nurse caring for me so I would not get out of bed watching for weeks. Finally so weak the nurse could not feel my pulse and so she gave me whiskey and she saw life in my veins. After that I gained strength very slowly but no more teaching that year. This is what I saw on my wall. It read “ He Careth For You’. 1 Peter 5:7 this meant so much to me and still does.
The next year I was teaching again. I was so glad to be able to talk to your grandfather about school (He also was a teacher) Soon after that I was glad to see my brother Lehman, you grandfather with his wife Bertha and their children. (Rachel, Arthur and Ben) growing up. But than a sadness came when brother Lehman was called home at age 33,(the age of Jesus) . So his work on earth was well done. But we missed him and pitied Bertha and the children. So Arthur (age 6) and Ben (age 2-1/2) grew up in the home of my parents and us “Aunties”. Bertha and baby Rachel with her parents. But we worked it so that weekly they would all be together. But did you ever know I thought it would have been better, when I was so near death, to have gone on and their father would have been here to raise the family for the Lord. But we have to say the Lord does all things right and go forward.
We all enjoyed living together, how those little boys were real blessings and I can say they were good boys. We so loved them. How they would play and keep us young. Their room was full of toys and homemade things. Your father had made a telephone arrangement in which they talked from one room to another. Oh how they would go on their kitty cars and go down to the pavement.
Later on they got paper routes and delivered papers with their bikes. They also fetched milk from a nearby farm. We all worked together to save and help each other. Both Ben and your father got a ride on the drag while getting ready for planting. Ben was very careful in drying dishes and placed them carefully at their places.
School time came and they walked down to school so neat and tidy. Later they graduated from EMS (Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Va). They both found lovely companions and were married. Than Rachel and Bertha came to live with us. Rachel trained to be a RN at General Hospital. She and her mother were dear ones to us. Than she married Luke Brubaker. I could say more about going to Uncle Amos’s and all the children enjoying Christmas and Easter until we reversed it and all came to our house.
Later on in this long letter she wrote this to me. “Donna, I think of you so often and pray for you. We all go through struggles and trials which are not easy, but God will carry us through. Keep on trusting and obeying, “His Word is SURE TRUE”. This was the motto I had on my wall while teaching at New Danville Mennonite School. Always remember “Be strong and of good courage” Joshua 1:9
She than wrote several paragraphs to all 3 of my kids with encouragement and love.
I am sharing this letter so you see they met each trial with strength and courage and trusted the Lord and kept going. I think that is why we see such real peace on each of their faces. The house they lived in was built in 1920 in the town of Mount Joy. The “Aunties” parents lived down stairs and the “Aunties” lived upstairs. Than the 2 boys came and they adjusted and made sacrifices but I never heard a word about those. In fact I can honestly say I never heard the “Aunties” complain at all.
As I sit here this morning I see a faith that is pure. They understood trials but they also understood that God was always with them. You see in the letter Aunt Emily did question why she was not taken and her brother left to raise his children but she accepted “The Lord does all things right and we go forward”. I so admire this. I feel so blessed that I had the “Aunties” in my life to set a example that I follow in His steps. I think sometimes I want to follow in “their “ footsteps and they would say, “Donna, follow in HIS foot steps and you will not falter long.
This was a poem her students memorized and she lived. It is simple but true. I looked today for an author but cannot find one. This poem is on a sheet of things she had students use as copy work or to memorize.
MY HEART A GARDEN
My heart is God’s little garden,
And the fruits that grow each day
Are the things He sees me doing,
And the words he hears me say.
The flowers in God’s little garden
Are joy and truth and love.
And the seed by the Master planter
Is raised in His garden above.
There’s a spring in God’s little garden
Those waters so sweet and clear.
Flow out into other gardens
Which God plants very near.
I must tend God’s little garden
Lest the weeds and sharp thorns grow.
If the flowers should droop and wither
His heart would be sad I know.