SERIAL NOVEL: The Black Mennonite (Chapter 29) by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte

Chapter 29

A Faith Relationship

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“About time you all made it home,” Bishop Stoltzfus said when his wife and daughter arrived home a little after eight.

“Aren’t you even going to ask about the welfare of the baby?” Mamm Stoltzfus said.

“Should I?” Bishop Stoltzfus said. “On second thought, I’m sure you’ll tell me all that’s taken place.”

Mamm Stoltzfus shook her head from side to side. “The baby is not doing well at all. They had to leave her at the hospital. She’s probably going to be there for about two weeks. Jacob and Eva came home to freshen up, eat, and get some rest as they both plan on spending the night at the hospital with her.”

Bishop Stoltzfus did not respond.

“The least you could do is to stop by and offer up a prayer for the baby and for them,” she continued. “That would be such an encouragement to them.”

Bishop Stoltzfus looked at his wife as though he was thinking over what she said. He stroked his beard contemplatively.

“It would be a great encouragement if you would fix my supper. I’ve been waiting for over two hours to eat. Did you think about that while you were away all day taking care of this stranger amongst us? You’ve been neglecting some of your wifely duties since that black boppli came into the community. She’s been a source of distraction,” Bishop Stoltzfus said to his wife.

“I believe the Bible says we are to take care of strangers,” Mamm Stoltzfus quietly responded. “And it also says we are not to mistreat children as they are very near to the heart of God. Remember, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Rebecca’s hand flew to her mouth as she listened with disbelief to the unkind words coming from her father towards her mother. How can she just sit there and take it like that? She has been the brunt of his coarse words for years now. I can’t sit here and listen to this any more. She does not deserve this.

“Daed, now you know–” Rebecca started to say, but her mother intercepted her statement.

“Rebecca! Quiet. Your father and I are talking—not you,” Mamm Stoltzfus said sharply.

Rebecca stared at her mother in disbelief.

“You’ll understand when you get married,” her mother said softly. “Come and help me with the supper, and please, don’t shove the pots around. I’d like to have a peaceful remainder of the evening.”

“Yes, Mamm,” Rebecca said and started towards the stove.

“I’ll be back in less than ten minutes,” Bishop Stoltzfus said. “I’ll be ready to eat then.”

“I’ll have it ready,” his wife said.

As soon as the door slammed shut, Rebecca, near tears, blurted out, “Mamm, how could you just stand there and take it? How can you take it for these many years? You know Daed’s being unkind, implying the black boppli is the reason for you neglecting your wifely duties when he knows deep down that you have not been neglecting your wifely duties. Why does he not like Kezia? What has she done to him for him not to like her? I mean, she’s a baby!”

“Now, now,” Mamm Stoltzfus said. “Don’t let what he does or says get to you. He’s under a lot of pressure what with overseeing the whole community and making sure everyone is living up to the Gottly standards we profess to possess. He has a hard time accepting change, especially social changes. I’m sure he doesn’t mean most of what he says to me or even about Kezia, or about Jacob and Eva, for that matter.”

“I’m sure he does. He’s always been so unkind to you, and you just take it. I wouldn’t take it.”

Mamm Stoltzfus chuckled. “Well, what else am I supposed to do? The Bible tells me as a wife to be obedient to my husband, and that obedience is not contingent on how he may act. Before great Grandma Lapp died, she told me the husband / wife relationship was based on faith. She said it was a faith relationship: faith in Gott to protect you as the wife; faith that if you do your part, Gott will help your husband to do his part. Like you, I didn’t understand it at first, but I do now. It’s not easy. No relationship is ever easy because each person involved is still in this struggle with their flesh, and because there are sinful humans wanting their own way. Like I said, you won’t fully understand until you get married.”

“I’ll never get married.”

“Oh, never say never, my dear.”