Yesterday was one of those days that leave a person absolutely weary and exhausted.
It all began a little after 5 a.m. I was sound asleep when I received an urgent message that my cousin’s house was burning.
Oh no, what dreadful news! I dropped to my knees in earnest prayer asking God to protect everyone involved. In the meanwhile, my husband Daniel hurriedly got dressed and jumped on his bicycle and pedaled the two miles to where the flames were doing their destructive work burning away their house and belongings. I so desperately wanted to go and show my support yet I knew that with the temperature dropping down to 17 it simply wouldn’t be wise to wake the sleeping children and take them on a chilly buggy ride to go watch a house burn to the ground.
Much to my relief I soon found out that everyone was okay. My cousin Judith, her husband Jeremy, and their little daughter Monica had escaped the fire and even carried out some prized belongings such as Judith’s wedding dress, Monica’s rocking chair, and the treasured bench that grandpa had made for them before he passed away. Jeremy and Judith are both in their early 20s so these will be treasured for a long time.
The fire department had been notified right away. How extremely grateful we are for experienced people with the needed equipment in a time as such! As they sprayed water, people from church kept flocking in. People huddled around the house standing at a safe distance as the black smoke rose to the sky.
Jeremy and Judith were devastated yet peace radiated from their beings as they trusted God to continue providing for them. Only three hours earlier they had come home from a two-week trip of visiting Amish family in South America who are there on missionary work. The suitcases, which had not been unpacked, were among the items whisked out the door before it was too late.
By 7:30 a.m. Daniel had come back home for breakfast and to fill me in on more details. It felt like I simply could not ask enough questions. Oh, how could this really be real?
After breakfast and devotions I set to work in the kitchen baking sour cream raisin bars and making “hamburger sub casseroles” for Jeremy and their extended families. By 10:30 a.m. the food was prepared. I decided the dirty dishes could wait until later. After getting the children ready I fetched the horse and hitched her to the buggy loading the children and food onto it. When I dropped off the food I was glad for the chance to talk with Judith and show her my love, yet in a time like this there simply is nothing you can do to make everything alright.
In the afternoon my mom watched the children while I helped with clean up. To say the least everything was a mess. Most of the exterior walls were still standing while a lot of the interior walls were burned down.
There was a sloshy black mess every way we turned in their burned modular home. As we poked around in the stinky ash for treasures I couldn’t help but shake my head again. Judith and I talked again about how unreal it is and once more cried together. I was touched deeply when Judith’s Bible was found with the edges charred and soaking wet. As she opened the sticky pages it flipped open to Isaiah 43:2 where she had highlighted the verse “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned, neither shall the flame be kindled upon thee.” Amazing, yes, He will make a way through this fire.
We were delighted that the firefighters were able to save so many items from the kitchen and storage room. Not only that, the garage had been saved with their buggies, bicycles, etc.
After spending some time at the burned site I, along with 10 other ladies and girls, headed for my husband’s woodworking shop where we sorted through salvaged items, scrubbing dirt and smoke and then stacking everything back into boxes. Several ladies washed dishes, others washed Jeremy’s smoky clothing while I went through lots of papers, cards, and things and such. Some cards which Jeremy and Judith had exchanged over the years were partially burned and soaked yet readable which we were grateful to be able to save.
By suppertime the remains of the house had all been disposed and the valuables had been cleaned and sorted. At 7 p.m. we arrived home with much to think about.
We really aren’t promised anything from day to day. Again and again I find myself asking God to draw me closer to Him. The attributes of God can never be taken away from us.
How about trying my hamburger sub casserole? It’s a standby recipe that I have gone to many times when I needed something easy and tasty to prepare with limited time. To “Danielize” this recipe, I add bacon bits and pepperoni as a topping. My husband loves that as an addition and someone in your family might also. Enjoy!
HAMBURGER SUB CASSEROLE
12 slices of bread
1/2 cup mayo
8 ounces of cream cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice, divided
1 pound of hamburger
1 quart pizza or spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
Layer bread in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Mix mayo, cream cheese and Italian seasoning and spread over bread. Sprinkle with one cup of cheese. Fry hamburger with onion. Season to taste then add sauce and water. Stir and spread over cheese. Top with an additional 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.