Heatwole Family Reunion-2015

Life has been busy and full this summer and I think all the big major events have now taken place!  This weekend was our Heatwole family gathering here in Powhatan. Each of us siblings (Me, Rich, Evelyn and Ed) take turns hosting. Every four years it is my turn.

My siblings/spouses and parents arrived on Friday evening. We enjoyed supper on the deck and as a side benefit watched six turkeys grazing in the field behind the house.

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On Saturday the rest of the gang arrived.  There were 40 present with several not able to attend. The kids had a great time playing in the wading pool and playing kick ball and  corn-hole. The adults were content to sit and talk and catch up on what is happening in our families and life. I didn’t get very many pictures this year.  (I’m not sure what happened to me-the camera buff that I am!)

 

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In trying to pump up the soccer ball with more air the needle broke off in the valve.   Obe tried his best but could not get it out.

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The “pirate” boy (Ryan Hostetter) collided with another boy a day or so early and took a hard blow to the eye.

 

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We had lots of good food including smoked beef brisket.

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Filling the wading pool with water.

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 Cheryl Yoder and Jase, the newest member of the family.

 

Let me tell you about Jase…..

Jase was born 4 weeks ago. Remember our journey two years ago with little Ariel who had SMA?  This is her little brother and he has been diagnosed with the same disease. This is devastating news not only for Jeremy and Cheryl but also for the whole family and a host of friends and loved ones who love and care for the Yoders.

Jeremy and Cheryl shared with the family where they are at in their journey with Jase and there is exciting developments in research to find a cure for SMA.  Forty years ago when our two children died, there was no research, no diagnostic test, no hope.  It was a death sentence with no survivors. Then came Truman in 2011 and Ariel in 2012.  At that time there was a blood test to reveal the dreaded diagnosis but still no exciting medical research to embrace.  I have been keeping a  journal as we get information on Jase’s journey.

Family Connections:  To those who are reading this and do not know the family connection…. Rich is my brother and his wife is Marj.  Cheryl is their daughter and Jase is Rich and Marj’s grandson.   The disease first showed up in our family when Gene and I lost 2 children with Werdnig-Hoffman disease, now called SMA: Karla in 1978 and Greg in 1982.   Gene has a sister who also had a child with the disease.  Years went by and then came little Truman, son of Micah and Krista Heatwole. Micah is Rich and Marj’s son.  The disease had once again reared it’s ugly head.  Jase.

Jeremy Yoders-July 2015

Jeremy and Cheryl, Max, Bo and Jase

 

July 16, 2015: Cheryl

He’s here! Jase Marius arrived yesterday – all 9 lb 9.5 oz of him! – arrived yesterday at 3:36pm. Jase means “healer”. Marius, a take off of Mark in honor of Jeremy’s Dad, means “manly”. So grateful for this gift!

Jase Yoder-birth July 16 2015

July 25, 2015

Richard called to tell us that the blood test has come back and little Jase has tested positive for SMA.

July 26, 2015

Richard & Marj sent the following note to family and friends: Jase’s blood test results came on Fri. His DNA shows the same gene abnormality as Ariel’s. He tests positive for SMA. This is an unexpected blow. Thanks for your prayers for us and ours.

August 4, 2015: Sharing our journey… from Cheryl

We’ve already introduced Jase Marius here. We’re enjoying him immensely!

We learned on Friday the 24th, half of Jase’s lifetime ago, that he is missing both copies of the SMN1 gene – just like Ariel – and is expected to be affected with SMA. In spite of fully knowing our “odds”, we were not prepared for this report. It was extremely disappointing to say the least. Many of you have been praying for our family. You carried us through the journey with Ariel and anticipated this baby (Jase) with us. Here we are in a vulnerable, heart-breaking position and find that we’re able to stand, over our heads in grace. God is with us. You can rejoice in answered prayer!

We maintain that now is the time to trust and to savor life for it is truly a gift. Look at these pictures – can you acknowledge with us that our God is beautiful and kind?

Yesterday we took Jase to the same neurologist who saw Ariel. I was not super excited about the appointment. Jase is not showing symptoms of SMA…”Why are we even going? Just to have him scrutinized and look for the problem we’re praying not to see?” But I did have some questions and it can be difficult to land an appointment, so when they had an opening yesterday we took it.

There’s a lot I could say, but to get more quickly to the point, Jeremy and I – and Jase, but he isn’t concerned one hoot about it. We left the appointment hearts throbbing with hope, kind of floored into silence, with big silly grins on our faces. We had just received really good news for Jase!

There is a lot of research going on right now regarding SMA. Up to this point it’s been, “We’re learning really exciting things, but there’s nothing we can do yet.” That was our experience with Ariel. But yesterday the doctor, for the first time in his career was able to say to someone, “There is a promising drug that is in clinical trials. There is a trial open right now. Your son looks like a perfect candidate.” That someone was us!

There is hope that this therapy could prevent the onset of SMA symptoms. There are no guarantees – this is a clinical trial. Eligible infants are those who have been diagnosed but are not yet symptomatic (which is uncommon). That’s Jase. So! We are extremely excited and grateful. We have blindly placed our hope in our strong God and it is exhilarating to feel like we very likely are beginning to glimpse His answer.

God’s fingerprints are all over the timing of test results, appointments, the clinical trial itself…. We rejoice and worship and continue to trust and pray. The medical people are in a flurry to get things moving so that Jase can enter the trial before he develops symptoms. My mommy heart has urged, “hurry, HURRY!” My heart that has been tucked pretty hard under the Father’s arm says, “He’s got this one. You don’t know how, but everything is going to be okay.”

We will probably be traveling to Chicago this week, yet, for initial screening and possibly the first treatment if everything clears. Probably. Possibly. If. That’s exactly how sure we are about what’s next. Please continue to pray. And be sure to direct all praise to God!

 

August 5, 2015: A note from Marj

I’m assuming ya’ll have seen the latest developments concerning Jase on FB. We’re about to leave for church, but I wanted to let you know that Jeremy, Cheryl & Jase are flying to Chicago this evening. Jase’s first app’t is at 8:00 tomorrow morning. They’ll be doing a screening to make sure he meets all the qualifications for this experimental test. Jeremys were told to go prepared to stay until Tues. Max & Bo are at Jeremy’s folks in DE. Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers. We wonder what God is up to, what may come of this; what His plan is for our little Jase. It’s pretty exciting, and a bit surreal.

 

August 6, 2015: A note from Marj

I just got off the phone with Cheryl. They’ve had a big day, are weary and ready for a good night of sleep. But pleased and excited with Jase’s performance today. Like Jeremy said, “he passed his tests in flying colors.” They drew blood for a chemistry panel, checked his urine for whatever, did an EKG, an EMG (shock to his funny bone to test his response – which will frequently show SMA before any other symptoms. His strength is good, they see no manifestations of SMA, and unless something shows up in the blood panel tomorrow they plan to give him his first injection on Mon. They’ll return to Baltimore on Tues.

Just for interest sake, they were picked up at their home last pm. Rode in a shiny black Suburban to the airport. Plane left over an hour late so it was 11:00 when they arrived in Chicago. They were met by a man holding a placard with Cheryl’s name on, were escorted by him to another shiny black SUV to the motel. And were at the hospital for Jase’s appointment at 8:00 this morning. Now after the blood test tomorrow, far as they know, they’ve got the rest of the weekend to wait out (while test reports come back) in the big city. I guess it’s good they’re more used to that than I am. I think I’d be inclined to stay put in my room so I wouldn’t get lost!

Praise the Lord for whatever His plan is and how He is working it out. Thank Him for the strength that Jase has today, for this opportunity, for hope. Pray that they’ll all get a good night of sleep tonight.

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August 16: Pat

We do not know the future implications of the clinical testing for Jase.  This opportunity is brand new and Jase is the third infant in the world to be admitted into the program since the trial opened two weeks ago.  Jase will receive a series of 10 shots over the next 2-1/2 years. At this point Jase is symptom free even though blood test have revealed a grim diagnosis. Each healthy person has a SMA1 and SMA2 gene.  Jase is missing SMA1 and has 2 of SMA2. Our family carries the most acute form of the disease which means the symptoms start showing at or soon after birth and their life expectancy is only 1-2 years.  There are so many questions. Will God use this as a miracle cure or will it just prolong the evidence of symptoms? What happens at the end of the trial? What are the side effects? Can it really be possible that Jase could live a symptom free life? Why has this disease hit our family so many times? What is the genetic path in our family line?

Our family gathered around Rich, Marj and all their children and prayed for them. This is not just their burden, it affects us all. Micah and Krista are expecting in November and we stand with them as they wait and anticipate the birth of their little one. We value life.  We know that God is the creator of all life and we do not take health for granted. In the midst of great sorrow and disappointment we have found the peace, mercy and love in our Heavenly Father in whom we can trust.

Jase means healer.  We ask God for the desire of our heart, that He will heal little Jase. We know that good can come from all of our earthly struggles and trials. If Jase is not healed, we pray that his young life will at least help grant healing to thousands and thousands of other children in the future as the medical world searches for a cure.  We truly desire for God to receive glory and honor regardless of the outcome.

 

Links to my blog posts on Truman and Ariel

July on the Farm-2015

I  have to share a few pictures that I have taken around the farm the past several weeks.

Like the rest of you, my garden is producing a bountiful harvest-except for tomatoes.

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Better Boy tomatoes.

I finally picked my first two little ones last evening. I have beautiful vines with lots of green tomatoes hanging on. They are just slow!

I am canning snaps and the okra is just starting to produce.

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We are eating cucumbers and Incredible Sweet Corn.

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The Hales Best cantaloupes are huge. Some critter was in the process of helping himself but I found it just in time. They are large teeth marks but it didn’t not penetrate the skin of the melon.

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I brought this cantaloupe in last evening and it is 10 inches long and 7 inches high.

 

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The twins.

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The family portrait!

IMG_8597The cows were contently grazing in the pasture until we rode out with the golf cart. They had worked their way up to the corner where there is a gate into another pasture.  They thought “daddy” was going to open it and let them in. The video clip tells their displeasure when he didn’t.

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Big Daddy

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Huge, fluffy, magnificent clouds.

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A deer on the pipeline. I never understand why environmental groups complain about pipelines. The gas line is buried deep in the soil. The gas company keeps it mowed. It makes a wonderful place to see, take pictures and yes, even hunt, deer and turkeys as they  pass from the woods on one side to the other.

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Venus shining brightly above the moon.

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The tiny spot on the far right is Jupiter.

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Rose of Sharon bush

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The bees bury their noses into the blossoms sucking up the nectar.

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The butterflies love the Gold-Mound Lantana

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Black-eyed Susans

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Zinna

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Zinna

 

Totally Lost

I had a bad dream last night and I awoke at 6 a.m. this morning, unable to go back to sleep.

I dreamed that another lady (I don’t remember who she was, but I will refer to her as friend), and I were exploring in my car and my friend was driving. We were going across a series of steep, windy mountains and we were lost.  Totally lost! We had no idea where we were at. After discussing our situation we decided that we would keep going as the road had to come out somewhere.  We kept noticing that the road was getting more narrow and less traveled. It had been hours since we passed another vehicle. The houses were fewer, just small homes tucked along the ridges and there was very little sign of life. The few remaining businesses were deserted clapboard buildings of yester years. We began to note that we had not seen a gas station in a long time.

I kept hinting that we needed to turn around, that we were lost and we would soon be in trouble. My friend did not heed my hints.  Finally the road was no longer paved, just a roughed mountain trail. My friend kept pressing on. In my mind I was processing our situation; no cell phone service, low on gas, our husbands had no clue where we were at and I could not walk with my injured ankle. Walking really was not an option as we would have to walk for days to back-track. The gravity of the situation was weighing heavy.

We passed a deserted looking house and my friend started down a rough, rocky incline in the depths of the forest that only a 4-wheel drive could navigate.  I also knew that darkness was falling. There was no way to turn around and we were at a dead end.  My frustration exploded and I awoke.

Disturbed and unable to go back to sleep, I pondered the dream. I said, “Lord, is there a special meaning to this dream?”

For me the dream had an instant spiritual understanding. I will simply ask you a few questions to ponder.

  • Are we being guided by a GPS or road map or just hoping  that somehow, somewhere we will come out and everything will be ok?
  • Are we traveling along with no sense of direction, no landmarks, and no signs.
  • Are we afraid to speak the truth before it is too late?
  • Is our tank running on empty?
  • Where do we receive our source of fuel (power)?
  • Who is our navigator? Who is driving our car?
  • Where do we place blame?
  • Do we heed sound advice?
  • Are we aware of the terrain and sense the direction the path is headed?
  • Do we press stubbornly forward, blindly unheeding the impeding doom?
  • Is there any hope of rescue?
  • Have we lost our way?

I am reminded of a few verses.

  •  Psalms 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • Proverbs 2:10-12a “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you and understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

 

 

H. P and Anna Hertzler Reunion-2015

On Saturday, June 13, 2015, descendants of Henry Peter and Anna Hertzler gathered at Shady Oak in Harrisonburg for a family reunion.

Here are a few family facts:

  • They had 10 children; Arthur, Milford, Menno (died as a youth in a boating accident), Lois (Hostetter), Ruth (Shank), Harry, Oliver, Osie (Ziegler), Edith (Wenger), and Dora (Brunk).
  • There are 44 cousins with Bob Hertzler (81) the oldest.
  • The closest we could figure, there are now 634 living descendants including spouses with approximately 60 (10%) in attendance. They came from Arizona, Florida, Chicago, Delaware, Pennsylvania and points in between!
  • Harry (98) and Osie (96) are the only living children and they were both there!  We weren’t sure on either one until the last minute.

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This was a touching moment as siblings, Harry and Osie, greeted each other. It has been quite a few years since they have been together and it was the highlight of the reunion.

With a huge grin he took his hat off and got down on his knees in front of her.

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They were obviously both really happy.

They sat and held hands-it was so precious. It made you wonder what was going through their minds.

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Each family unit was represented and had their picture taken with Harry and Osie.

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Arthur and Edna Hertzler family

(Kim, Rachel, Caleb Snyder, Bobby Hertzler, Bob & Marie Hertzler)

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Milford and Ada Hertzler Family

(David Gerber, Harrison Elmore, Christina Harman, Keith Harman, Jan Gerber, Catherine (Presley) Elmore, Diann (Presley) Harman and Annalena Elmore)

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Lois and Virgil Hostetter Family

(L-R:  Nancy & Bob Hostetter, Margie Swartzentruber)

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Ruth and Byard Shank Family

L-R: David & Lois Shank, Daniel & Margaret Lehman, Brandon & Heather Byler, John & Patricia Martin, Ray & Merietta Shank)

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Harry & Edna Hertzler Family

(L-R with wives in front of men) Michael & Kay Hertzler, J.P. & Alma Hertzler, Joe & Norma Hertzler, David & Ilva Hertzler)

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Oliver and Anna Mae Hertzler Family

(Back row L-R: Jill & Obe Hostetter, Gene & Pat Hertzler

(2nd row:  Ryan & Karla Hostetter)

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Osie and Ralph Ziegler Family

(Audrey Ziegler)

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Edith and John Wenger Family

L-R: Sidney Wenger, Howard Wenger, Elba & Harold Wenger, Louise and Linford Sommers

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Dora and Dan Brunk Family

(Kenny Brunk and Dale & Kathy Stoltfus)

Other pictures

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Newlyweds, Harold & Elba Wenger, married April 10, 2015 and hailing all the way from Arizona.

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Linford Sommers and Ray Shank

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Alma, Norma and Ilva Hertzler

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David and Lois Shank

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Gene Hertzler and Keith Harman

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Osie and Bob Hertzler

 

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Marie Hertzler and son, Bobby Hertzler

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Howard and Sidney Wenger

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Obe and Ryan Hostetter

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J.P. Hertzler and Patricia Martin

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Marie Hertzler and Pat Hertzler (Photo by David Hertzler)

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Father and son; Harry and David Hertzler

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Playing games – Christina Harman and Analena Elmore

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Kim, Caleb and Rachel Snyder

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 Karl Shenk  and Ray Shank

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Judy Humphrey and Catherine Elmore

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Kenny Brunk

IMG_8334Kathy Stoltfus and Marie Hertzler

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David Gerber and Keith Harman

IMG_8338Gene Hertzler and John Paul Hertzler

IMG_8335Harry Hertzler and David Shank

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Howard Wenger, Sidney Wenger and Michael Hertzler (Photo by David Hertzler)

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Harold Wenger introducing his new bride, Elba, to Osie. In the background Margie Swartzentruber and Audrey Ziegler.

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Sister-in-laws: Norma, Ilva, Alma and Kay Hertzler

IMG_8341This amazing man who is 98 years old is agile, stands tall and steady, and still walks with a spring in his step.

He is a man of God who, in his younger days, was a preacher and teacher.

IMG_8294Osie, a twin to Oliver, is loved by everyone who knows her.  Her husband, Ralph Ziegler, was a plumber and preacher.

They were instrumental in helping to start the Mennonite Church in Richmond, Virginia and later pastored at Woodland Mennonite.

Osie wrote poetry and those attending the reunion were rewarded with a treasured book of her poems, “Homespun Verse: A Mother’s Medley”.

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Blessing on the meal by Uncle Harry. Thanks Catherine Presley for sharing this video.

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Note to family: If I have anyone mislabeled or labeled with a ? please let me know so I can make corrections.  There were a few I just didn’t know!  Thanks, Pat

pathertzler@gmail.com

 

Ryan’s Baptism

Today we rejoiced with Ryan on his baptism into the family of God and we were so glad to join other family members and Lindale Mennonite Church in celebrating this special day.

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Ryan sharing his testimony which he wrote himself. It was amazing. He said he is taking a stand for Jesus!

Ryan’s Testimony:  https://vimeo.com/130750100

That’s what it is all about.

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Gathering at the creek.

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Pastor Duane Yoder asking Ryan his baptismal vows.

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The creek is so lovely but not very deep.

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Each one knelt in the creek and they poured water over their heads. They were given the pitchers as a memorial to their baptism.

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‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

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IMG_8356Praying over him.

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“Arise and walk in newness of life”.

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One happy fella!

Ryan’s baptism:  https://vimeo.com/130748614

Ryan's Baptism-June 14, 2015The grandparents: Gene and Pat Hertzler,  Darrel & Sherill Hostetter

Ryan's Baptism-family picGreat-grandparents: Dwight and Fannie Heatwole and grandparents; Gene and Pat Hertzler, Darrel and Sherill Hostetter

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In his testimony, Ryan mentioned that he was baptized once by his sister. Here is that story.

A Dear “Lorded” Baptism

Even though our worship services are usually adult-oriented, they are also a vital part of a young child’s spiritual training.  In between the wiggling, coloring, eating, pouting and playing, they hear the songs of praise, sense the spirit of worship, and observe the adults giving testimony to their faith.   Sometimes weary parents feel that it almost isn’t worth the effort to battle another Sunday until they observe their little ones at play.

Karla, almost three, and Ryan, almost one, were in the living room playing when their mother who was in the kitchen suddenly became aware of what they were imitating.  Karla had her hands cupped above Ryan’s head and she was praying in earnest…

Dear Lord….(this was followed by jibberish that her mommy could not understand)….Amen.” 

Then she carefully poured the pretend water over Ryan’s head and gently pressed her hands on top of his head.  Finished, she went to the kitchen and announced to her mother, “Mommy, I dear Lorded Ryan!”

August 27, 2006

 

Sunday Evening Ride-May 2015

Just a few pictures of our Sunday evening golf cart ride over the farm.

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Newborn calf sleeping and hiding in the grass.

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It didn’t take long to figure out who the mama was. She may not have been beside her calf but she knew what was going on and I did not venture far from the golf cart!

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I saw something way across the field on the lower post and zoomed my camera on it. That is when I saw the buzzard on the top post.

Then I saw the next picture….

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The one in the middle and on the far left are bucks!

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Where, oh where, are the American Pickers?????

 

The Big Boys

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Over the winter and spring the bulls have been penned up by themselves to rest, put on weight and get rejuvenated for breeding season again.

 

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Over the winter they had an “all you can eat” buffet of hay, pasture and Purina Accuration.  The boys are slick, fat and ready for action!

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 Quaker Hill Farm genetics.

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Quaker Hill Farm genetics.

 

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One of our “home-grown” bulls.

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“Big Daddy”

Big Daddy never carries as much weight some of the other bulls but he is huge and long.  He has one speed…slow; he just lumbers or plods along. Gene debated about keeping him another year but he is so gentle and throws beautiful calves. His influence in the herd is obvious with lots of white-faced babies.  White-faced Herefords bred to Black Angus produce white-faced Angus.

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We have seven bulls and it takes a lot out of them to do their job as they have approximately 175 heifers and cows to service.  This past year we lost several calves that were born during the brutal cold and ice storm in February so Gene decided to delay the start of breeding season until the first of June. This will make next years calving season start around March 10 instead of February.

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Some of the ladies in waiting!

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More ladies in waiting!

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And more…..

Hide and Seek

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I took this picture of two young calves resting or “hiding” in the buttercup laden pasture the other evening.   I don’t know what or how a mama cow tells her newborn baby “to stay put” but she will often stash or “hide” her baby in the grass, weeds or woods while she goes off to graze and the babes will usually  wait patiently for her to come back.  These calves were a little older but even when we drove near them they stayed hunkered down in their hiding spot.

It reminded me of one of my favorite sets of grandkid pictures (2008). The grandkids were playing a game of hide and seek. Lauren and Ryan hid their faces and counted while Emily and Karla found a place to hide and wait to be found.

 

Hide Seek-Ryan Lauren-2008

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Hiding can be a game of great fun. I remember playing hide and seek and  the “counter” would have to count to 100 and then holler, “A bushel of wheat, a bushel of rye. Whose not ready, holler I”.  You also hide when you are scared or seriously running from someone one or something  because of fear of being caught or found out.  I remember one time, way back in the 70’s, I was sitting at a stoplight in Richmond and got rear-ended from a distracted driver who then fled the scene. I was able to get his license plate number and the police found him several hours later hiding in the attic of his home.

There are some fascinating stories in the Bible of people who thought they could hide.  Hide and seek is as old as Adam and Eve who thought they could hide from God!  God went along with their little game and as He walked in the garden looking for them He calls out,  “Where are you”? They were hiding because they had disobeyed God and because of their sin they became aware that they were naked. They didn’t want God to see them so they hid behind  a tree! (Genesis 3:8-9)

  • Moses was hid in a woven basket on the river as a baby by his mother. He was found by Pharoah’s daughter who adopted him as her own and he grew up in the palace of the very king who had issued the order to kill all the newborn Hebrew males. (Exodus 2:1-10).
  • Later, Moses fled to the desert of Midian because he had killed a man and he feared for his life. He lived as a shepherd for 40 years. This experience prepared him for the huge task of leading the children of Israel through the desert. (Exodus 3)
  • Joshua sent men to spy out Jericho. They were in the home of Rahab when the king received word that they were in the city. The officers went looking for them but Rahab hid them under stalks of flax piled on the roof top.  This heathen prostitute was saved from destruction because of her faith and her name is found in the genealogy of King David and Jesus Christ. (Joshua 2, Matthew 1)
  • Saul, at his coronation, hid in the baggage. (I Samuel 10:21)
  • David, fearful for his life, for years hid in caves, forests and deserts from the wrath of King Saul who relentlessly tried to trap and kill him. (Most of I Samuel is the story of David’s hiding from Saul. Several examples are I Samuel 23, 24, and 26)
  • Jonah tried to flee from God. He hid in the bottom of a ship and ended up in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean because he didn’t want to go preach to the wicked city of Ninevah. (Jonah)
  • Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb because of the threat on his life by Queen Jezebel. He hid in a cave but God found him and  said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19)
  • About two years after the birth of Jesus, his parents fled to Egypt in the middle of the night to protect and hide Jesus from King Herod who, after a visit from the wise men, sought to kill the young child. (Matthew 2:13-15).
  • A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years thought she could hide in a crowd of people and just touch the hem of Jesus garment without him knowing. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”  The woman when she realized that she was exposed, came with fear and trembling and fell down before Jesus. And Jesus said, “Because of your faith, you are healed. Go in peace.” (Luke 8: 43-48).

David penned a beautiful, heart-felt, poignant psalm about the presence of God and his inability to hide from Him.  David knew, he had first hand experience. David had a sordid affair after spying a beautiful woman taking a bath while on a stroll one evening on the roof top of his palace.  He tried to hide his sin and in the process multiplied his evil deed by ordering the death of the Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who was one of his thirty closest advisors.  God spoke to the prophet Nathan who confronted David and his sin was exposed. (II Samuel 11-12). In deep anguish David repented and these words poured from his sorrowful heart.

 

 Psalms 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Whether for fun or for real, we can hide, but almost always we are found.  And guess what….we are quite often as obvious as Adam and Eve with our shiny backsides sticking out from behind a tree!

Honoring Helen Burkholder

Sometimes there are special people and sometimes there are SPECIAL people. Today at church we honored the legacy of Helen Burkholder before she leaves our midst and moves to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center.

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Mother and daughter: Bev Kennell and Helen Burkholder

In June 1965, Louie and Helen moved their dairy farm from Denbigh to Powhatan. For about a year the Burkholders had been traveling every Sunday to Powhatan where Louie had been asked to preach to a fledging congregation.  The Burkholders had four young children and they faithfully and willingly traveled 2 hours between the morning and evening milkings. Louie was our first pastor, serving from 1964-1982 and 1984-86.

Helen always had a love for music, especially hymns.  Today we sang several that were very special to her. Two groups also had special music in her honor.

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Ladies Group: “Sweet Are the Promises”

(Sorry, I only got the last verse on video)

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“Be Still My Soul”

 

 

IMG_8088 Marie Hertzler shared some memories about the early days of Helen’s ministry in our congregation.

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Connie Lancaster shared about Helen’s prison ministry.

Helen and Louie, were involved in prison ministry for many years.  They would go weekly for Bible study; Helen to the women’s prison in Goochland and Louie to the men’s unit in Powhatan/Goochland.  Numerous persons in the congregation helped with that ministry for which they had a passion. For over 25 years, Helen graded Bible studies and counseled the women in prison.

Helen loved to sew and was a gifted artist. She started the women’s sewing circle which has continued to this day although it has gone through numerous name changes.

For many years our congregation was blessed to have two past, retired, pastors and their wives (Louie and Helen Burkholder, Pres and Carolyn Nowlin) in our midst. They added so much to our congregational life and were never a hindrance or threat to new leadership. Now, that era in our church has officially come to an end…there will be no past pastors or wives. It is interesting that two of them are at VMRC where Helen will be; Paul & Bertha Swarr and Pres & Carolyn Nowlin.

The ladies group closed with “Blest Be the Tide That Binds”, a very fitting song that reflects the feelings of the congregation.

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We love you Helen and thank God for your faithful service through the past 51 years. Your gracious and gentle spirit has truly blessed our congregation.

Bringing Closure

Yesterday coming home from church Gene said, “Where are we going to ride today? Do you want to go to Denbigh?”  One year ago that meant, do you want to go see Daddy?  But times have changed and Daddy is no longer at 567 Colony Rd. Denbigh. He now has a much grander address on a street of gold in heaven.  This trip was on our bucket list for this spring but now going to Denbigh is just a trip down memory lane, a reflection on the has-beens of life.

We had a cd playing as we cruised along but just as we approached the Newport News exit we suddenly became aware of the song that was playing; “I Can Only Imagine” by Bart Millard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xwzItqYmII

This song had become one of Daddy’s favorites in the last months of his life as he anticipated “going home”.  Somehow it seemed like a God-moment as we listened to the song and remembered Daddy.

In May 1897, D.Z. Yoder and Isaac Hertzler (Gene’s great grandpa from Long Green, Maryland)  purchased a 1200 acre cotton plantation for $10 an acre. They very quickly generated interest in numerous other Mennonite families who came to the Tidewater area, drawn by the lure of affordable farm land. The group became known as the “Colony”.  They tilled, planted and rejuvenated the worn out, overgrown land turning it into productive fruit orchards, dairy, poultry and produce farms.  This fascinating story is told in  the book “Fifty Years: Building on the Warwick”. During the next 100 years, the land was divided, subdivided, developed and sold until only 45 acres remained in the middle of the city where Mama and Daddy Hertzler lived. Daddy tenaciously withstood pressure to sell and held on to his beloved farm. But now that era and the “Colony” are officially gone. The streets; Colony Road, Hertzler Road and Miller Road surrounded the farm like a hedge of protection, keeping the city at bay.

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We circled the block around the farm twice and snapped a few pictures from the road. Someone else now lives in the house and owns land. It is no longer in the family.  The farm still looks the same but it is definitely missing Daddy’s magical touch.

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After circling the farm, we stopped at the Warwick River church cemetery, opened the wrought iron gate and quietly walked to the gravesite to pay our respects.  It almost seemed like hollowed ground. We know a cemetery is just a bone-yard but they are beloved bones and their resting place is the only spot on earth that is still a connection to them. Someday those old bones will come to life as they spring out of the grave and meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4: 16-17).  Daddy loved trees and his burial spot is underneath the boughs of an old tree, the only tree in the cemetery.

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We walked among the headstones and talked about the many familiar names; Issac and Fannie Hertzler (Gene’s great-grandparents), Henry P. and Anna Hertzler (grandparents), Menno Hertzler (an uncle who died in a boating accident on the river), Uncle Dan and Aunt Dora Brunk, and many other relatives and church acquaintances with the names of Yoder, Burkholder, Fisher, Moyer, Nice, Hahn, Shank, Hostetter, Ziegler, Schaefer, Brunk, Miller, Shenk, etc. Each headstone represents a life lived, some briefly, some many years. Each was a life with a story to tell and most had a huge impact in the Warwick River Mennonite Church community and beyond.

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I took the next three tombstones because they were a part of the many folks who migrated  west to Powhatan and have had significant influence in the church and community here.

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Finally we were ready to leave. With a few backward glances we got in our car and drove away.

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We decided to stop by a friend’s home on our way out of town. The hours ticked by as we talked about Mama and Daddy and some of the many challenges they faced, particularly in their last years. This friend understood and the time spent there was life-giving and healing.  We left feeling that, finally, we could have closure on that chapter of life.

A few final pictures:

Great-grandparents, Isaac and Fannie Hertzler, build a stately house with a white picket fence on the bank of the Warwick River just a stone’s throw from the farm. The lot was part of the farm at one time. The house and grounds have been very well maintained through the years. I had to take a picture of the old wagon sitting in the front driveway.

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