I haven’t seen Helanda for about 50 years. Yet, I still have pictures in my mind of that lovely woman.

Helanda would often invite people over for a huge noon meal after church on Sunday. It was never 1 additional family. More like 3 – 5 additional families. And they all had kids. A little math suggests she fed between 15 and 25 people at these meals. And – ohhhh – were they tastey! Helanda knew how to cook!

With all those adults and with kids running through her house, food to prepare, tables to set, and clean up after the meal – you’d think she would be stressed out. Not so. This lovely lady donned an apron and always flashed a pleasant, full smile. Not only was she the main cook for these gatherings. She also skillfully managed all the offered help from wives of the invited families.

After all these years, I can still almost hear her laugh, too. She was joyful.

Helanda was a great partner to Ed. Together they ran their farm . . . no small job. She also oversaw the home and 5 children.

How Helanda could sew! She would make matching outfits for all her children when they were young. Beautiful clothes each year.

Helanda and Ed were very good to my family. My dad was the pastor of their church. Many times, I remember these dear folks sending provisions home.

Helanda made an impression on me that burned into my heart for half a century. I’m sure her family misses her since she has gone ahead of them to Heaven. Yet – knowing her future, her completed joy, her reunion with Ed, and most of all getting to meet Jesus for the first time face to face . . . leaves me with a trace of envy.

My prayer for the dear Hartung kids – who were my playmates and peers, and who grew up like me – is that they will be comforted deeply with the loving kindness of Jesus. May their grieving be a rich expression of the tender, quality mother who raised them. May they celebrate her successful life as they walk in her footsteps behind her. May they each know they are loved, even by people from a half century ago.

P.S. Helanda touched my young heart. She was like Dorcas in the Bible. A Proverbs 31 Lady.

Ed made an impression on me also. I wrote about him earlier this year. What’s in Your Hand?

These people influenced a young girl who remembers a half century later. Perhaps we should think soberly about our influence over others in our lives. Even if it’s a young person. Even if it’s only for a season.