The Valley, May 2014
Editor’s Corner Wayne Stottlar This is probably the hardest column I have ever had to write since our founding almost 5 years ago. The Valley has lost one of our foundational building blocks, and I have lost a very good friend, my first real friend from the Amish community. On 22 April 2014 Jeptha I. Yoder took hold of his Lord’s hand and passed from this life to his next. My thinking at the time was that God must have needed a writer for Heaven’s newsletter, and when he looked around, he realized we had one of the best newsletter writers anywhere. This gift of communication must be somewhat hereditary, because during my first meeting with Jeptha, I learned that his grandfather had also been a writer for an Amish newsletter.
Jeptha was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that usually claims life when the patient is in their teens. Jeptha made great use of the extra time he had, as he ran all the way to 36. I think there was much he needed to teach others; therefore, he outlasted the effects of the disease. I never heard him once complain either. He seemed to have been able to see the good in everything, no matter what was placed before him. Looking back, I can now see that he had profound effects on my thought processes. You see, when the weather was nice, I would sometimes sneak out to his farm and spend a good deal of time just talking. I didn’t realize it then, but now looking back, I can see that the return trip home was always a happy one, Jeptha had
a way of helping you find inner peace. The circumstances of our meeting were a little out of the ordinary as well, another sign that this whole project isn’t something that is of my doing, other hands are at work. Early on in the concept phase of creating this paper, one of our missions was to include a voice (or voices) from our Amish neighbors, if that was at all possible. Being “from away” as we say in New England, I was not too privy to the Amish culture, but the more I learned, the more I admired it. As most of us do, I began to create idyllic visions of what their culture was like. Soon after moving here, I began getting my eggs, and later milk and produce, from my Amish neighbors. Farm fresh is always best! When the idea for the paper came about, I desperately wanted to find an Amish writer and started asking every Amish person I knew about finding someone. My egg lady, Emma, directed me to Jeptha. She told me a little about him and why he might be a good person to ask, but I was so excited to have a lead that I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been when she was telling me where he lived. I spent several hours the next two days riding back and forth on East Back Mountain Road, looking for I don’t know what. I obviously didn’t have enough information to find him—I guess I was expecting a miracle and he would step out and flag me down. That didn’t happen, but one day a van pulled up beside me and asked if I was looking for someone, since he had seen
me driving back and forth. I told him who I was looking for and he said he thought he knew who I wanted and gave me directions to his house. Not knowing what to expect, I nervously drove into their yard. Our first meeting was somewhat brief and after telling my plans for the paper to Jeptha, he said he would think about it. A week later I went back to his farm, and he already had a column, or as he says it, “letter,” to submit. Each meeting thereafter seemed to last longer and longer as he taught me the meaning of things that I had yet to understand. I was a grateful student. Jeptha was a wordsmith; he had a way of writing and speaking that causes you to reflect and respond in a more measured way. I don’t believe any intentionally hurtful words ever left his mouth. He was a very thoughtful writer and speaker. Jeptha also had a sense of humor. I remember once during one of our hour-long visits, he came out with something so profound that it stopped me in my tracks. I don’t even remember now what it was he said, just that it floored me. I asked him “how the heck did you figure that out?” His soft spoken response was, “Well, I have a chance to think. I don’t have a radio, television, cell phone, or a bunch of other people taking up space in my head like you do, so I have more time to think.” I guess that could have been lesson number one. It was his way of teaching me the information that I yearned to know about the difference between the cultures. Rather than tell me, he showed me and drew a picture with his words. Jeptha also taught me about controlling emotions, especially anger. He was a gentle man and a good role model for a person like me. Jeptha also opened many doors for me and the newspaper with other people in his community. He is responsible for introducing me to the many dear friends that I now have amongst the Amish. I am humbled by their friendship. Going forward will not be
“Fair & Balanced” means Spin gets Equal Time
Contact Info Editor/Publisher Wayne Stottlar Graphic Artist/Co-Publisher Lynn Persing Associate Editor Colleen Swetland The Valley PO Box 41 Yeagertown, PA 17099 (717) 363-1550 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.thevalleynewspaper.com ©The Valley. All Rights Reserved.
easy, but when we think about how gracefully and without complaint Jeptha walked his path, we should realize we must as well. At the viewing, Jeptha’s father Isaac said to me, “this leaves a big hole,” and he is right—both cultures lost a good man. Another older Amish gentleman outside the house asked me if I intended to try to replace him in the paper. I don’t even know if that is possible, or even if we should, so I am going to leave that in God’s hands. If he wants us to have another Amish language writer, he will send one to us, and they of course would be welcomed here at The Valley. I know as time moves on we will look back and be thankful that we got to know Jeptha, and spend some of his too-short time here with him. I remember being quite surprised to see him show up at our Community Day event in Reedsville, as I knew he was always happiest at home. I know it was probably a hard thing for him to do being out amongst so many strangers. Within minutes of his arriving, his look of concern faded as a steady stream of people walked up to his table to talk about his column or seed saving. I think he had a good time, if being exhausted at the end of the day signifies that. Thank you Jeptha for all the memories I will carry while I walk what’s left of my path. a
Published on May 9, 2014