Monthly Archives: July 2009

It’s been a wonderful day, and an even more wonderful night.  I hope to post pictures of this evening as soon as I can get them edited.  Tonight, after my incredible relatives had departed and Christina had stayed behind to help clean up, Certain Man got down on the floor with his grandbaby and talked over the day with her.  I got this picture, and wanted to share it for my girlies in far away Paris, and to brighten the way for a few other weary travelers.  Enjoy! 

Grandpa and Charis


And while I was doing some editing, I came across this one, and I couldn’t resist putting it up, too!

Grandma and Charis

(I really do get to hold her sometimes!)




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I sat in a doctor’s office today, and she asked about the surgery that was done on my knee.  “When did you  have it done?” was her first question.  I thought back.  It seemed at least a year ago.  H-m-m-m-m-m.

“It was done in February, I guess,” I said reflectively.  And I got to thinking about everything that has happened since that day in February when my orthopedic surgeon stood by my bed and said, “Things are not quite the way we expected. . . ”  If I had known that day just what lay ahead of me, I suppose that my heart would have quaked within me!

Here we are, four and a half months later.  If only the months had just been about knees.  But it hasn’t been.  In fact, so much of these months hasn’t been about me at all.  There’s been so many times when I thought the end of the stories would be something I didn’t want to read.  There have been times when hope was the white painted face of a silly mime dancing on an empty stage in the theater of grief.   I am in awe of the grace of a God big enough to handle my days of tears, of sorrow, of doubt and pain, of anxiety and seeming loss.  He has tenderly  carried me when the way was too rough for me,  He has given songs in the night, friends to hold me steady and given hope the living face of my suffering Savior.  He suffered so much —  for us!

Tomorrow, Certain Man and I will celebrate another anniversary.  36 years ago tonight, we were trying to rehearse for a wedding.  No wedding coordinator.  No rehearsal dinner.  No florist’s flowers.  No tuxedos.  No rings.  No flowing veils,  No sweeping gowns.  No violins, organs or Canons in D. Just two people who decided to risk loving each other until death parted them.  (And a bunch of people who decided to cheer us on!)  We had no idea how incredibly painful the relationship would be sometimes.  We had no inkling of how palatable, either.

There was a wedding in our community on Saturday.  Certain Man and I came home from the wedding to view the funeral for Dawn on the webcam.  I sat here in my chair, and he sat on the hearth beside me, and we wept and listened and thought again of how fragile this whole thing of life is.  From celebration to sorrow.  From joining to parting.  From laughter to tears.  And that is how life is, after all.  This grand mixture that only tastes right when the “God Flavor” is in the right balance.  It’s what makes the hard things easier, and keeps us watchful in the good.  It is what gives meaning to months like these last four and a half and causes us to look forward with hope.

One of the girlies from church took this picture at the wedding, and it is just fine for an anniversary picture.

Mom and Dad, 2009

Happy Anniversary, my darling.
Just so you know, I would still choose you!!!



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Letter from Deborah

Dear Mama,

I’ll try to make this a newsy letter. I’m writing it in Salzburg, while we have a plug for the computer, but no internet access, so I don’t know when I’ll get to send it. I don’t remember when I wrote last! So this might have previous news or gaps.

In Rome, we got to sleep in, which is always news for us. Then when we got up, it turned out that the Metro was on strike, and only certain trains were running. We were worried that we would miss out train, but didn’t and got to Naples just fine.

One of our funniest moments involved a little grocery store worker in Napoli. He gave us 11 little individually packaged loaves of bread, and wouldn’t let us pay for them because Holly “looked Sicillian” then when we went back to get breakfast foods, he gave us 6 more loaves, 7 peach tarts, 1 wedge of parmegian (?) cheese, and some gelato. He looked us over, and said (And this was all in italian, he didn’t speak english) To me: “You don’t have a man.” (Do I give off this single vibe?) To Holly, “Maybe one man?” And then he looked at Rachel and said/gestured, “You have your choice of men. When you want one, you can just close your eyes, pick one, and if he’s the right one, you keep him.” We laughed so hard after we left!

I think that was the memorable part of Naples. I really wanted to go to the Blue Grotto while we were on Capri, but we didn’t have enough time. The lines were over two hours long! That would be the biggest disappointment for me. On the other hand, we did get to go to Capri, and it was gorgeous! A lot of people told us to watch out in Naples, because of the crime rate, but we felt so safe there, and had a wonderful time.

We never did figure out how to get the right train in Naples except to our hostel. On the bright side, there was only one station where the train tracks divided to go their separate ways, and when you pulled into the station, you could tell if you needed to get off and change trains. One day, we were riding the train when a little old man asked us where we were going. After telling his two friends, they all decided that we were on the wrong train. We didn’t care. We would just change at our station. No worries. Oh, no. They herded us off the train before that station and told us that our train would be along in about ten minutes. They were right, but as we stood on the platform of a station where we didn’t want to be, we started to laugh about the fact that they just kicked us off our train!

On to The Ferry. It was a good experience. We were able to get tickets without a problem. On our way to the terminal where we waited, we met another American, Matthew, who hung out with us until we boarded. Then, while we were at the terminal waiting, we met two men from Finland, Markos and Jari. In their words, they were computer geeks (software engineers). For “geeks”, they were pretty buff, and Rach said to me, “Deb! If they try something, we can’t take them!” It turned out okay. They were both in their late twenties, one was married, and they became our protectors. We watched each other’s bags, and saved seats so we could all sleep inside the ship. All three of us felt safer with them around. We also met two girls from the Lake district in England who offered to show us around when we get there. We are stoked about that.

Greece was hard for Rachel. She didn’t get to see her little villages, and then we went to see ruins. She doesn’t enjoy days full of ruins. She was a good sport about it, but it was hard. We got her an extra cup of coffee, to help her feel a little better.

Greece hostel story: Our 2nd floor room was 55 rickety stairs up from the computer area. Once up there, our room had no handle. (“No problem. The handle is right beside the door. You just fit it on, turn it, and put it back.”) The door did lock, and had AC, so we were good. Our roommates were a family, husband, wife, teenage son. Very nice. We were cold the 1st night, but were sound asleep the second night when there was a knock on the door around midnight. I opened the door, and the person on the other side asks, “Are you Finnish?” I said no, and then they decided that they needed to be in the room on the other side of the landing. I went back to bed only to be awakened about 2 am by a bloodcurdling scream. It was our roommate (the wife), and she was sound asleep. None of them woke up, up but all 3 of us were wide awake! Rach and Holly decided that they were hungry and ate a snack, then we all went back to sleep. Needless to say, we were all tired the next day.

The ferry back wasn’t as nice as the one over. It was colder and the benches were harder. However, we met a very nice young man, whom I’ve told you about. Ricardo. The new Christian. One of the best things about talking with him was realizing that there is only so much we can do to bring those around us to Christ. We met up with a nice guy earlier in the trip who asked us- me- about what I believed and why. After we talked for a while he basically said, “That’s nice. I’m agnostic. I won’t say there is no God, but I’m just not sure.” It made me doubt whether or not I had said enough, too much, was I really being a witness for God, etc. Ricardo reminded me that it is not what I say or do, that God is the one who draws people to him. I need to do my part, but also to remember that in the end, it is God, not me, who saves people.

Off the ferry, we went to Rimini by train, then took the bus to San Marino. The lockers wouldn’t work right, and thanks to them, we missed the bus. We decided to wait. I think we would all make the same decision over again, but it would have been nice to have made that bus. San Marino is on the top of a mountain. Everything smelled clean and it was beautiful. Rach and Holly got their coffee, and we made the last bus back down the mountain to Rimini. That’s where things got hairy. They said that we could get to Bologna, but not from there to Venice. We actually bought tickets, then the man took them back and said we couldn’t make the train. I was ready to cry! I wonder if my frustration made them mad, and turned it into a vicious cycle. Anyway, I decided to take the train to Bologna because I thought that someone there might be able to talk English which no one in Rimini did. It was a good decision. People there spoke English and were very helpful. We got our train to Venice that night. Sadly, we knew we would not be able to make it to our hostel. A man on the train (who only spoke Italian) loaned us his phone to call them, and they didn’t charge us anything for canceling so late. We ended up sleeping in the station. We didn’t sleep well, but being in downtown Venice before the crowds got there was worth it.

And now I am going to go. I’ve written this over several days when I got the chance. Feel free to post it the same way. It’s a lot of news.

Love you



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For anyone who would like to view the funeral of Dawn Yoder by internet, the link is below.  The funeral will be held at 2:00 pm Central Daylight Time on Saturday, July 11, 2009.
Please forward this information to anyone you know who could benefit from this. 
The website to view the funeral on Saturday is:
If you have questions about this connection, you can call Leo Hursh (251-294-1202) or Brent Yoder 251-655-6462.

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Friday Morning Ponderings–

It’s a beautiful morning in Delaware.  I don’t know when I have ever known a nicer July 10th in my whole life.  The sun is shining, there is a wonderful breeze and the temps are only in the high 60’s.  Nothing but gorgeous! The beauty of this day is a comfort to my aching heart.  When I look at this date, I am reminded that 20 years ago today, our family was moving into the big old farmhouse on the little farm we call Shady Acres.  So much has happened in those 20 years.
I have so much to do today that I turned off my computer.  Then got a phone call, answered it, sat down in my chair, and there was Deborah’s computer, sitting there, alert.  I picked it up, finished my phone call, Then turned to my e-mail.  I had written to Jon personally yesterday, and he wrote an incredible warm and comforting reply.  I read again it for the umpteenth time and I find myself with tears that just won’t stop. 
I wish so much we could be on our way to Alabama.  My knees continue to be a problem, and have thrown something off in my back.  I am getting help — it is getting better, but my doctor advised against going.  It seems like there just should have been a way to work it out.  I know there will be lots of people there, and that Jon and his family will be held in those loving arms of compassion and caring — and that my paltry presence will scarcely be missed, but I still wanted to be there.  I wanted to look in Jon’s face and see for myself that his eyes are clear, that his faith is strong.  I want to look at those incredible kids and remind myself that the five of them will weather this somehow.  I want to be with a community of grief where I won’t have to explain my copious tears, where I can draw strength from a group of people in a common sorrow — experiences that cannot be replicated when you aren’t there.  So I admit that my reasons are somewhat selfish — maybe more than somewhat.   Somehow for me, Death makes the most sense when I am in a celebration of life service for someone who has gone straight into the Arms of a Loving God that they have served faithfully and well.  The songs, the scriptures, the remembering, the tears all come together to somehow make some sense of the very thing that, by our very creation, we least understand.
And so, what do we do, those of us who are doing ordinary things in our homes when our hearts are THERE?  Somehow, I believe that Dawn’s life is honored by ordinary things done well and done for the love of our families and done in the power of an extraordinary God.  So I guess it is time to dry these tears, get on with the business of this day.  Very ordinary things — Laundry, some ironing, getting ready for a wedding tomorrow, some desperately needed straightening and cleaning and the inevitable bookwork that never stops at this house.  I thought that I could stay home all day and just concentrate on things here, but an early morning phone call reminded me of a late afternoon appointment for my Audrey girl’s yearly physical.  That gives me a dead line, and will help keep my hands busy, while I listen to the music of Heaven on my CD player and pray for my grieving loved ones. 
“Let us pray for eachother,
Not faint by the way,
In this sad world of sorrow and care.
For that home is so bright.
And it’s almost in sight.
And I trust in my heart, you’ll go there.”
My dear, dear Friends — Are you really thinking Heavenly thoughts today?   
 As I wrote to my Daughters this morning–
“Oh, my precious girlies, in all the things you do, in all the things you see, make sure of Heaven.  I don’t mean to cast a pall over the trip, but you cannot ignore the Heavenly while enjoying the earthly.  Dawn’s death was so unexpected.  I mean, how often does a bolt of lightening come out of a sky where the sun is shining through and KILL somebody???  I’ve had to think so often “What if it had been me?”  Or “What if it had been one of my girlies in far away Europe?”  How very different the chapter of “Summer of 2009″ would be written.  We’ve had some wonderful times this summer, and I hope you are looking at all the pictures.  4th of July picnic, etc. And I’ve hardly felt like I have time to write — always something so pressing.  Even this morning, when I should be doing so many other things, but I felt such a need to connect with you, and wanted to just give you part of where my heart is on this glorious but sad morning.  Please know that you are always in my heart, always  in my thoughts and always in my prayers.  I love you both so intensely, and if that had been me instead of Dawn, I want you to know that if I were given any last thoughts, they would be for my precious kids and their incredible Daddy.”
And Now I really do need to do something in this house.  I love you, dear Xanga Friends.  May this day be a day lived in God’s incredible grace, and may we all make sure of Heaven.
~Mary Ann


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Dear friends and family,
  Forgive this form letter, but we do want each one to know that your expressions of love and regrets are being taken directly into our hearts.  We as a family praise God for the wonderful time that we could have Dawn here on earth with us.  We are sorrowful, but not forsaken, and it is because of people like you who care, and are lifting us up to the throne of God.  Gloriously, we sorrow not as though who have no hope, because we know where Dawn is right now, enjoying fellowship with the One who created her and worshipping at His feet, the same way she lived her life.  She was the best example of someone  who walked with God, and I was privileged to be her husband!   Although we may not sleep, we are securely safe in God’s perfect love, and his perfect timing.  God bless you for your prayers and support during this time.
Jon Yoder and family

The funeral will be 2:00 pm Saturday, July 11 at First Assembly of God Church on Main Street in Atmore.  There will be a viewing from 4-9 pm Friday July 10 at Mennonite Christian Fellowship, 245 Tennant Drive, Atmore, AL 36502, and also prior to the service on Saturday.  We treasure your prayers during this time.


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Dawn, our amazing mother, wife, daughter has been declared brain dead by 2 doctors, with her EEG showing no activity.  We believe that she entered heaven instantaneously 2 days ago, but we are now as a family turning her body over to the organ donation center of Alabama, so that she may share her life with others.  That is typical of the life she lived, and it is so much like her.  We will miss her, but we know she is in God’s protective care, and we want to praise Him for his faithfulness.  I write with this tears in my eyes, but with joy in my heart as Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.  And she definitely received “Well done, thou faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.  She is free at last!   Jon, Robert, Kristin, Amber, and Stephen and all the family


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