Plenty enough

Post 23/2022 Friday 19 August . . . Early this week we walked to breakfast at Lux Cafe (a bit more than three miles roundtrip). Today we walked about the same distance around several neighborhoods, ending up at Starbucks for a flat white coffee and a shared Impossible Breakfast sandwich. Beat the heat.

We’re eating out more these days, especially when we can be seated out-of-doors. Growing up in the 1940s and 50s, my parents rarely ate out. Even on a Sunday afternoon drive our mother would take along bananas for a snack. As time went on (moving away from the no Sunday buying thing), we’d enjoy frozen custard cones.

Frozen wasn’t on my mind a few mornings this week as the temperature dipped but collecting my shoes and hat from the front hallway closet sparked the ghost of a thought. On the shelf above my shoes, my gloves and cold weather hats winked at me. Yes, as good as winked, as though they were impishly saying, “We’re biding our time, JB. Out of view, out of mind we may be, but fear not, we’ll be here, at your fingertips, soon enough.”

We’re at a Christmas in July gathering with the family of Marty’s sister, Doris, at the home of niece Jan and John Schwartz near Sturgis, Michigan (photo by Carsyn Spoylar, great, great niece).

Last Sunday we attended the last show of the summer season at Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw. It was Smokey Joe’s Cafe, an energetic romp through familiar and not so familiar songs. In September, we’ll see more live theatre at the Stratford Festival of Canada. We’re looking forward to performances of Little Women, Death and the King’s Horsemen, (by Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, who in 1986 became the first Black African to win the Nobel Prize in literature) and Chicago.

Summer scrambles on.

Interval in brief

I’ve been asking myself: “What have I been doing since my last blog of 28 May?” Plenty enough. We got our second booster shot. Attended to routine medical appointments. Consulted on doing a series of oral history interviews for the Goshen Historical Society. Lots of reading. Ouch, ouch, and really ouch, dealing with a kidney stone that required a laser surgical procedure to crush and remove it. Drinking more water. Visits with our families and friends in Indiana and Ontario.

A lily blooms in the garden of our sister-in-law, Vivian, with whom we stayed during a visit with family and friends in Ontario in mid-July.

More being and doing

Walks, some very early in the morning. Assisted with worship services in Greencroft Healthcare and Assisted Living, message titled, Laugh like a child. Serving on a Sunday school curriculum committee at College Mennonite Church. A day trip to get blueberries in South Haven, Michigan. A bit of entertaining. Dealing with the loss of friend Jerry Miller whose memorial service we attended August 5–deep sadness and best memories.

At the Wagon Wheel performance of Cinderella in early June with Becky and Jerry Miller (far left), Marty, brother- and sister-in-law Gerald and Mary Miller, niece Jan Lauver Schwartz. Photos of the production are prohibited, of course, but not of these dear theatregoers.

Memories of Jerry

Recap, Memorial Service for Jerry Miller, August 5, 2022, at Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen.

Marty read the scripture, Psalm 27; I shared memories; Pastor Julia Gingrich gave the mediation, based on Matthew 14:13-21. Hymns: Morning Has Broken, My Life Flows On, and The Lord is My Light. Carol Welty was song leader and Ellie Gerig, pianist. The Postlude was Christus, der ist mein Leben, Pachelbel. The lunch following featured cold cuts, salads, fruit and cupcakes, all things Jerry would have been proud of. Lots of memories were shared as part of the lunchtime.

A condensed version of my sharing follows.

Jerry was a long-time friend. Our paths crossed in 1969 when I joined the staff of Mennonite Board of Missions in Elkhart, where Jerry and Becky were hosts at the Voluntary Service Orientation Center.

Marty and I met a few years later through mutual friends after she returned from teaching at an international school in Liberia. At Prairie Street Mennonite Church, Marty and I, soon a married couple, struck up a friendship with Jerry and Becky and found various occasions to do trips together, including a visit to their growing-up homes in Holmes County, Ohio.

Jerry was director of Out-Spokin’, a bicycle ministry sponsored by Mennonite Board of Missions that included shorter and extended (cross country) group biking in North America, Puerto Rico, Jamacia and Europe.

[Lynda Hollinger Janzen, Mennonite Mission Network writer, in an August 17 feature, Mister Out-Spokin’ created Christian community in every setting, noted that Jerry “blended relational ministry and efficiency, creating community through Mennonite Board of Missions’ programs and in many other settings.”]

In 1977, over Thanksgiving, we took a vacation together to Jamaica—where Out-Spokin’ had taken several trips. On arrival we were greeted with the news that a young man who had worked with Out-Spokin’ there, had just died. The family insisted that we stick to our original plan of staying at the grandma’s house at the start of our visit and attend the funeral.

“I hesitate to use the word, but we were treated like royalty, ushered to the front row of the overflowing church, served bounteous Jamaican meals in a relative’s and another family’s home when many of the shelves in the grocery stores were empty, needing to wrestle with the thought that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Jerry had prepared us with small ways to acknowledge the hospitality we received. As we stayed in many of the places around the island where Out-Spokin’ had biked, we left small gifts with our contacts/hosts—an item of clothing, a pen, some marker of our gratitude for their hospitality.

We became aware of how well-known Jerry had become to Jamaicans. Thanks to the support of the Information staff at Mennonite Board of Missions in sending news releases to newspapers and radio stations detailing the purpose of the trip and promoting safety for riders, Out-Spokin’ was still remembered. Rounding one corner in our rental car a person at a gas station yelled out, “Jerry!” Of course, we stopped for a chat.

“Marty and I were saddened to see Jerry and Becky leave Elkhart County for green fields calling them far away. (And glad for them to return.)

Thankfully, we were able to nurture our friendship through visits to Harrisonburg, Va., to London (England) Mennonite Center where they served as hosts, to an overnight at Oakwood Inn in Syracuse where Jerry was dining room manager and Becky staffed the front desk, and, of course, The Essenhaus where Jerry was catering manager and proved that the company really could use a fit-for-purpose catering truck.  Then, too, we were introduced to Culver’s Restaurants, where Jerry worked part time until very recently.

In brief, qualities Jerry lived by included:

Dedication. Seeing young and some older adults enter the life-changing world of Voluntary Service.

Kindness. Towards friends, extended family, co-workers, strangers.

Welcoming. Greeter at church and fellowship host.  

Jovial. Stories during meals at their home and a game that followed called Mouse.

Devotion. Marriage partner, Becky; and himself, as in self-care—body, mind and spirit.

Fun-loving. Sharing his love of skiing with many young people.  He, too, enjoyed the slopes as a ski patroller, whose comradery with the patrol team, as in other settings, ran deep. Same at work.

Detailer. A day-planner for many years was Jerry’s constant companion.

Gamesmanship. Jerry had a competitive streak, that, however, in no way overshadowed his other qualities.

Visionary. Jerry gave so much to the Out-Spokin’ ministry that was way ahead of what we think of today as environmentalism and creation care.

Foodie. Preparer of the best bowl of fresh fruit a group could wish for—among other marvelous feats with food.

Gracious friend. Jerry consistently followed up as you dealt with a medical or other personal matter.

Jerry, child of God. Jerry, dear husband to Becky. Jerry helped me see the goodness of the Lord. Jerry, friend whom we hold within us. We honor his memory, celebrate his life. By our presence, we voice our gratitude for his influence in our lives and express our love to Becky.


Hydrangea we planted last fall.
A visit to Mountainoak Cheese, producer of varieties of gouda cheeses on a farm, near New Hamburg, Ontario. The cheesemaker’s slogan is, “It’s local – It’s Gouda – Its Good.”
We like to check out this shop in New Hamburg, Ontario. It’s called, “Is This Chair Taken?”
Crossing the suspension bridge on our way to Captain Lou’s for a perch lunch on our day trip to South Haven, Michigan.
A tree frog popped out of a table umbrella on a visit to Mary and Gerald’s cottage in July. Last Saturday, on our walk home from the Goshen Farmer’s Market, a Cicada serenaded us while we paused for a picnic of cheese and sourdough bread from Rachel’s shop of international cheeses.

What’s next?

I’m not returning to writing a weekly blog just yet–even though various themes course through my mind. Plenty enough for the moment, this is.



8 thoughts on “Plenty enough

  1. Hey, so nice to read! Many people have said they missed your blogs and wondered if and when you will write again. Fingers crossed! Looking forward to your visit in September.


  2. Nice to hear from you again online, John! We are sorry about the death of your good friend, Jerry Miller. I can see that you were life-long friends. We are looking forward to your visit in mid October. Christmas in July with Doris and her family sounded like fun as well as the excursion to South Haven. Enjoy the Stratford Theater performances!

    Hugs, Monty & Ginger



  3. John, Thank you for remembering Jerry in this blog. I learned to know him as he was Dean of men an hall manager at Western Mennonite School, Salem, OR in by senior year. In the mid seventies Jerry hosted an Outspoken event during the time Marlene and I were MCC volunteers in Jamaica. Your comments bring back memories and fill in blank spaces. Thank You. Stanley K


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