Some of you have gotten this, some did not.
(We have begun paring down our list — with more to be taken off next year.)
This is this years edition for those who are interested.
Dear Family and Friends, Christmas, 2010
It is a gray day in Delaware. The sky is hanging close to the tops of the tree farm outside the family room window and
it looks like it could start to dump buckets of snow any minute. The nation has been wrapped in a cold snap that is vicious, and
my fire feels wonderful this morning as I sit here with a blanket and a cup of coffee. I am determined that I will get this letter
written TODAY. Time is running out (again!). I believe that in the 24 previous letters, there has been one time that it was
ready to go the week after Thanksgiving. The rest of the time, I race the calendar and sometimes even the clock to get it
out before Christmas.
It has been five years since Daddy died. I mark this year with a sense of feeling that loss more acutely than ever, and
also with the knowledge that The One who lovingly carried our Daddy home that December night, has also shepherded us as a
family with far more grace than we could have imagined. Mama continues to be an incredible blessing to us as a family, and a
vital part of our everyday lives. She has had a more challenging year, health wise, and we know that she is more fragile than
ever, but we treasure these days with Mama, so glad that God spared her life and gave us more time with her. She marked
a five year anniversary of being cancer free this year, and for that we give grateful praise. She still lives alone in her “cottage”
beside the Country Rest Home, and although the hours get long, she has an almost daily stream of visitors through her doors.
What a lady!
Daniel, the guy who works hard to keep things running in a number of different places (home, church, work, etc.) has
had a year that has been probably one of the most difficult of his life. Last year around this time, his father and step-mother
were in a nursing home, and the family had just separated out the belongings of the house and finalized the sale of their side
of a duplex. It was an emotionally and physically draining time for him and his sisters as they attempted to salvage the good
memories from their family home and lay to rest what could not be changed. Daniel fielded phone calls, paper work,
arrangements with medical, legal, insurance and social personnel until he was sure that his head would never be the same again.
There were numerous trips to Ohio and decisions to make. In October, Ralph’s condition deteriorated to the point where the
doctor recommended that the family consider Hospice Care, and under the capable and watchful eye of Odyssey Hospice, Ralph
Yutzy made his final journey on November 11th, finally free of that body that had become so undependable and worn out, free
of the sorrows and sadness of this old world. And even though there were things that could and maybe should have been
different in the relationships that Ralph had with his family, the one thing that I have never doubted was what he believed about
the Way Home to Heaven. He believed that Jesus was the only way to the Father. He’s Home Free. His wife, Sue, is still residing
in the nursing home in Ohio. She struggles with dementia, but is uncomplaining and generally healthy, happy and content.
One of the brightest spots of this year has been the privilege of being Grandparents. Daniel and I are enjoying this
aspect of aging far more than is probably proper. We still have only one grandchild, Charis, daughter of Christina and Jesse,
but she lights up our lives in so many ways. She is beginning to talk, has been walking everywhere since before she turned
one in April, and is unabashed in her love for us, her “Pea-bah and Mam-mee.” Christina and Jesse have been so unselfish
with this wee one, and she meanders through our lives, “helping” with anything that we might have going. She reminds me
so much of her mommy at this age, especially when it comes to water. I put a big plastic apron over her dress and push a
chair up to the sink and she will splash merrily about, whether it is apples or lima beans or dishes or just the diversion of
pouring water from one container to another. Sometimes I shut my eyes and remember another brown-eyed girlie and wonder
where the years have gone. Christina enjoys being a wife and mother, and she is actively involved in the lives of her family and
friends. Jesse still works for Burris Logistics, and I am always amazed at his prowess and responsibility when it comes to
managing the fundamental computer business involved with this large operation. He is an involved daddy and a good husband,
and also serves as the “church coordinator” at our church. We are so thankful for the home he provides for “his girls”.
Deborah (with her wandering feet) has traveled to four foreign countries since our last Christmas letter. In January, she
was in Chad, Africa, with Wycliffe Bible Translators on a children’s teaching mission. In June, she traveled with Rachel to
Guatemala, by way of El Salvador, to see our beloved Lupe and her family. In September, she went with her Auntie, Lena Yutzy,
to Ireland for a self planned, self paced, self navigated tour. And in November, she went with a Medical Mission team to Peru.
She continues to work part time at the hospital in the ICU, and was recently hired by a local Hospice organization for part time
home hospice care. She is still in orientation for that position, but has always been unusually gifted when it comes to dealing
with patients who are facing end of life issues. Her daddy and I sense that she has a calling for this particular line of work and
support her. She loves to travel, loves adventure, and is a blessing to have still living at home. She was a Godsend over the
time of my two knee replacements, and she is a willing helper to me when the need arises. She sometimes still talks of going
back to school for her Bachelor’s degree, but feels adequately trained for what she wants to do now, and so has put that on the
back burner for the time being.
Raphael and Regina have had an eventful year. Last winter, they began to seriously seek housing and employment in
Holmes County, Ohio, Regina’s home area. Daniel and I joined them in praying that God would make things plain as to what they
should do, and this Mama tried hard to be neutral in how she prayed for all of that to pan out. Raph was working in construction
here, but was open to ANYTHING that would make a living for them. Through a series of unexpected and specific answers to
prayer, Gina was offered her old job, Raph was offered some temporary work, and they found reasonable housing. It seemed
like Ohio was really where God was calling them, and on Thursday morning, May 13th, we said those hard, hard “good-byes” and
Raph and Gina pulled out of our driveway on their way to their new home in Millersburg. I thought my heart was going to break,
I hated it so much. It was another time when I needed to remember that just because I hated something, it didn’t mean that it
wasn’t God’s will. And the months since then, though this young couple has weathered some really tough times, have proven
that God is continuing to lead them in exciting ways, that there is a hope and a future for them. Gina’s job at a local stone
company as a secretary-receptionist has been steady, and she also does online work for a formal wear company based here in
Delaware. She is industrious and resourceful in so many ways. Raph has been employed at a number of different construction
type jobs since moving to Ohio, but several months ago found employment at Troyer’s Furniture in Sugar Creek, and is enjoying
this job very much. He has always loved sales, probably because it is so “people oriented” and is doing well. We are looking
forward to having them home a few days over Christmas.
Lemuel and Jessica are living in Philadelphia. Lem graduated from Bryn Mawr in May with his Masters in Social Services.
He has invested so much into this degree, and we couldn’t be happier for him. He has had steady work since graduation, and is
currently in a position with a community drug and alcohol center as an intake specialist. He dreams of the day when he can have
his own private counseling practice, and looks for opportunities to further the realities of that. Jessica works for the Department
of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Service Representative, and has enjoyed a great deal of favor in the eyes of her supervisors.
She is also taking classes at Eastern University in Philadelphia for her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership (though she
actually pretty much has the organizational end of that down pat just with her natural abilities). They live an awesomely busy
life between full time jobs and Jessica’s classes and being vitally involved with their church in various capacities. They, too, have
weathered some storms this year on a number of fronts, and we’ve prayerfully watched the boat that carries these two on the
sea of Life. Their love has never wavered as they’ve battened down the hatches, and worked hard. It is gratifying to see them
stronger and more committed and growing in grace.
And then there is Rachel. Ah, Rachel! She finished the year at Rosedale Bible Institute believing that God was calling her
into a year of service with Rosedale Mennonite Mission on a REACH team. She had some very specific ideas about how God
was going to perform that plan — where she was going to go, how long she was going to stay and how her particular team
would be made up. It isn’t easy to see the dreams of our children come tumbling down, but having walked with Our Father
these many years, I’ve lived long enough to know that He often isn’t inclined to be bossed by mere mortals. Rachel was
accepted into REACH. BUT. She didn’t go where she wanted to go. (She wanted to go to Africa. She’s in Thailand.) She
didn’t get the length of time she had wanted. (She wanted a six month term. Her term is considered nine months.) Her team
is all girls. (She desperately wanted a mixed gender team. “Death by Estrogen!” was a familiar wail in the early days of
reconciling herself to this calling.) It is a little early for us to say how things are going in Thailand. She has only been there
since December 2nd. But God has been doing a work in Rachel’s heart in the last year and especially through the three months
of Discipleship Training that causes me to stand in awe. Our girlie isn’t perfect, and God will continue to work on her, but she
has faced some of her gremlins and some of her baggage, and we are humbled and thankful and excited. She and her
“teamies” are presently involved in language school, but will be teaching English in a Buddhist temple, helping with orphans,
street children and women, as well as relating to University students. She has internet access and we have been able to
“Skype” with her — with most satisfactory results. Nothing changes the fact, though, that she is half a world away, and
that feels really, really far away for this Momma and Daddy. If her plans carry, she will be home in August for maybe a
week before she is scheduled to start her sophomore year of college at Cedarville University in Ohio. It honestly feels like
our years of having our “Littlest Chicken” at home are pretty much over. It makes it hurt somewhere in the middle of my
Our family is still providing care for disabled adults. Cecilia has been with us for almost eleven years. Though
blind and non-verbal, she has a place in our family circle that has blessed us often over the years. She has a leather
La-Z-boy© recliner that is her spot in the little alcove off the kitchen, and she spends many hours there, listening to
National Public Radio or music CD’s and listening to the sounds of living that go on in this old farm house. Nettie
been with us over four years now. She attends First State Senior Center for three days a week, and then volunteers
at a gift shop on the grounds of Stockley Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She has been pretty stable this year
as her meds have regulated some of the more troublesome challenges, and she is always eager to help wherever she
can. In fact, Nettie put every single return address label on these Christmas cards. She also does the shredding
around here, cleans her bedroom and bathroom, takes the trash to the road on Tuesdays, and feeds and waters the
wild birds that come to the feeders around the grounds at Shady Acres. Nettie is often self-deprecatory, but she has
no idea of how she lifts my spirits and lightens the load around here. Somewhere along the years, she has become my
friend, and it is a blessing of inestimable worth. Her mother is also still living, and Nettie enjoys being able to spend an occasional weekend with her sister and going to visit her Mom.
It is hard to believe that I have two new knees. It’s been just a little over a year since my left knee was replaced
and nine months since the second one, and I am thankful to be on this side of the surgery. I can honestly say that
there isn’t a single day that goes by that I am not grateful for this gift. I can go up and down steps, I can garden, I can
shop, I can dance on my kitchen floor while holding my grandbaby, I can work. I told my good surgeon that, even though these knees won’t do for me what they did when I was a teenager, they still do everything that a 57 year old lady needs
them to do, and that is just perfect for me. The year has been interesting on almost every count. There have been
indescribable joys, extreme disappointment, incredible blessing, and acute sorrow. In the last five months, we’ve said
“good-bye” not only to Daniel’s father, but also to three of my daddy’s siblings — Aunt Naomi, Uncle Amos, and Uncle
David. It is sobering to realize that of the eight “Yoder Boys” there are only three left: Uncle Daniel, Uncle Paul and Uncle Jesse, and only one sister, Aunt Mimi. I find my heart often quiet before the losses– not sure how to find my way in this
world where it feels like some of the supports I’ve always relied on are slowly but surely slipping away. Though I love this
season with its message of “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men,“ it is the story of Easter that gives me hope and
courage in these uncertain times. The knowledge that those who have gone on before us are waiting for us finds its
authenticity in the resurrection of the one who came as a baby to earth that long night. We should be people of joy.
The LORD has come! And He promised to come again. What a day that will be!
The snow began to fall outside my window shortly before noon today. The wreaths and red bows around the
deck are beautifully dusted, and the birds are busy at the feeders. My cup of coffee gave way to a cup of peppermint
tea, and now the darkness has fallen over Shady Acres. The snow fell fast onto frozen ground, and the roads got ugly
and slippery. People came home from work and center early — all except Daniel, who is still not home, but probably on his way. Deborah came in first, looking for a blanket and a warm spot to rest. Then Nettie and Cecilia put in their
appearances, and already there is a two hour delay for the senior center tomorrow. C’mon now! We had
almost two inches. People can’t be expected to drive in deep snow like that! (The problem is that almost no one
who grew up in Delaware knows how to drive on this white stuff!)
Silent night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright.
(Except I think my fire just went out, and it is getting chilly in my corner.)
May this season be one of peace and joy for you and the people you love. Merry Christmas!
*Mary Ann for the Crew at Shady Acres.