Tomorrow is a very special day for our family. On January 31, 1942, my Aunt Ellen Kauffman was married to John Derck. So Tuesday is their 70th wedding anniversary. Wow, 70 years! They were married after the start of World War II and then they were separated for over three years while Uncle John was off to serve his country. He has written his fascinating memories of his war experiences, including his unbelievable experiences at Normandy. This account has given me a new appreciation not only of him but also for the thousands who served and gave their lives during those years to protect our freedoms. I can't even begin to imagine what he went through during the war or even what my aunt and uncle went through during those three years of separation and danger. It must have been a very difficult time for the young married couple. During those years my aunt was instrumental in leading me to the Lord in the parsonage in Sunbury and for that I will be eternally grateful. During my elementary school years we spent much time together. In fact, for a short time we lived above them in a house on North Queen Street in Lancaster. They later moved to Skyline Drive in Lancaster and we continued to visit with them regularly, especially on nights when boxing was on television. They were blest with two children, Jerry and Nancy, who have always been very close to me. We all share together not only as relatives but as members of the family of God and that has enriched our relationships. Uncle John was a manager of JC Penneys and as a result they moved quite frequently, including years in Virginia and Connecticut. But while our paths separated during those years we still visited during the summer and at Christmas time. Such great memories. My uncle and aunt have always been an important influence in my life and especially my spiritual life. They have been an encouragement to us and our boys. During our years of family ministry they often visited us when we presented programs, especially at the Old Mill Bible Conference near Coatesville. While they were raised by a very special stepfather, my aunt and my dad shared the same earthly father, Horace Kauffman, who died before my aunt was born. I think that resulted in a very special bond between them and also between our families. After retirement, the Dercks moved to a small town in northern Wisconsin to be near their daughter. They enjoyed their years there. But a few years ago, after a stroke limited my aunt, they sold their home and moved to a retirement complex in Rhinelander. We had the special joy to visit them there a few years ago. It is a lovely place and they are surrounded by caring staff. The Lord has continued to use them in such amazing ways especially as they've shared their faith with doctors, nurses and attendants. The Lord still has had a ministry for them. Uncle John was 93 in December and he still loves to go to shop at Penney's where he uses coupons, store sales, and his discounts to get unbelievable bargains. He says that he wants to have the best dressed grandchildren on either side of the Mississippi River, and with his purchases, I imagine he does. On Friday Aunt Ellen celebrated her 93rd birthday and while she is somewhat limited from the effects of her stroke, she is still vibrant, sharp, and a joy to those around her. She is a special lady. And so I say to them, Happy 70th Anniversary and thank you for all that you have meant to us over the years. You are a special part of the great Christian heritage that the Lord has allowed us to have. We have been blessed by your impact on our lives and Christian walk! Thank you.
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