Amish Girl Missing & Considered Endangered: Lancaster PA

An 18 year old girl, Linda Stoltzfoos, did not return home from church on Sunday June 21, 2020.

PA State Police put out the following statement: LANCASTER COUNTY: Missing Endangered Person Advisory. The East Lampeter Township Police Department is searching for Linda Stoltzfoos, 18. She is 5’10”, 125 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen on June 21 at 12:30 p.m. on Stumptown Road, Upper Leacock Township. She was wearing a tan dress, a white apron, and white cap. Police believe this person may be at special risk of harm or injury. Anyone with information on Stoltzfoos should contact police immediately by calling 911 or The East Lampeter Township Police Department at 717-291-4676.

The following update was put up on the Facebook page for Linda 35 minute ago, at 3:12pm, Monday June 22:

Search Update: They are still welcoming any volunteers. Volunteers on Horseback and ATV’s are welcome. Please report to the Bird-in-Hand Firehall if you are willing and able to help. 313 Enterprise Dr, Bird in Hand, PA 17505.

The search will continue today until 9PM

For those of us who left the Conservative Anabaptist setting and ‘disappeared’ for a time, it can be challenging to respond to these cases. I left a home with abuse and violence and didn’t want to be found for a time. I find myself processing missing person cases through that lens, and I know many others do as well. However, with the recent tragic outcome with Sasha Kraus, from The Nationwide Fellowship church in Farmington NM, I am compelled to actively share. If I had been in danger, I would have prayed that someone would search for me until I was found. I encourage you to share as well and create awareness. The more people who are aware, the more likely she will be found.

Pray for Linda, and pray for her family as this is very traumatic for them. Pray also for her church and friends, and the broader Amish community. She is the daughter of Lloyd and Susie Stoltzfoos, of Bird in Hand PA.

My prayer is that Linda will be found, safe and sound, and that God’s grace will carry her loved ones through this difficult time.

As always..

Love,

~ T ~

For family & friends of Cornelius Harder: His cancer journey and final days

Cornelius W. Harder • February 22, 1960 – April 24 2020

*****

NOTE:
In light of COVID-19 restrictions, we are not able to hold a proper funeral or visitation for Cornelius Harder. This includes most immediate family members.

FUNERAL LIVESTREAM DETAILS: On Monday April 27, 2020, at 2:00pm EDT, the funeral for Cornelius Harder will be livestreamed via YouTube at the following link: Kebbel Funeral Homes.

*****

On Thursday April 23, 2020 family members of Cornelius and Susan (Bender) Harder received word that Cor, my brother, was declining rapidly. Knowing how difficult support is during COVID-19, I took some masks and gloves to his home to ensure his wife had all supplies needed. I anticipated dropping off the product, and possibly saying my goodbye to Cor if he was responsive, and then sitting in my vehicle awhile in the event Susan, Cor’s wife, needed help. However, shortly after arriving the VON nurse also arrived and asked if someone would be comfortable administering medications via port in the absence of a nurse. Susan, knowing I had done in-home elder care and worked as a nurse’s aid, years ago, suggested she talk to me.

Another sister and I, who both enjoy (for lack of better word) doing palliative care, spent the night with Susan and Cor, offering support and caring for his medical needs.  Our goal was to be present, monitor his condition, observing the progression of Cor’s decline, explaining any changes, and keeping Susan informed of what to expect next, so that she would not be taken off guard and frightened or traumatized. This allowed us to prepare her for his passing in a peaceful manner, keeping him comfortable and offering her the support she needed. It was an honour to offer this support.

*****

COR’S CANCER JOURNEY

On June 12 2018, only 22 days after he went to the doctor with initial symptoms, Cornelius Harder received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This began a 23-month journey in his fierce battle against this ruthless disease. On July 1, the physical suffering that would mark much of the next year and nearly ten months of his life, began, followed by the first of many trips to the hospital for pain management.

Surgeons were confident that surgery offered Cornelius the most likely chance at a full recovery, so by November 1, 2018, they successfully performed a Whipple procedure.  By April 2019, he had healed considerably, and was able to enjoy reasonably good health with minimal discomfort until August of that year. During these months Cornelius planted crops and kept up with his customers at Kenpal Farm Products Inc.

In mid-September 2019 a partially blocked bowel brought complications and reintroduced significant pain and suffering into Cornelius’s life. In October he was diagnosed with stage 4 recurrent pancreatic cancer. By November he experienced severe back pain, causing him to lose much sleep, leading to a challenging Christmas season. In the ensuing months, there was a gradual, yet steady decline in his health.

Even as he declined, growing weaker and weaker, he fought the disease valiantly, maintaining an element of independence and mobility, always concerned for Susan’s wellbeing and doing everything in his power to ensure she was cared for. But, in spite of his grit and determination, on April 18, 2020, standing by his bed, Cornelius became very weak. “My legs are going to give out,” he said to Susan “I’m going to fall.”

With Susan’s assistance, he managed to lay himself across his bed and wiggle back into position and get comfortable. This was the beginning of the home stretch. Cornelius maintained a good appetite and continued to eat well, for the most part. By Wednesday April 22, days after becoming bedridden, he had grown so weak that he was no longer able to feed himself, though he ate well with Susan’s assistance.

Early Thursday morning, April 23, Cornelius began sweating profusely without a fever. Susan’s concerns subsided when she offered him breakfast and he ate well. By mid-morning, in the middle of a conversation about the final details on the income tax return, Cornelius fell into a deep sleep which lasted until late afternoon. Not long after the VON nurse, Jennifer, arrived, he was suddenly alert, eyes wide open. Jennifer called Susan over, telling her she wouldn’t want to miss this time with Cornelius. This led to a delightful, endearing and humorous moment in Cornelius’s final hours.

Seeing Cornelius so alert, Susan smiled, kissed his forehead and expressed her love for him, to which he responded with warmth and affection, affirming his love for her. “It’s so good to see you wide awake, your eyes open,” Susan exclaimed, beaming.

“Have I been sleeping long?” he asked. She told him it had been awhile, but that he needed the rest and it was ok.

“Well,” he said, “while I’m awake I might as well sign the Income tax form.” The nurse, Susan and I all erupted in giggles to see him go from such a deep sleep we could barely communicate with him, to asking for papers to sign and complete.

Susan found the form and started flipping through the pages and commented at being uncertain where to find the spot that needed signing.  Instantly, Cornelius piped up, “It should be about page 3.”

A moment later he was set up to sign the documents. Declining visual focus made it challenging, but he got it done. This was his final act of practical care for Susan. Immediately he returned to a deep sleep.

A few people dropped by through the course of the evening to see Cornelius one more time. We were fortunate to have accessed masks to reduce risk of exposing Susan to flu viruses, while still allowing some of those closest to them to show their love and support. Dennis and Carolyn Martin and most of their family sang some favourite songs and hymns in the garage. Cornelius’s pleasure was visible.

Around 9:15 Cornelius became restless, the pain setting in again, and feeling obviously unwell. Nurses had left detailed instructions, and a phone number to call for help, so with their guidance we were able to settle down the pain. With Susan by his side for support, and the activities of the evening behind him, he was able to rest comfortable.

Shortly after 1:00am Susan said she knows what she needs to do, but oh how she dreaded it. She had heard that sometimes the dying feel when their loved ones cannot release them and fight to stay out of that sense of care and duty. After an hour of struggle, she took that difficult step, through tears, and assured Cornelius that God, family, friends and her church would care for her, and she would be ok. She released him to God, inviting the angels to carry him into God’s presence, to be with Jesus.

We played “Trust His Heart” by the Esh family, followed by a variety of hymns and songs familiar to Cornelius. He smiled, from time to time, resting peacefully, holding Susan’s hand, squeezing it gently. Then, soon after Susan released him, his breathing changed, growing more shallow, yet with no distress.

It was 2:39am. Susan needed to get something, so she released Cor’s hand for only a moment. Several of Cornelius’s sisters had stayed with Susan, and one noticed he opened his eyes and turned his head, as if looking for Susan, so she called her back.

Susan leaned over and kissed Cornelius’s forehead, “I love you so much dear husband!” she said. His face lit up in a wide smile, his eyes wide open, turned toward her.

“Look at that smile!” one of the sisters exclaimed. Susan could hardly contain her delight as she returned to her seat.

“Susan… Come…” one of the sister’s beckoned, “this is his moment. Cor is going home.” His heart never beat again, after that smile, and his next breath was the deep drinking in of eternal life.

At 2:41am, on April 24, 2020, with his wife Susan by his side, Cornelius slipped peacefully into the arms of Jesus, his Saviour, healed forever from the incredible suffering he endured in this life.

*****

Susan has given our brother exceptional care through his illness and their years together. As a family we are deeply grateful, and offer our love and support.

New Hamburg Conservative Mennonite Church and its leaders have again been compassionate and kind in their support as we go through this difficult time. It is especially meaningful so soon after supporting us in the loss of our mother. As a family, we express our thanks.

Special thanks to the VON nurses and PSW’s who supported Cor and Susan, so that he was able to stay at home with Susan, especially with the complications of COVID-19. The excellent care and compassion are appreciated by Susan and Cor’s family.

*****

God is kind.

In the midst of the trauma that comes with cancer and death, which is exponentially more complex and painful in light of COVID-19 restrictions, we find Hope in His goodness. We do not understand why now, at a time when we cannot properly gather to support each other without risk of arrest and extreme fines and consequences, including risk of imprisonment. But we know that God is not taken off guard. We know He cares deeply for each one of us. And trust and pray that when these restrictions are lifted, we will be able to find some way of connecting as a family, and beginning the healing process together.

Only a few siblings are able to be with Susan during this time to support her. I am not one of them, but she has my support 100% on the people she has chosen to be with her at this time. We have all experienced loss. But none of us have experienced loss to the extent that she has, losing her best friend, husband and partner in the day to day ups and downs of life. Having spoken with most of my siblings personally, while it is, admittedly, excruciatingly painful for those who cannot attend, each one echoed that support for her as well.

Please say a prayer for our sister Anna who is married to Leonard Hursh of Mt. Joy PA. She was able to cross the border, but as of yet there is no indication that she will even be able to see any family member, or go to the funeral home to find some closure, without the fear of extreme consequences even if masks and gloves are used. We are praying for a miracle. She and Cor were very close growing up and to not have her find some form of closure looks overwhelming for us all.

Finally, thank you to so many of you have prayed for Cor and Susan, and for our family, including many of my friends who don’t know them. We all prayed and cried out for a different outcome than the one we are walking through. But ultimately we prayed for healing, and his healing is now eternal. We are so thankful for Jesus, and the hope He offers us in this time.

As always…

With love,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Update on Mennonite man miraculously healed in Tanzania

A happy Thursday (Edit:…just kidding… it’s Wednesday!  this sitting at home thing…!) to you all! What a delight it is to be alive! To see the sunshine, and hear the birds sing! I love these things at any time — and even the snow that many abhor — but especially now, when the world looks upside down. To see that God’s creation still sings and shines, that makes my heart happy!

And I have no doubt that is how Jason and Mel Hunt and their family feel, in Tanzania. A few days ago I shared the story of Jason collapsing, believing he was at the end, only to miraculously revive again. That is one of the best things I had heard in a week or two, so I shared it. I have no regrets about sharing his testimony of unexpected healing. It is truly good news.

My only regret , and there was one… though I don’t like that word, came when friends cautioned that many will take his experience as ‘the cure‘ and act irresponsibly because of it. I had not thought of that, and at first thought my friends were overreacting and their concern not warranted. Especially given I had put in a disclaimer that I was *not* promoting it as a cure, but rather because it seemed to me a story of hope in the midst of tragic times.  Nonetheless, I listened to their cautions and edited the post, removing anything that might hint at the experience being touted as a cure.

Others were less gracious and said he is a liar, to declare so boldly he had COVID-19 without test results. My response immediately to that criticism was that this does not make him a liar; it makes him overly enthusiastic.

Then, yesterday toward evening, I received word that test results for COVID-19 came back negative for their family. (Keep his wife and daughter in your prayers. Last I hear, yesterday night, they are still sick and in need of prayer). This means he did not likely have COVID-19 in the first place. The post was causing enough of a stir that I decided to remove it until such a time as I had time to edit out any ‘offending parts’. This is something I have rarely done, but in the interest of avoiding unnecessary offence, I removed the post entirely.

We can somewhat assume the tests are conclusive and he likely did not have COVID-19. But that is not really the bottom line, and his overstatement is not the greatest tragedy in the world.

It is only a tragedy that he was too sure of himself if:

  1. he is not humble enough to learn from it. Otherwise, is is an incredible learning experience, not only for him but for all of us, me included. Or maybe especially me and him, but I think all of us.
  2. the church has no grace for a testimony that is powerful but overly enthusiastic and certain of details that were not relevant to the miraculous outcome. To write off such a profound recovery because the recipient is human — as are we all — is to limit the work of Christ among humans. It means I can only see Him if you are more/less perfect. If I took that approach, given the hell and horror I see in Christian community, I would have turned to atheism long ago.

Before posting the original story I checked into the legitimacy of the claims, and again numerous times since. I added a disclaimer in the original blog, and I would have been wise to edit out any reference to COVID-19. In that I erred. Yet, I had and still have every reason to believe that the story told, happened as told.

In spite of the kerfluffle and humanity of his way of verbalizing it, I am no less amazed by God, and I think no less of Jason for it.

If there is not grace for his humanity, then the church has nothing left to offer the world. Nothing. Because that’s who Jesus is.

I have said many times, there is grace enough for the vilest sinner (including sex offenders) and if they are truly repentant they can receive that grace. I believe that with all my heart. (That does not equate to giving sex offenders free regn under the guise of forgiveness, but that’s another topic for another day).

What has baffled me in this is that it seems there is less grace for a man who is overconfident in a medical self-diagnosis and includes it in his testimony, than there is for the sex offender who sheds a few tears and does not change his ways. Surely, surely, there is grace for both, but especially in a case of ‘intending no harm or sin’ in the process.

I do not regret telling the story. If I did not think we can learn from it, then I would have regrets. I hope and pray that we can see past the humanity and see Jesus at work among us. If we can’t see Him in our collective brokenness, what have we got — what has Jesus got — that will bring any measure of peace and wholeness to us and those around us?

Having removed the original post, here is the portion of his testimony that does not make any assumptions about what his illness was.  Praise Jesus!

Last night as I desperately fought for breath to live, I just kept stumbling through the house around the fireplace and kitchen trying to hang on to a measure of breath. The rest were holding me up, crying and praying, (and probably wondering who was going to cart my body out to the coffee field). Finally at 3am I was really fading so wheezed out my goodbyes as I slumped up against the fireplace. I told them no one was to do mouth to mouth on me because I didn’t want the infection to increase in their lungs. As I sat there fading out to everyone’s amazement I got so hot from the fire at my back that I started to sweat buckets and my lungs suddenly started opening up and oxygen came into my lungs. God intervened.

[…]

The improvements over the last few hours has been exponential. Even Mel has made incredible progress. God is intervening.

[…]

I will mention the whole household came down with symptoms today. And the whole household has made exponential gains in the last eight hours. Most are sleeping peacefully now. […] We need to run forth knowing that love will always conquer fear.

[…]

All the prayers are being answered.

*****

My prayer is that you all stay safe and healthy, and if your health has been compromised, that God will heal and restore you.

Remember, God is kind.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger