Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mom's story; off to college

After high school, my mother attended Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. It was during her sophomore year that she told God she would do His will for her life:  to become a missionary. 

During her years at Grace she sang in the choir.  In the picture above, my mom is on the front row on the far right.  Her sister, Treva, is beside her.  When Treva graduated, she went to Africa.  The boy she was engaged to didn't want to go to Africa, so she broke off the engagement.  She remained single all her life.  My dad is on the 3rd row, 3rd person from the left.  I see a few other faces that I recognize too!

Mom also taught Sunday School, did child evangelism and worked on the newspaper.  There was a boy who also worked on the paper named Peter Voran.  

After 2 years at Grace, he left to attend Bethel College in Newton, Ks.  and to begin a pastorate at the Hopefield Mennonite church.   On a return trip to Omaha with his cousin, Chet, for a reunion at Grace, mom happened to be passing out the programs.  Chet told dad that he would be a fool to not marry her.  So he asked her out and ended up proposing to her that night!   (he told us that when he got back to the dorm, he cried and wondered what he had just done!  But he has not regreted it at all now!)

After a total of 3 dates and a summer apart, they were married in Pandora on August 5, 1949. 


When I was a little girl, I was so envious of that little girl who was the flower girl.  I didn't understand why my mother didn't pick me to be her flower girl!

 Uncle Mahlon, Uncle Wally, Myron Voran (dad's cousin - he didn't have any brothers), Dad, Mom, Aunt Treva, Aunt Wava and Aunt Betty Jo (my dad's sister)

The wedding reception was held at the family farm.
 I still have those candleabra and used them at our wedding.

For their honeymoon, they drove to a Bible conference at Pikes Peak, Colorado.  We always teased them that they had such a romantic honeymoon!  Others attending the conference knew they were newlyweds.  After they had checked into the lodge and gone to dinner, some people went to their room to pull a prank.  They replaced the double bed for bunk beds! 


to be continued....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mom's story; growing up years

Here is the obituary/power point from Mom's funeral (with a few minor changes.)  
I was asked to share so here it is!

* * * * * * *

My mother, Lois Geiger was born in 1926 on a farm outside Pandora, about a mile south of the St. John Mennonite Church in Putnam County, Ohio.  She was born before the doctor arrived at the house.  Grandpa Geiger felt they should pay him anyway for his trouble.  The doctor said all he would take was a quart of Grandma’s canned sweet cherries.


Mom grew up on the farm where her father also grew up.  

Grandpa Geiger was a farmer, inventor, a horticulturalist, woodworker and enjoyed photography.   He developed his own pictures in the cellar. There was always work to do.  They had a big garden and various orchards, so there was much picking to do.  Raspberries, strawberries, cherries, shelling peas.  

 They raised goats, chickens and sheep.  There were always lots of kittens, but no dogs.  Grandpa did not like dogs.

 There were 5 children born to Monroe and Anna Geiger.  Treva Mae, the oldest, grew up to be a missionary nurse midwife in Mali, Africa.  Next in line was Lois (mom), who went to Japan for 30 years.  Wallace and his wife Wanda were missionaries in Paris.  Wava married Harry Wiens and they lived in Mountain Lake, Minnesota.  Mahlon, married to Anne, lives on the farm property.  Both Harry and Mahlon did many short-term ,missions trips to Mali and Haiti.  Serving the Lord was ingrained into this family.

Mom had lots of fun with her brothers and sisters.  They enjoyed being pulled around in a cart by goats.  They loved to climb all the trees on the property and sledding down the barn hill.  For 2 winters, grandpa put hay in the field and in the winter they would jump out of the 2nd floor of the barn onto it.  In the summer they enjoyed playing outside in their bare feet.  It was hard to wear shoes for church come Sunday.  They loved to play kick the can and drop the hankie.

Christmas was a special time.  Grandpa would cut down an evergreen and they would put up red and green garland in the archways in the living room.  She remembers that during the depression they got a pencil and an orange.  Maybe there was a little candy also.

 Aunt Treva and Uncle Wally enjoyed helping Grandpa in the barn while my mother and Aunt Wava preferred to help their mother in the house.  

Grandma Geiger enjoyed Swiss cooking.  
Nothings, called hiechle were a favorite.  
Also homemade donuts, chicken loaf (like meatloaf, but served cold) and beet eggs and lots of pies.  They made so much home-made cheese that to this day, mom did not like cheese.


On Saturday they cleaned house and took their weekly baths.  They polished shoes and cleaned the car, getting ready for Sunday.  They also would bake and cook for guests on Sunday – angel food cake and pies.

Because the family went to church and had family devotions, mom learned about Jesus Christ at an early age.  She gave her life to Him in the 4th grade, in her own bedroom.  She was baptized  in 1940 by the Rev. D.J. Unruh at St. John Mennonite Church in Pandora.

At church she learned to know missionaries from all over the world as they came to speak at their church.  Mom felt God wanted her to do this also, but this she did not want to do.

Mom is on the far left.

They grew up speaking Swiss-German and when Aunt Treva went to school, she did not know English so it was difficult at first.  Mom attended Pandora public school.  They would ride the school bus.  The school bus had benches on the outside and a middle board straddling the center line.  The younger children would straddle the middle bench, lunch box in one hand, books in the other.  There were 2 school buses.  If they had to ride the first bus, there would be a half hour wait for school to begin, so the girls would learn embroidery while the boys did shop.

Mom (back row 2nd from right)

On the morning that her brother Mahlon was born on the farm, my mom was so excited.  She told all the children on the bus that she had a new baby brother.  One older boy asked, “where did he come from?”  Mom replied “the stork brought him” and all the children laughed and snickered.

Mom is in the front row, 2nd from the left
Mom enjoyed school, especially art and socializing!  Socializing continued to be her favorite subject throughout her life!!  Over the years she has filled any silence with many stories!  Her memory remained sharp until the end.

Mom says that God spoke to her while cleaning the house with her sister Treva.  When she was 14, as they were cleaning their bedroom, a piece of paper fell to the floor.  Aunt Treva hurried to pick it up, explaining that she had written down her promise to the Lord that she would become a missionary.  This her and she began to think seriously about what God wanted her to do.

She enjoyed music and loved to play the piano.  The piano teacher would come to the house to give lessons and grandma would make my mother dress up for piano lessons.  She played piano for school and church.  And the piano lessons came in very handy over the years on the mission field.  She played beautifully!

I will always remember the days when we would gather around the piano in our living room in Japan how she taught us to sing 4 part harmony as she played along.

 This kind of play would never be done today!  Mom is on the very back row, on the left.  I wonder if those 3 girls were the major actresses in the play?

to be continued.....

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The funeral

Saturday arrived - the day to say "good-bye" for now to my mother.

My mother and father had written down ideas for their funeral.  We tried to follow their wishes as much as were able.

Mom wanted Doug and Jude to do music and they did several songs for the prelude.

My mother's favorite song was What a Friend we Have in Jesus.  I found this one on You-tube and it was a perfect intro to the funeral.  My Daddy sang along with it as it played.

This was my idea but I think Mom would have loved it.  Jill read her life story while we had a power point picture presentation that went along with the reading.  Someone asked if I would share that, so I will see about doing that on the blog.

Josh and Staci sang "Eternity"
Aunt Belva shared about Mom's contribution in missions in Japan (not my real aunt, but on the mission field, children call their parents' co-workers by "aunt" and "uncle" and it is a title that is hard to give up).  Here are Aunt Belva and Uncle Verney with the family.  The dorm in the background is where I lived during the week we were at school.  Our school was a 3 hour train ride away.  They were my dormparents during my 1st grade.

The congregation sang a song I hadn't heard before,
 but one my mother wanted sung.  
"In the bulb there is a flower"

They also sang "The Lord Bless you and Keep you."  The Father's blessing.  My Dad continues to give us this blessing as he remembers.  He gave the children the blessing when they would babysit and put them to bed.  It is sweet to me!

Mindy read 1 Cor. 15:20-28, the scripture Mom chose

Our son-in-law gave a wonderful message!
Here he is with Mom just a couple of weeks earlier.
Can you believe it?  She was weak, 
but who would have guessed she would be gone so soon!?
We ended the funeral service with "God be with you till we meet again".
I had found another youtube piece in Japanese.
It was a video of a ship going out to sea.
My parents experienced several farewells on ships.

We did an unusual thing for the reception following the funeral.  We invited Joel and Kendal to bring their ice-cream machine.  They have a business called Sweet Ride Soft Serve.  They said it was the first time they had been asked to serve at a funeral.  But we just HAD TO!  Because Ice-cream was always Mom's FAVORITE food!!  Dad's too!  Mom's fridge might be empty, but she always had ice-cream in the freezer!

Often funerals are times you see relation that you haven't seen for some time. 
 Like a big family reunion, with a touch of sadness too.

One day at Braum's, I saw this guy in the picture below.  At first glance, I thought it was my brother!  Then I later found out he went to Mom's church!  Mom knew just who I was talking about.  I do believe we are related somehow.  I'm sure of it.
My brother on the left, Joe on the right.

As I was talking with Dave and his wife, Linda, this guy was standing by, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me.  As I turned to face him, my eyes grew so big!!  It was "Jimmy" - or Jim, as he is known now!  We grew up in Japan together.  Our parents were on the same mission field.  He lived in Tokyo though so we weren't classmates until highschool.  And now his mother is in the same facility as my parents.

I found this baby picture of us!
My mother is holding me - middle row, 1st baby from the left.
Aunt Vi is holding Jimmy, middle row, 2nd baby from the right.

After the reception, our family drove the one hour to Pretty Prairie.
Our home church cemetery.  Al's parents are buried there also.
In fact, I can see their tombstone over by the tree.

"Look at all the Grabers!"

I just loved this coffin that Mom picked out.  
We had actually gone earlier this past summer to do that.  Of course, we were thinking about my Dad, not Mom at the time.  But she picked this one out because it was simple and it would have been something like what her father would have built.  He enjoyed woodworking.

After a few words and the song "Amazing Grace" (which was playing at the time Mom died), they lowered the casket.  Dad and then each of us women and the children threw flowers on top.

All the guys, starting with my brother, threw a shovel of dirt on top.

A solemn prayer and farewell

Mom and I designed this stone earlier this summer.
I love how it turned out!

The ladies of the church lovingly prepared a light dinner for us.  They had had a large funeral earlier in the day  so it was sweet of them to stay and do this for us.

"I want dessert, Mommy!"