Monthly Archives: January 2012

Her Place

Being in foreign voluntary service often gives rise to tugs on the heartstrings. The two events that do so the most are funerals and weddings, not necessarily in that order. Last Wednesday, I was in Asuncion, helping a local pastor and his family reapply for their passports in preparation to going to the States for their oldest son’s wedding. Out of the blue, literally when you think about it, my cell phone rings. It was my older brother, informing me that our Grandma Coblentz, who had been in poor health for the majority of the past 2 years following a stroke, left her earthly shell and had departed for the Celestial City. Although I had known her health was failing, it was still a shock. Someone I had known, who had lived close by, who I had hoped to see again on this Earth, no longer was. I tried to imagine her in Heaven but I couldn’t do her justice. I could only view her in the body that she had here on this Earth and in Heaven, we receive no bodies. We have no concept of that body that we will receive. Then I pictured her with Grandpa and had to smile. What I wouldn’t give to see them two strolling the golden, glassy streets of that City together, arms linked and simply enjoying that place and one another. Grandpa stops, bends down on knees that aren’t stiff and a back supple and strong and picks a flower. Turning to Grandma, he gives it to her. She, in turn, with a heavenly light, beams at him with a face smoothed from all wrinkles and worry lines and laughs. No longer does the cancer push at her lungs…she can breathe and in response to the gift of new life and health, she breaks into song. Into that melodious song whose strains are heavenly. A song unknown and unfamiliar to me; one that I can’t sing….cuz I’m still down here.

Later, Benjamin sent this email. With his permission, I’m posting it here. Not only is this a more or less first hand account, it’s also a write on death and legacies from someone just as close to Anna Coblentz as I was. Here it is,

 

Grandma Coblentz died this morning at 0800. I was still at home, though ready to go to work, when the phone rang and Diane said that Grandma was dying. Neil and I both hurried over, but she had already passed on. A few minutes earlier, a marvelous sunrise had reigned over the eastern sky. Relatively few years ago, Grandma was a young woman with a long life ahead. Today I am a young man with a long life ahead. You get the drift.

I think back to Grandpa Coblentz. His name was Ben. Benjamin. Benjamin Coblentz. He lived through the Depression and participated in a spiritual revival in Holmes County. He was active in supporting missions. In some ways he was a sort of modern pioneer. He was and did many other things. Good things. But his life is over. Those who best knew him still remember him.

Together, Grandpa and Grandma raised a family which has since grown to form a sizable clan of uncles, aunts and cousins. Among these are individuals who have made marks and continue to leave a mark on society. Good marks. In both a foundational and extended sense, this is my family. These are my roots and make up a significant part of my identity.

Yet as I ponder the lives of my Coblentz grandparents, a twinge of jealousy rattles though me. If a man as good and well respected as Grandpa fade into the background so quickly, can I expect my legacy to fare any better? Is it important that my legacy fares well at all? Is a legacy important? Am I just being a proud worrywart to worry about such things?

We’re still thinking about Grandma daily. How long will that last. How long does a legacy or a memory last? The funeral is on Sunday at 10:00.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. EC 12:13

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Life indeed does move on. And the longer it goes, the more reasons I find to long for Heaven. To be free, liberated from this Earth. To experience the joys of singing with angels. To stand there, bathed and enveloped in a atmosphere of pure, unadulterated, uncompromised, selfless love and to express, in token, that love in return. A song that the music group Hallel sings comes to mind. In it there’s this line……and the angels must be watching as He puts the final touches to a very special place……her place. On Wednesday, her place in Heaven was filled.

Categories: About life, Just me | Leave a comment

People of Summer Bible School

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EJ

Categories: Paraguayan Parables | Leave a comment

Summer Bible School 2012

 

Seemingly, Mennonites specialize in summer bible schools. 99.5% of all such communities have some form of it. If not bible schools, it’s clubs. And it’s a great way of exposing(brainwashing) children to the Gospel. The church here at Luz y Esperanza hosts just such an event each summer for the community. Tonight was the last night. And here is a picture post.

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Today was the 33rd day without rain and it gets terrible dusty. Passing traffic kicks a mighty big dust cloud and the wind is often blowing from the southeast which brings the dust right over bible school. Using gravity flow, the Quevedos came up with a watering system that settles the dust for the evening. After three passes and thousands of liters later, we have a dust free zone.

 

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The ones that were in charge of planning. Juan Pablo Benitez on the left and Anson Quevedo on the right.

 

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All lined up and ready to file in for the start of the evening.

 

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Teaching in the first part of the evening.

 

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Water break!! With mid day temps either around or in 100 degrees, water is essential. In this heat, terere is a popular commodity, even amongst us half-Paraguayans. Something we don’t think about is that some of these children aren’t used to ice cold water. The first afternoon, a few of them were going off in Guarini, the national Indian language. One of the youth guys busted out laughing and said that they were talking about how cold the water was and the brain freezes that they had. So maybe water break is an experience for them??

 

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Even the teachers enjoy the break. Terere ‘equipo’ is popular and readily available, should you need some.

 

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Literature in use. Is it sinking into their young lives? Will it bring results? That’s something we may never know.

 

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Is there summer bible school anywhere without this game involved?? Where the children make a large circle, run around in pairs and hit the joined hands of the next 2 people who are to run. Btw, what’s this game called in English? I can only think of the Spanish name which is translated as “the circle”, i.e., la ronda.

 

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More classes after their 15? minute recess.

 

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After school is over and the children have left, the clean up crew springs into action. All the tables and benches need to be gathered and put into the old church house. With everyone helping, it only takes 10 minutes to gather them together and put them in their place…at least till the following afternoon.

 

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Ciao! It’s all over, at least for this afternoon. “See you again next year!”

(That’s said to the children that attended this year. For me, I say it tongue-in-cheek as I don’t have plans of being here next year.)

 

EJ

Categories: About life | 2 Comments

A Era Closed

 

You hate to see a friend leave. There’s something about the leaving that hurts. And maybe emotional attachments shouldn’t be too strongly encouraged with vehicles and electronics and other non-feeling objects, but the sale of this truck closes a era. An era I’ll admit to enjoying. Each trip had the possibility of turning into a adventure. Case in point, this post was about this very truck. Many a time this truck has carried a load of staff somewhere for some rest and relaxation. But no more. Last Saturday, when I came home from Toledo after taking some visitors back there, I immediately noticed it’s absence. Fortunately, though, I did shoot some pictures of it in it’s last days with us. It wouldn’t have won any beauty contests but it was a solidly tough truck. It withstood untold numbers of drivers, bumps and potholes. It, for the most part, served faithfully. So, to a old friend, I say, so long!

 

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Categories: Paraguayan Parables | Leave a comment

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