November 7 being the day after the election and primarily because it is Rhoda’s birthday it is a day that calls for double celebration.
I was not there for her birth, of course, but I was told that it was on a Sunday evening. Her Papa was the pastor of the Vine Street Mennonite Mission, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He opened the Sunday evening service and got the children’s meeting started. Then he retired to the seclusion of the family quarters in the mission.
At the close of the meeting he returned to tell the assembly that he had just become the father of a fourth daughter. Her name was Rhoda and she became for me, the Beautiful Rose, Rhoda.
We met when we were 15, and became friends. We were sophomores at Eastern Mennonite School, and studied in the evening study hall and library. She enrolled at the Lancaster Mennonite School for her junior year. On November 7, 1942, I sent her a letter with the suggestion that we might begin to correspond. She agreed. On April 5, 1947 Rhoda and I were married. For 65 years she enriched my life. Today, I honor her.
Near the beginning of the service at the College Mennonite Church this past Sunday, seven others and I were welcomed as new members of the church. It was also All Saints Day and at the end of the service the church honored Rhoda and all others who died in the past twelve months. A picture of the deceased was projected on a screen while a paragraph was read recounting that person’s life. Here is the paragraph that was written by Rachel:
Rhoda, fourth daughter of eight children grew up in Lancaster, Pa. Her father was pastor of a city mission, and Rhoda soaked up her family’s example of ministry and service. She prepared for life by studying Greek and Bible at Eastern Mennonite College and helping in mission churches in the Virginia hills. Rhoda married Martin. They had two children.
After nearly three years working their little farm near Marion, Pa., they were sent by Eastern Mennonite Missions to pastor a little mission in Tampa, Fla. There Rhoda held sewing and Bible classes with youth, taught kindergarten, and learned to cook delicious Puerto Rican and Italian dishes from friends and neighbors. Later she served as a church secretary and assistant to the pastor at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota. Rhoda loved to create, sing, write and play games. Her family treasures Rhoda’s practical devotion to God, and unconditional love. – daughter