While perusing Facebook memories, I found an invitation to post ‘random’ events in my life. Immediately, I remembered reading Ephesians 1:9-11. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time, he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.
God knows all about me, He goes before me and He follows me. Psalm 139:17 reveals: You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
I remember the Grandfather I never knew. God filled his brief life with the joy of loving our Lord God. He was the fifth generation the Jacob Siemens. Jacob Siemens II searched for the freedom to worship Christ. This led him from Holland to West Prussia and then to Russia. Finally, he gathered his family of thirteen to travel to America in 1874. Jacob III and Jacob IV with wives and families made the journey together.
Jacob Siemens IV was born in the Molotschna Colony of South Russia, and there he married Anna Willms in1872. Jacob and wife Elizabeth, Jacob IV, 25 with Anna 20, and infant daughter. Also included were Elisabeth 45, Elisabeth 19, Johan 16, Abraham 14, David 11, Agatha 4, and Heinrich 1 year.
Two years after the long journey, Jacob B Siemens was born, 1876. He married Emilie Brunn in1897. Emilie, born in Saratov, Russia, 1876 came to this country in 1892, 16 years. He died the year after I was born in 1929. Dad placed me on his lap before Groospapa died. Mom said his chin spoke of determination. His eyes twinkled when he chided his daughter about the cookies she made. “They would make good overcoat buttons,” he said.
Mom also told me when she was a small girl, she didn’t like to hear Jacob preach. He would lull her asleep with soft words, and then words of thunder would wake her up again. Then I understood how my Dad delighted us with stories from the Bible with dramatic stories. The soft words and thunderous words drew and kept our attention.
God knew how long Jacob V had to live. Somehow Jacob knew, too. For he learned how to preach, striding back and forth behind the barn with the Bible in his hand. He learned to ‘cry’ an auction. He earned money as an auctioneer along with preaching and farming. The Mennonite Brethren Church accepted into the Mennonite Brethren Church at 21 years. He married Emilie Brunn in 1897, and they raised a family.
Jacob V made a run for free farmland in 1903, during the Oklahoma Land Rush after it opened in 1889. He found land in Western Oklahoma near the small town of Corn, Oklahoma. Money was tight. One story tells of the difficult times and love. Jacob planned to go into town for some supplies. Emilie asked for some oilcloth, to help keep the children cleaner. Jacob counted his money, and there wasn’t enough for his supplies and the oilcloth. He unhitched horse and said, we will wait until another day.
With all his travel for preaching and auctions, he often left Emilie with the farm work and raising the family of four boys, and one daughter. Emilie must have had and a sense of humor. When we visited Grosmom, I called her. As a girl, my understanding of the Plauttdietsch language from Holland of Groosmame had its limits. Grosmom stood in the kitchen by the cupboard, her eyes twinkling, and asked me to say “Hi-hoopa!” I never understood what that meant, but she would laugh, and slide open the metal drawer of the cupboard and give me a molasses cookie. I would say ‘Hi-Hoopa” today if I knew I would get one of Grosmom’s molasses cookies.
Dad told me he only saw her cry once. Groospapa left for preaching and she did the chores on the farm. She lifted the pitchfork to put hay on it to feed the cattle and realized she had stuck a rabbit with it. She came in and hid behind the wood fire stove and wept.
Groospapa Jacob knew when he strode the train platform traveling with his suitcase in hand, something was amiss when he dropped his suitcase. He walked on, not realizing the grip in his hand disappeared. He had to go back for the suitcase. He went home and sat in a wheelchair for six years and progressively became more paralyzed. Emilie loved her Jacob so much, she had to be the one to care for her Jacob. Their marriage lasted for thirty-three years. My Dad told me he and his brothers set up a pulley over his bed to help in lifting their Dad. This made it easier for their Mom to lift him up to care for him until his death in 1930.
How did two people from the same part of the world, born the same year on different continents find each other and find joy together? For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13.
Thank you, Grandpa Jacob V, for setting an example for me on how to live for Jesus! The way you lived, Jacob, cannot be labeled random! It was planned by God. ‘Selig Sind Die in Dem Herm Sterben’ is inscribed on your tombstone you share. Blessed are those who die in the Lord!