Editor's Note: This week's column is being written by Jeriah Raber, 26, younger brother of Gloria Yoder. Gloria will return next week.

Hello to all of big sister Gloria’s special friends! It’s an honor to share a few words with you this week. From a brother’s perspective, I want to give each one of you a heartfelt thank you! Thank you for the outpouring of love and care that has flowed into that mailbox on the corner of a small gravel road in rural Illinois. Our hearts have felt like they might never beat quite right again after that tearing loss. But wait, it was God who created us in the first place. So we can be sure he knows how to heal us.

And in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome, he says the clay doesn’t get to tell the potter what to do. We actually savor this fact – it means we may fully trust the one who shapes us. This premise of full surrender is a central theme in my sister’s life as she navigates some very rugged terrain. And should it not be for all who call on the name of our great and holy God?

It was Friday afternoon at Gloria’s house. Warm, but not stiflingly warm. About two hours were open for the adventure. Everything was ready, and there was excitement eking from between the seams. You see, for my dear little nieces and nephews, a trek back in the woods to the creek was no small thing. Momma gave some last-minute instructions, and we struck north across the pasture carrying a shovel, a small bucket and some other miscellaneous supplies. Jesse had used his little man voice to announce that he could certainly carry the shovel. Bless his heart; the thing got heavy and he decided to pass it on to Hosanna, who had similar aspirations. This process repeated itself several times till I was asked to carry it.

This creek has never run dry — ever since I was a young child. And it’s perfect for children. Big enough for some adventure but shallow enough to be safe. We played with the rocks. How high could we stack them before they topple? And we tried to catch minnows. Austin was the only one with any luck. We put some water in the little bucket and put them in there to take up and show mom and put in the small creek behind the house. We piled a row of rocks across the creek and added shovels of sand to form a small dam. And then it was time to go home. We walked up the path Daniel had cut through the woods last summer. And we sang. Bless those dear children’s hearts. They are taught to enjoy singing. It was a joy. We sang “Oh Worship the Lord.” They sang “Jesus Loves Me When I Play,” which was a new one for me. And then we sang “Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah.”

There were so many memories from years ago at the creek — Gloria lives in the same place where we grew up. There’s one that stands out in particular. Our family, along with uncles, aunts and cousins, headed back one afternoon and set up camp. It was classic old-time camping. Tents, sleeping bags and kerosene lanterns. I remember the steady chorus from the night insects, mingled with the occasional yapping of coyotes. And I remember the chatter and interaction lingering around the campfire till late at night. Being a little boy, I fell asleep before the others. I awoke the next morning to several cousins and uncles walking back into camp carrying dozens of morel mushrooms they’d found in the spring woods.

But back to the present. It was a bit of a walk up to the house. Elijah ran out of steam halfway up the trail to the field, so I carried him the rest of the way. Jesse felt like his boots were all too hot and heavy, so he kicked them off and toted them along. We came back to the house, a bit tired and glad for a break, but already making plans for next time. We talked about staying longer and taking food along. Someone said we should have a bonfire beside the creek. Julia thought there would even be a nice place for some tents. Maybe you’ll hear about that excursion in the future!

And the recipe! We plant lots of green beans every spring. I’ll share my favorite recipe for these healthy little veggies.

Sweet and Sour beans

2 quart canned beans

5 slices bacon, fried

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

2 eggs, well beaten.

Heat the beans. Fry the bacon, drain and crumble, set aside. Mix sugar, vinegar and eggs in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Drain water off beans and add sauce and bacon.

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