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“Lights to Remember”

December 21, 2012

More than 50 Landis Homes residents, family members and staff gathered on Thursday, December 20, for Landis Homes’ first annual “Lights to Remember” tree lighting service.  The tree that was lit was beautifully decorated by Ann-Marie Shenk and her father, Landis Homes resident Warren Shenk, and was a blue spruce – a memorial tree donated some years ago by Aquilla Stolzfus in memory of his wife Mary, and located outside of the entrance of Harvest View.

Landis Homes Chaplain Jim Leaman leads in prayer at Remembrance Tree Lighting service

The impetus for this first tree lighting service was received from a resident who contacted Donna Mack Shenk, Director of Pastoral Services, and said, “I would love to provide lights for this blue spruce tree in memory of my loved one. I would love to see lights on that beautiful tree providing light to the darkness of this time of year and a reminder of my loved one and all our loved ones, whose lights are still shining.”

Alonna Gautsche Sprunger, Jim Leaman, Jim Gingrich and Reuben Bigelow joined Donna Shenk and Larry Zook in leading the tree lighting service.

The service included the reading of John 1 from The Message, litanies, and singing of “Silent Night” and “O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”, along with the lighting of the tree in memory of loved ones.  Chaplain Jim Leaman also shared the following prayer prepared for the service:

PRAYER AT REMEMBRANCE TREE LIGHTING – prayer by Jim Leaman                            

O God, your Word speaks in metaphor
about the mountains and hills bursting into song,
and the trees of the field clapping their hands.

Beside this blue spruce we gather – a little throng,
Admiring its beauty and lighted strands.

This tree, O Lord, is your creation;
To you we owe glad adoration.

We see its lovely decoration
And pause in silent meditation.

This tree brings memories to our mind of loved ones past.
With gratitude we hold the memories that will last.

We thank you, God, for the gifts our loved ones are.
We love them still; sometimes it seems from afar.

Those gone are now with you; we are with you, too.
So, Lord, we’re one – though three – you and they and we.

O God, this tree you made, we dedicate anew;
We stand in awe of you as this your tree we view.

We consecrate the memories of the loved ones we remember,
And we ask your consolation on this Thursday in December.

We journey through this Advent and come to Christmas Day;
Have mercy, Lord, upon us when we’re sad and in dismay.

Jesus, you’re Savior from our sin and comfort in our grief.
You are Immanuel, God with us; you offer us relief.

Magi saw your star, O God – traveled toward the Son, your own.
We too are travelers; we thank you that we’re not alone.

Guide us, too, by your Star, we pray,
And lead us home, with you to stay.

In the name of Christ, Amen.



China Exploratory Visit and Consultations – Nov. 2012

December 9, 2012

Prior to joining the Landis Homes team in 1994, my wife, Dawn and I, served from 1992-94 with Mennonite Partners in China (MPC) as English teachers.  One of the “partners” in MPC is Eastern Mennonite Missions, the organization which founded Landis Homes in 1964 to serve as a community for retired Mennonite missionaries, pastors, church workers and others, and for whom I worked from 1982-92.

These roots in missions, either through serving as missionaries or through supporting the work of missions, are still important to many Landis Homes residents today.  It was a privilege then to represent residents and team members of Landis Homes in a recent 10-day visit to China along with Ron Yoder, CEO of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (Harrisonburg, VA) and several staff affiliated with Mennonite Partners in China.

China Exploratory Visit and Consultation – Itinerary

The purpose of the visit was to consult with churches who are being asked by the Chinese government to open retirement homes and other aging services for the rapidly growing aging population in China, partly tied to the one-child policy.

Source: Shanghai Daily Newspaper

The demographics of aging in China are almost mind blowing.  According to official statistics published in the China Daily newspaper, “China had more than 190 million residents age 60 or older as of 2011.  According to government estimates, by 2050, one-third of the population will be over 60.”  This increase in percentage from about 15% in 2011 to 33% in 2050 means that more than 450 million Chinese will be over the age of 60 in 2050.

One of the most significant issues then is how to provide care for elderly people, especially those who need significant care. China has only 300,000 caregivers, and most are not trained. According to government estimates, China needs about 11 million caregivers today to care for the 33 million (out of about 200 million) elderly with various disabilities.  This gap is huge, and creates a significant challenge for China.

From November 7 to 15, Mennonite Partners in China and MHS Alliance participated in an exploratory visit in China as guided by the China Christian Council, the official Protestant Christian Church in China, and a network of Christian pastors called China Vision.

“2012 China Christian Senor Service Consultation”

The visit began with a 2 ½ day consultation in Harbin with about 38 pastors and leaders of nursing home efforts across China, some of which are established and some which are in planning stages.  It was clear in this time of conversation that the church in China is eager to learn from the stories of Christians in other settings, even though the experience in Western settings may not apply to the Chinese setting.

The group gathered in Harbin recognized that the church in China today has a unique opportunity to meet a social need, and frequently mentioned that they view this opportunity to both evangelize and meet human need as part of the Gospel.  Comments were made a number of times that Christians are known within Chinese society for their love and compassion, and may be looked to as being uniquely qualified to serve those who may not have other supports, especially those who do not have children, or do not have the support of their children.

The remainder of the visit involved stops in Weifang (Shandong Province) and Anqing (Anhui Province), where we visited three nursing homes in Weifang.  One of the nursing homes in Weifang serves about 95 residents, 20 of whom receive free care while the others pay privately for one of three levels of care, similar to residential living, personal care and healthcare at Landis Homes.  All residents reside in small houses of 8 residents each, with two residents per room.  Plans are in place to more than double the size of the community within the next year.

The pastor who started the nursing home said that most persons who move in are not Christian when they arrive, but they soon become Christians, as do some of their family members. There is a church building on the campus, and residents attend three services per day.  In the back of the church there are several pieces of exercise and fitness equipment that can be used between services.

There are 25 staff, all members of the church that operates the nursing home, and like at Landis Homes, one could sense a strong commitment to compassionate and joyful care, which was also clearly reflected on the faces of residents.  The staff are led by a team of three, including a director, a nurse and a business manager.

Washing Feet of Residents at Shouguang Christian Nursing Home

In another nursing home that we visited in Weifang which was home to about 80 residents, we met Pastor Wang of Shouguang Protestant Church.  He shared with us an information sheet which included photos of community life. Much like the other church sponsored nursing homes that we visited, one could sense a warm spirit of Christ-like community among residents and staff.  What caught my eye on the information sheet was a photo of two staff washing the feet of two residents in their room.

New Church Building planned for Shouguang Christian Church – including nursing home in tower

Pastor Wang also shared plans for the church to grow in the Weifang area, and gave us his business card which had a picture of a new church building that has been approved, and for which they have found land.  As you can see on the photo, the planned church includes a multi-floor tower with space for offices and a Christian bookstore on the first several floors.  Pastor Wang suggested that the remaining floors of the tower that reaches up to a clock tower and steeple, would serve local seniors as a nursing home.

We also had conversations with a lead pastor in Anqing whose church has purchased a six-acre former school which he plans to develop into a social service campus serving elderly, orphans, abused women and through a health clinic, the surrounding community.

All of these visits showed an incredible amount of commitment, energy, passion and vision for the future as churches respond to the call to serve China’s elderly.  We frequently heard that in China things happen four or five times faster than in the West, and we believe this.  Likely the growth of aging services, both in light of this more rapid development pace, and out of necessity, will compress into 10 or 15 years what many of the North American organizations developed in 40 to 60 years.

While obtaining land and building infrastructure is likely one of the easier parts for China, the development of a qualified workforce may be more of a challenge.  From the land and infrastructure standpoint, we heard stories of local governments being willing to donate land to a church so that the church could build a nursing home, while at the same time could also build a church to serve the surrounding community.  Funds are being raised from Christian business persons within China and from overseas Chinese in some cases as well.

The human resource side of the equation will be more challenging for China, and was at the core of the request for collaboration that we heard.  While Chinese culture sees children respecting and caring for their parents, there is not much value placed on caring for elderly who would not be one’s parents.  In China, providing care to elderly who may have never married or are childless is not a high paying or highly respected career choice when there are so many other opportunities to pursue careers that result in greater financial gain.  Christian love and compassion for all people then can help serve as a motivation, like it does in the faith-infused aging services organizations in North America, to inspire persons to provide this care.

Mennonite Partners in China and MHS Alliance are in continued conversation about ways that the North American church may be able to collaborate together with the Chinese church in helping to support the creation of training programs for nursing assistants and supervisory staff.  It will be exciting to see what happens in the coming years!


How I’ve Experienced Landis Homes’ Culture

December 3, 2012

The following comments were shared by Ethel Caldwell, Administrator for Healthcare, at Landis Homes’ recent team member banquet.

How have I experienced or witnessed Landis Homes’ culture?

I have worked at Landis Homes for 30 years. That is a long time –more years than some persons in this room have been living. In those years I have grown professionally as a leader/guide and mentor and personally as a spiritual being who also happens to be a mother and grandmother with a strong supportive group of friends.

Throughout all of those years, Landis Homes has been a big part of my life, much more than just a job. It was and is a way for me to serve, a mission, a way to give back, a purpose to work together with team members and management to continue to create a home for residents, and a place to belong.  And it is to respect and offer dignity, not just to residents and families, but also to staff.

The daily intertwined essence of Landis Homes culture as I have experienced it is that there is a sense of purpose, a higher calling from God to love and respect one another, and to know that God is in control.  From that belief and purpose comes a need to improve communication, work together to solve any problem, to not resort to blaming or shaming anyone, and to expect the best and coach team members believing that the outcome will be positive.

How have I experienced Landis Homes culture?

My life’s journey so far has had ups and downs, just as most of us have had. In looking back, I am thankful for them all. For in the most difficult times I see now is when I had the most growth personally and those are the times that have assisted me in being empathetic and understanding of people and the many challenges we as humans face. When some of the more difficult times were happening I would have had a hard time saying at that point that I was thankful for them. One of the guiding values of Landis Homes’ culture that I experienced in those difficult years during and after my divorce and raising 2 small children as a single Mom was Compassion. It was not shallow caring but a real Christ-like concern and a willingness to believe that I would “make it”. This compassion shown to me through management and co-workers held me accountable but also extended grace to me by offering me leave of absence if needed, and understanding if I was having difficulty concentrating and just not being my usual cheerful, strong self.

In my professional journey I have experienced Landis Homes as a safe and nurturing community encouraging me to grow, try new things, look beyond Landis Homes and to be creative. My mentor, Eva, has always believed in me and saw more potential for my ability to lead than I did. My natural bent is to be joyful, very social, to be a cheerleader for new ideas, and to problem solve together with all team members, holding team members accountable and to believe that together we can do anything (almost!)

However, there is another side to being an administrator and a leader –the numbers! The budget planning and following thru side! I have experienced grace and patience over the last 10 years as Eva has taught me the budget, which of course is an essential part of leading healthcare and also one of our guiding values, Stewardship.

Finally, I see the Landis Homes culture of honoring lives, enriching lives, serving together and building relationships, happening many times and in many different ways including:

  • seeing resident wishes and end of life desires fulfilled such as going on a convertible ride, and a resident going out in the snow.
  • knitting with a resident 
  • household events with team members and residents including retirement parties, wedding showers, baby showers, resident wedding anniversaries
  • breakfast made to order in the households
  • special foods prepared for residents
  • spontaneous as well as planned events for residents-trips to memorable resident places
  • volunteers sitting with the dying residents through the Star Comforter program
  • diversity events in the households to promote acceptance and inclusion for all
  • assisting/supporting residents to move back to their apartments or cottages after being in Healthcare  
  • freeing residents from audible alarms-creating a place to belong, through the Freedom Program
  • and finally, all departments working together to make a home


A Paraphrase of Proverbs 31

November 28, 2012

Dottie Yoder, Landis Homes resident and board member

 The following paraphrase of Proverbs 31, dedicated to honoring Landis Homes team members, was written by resident Board member Dottie Yoder who shared it at our annual team member recognition banquet on November 8, 2012. We thank Dottie for her kind words.

Who can find a really good retirement community, for its price is worth far more than all our life savings.

Where decisions are made on the guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community and where residents can safely trust these decisions.

Landis Homes staff seeks to do its residents good and not harm all the remaining days of our lives.  Therefore, we have no need to grumble.

The management team speaks with wisdom and they work with their minds.  Their focus is always the concern of the resident.  They attend meetings too numerous to mention, so that all state regulations are met.  They know about, and work with, AAHSA, AAPCC, AHIMA, CCAC, LMC, CCRC, CCAP, ACC etc, and do not even grow weary. Strength and dignity are their clothing.

The board works in the frame work of due diligence and watches over the affairs to promote a strong and vital community. 

Landis Homes finds staff who are competent, honest and not self-seeking.  They love peace and pursue it.   The staff works together as a team striving always to preserve the dignity of each resident.  They think outside the box in an effort to satisfy the longings and concerns of each person.

The staff knows that this is the best place to serve in the county and they strive to keep it so. Some rise while it is still night to prepare tasty, nutritious food gathered from local farms and stores. 

The lamps do not go out by night or during hurricanes for the generator is always kept ready for outages.  Security watches over us by night and does not slumber nor sleep.

It considers a field and a wood.  It seeks architects and builders that do excellent work.  It builds so that more persons can find housing appropriate for aging in place. 

It digs geo-thermal wells and places rain barrels.  It has a vision for taking care of the environment.  It is recognized in the city for working to achieve standards for environmentally sustainable construction as well as an adequate flood plain.

It is not afraid of snow.  So that the roads and paths are not treacherous, they provide the maintenance staff with shovels and long johns.  In the heat of summer the mowing blades are never still.

They recommend the use of technology and encourage the residents to twitter!

It cares lovingly for each resident even after their finances are depleted.

Residents rise up and give thanks.   

Yes, there are numerous retirement communities, but you, Landis Homes, surpass them all.  Your work will continually praise you in the gates!

(Dottie originally shared this with resident meeting in 2010). 


50th Anniversary Stories – Looking Forward to our 50th – Fall of 1962

October 26, 2012

As we approach our 50th Anniversary, I would like to share a bit about what was happening 50 years ago in the journey that led to the founding of Landis Homes in February 1964. This time we are looking at happenings during the Fall of 1962. As we reflect on our beginnings, we are especially indebted to A. Grace Wenger, author of the history of our first 30 years from 1964-1994, and who passed away at Landis Homes on September 5, 2012 at the age of 93. Grace’s legacy lives on as we look forward to our 50th Anniversary.

In August 1962 the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Lancaster Mennonite Conference Bishop Boards decided to locate the newly envisioned “retirement home” on the Clayton Landis farm in Manheim Township (our current location).

The Retirement Home Development Planning Committee, appointed by Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions, with significant staff support by Orie O. Miller and Ira J. Buckwalter, also both members of the Planning Committee, moved ahead with planning given this decision.

The larger planning group formed two smaller groups, Finance and Costing Committee and Building Planning Committee, which met on September 11, 1962 and on October 30, 1962. It was in minutes of these committee meetings that “Landis Homes” was first used as the name for the newly forming “retirement home”, likely in light of the use of the Clayton Landis farm. The group also identified four “assumed general principles to guide us”, which Orie Miller, recording secretary, noted in minutes of the September 11 meeting of the Finance and Costing Committee:

  1. “The Landis Homes facility is to be planned for Mennonite retirees and older citizens for their remaining years”
    2. “The facility is to be developed on a self-liquidating, self-support basis–with income through or from designated gifts to the advantage of senior church workers or needed charity subsidies.”
    3. “The rate and fee structure is to provide for maximum flexibility of use and to include provision for 26 year capital amortization.”
    4. “This is recognized as a new service area frontier, and so allowance for and assumption of needed experimentation and cumulative experience especially needs to be assumed.”

This sense of developing a retirement community different than what already existed in the Lancaster area brought with it some risk. Yet the risk was calculated and included visiting and learning from other groups, including the newly forming Calvary Fellowship Home, as well as Mennonite Home, Brethren Village and Welsh Mountain Home.

Welsh Mountain Home was also operating under the auspices of Eastern Mennonite Board at that time, and a detailed analysis of expenses at Welsh Mountain was part of the analysis used by the Finance and Costing Committee to arrive at a financial plan for Landis Homes.

The Building Planning Committee also decided to engage Abram and Clyde Horst to assist with planning the new home. Clyde, along with architect Gordon Woodland of Lancaster, offered drawings of Unit A which was one of the original buildings to be built, and is known as Aspen today (see illustration).

A number of the committee meetings were held at the offices of Eastern Mennonite Board in Salunga, though some were also held at the Clayton Landis farm as well as at the offices of Planning Committee Vice Chair, Sanford High, at High Welding Company in Lancaster. Each meeting was opened with scripture reading and or prayer. Scriptures used included passages from Psalm 103 and John 15.

Ira Buckwalter in an early November 1962 report quoted Chair Frank Enck as saying that “if we face this project with anything but an optimistic convinced attitude that this will be an ideal facility for the intended purpose and that it will be the answer to a very real need in our area, we will be making it difficult for ourselves.” This optimism was backed up by hard work throughout the Fall of 1962 by the ten founders of Landis Homes: Levi Brubaker, Ira Buckwalter, Frank Enck, J. Mowery Frey, Charles Good, Clarence Harnish, Sanford High, Adam Martin, Orie Miller, and Lester Wenger.

I am grateful for the way God worked in and through our founders and others such as the Horsts and other consultants. We likewise seek God’s direction today as we work to maintain the strength and vitality of Landis Homes Retirement Community, as well as explore new areas of affordable living and providing services at home, supported by creative partnerships.

We welcome your joining us in prayer as we plan for the coming years as well. Your prayer is invited as Landis Communities and Welsh Mountain Home affiliate this Fall and as we open Steeple View Lofts in Lancaster in Spring 2013, as well as explore other new ways to serve aging adults in line with the founding vision for Landis Homes. Many of these new ventures serve persons who may not be able to afford continuing care retirement communities, but yet are interested in living in community with others in their active aging years. Thank you for your interest in and support of the vision and mission of Landis Homes and Landis Communities!

Strong and Vital in Uncertain Times

October 25, 2012

The strong storms held off until the auction had ended on Sept. 15th, the day of the 40th Fellowship Day. I am grateful for the many ways team members, residents and family, board members, auxiliary and other volunteers create  something so alive and vibrant. It is one of the ways I know Landis Homes is truly “strong and vital.”

We are also very excited about other work happening at Landis Homes. Our most recent phase of South Campus cottages are nearly completed and most are already spoken for by future residents. The South Campus was also awarded a LEED Gold Certification, only the third commercial building project to gain this status in Lancaster County.

Our guiding value of stewardship is also supporting our work to restore the floodplains going through our property. Not only will this keep sediment from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, it will help us manage the storm water generated on our campus more ecologically.   

Larry Zook with Lancaster mayor Rick Gray

The broader Landis Communities is moving forward in several ways as well. September 25th saw 170 people gather at
The Ware Center in Downtown Lancaster for the Annual Board Dinner. Lancaster mayor Rick Gray was the featured speaker and shared his passion for the city as well as his excitement about the coming of Steeple View Lofts to the downtown. Construction is on schedule and we plan for new residents to be moving in by May 1, 2013.

The final steps are being taken so Landis Communities and Welsh Mountain Home can finalize their affiliation. This looks to be in place by November. In addition,we are working with Welsh Mountain Home on their Low Income Housing Tax Credit project submission in line with our commitment to growing housing opportunities for people from a wide variety of economic situations.

As I look back over the past months, I am struck by the generosity of Landis Homes supporters. This year, the Landis Homes Fellowship Day raised more than $82,000 for the Caring Fund, and the Landis Homes Auxiliary Chicken BBQ raised $11,500 of which up to $10,000 was designated for the Forward in Faith Endowment for Lifelong Learning.

We know in these sometimes uncertain conditions, there are many calls on your financial resources. We do not take lightly the trust you have placed in us. Thank you!


Serving One Another – An Invitation to Be Blessed by Blessing Others

September 19, 2012

Landis Homes’ mission, to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love, is symbolized by our logo, the towel and basin, which represents Jesus’ act of serving the disciples by washing their feet, and inviting them to serve others as he served them.

These acts of serving one another can be seen many times throughout each day at Landis Homes through formal volunteer assignments and informal acts of caring and kindness. One structured volunteer activity, the Friendly Visitor program, connects volunteer visitors with residents, and as is often the case, the person serving as a friendly visitor is often blessed in return.

Arlene Leatherman, Friendly Visitor volunteer

In this blog entry I share the comments written by Arlene Leatherman which were read at the funeral of Annie Kensinger, who was one of the persons Arlene visited regularly and was 105 when she died. Arlene, who also resides at Landis Homes, is an active friendly visitor, visiting weekly with 10 to 12 residents in personal care and healthcare. Arlene welcomes others to experience the joy of serving! If anyone has interest in learning more about the Friendly Visitor program or other volunteer opportunities at Landis Homes, more is available on our volunteer page

Sharing my memories of Annie Kensinger, a very special friend
shared by Arlene Leatherman, a Landis Homes Friendly Visitor

For the past two and a half years each Monday morning at 9:00 am, I knocked on Annie’s door, waiting for her gentle words, “come in.” She always greeted me with a smile. For the next half hour we had a wonderful time of chatting and I concluded my friendly visit with a time of prayer and blessing for Annie.

I considered it a real privilege to spend time with Annie. It was a real joy to hear her talking about the good old days living on the farm and enjoying corn on the cob and ground cherry pie. Annie loved to talk about her family and how loved she felt each time when they faithfully visited her and brought some of her favorite foods. Annie also had a good sense of humor. She often laughed at the humorous stories I heard or funny things that happened in my life.

It was after only a few times I visited her, when I discovered that Annie and I had two things in common. We had a discussion about her age of 102 and going to be 103 in January. I said, “When in January will you be 103?” Her answer was the 25th. I started to laugh. She wanted to know what was funny about her answer. I replied, “That’s my birthday!” The second thing in common was our love for ground cherry pie. We encouraged Bonnie to bake a ground cherry pie when they were in season so we could celebrate our January birthday.

Annie Kensinger, Photo by Lancaster Newspapers, 2012

Annie often expressed her desire for Jesus to come and take her home with Him in heaven. The last four visits my prayer included her request. My last visit was on August 6th. After the prayer and my expression of love and blessings, I said, “I’ll see you next week unless Jesus honors your wish and takes you home to experience the eternal bliss and joy of heaven.”

After each visit I wished Annie love and blessings and hoped she would have a good week. She always thanked me for my prayer, smiled, waved and said goodbye and come again.

These memories of Annie have blessed my life in so many ways and I will cherish them forever.





Memories of A. Grace Wenger

September 12, 2012

  1. Grace Wenger

On Monday, September 10, the Landis Homes community and many close friends gathered to remember A. Grace Wenger who passed away on September 5 at Landis Homes at the age of 93.

Grace was remembered as a beloved “Aunt”, friend, teacher, historian, and woman of strong faith who lived according to her name, gracefully.  Grace authored the history of Landis Homes first thirty years, and served on the Landis Homes Board for a year in 1994.  She resided at Landis Homes for 23 years, and was a blessing to many.

This blog entry serves as a collection of stories from others in the Landis Homes community, some who have known Grace for many years.

John Buckwalter (Resident, Team Member, Chair of 50th Anniversary Committee, Son of one of Landis Homes’ founders – Ira Buckwalter)

In August 2012 we picked up on a suggestion made last January by resident Anna Grace Martin (who has the same first two names as A Grace Wenger) that we sell a couple autographed copies of Grace’s books at Fellowship Day on September 8 to benefit the Caring Fund.

We picked up on this earlier this year and Grace autographed some copies of the book.  On Tuesday morning, September 4, the day before Grace passed away, John Buckwalter stopped by Grace’s home and as John shares, Grace added the inscription “To God be the Glory” and “Praise Him”.  John also was making arrangements with Grace for someone to accompany her to and from the auction for this segment where her books will be sold and we would have a chance to honor her for writing the book. At that same time we will be selling several handmade dish cloths made by Martha Martin, age 102, who is the last surviving member of the generation of founders.  Martha was married to Adam Martin, one of our ten founders.

John shares the following,  “I called her about 10:00 AM Tuesday 9/4 to arrange a time to take the 30 year books to her for a few words to be added to the books with her autograph.  We decided on 10:45.  She seemed like herself.  I offered to leave the books with her and return later in the day to pick them up.  She suggested that if I have a few minutes, she will do it immediately and then I could take them with me. She apologized for her handwriting stating it is deteriorating.  I said I never did develop  good penmanship. She said with a grin ‘do you use the doctor handwriting style’? I said, I think that is my style, then I told her we will be back in touch about an escort for her time at the auction. She said she would need someone to stay with her and I agreed that is what we will arrange. Then I was on my way.”

John later shared the following, “Another memory of the day I visited with Grace.  While she added the additional comments ‘To God be the Glory’ and ‘Praise Him’, I sat and observed the painting on her wall depicting the homestead of her birth. There was a long driveway and a small dog in the field.  As I directed our conversation to the painting, she reminisced briefly about the dog and her memories of growing up on the farm, especially of walking out the long driveway and up the road to the one room school house. As Grace contemplated the auction event and the possible commendation she might receive on the book, I’m sure her added comments above were meant to deflect any personal honor bestowed on her, and in her heart wanted God to have the glory and the praise for the 30 year story.”

Connie Stauffer (Resident and Board Member)

Connie Stauffer, who resides at Landis Homes and serves on the Landis Homes and Landis Communities Board of Directors, and serves as Chair of the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning Advisory Board at Landis Homes, shares the following, “I will miss A. Grace, our “poet laureate” on campus.  Her “Poetry and Popsicle” happenings were greatly appreciated by many.”

Roland Yoder (Resident and Student of 60 years ago)

Roland Yoder, who resides at Landis Homes and also was a teacher like Grace, reflects on the impact that Grace had on his desire to be a teacher.  He shares, “Sixty years ago (September 10, 1962) was the third day that I was part of A. Grace Wenger’s English class at Eastern Mennonite High School. It was my Senior year of High School and I was a new student at the school.

In a very short time I was enthralled by her teaching. She shared with us her pleasure in exploring the treasures of poetry and literature. Her example of joy and passion for teaching was a significant influence in helping me know that I too wanted to be a teacher.”

Anna Grace Martin (Resident)

Anna Grace Martin, resident of Landis Homes who shares her first two names with A. Grace Wenger, shares the following, “My mother and A. Grace were both school teachers. When she would see me she would remind me that when I was a little girl, prior to starting school, I visited her classroom. I was the oldest in the family, and my mother thought I should have some idea of what a classroom was about before I started first grade. Of course, I don’t remember it; A. Grace did.”

David Weaver (Resident)

David Weaver, resident of Landis Homes who attended Groffdale Mennonite Church along with Grace, remembers her saying that as a girl she was frustrated with always needing to arrive at church services so early!  Grace, who was one of three children, all daughters, asked her father why they had to arrive so early.  David remembers Grace telling him that her father’s response was that all week long at home he was surrounded by women/girls, and that he liked to go to church early to be able to talk with other men.  David also remembered that Grace’s father, Elam, always brought licorice candy to church, and after the services, children made a bee-line to him for some licorice.

Kirby Martzall (Grace’s Student and Teaching Graduate Assistant at Millersville University, Consultant to Landis Homes over the years)

Kirby Martzall, who has consulted with and been a friend of Landis Homes for many years, shares, “My relationship with Grace was first as an undergraduate student at Millersville University.  In subsequent years as was a Teaching Graduate Assistant and affiliate instructor at what was then the Writing Center at Millersville University.   It was through that affiliate instructor role that our relationship grew as we shared an office a year and kept in touch from that point forward.

“With certainty the gentle strength Grace brought to life is a lesson in how great and significant an impact one person has and continues to have when they bring faith, purpose, caring, directness and tolerance without judgment and with expectation and celebration.  Like a rock when thrown into a pond, Grace through her being, her contribution and her life- touches and ripples through so many in so many ways.”

Allen Heinly (VP of Human Resources at Landis Homes)

One of the attributes of Grace mentioned at her memorial service was her gentle strength, which enabled her to say, “no” to requests as she sought balance in life, or dealt with physical limitations.  Allen shares a story relating to this, “One recollection of Grace is when I asked her sometime in the past year or two whether she would share a meditation for a REC Day.  Her health was declining, she had a doctor appointment that conflicted with one of the REC Day sessions and she reluctantly declined due to her health, saying something like ‘I don’t like that I need to spend so much time taking care of myself, but that is the reality I face just now.’  Saying “no” to an opportunity to serve was difficult for her because she was so inclined to giving, serving and blessing others.”

Larry Zook (President/CEO at Landis Homes, and avid reader of the history of Landis Homes that Grace authored)

In 2009 we celebrated our 45th Anniversary of the first residents moving to Landis Homes, and we asked Charles Good, the last surviving founder, and Grace Wenger, author of the Landis Homes history, if they would be willing to be interviewed on video sharing their recollections of our first 45 years.  Both agreed, and we are grateful for these videos as we move toward our 50th Anniversary celebration in 2014.   This video is shared below:

Video – Grace Wenger reflects on Landis Homes’ 45th Anniversary (2009)

We also are very grateful for the history of Landis Homes from 1964-1994 authored by Grace.  Earlier this year, Larry Guengerich, Director of Communications and Church Relations, worked with Kelly Sauerzopf, a communications student at Elizabethtown College, to prepare a digital edition of part of the history.  It is available online at…  Landis Homes: The First Thirty Years

Leone Wagner (Activities Coordinator  for Eden West Adult Day Services)

The day after Grace passed away, Leone Wagner, who coordinates activities attended by Adult Day Services clients and residents as well, shared the following, “As you probably know, Grace Wenger did a monthly reading of poetry for Eden West and often we included West Residents.  The last one of these was entitled Poetry and Popsicles and included an opportunity for others to share their poetry treasures too. In the last session she encouraged others to bring and share their poetry .   She also shared a poem from her mother’s scrapbook .  It was a beautiful poem about leaving this earth .  How poignant now to remember that poem.”

That poem, author anonymous, was entitled “Waiting”, and is shared below…


I stood by the banks of the river,
‘Twas narrow and clear and bright,
And the gates of the beautiful City
Were almost within my sight.
The crossing appeared so easy
The monster had lost his sting,
So I waited in holy triumph
For the brush of the angel’s wing.

The valley was bathed in glory,
The hills wore a golden sheen,
As the wonderful sunset splendor
Fell in beauty upon the scene;
And I thought what a glorious ending
To my earth-life’s toilsome day
While the light and the shadows blending
Made radiant all my way.

But I waited in vain, still listening
For the drip of the boatman’s oar;
What could have delayed His coming
To bear me to yon bright shore?
I was tired of pain and labor,
So tired of grief and woe,
And the prospect seemed so entrancing;
I longed, oh, I longed to go.

But instead of the boatman rowing
Came a voice so soft and sweet,
I knew ‘twas the voice of the Master
With nail prints in hands and feet,
The Man who had died to save me,
The Prophet from Galilee,
And I listened intent and eager
For the message He brought to me.

“Be not so impatient, my daughter,
To cross o’er the river so bright
And enter the beautiful City
Just hidden from mortal sight,
For there never will be an ending
To eternity’s golden day
So what will it matter, daughter
If awhile I should bid thee stay?

“Thy mansion is not quite ready,
Thy earth work is not quite done;
So patiently wait, my daughter,
For the setting of the sun.
I will not forget or leave thee,
And soon thou shalt hear my call.
Let the waiting no longer grieve thee,
For thy Father hath planned it all.”

So I’m waiting beside the river
Till again I shall hear His voice,
Making all my pulses quiver
And my inmost heart rejoice.
I will hail with delight the boatman
When he cometh to bear me home,
But I’ll tarry without a murmur
Till the Master shall bid me come.

But the daylight is fast departing,
The shadows are sinking low,
And the sunset’s golden glory
Is lost in the afterglow.
All nature is calm about me
As I stand on the river’s brink,
And the boatman may be nearer,
Even nearer than now I think.

– Anonymous




September 10, 2012

The following reflection was shared at A. Grace Wenger’s funeral service on September 10, 2012. Grace was a Landis Homes resident and former Board member, and authored Landis Homes history, “The First 30 Years.” 

Grace Wenger lived to enrich the lives of others, and in so doing lived gracefully, giving special meaning to her name, Grace, which represented the way she lived her life. I’m aware of many ways that Grace was a blessing to others here in the Landis Homes community. To list just a few…

  • Grace authored, with support from team member Deb Laws-Landis, a history book about Landis Homes written in 1994 on the occasion of our thirtieth anniversary. I personally have referred to this book many, many times as it covers the part of Landis Homes history prior to my joining the staff team. Grace, by capturing many stories from our early years, has helped keep us connected to the mission of being an innovative community of Christ-like love. This is a gift from Grace that will keep on giving for many years into the future.
  • Grace also regularly read poetry for Adult Day Services and Landis Homes residents. Leone Wagner, who facilitated some of these times, shared that the last one of these was entitled Poetry and Popsicles, and included an opportunity for others to share their poetry treasures too. Grace also shared a very meaningful poem in that time as well, which shared of her readiness to meet her Lord and Savior.
  • Grace was a true servant leader. Robert Greenleaf, author of many books about Servant Leadership, said that a measure of a servant leader is if they help others become servant leaders as well. As I’ve had the privilege to interact with Grace over the past 18 years, and have read her history of Landis Homes many times, I am personally deeply indebted to Grace in my journey to serve others.

Three years ago on the occasion of our 45th Anniversary at Landis Homes, Grace shared in writing her reflections on what the 45th Anniversary meant to her. She entitled her writing “Serving, A Way of Life”. I’d like to share her words with you, which she wrote in June 2009.

More than twenty years ago I opened my Landis Homes mailbox for the first time. I did not know then how many volunteers had worked to get my letter from the Lititz Post Office to that box. Before long I realized that serving is a way of life for Landis Homes residents.  I saw Sadie Yost scurrying about to get residents to appointments with doctors, dentists and other professionals. I discovered how many hours Martha Charles spent keeping the east mailroom working efficiently. I saw many more people, men and women I did not know, pushing residents by wheelchairs to therapy or to programs in East Bethany Chapel.  Soon I was pushing wheel chairs too and serving as receptionist at the assisted living entrance.

My most challenging service was writing the history of Landis Homes’ first thirty years. Then as Martha Charles’ health declined, I inherited responsibility for the east mailroom.  Also, I learned that service is a way of life for Landis Homes staff. For them, work is not merely a job to do; it is serving residents. The first time I called about a plumbing problem, I was astonished when a jolly maintenance man appeared on the same day.  At home I had to beg plumbers to come promptly to do what seemed to them only minor repairs. When my sister who had Parkinson’s disease fell, I could rely on immediate and efficient help from a cheerful nurse.

As my ninetieth birthday creeps nearer and nearer, I wonder how soon I should say, “No more.” Then one morning I got immediate response when I called the shuttle to take me to sort mail in the east. Later in the day I looked out and saw maintenance men, not only shoveling snow, but taking time to brush three inches of snow off my car. So as long as my old feet carry me, I’ll keep on serving.”

In closing I’d like to share a tribute by another well known author and writer of histories – John L Ruth, Author of “The Earth is the Lord’s – A Narrative History of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference”.

“Grace, who lived out the meaning of her given name, was a presence of special value wherever she was, whether in her congregation at Groffdale, at Lancaster Mennonite School, Eastern Mennonite College, Millersville University, or the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. With humble dignity and intellectual acuity, she enriched all whose lives intersected with hers.”

Larry Zook


Celebrate our 40th Fellowship Day/Chicken BBQ with us!

August 31, 2012

We welcome you to join us as we celebrate our 40th Fellowship Day/Chicken BBQ, on September 8, 2012!

This comes as we near February 2014, the 50th anniversary of welcoming the first residents to Landis Homes. The Fellowship Day Chicken BBQ has been a meaningful part of our community life these years! We are especially grateful to the Landis Homes Auxiliary, including current Auxiliary President Rozanne Zimmerman, other officers and the many volunteers from churches,families and the surrounding community who have led the Chicken BBQ effort over the past 40 years.

Funds raised by the Landis Homes Auxiliary through the Chicken BBQ have supported many projects, including $37,000 raised from 2009-2011 toward the cost of a wheelchair van with a rear entry lift to accommodate persons using a wide wheelchair. Previous projects have included funding a dining area in healthcare, Prayer & Memory Garden, Life Trail fitness stations, other wheelchair vans and busses, indoor and outdoor furniture, video projection equipment, the organ in East Bethany Chapel and the East pavilion. The 2012 project is a donation to the Endowment Fund for Lifelong Learning.

Fellowship Day BBQ 1976

  1. Grace Wenger, author of the book about our first thirty years, shares the following… “At the first barbecue on September 8, 1973, the Auxiliary originally planned to serve five hundred guests. They doubled that number when key ladies reported ticket sales. When the day came, they served more than 1,350 people and sold another two hundred chicken halves. Since the emphasis was on fellowship, there was no provision for take-outs. When people asked to take out their dinners, the ladies quickly packed meals in empty cupcake boxes.”

Over the years, many more chicken halves have been sold both as dine-in and take-out, and many memories created as families and friends gathered to enjoy what some have described as one of the tastiest chicken barbecue dinners in Lancaster County. We are truly grateful to all who have made these Chicken BBQs possible, including volunteers this year and in each of the prior 39 years.

In recent years a Benefit Auction was also added to Fellowship Day in support of the Caring Fund, and we also thank all those who have made contributions to the auction, volunteer their time, as well as those who bid enthusiastically and joyfully. For each one who makes these Fellowship Day activities a meaningful community experience, we thank you!



Looking Forward to the 50th — Reflections on Summer 1962

August 9, 2012

Landis Homes will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of welcoming our first residents on February 18, 2014. In the months leading up to the 50th Anniversary, we will be looking back to see what was happening 50 years ago in the journey that led to the founding of Landis Homes.

In this first article in the series, we will reflect on events from 1961 through the summer of 1962. Many of these events are summarized well by current Landis Homes resident A. Grace Wenger, who authored the Landis Homes 30th Anniversary Book in 1994. We share these stories out of a deep appreciation for the way God worked through those involved in the founding of Landis Homes, and as an encouragement to be open to ways that God is working among us today as we plan for our future.

Graybill Landis, $100,000 donor

The Landis Homes story began in 1961 in response to the generosity of Emma Shenk, widow of Harry, who offered to donate a farm she owned in Strasburg. This offer was received by Lancaster Mennonite Conference congregations in the Strasburg-Willow Street area, and then referred to the Lancaster Conference Bishop Board.

In October 1961, a $100,000 gift from Graybill Landis was received by Eastern Mennonite Missions to support the creation of a retirement home. This same gift, in today’s dollars, would equate to about $750,000! The ten member planning committee, which was led by Frank Enck with support from Eastern Mennonite Board staff member Ira Buckwalter, quickly got to work in the fall of 1961, with members attending a conference on “The Church and its Aging” in Goshen, Indiana, and other members making a trip to Florida in February 1962 to visit six retirement communities in the Miami and Sarasota areas.  

In November 1961, a Planning Committee was then appointed by Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions to create a retirement home for retired missionaries, pastors, church workers and others. In late 1961 and early 1962 a site selection committee began to evaluate a number of properties throughout Lancaster County, settling in the summer of 1962 on two properties, one adjacent to Willow Street Mennonite Churchand the other being the Clayton and Ellen Landis farm on East Oregon Road in Manheim Township. Clayton was a cousin of donor Graybill Landis.

Ellen and Clayton Landis, farm donors

There was a bit of suspense on August 10, 1962 when the 10 member Planning Committee recommended to a joint meeting of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference and Eastern Mennonite Mission Boards that both properties be acquired, and that two communities be created to serve a maximum of 100 residents each under one administration. After discussion in that meeting, the group unanimously took this action: “That the Clayton Landis family farm gift be accepted against Annuity Contract and Agreement.” As Grace Wenger writes, “from this date planning focused on the development of a community on the Landis farm.”


Summer Brings “New Year” Reflections

July 25, 2012

Summer has arrived at Landis Homes and with it comes the beginning of a new fiscal year for the organization. It gives us the chance to reflect on the events of the past year and look ahead to what we anticipate in the next 12 months.

Team members, volunteers, board members, residents and supporters all collaborated to fulfill the mission of Landis Homes to “Serve aging adults and their amilies by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love.” Life was enriched by residents and staff participating in the Lancaster Senior Games as well as by the hundreds of golfers who came together to raise $44,800 for the Adult Day Services program. A major award was recently presented to Ethel Caldwell, Administrator for Healthcare, who was honored by LeadingAge PA with a Distinguished Service Award as Facilitator of the Year.

This new year brings significant changes. July 1st was the official launch of Landis Communities, the umbrella organization coordinating Landis Homes and additional affiliated organizations providing a range of programs and services for those 55 and older. This change is designed not only to keep Landis Homes strong and vital, but to bring together organizations designed to be, “Enriching lives by following God’s call to creatively serve the diverse needs and interests of older adults by developing opportunities and collaborative relationships.”

We also look forward to the completion of eight more cottages on South Campus and the beginning of reservations for the next hybrid homes. After five years of feasibility studies, seeking approvals and securing permits, work on the floodplain restoration is scheduled to begin this summer. The restoration will improve the stability, water quality, aquatic habitat and provide an alternative approach to storm water management along the reach of Kurtz Run through the campus.

The opening of Steeple View Lofts, a 36-unit rental apartment project in Downtown Lancaster, is also planned for the coming year. These projects, along with a strengthened Adult Day Services and Landis At Home program, are aimed at the strategic focus areas of keeping retirement living strong and vital, providing options for people with diverse economic resources, providing services at home and being creative in our partnerships.

This year planning and preparations have already begun for Landis Homes 50th anniversary year, which will be celebrated in 2014. We are excited to hear stories and remembrances coming together from those involved with the organization over the years. We also anticipate the 40th annual Fellowship Day, September 8th. We welcome your prayers and participation as we work together to be “Jesus Christ in Street Clothes.”


Landis Communities offers new senior adult housing options through new affiliate – Quality Living Choices

July 21, 2012

Quality Living Choices is a new affiliate of Landis Communities, created with the mission of “enriching the lives of senior adults and local communities through diverse housing options.”  This mission includes providing active adult market-rate rental apartments, such as Steeple View Lofts in Lancaster City , as well as low-income rental housing serving senior adults with less than median income.

The Quality Living Choices (QLC) Board of Directors met on July 20 to do strategic planning, and QLC Board Chair, R. Clair Sauder, who also serves as treasurer of the Landis Communities Board, began the meeting with the below meditation.

If you have interest in learning more of the QLC mission, or are interested in future community living options provided Quality Living Choices, including Steeple View Lofts, please contact me at lzook@landiscommunities.org or phone 717-381-3561 or Larry Guengerich, Director of Communications, at lguengerich@landiscommunities.org or 717-381-3526 (office).   – Larry Zook, Executive Director-Quality Living Choices & CEO-Landis Communities

Board Meeting Meditation – by Clair Sauder, Quality Living Choices Board Chair

Luke 14:28 – 30 (NIV):

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘this fellow began to build and was not able to finish’. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

  1. Clair Sauder, QLC Board Chair

It is a unique and relatively rare opportunity to participate in the founding and start-up of a new organization. Our work, as a board, will have a very significant impact on the future direction and results of Quality Living Choices. To each of us individually, it may seem like a huge task and if left to our individual talents and experience, it would be. Collectively however, we can use each other’s life experiences and knowledge gained from those experiences to strategize and develop plans that will provide at least a reasonable chance for the successful achievement of our vision and purpose.

There are verses and stories in the Bible that provide suggestions about how we should go about our work:

  • Luke 14: 28 – 33 talks about the wisdom of counting the cost before beginning so we are assured the necessary resources for successful completion
  • Matthew 7:24 is a rather simple story with profound results.  Build your house on a rock rather than sand.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:3 reminds us that there is a time to build and a time to tear down.
  • Proverbs 1:5 “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”
  • Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

It seems to me that our challenge is to be sure that we strive to build Quality Living Choices on a rock. How do we do that?

  • Wise decisions are made by seeking counsel of “many”.
  • Counting the cost is accomplished by doing adequate and quality research but not so much that we become paralyzed.
  • We need to believe in the rightness of our mission and listen to the wisdom found in our hearts.

Our past experience and history at Landis Homes has been serving primarily persons of our faith community.  We have done an unusually great job of accomplishing the vision and task put forth by the original founders. We have created an oasis of tranquility where residents live among and are served by persons of like values and beliefs. Sometimes when I visit my mother, it seems surreal – isolated unrealistically from the real world that I live and work in.

But it is a new time. Time for a new vision. Time for us to consider a vision that includes service to a broader community. It seems to me that God would call us to consider how we meet the needs of our neighbor – neighbor as portrayed by the Samaritan as he helped the injured man by the side of the road. I believe Quality Living Choices (could be/should be/will be) the vehicle through which we and the  church begin an expanded effort to  provide retirement options to low income and the most vulnerable persons in our  community.

This brings me back to Chad Martin’s challenge in his comments to us at our last meeting:

“Who do you picture at the center of this work? What people and faces can you hold in front of you as you participate in making decisions, allotting resources and strategizing capital projects?”

Quote from the book – “The Meaning of Jesus” – chapter titled, “The Truth of the Gospel and Christian Living” – by N.T. Wright

“The link between worship and mission is so close that many prefer to speak of them in terms of each other. Glad, rich worship of the God revealed in Jesus invites outsiders to come in, welcomes them, nourishes them, and challenges them. Mission can be conceived, particularly with Matthew 25 in mind, in terms of worshiping and serving the hidden Jesus one meets in the poor and needy”


Songs that Stick, A Reflection

May 17, 2012

Landis Homes values our close relationship with congregations of Lancaster and Atlantic Coast Conferences of Mennonite Church USA.  Recently a friend who attends Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster shared with me the following reflection which was presented by Louise Ranck at CMCL on Sunday, May 6, and which speaks to the power of song in connecting deeply with those who have experienced memory loss.

Louise Ranck and Barnaby

Songs that Stick, a Reflection
by Louise Ranck
Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster

I like this tradition of giving our graduating seniors their own hymnals, and of asking them to offer a hymn that has personal meaning to them for our worship time.  Iʼm sure that if we opened the conversation, weʼd all have stories about songs that have stuck with us from various points in our lives.

In the past weeks, several things got me thinking about the special power of music to stick in us. I have the opportunity right now to do massage for a woman who is living in a dementia care unit at a local retirement community. In our first session, I discovered that she doesnʼt have much language left to her, but she likes to sing. Iʼve been bringing words to old hymns along with me so we can sing together.  One day I brought “Wonderful Words of Life” to sing. My client sang through the verse with me on her own syllables, but when we started the chorus, the “real” words were there for her, strong and true–and she was singing the alto line perfectly.  “Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.”  Her sudden clarity of mind and memory was so unexpected and so beautiful and so moving that I had to stop singing for a moment.  Read more…

A documentary thatʼs due to come out soon is called Alive Inside, which introduces a program called “Music and Memory”. Thereʼs been a promotional clip on Facebook lately from Alive Inside. Perhaps youʼve seen it. “Music and Memory” is making iPods available to elderly people in nursing care facilities, iPods that are loaded with personalized playlists. If you Google Alive Inside or “Music and Memory”, you can see video clips of the most amazing transformations, as persons who have been locked away inside dementia or depression or difficult emotional states open up joyfully, expressively, listening to music that they loved, songs that stuck in them. I can almost guarantee you some tears of your own if you watch.

The other pieces about the life-changing potential of songs that stick emerged after womenʼs retreat. I had introduced a song for us by Velma Frye and Macrina Wiederkehr that goes…  “I stand before what is with an open heart. . . .”  In a round of emails after the retreat, one woman reported that the song had stuck with her as “I stand before what is with a broken heart.”

Well, yeah, I said. We do that, too. Open heart. Broken heart. Broken-open heart. Broken, open heart.

Andrea Lommen shared this little story about the Open Heart song. “I was working in my office when a student knocked on my door. I was mostly annoyed at being interrupted. As I stood up out of my chair to get the door, the song popped into my head ‘I stand before what is …’. I think that’s all the time I had before I greeted the student, but that’s all it took. I knew the next part was about an open heart.  All of a sudden I had this great student at my door. Honestly, the song had about a 1-second window to make a difference and there it was.”

That 1-second window image of Andrea’s got me hunting up a section from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “Hollow Men,” where he says . . .

Between the idea and the reality, Between the motion and the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception and the creation, Between the emotion and the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

I would like to claim that “between” back from T.S. Eliot. It may be true that the Shadow falls between the idea and the reality, or between the emotion and the response, but it is also true that in that one-second window, a Song can fall. That one-second window holds Hope for transformation.

Bless the strong songs that fall . . . that rise . . . that hold . . . that move . . . that transform. To our dear graduates–may the strong songs stick with you always.


Joy in Serving — Attitude is Everything!

May 4, 2012

Dori Groff

[The following meditation was shared by Dori Groff, Life Enrichment Coordinator, at a recent meeting of department directors and supervisors.]

Proverbs 15:30 — “A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart…”

1 Peter 4:11 — “…If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”

Nehemiah 8:10 — “…for the joy of the LORD is your strength….”

Quotes on Serving:
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. —  – Arthur Ashe

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. — Albert Schweitzer

There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well. — Walter Reuther

Attitude is Everything — Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive personal of the time. How do you do it?”

Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”
“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.  Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local traumacenter.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply..I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.   ATTITUDE, AFTER ALL, IS EVERYTHING. — Francie Baltazar-Schwartz

A good attitude will keep you young as well!
How to Stay Young
1.Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

  1. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.!
  2. Keep learning! Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle.
  3. Enjoy the simple things.
  4. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
  5. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
  6. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.
  7. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable,improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  8. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
  9. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Journeys of Faith

April 23, 2012

In two years, on February 18, 2014, Landis Homes will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of welcoming our first residents. Fifty years ago, Frank Enck, chair of the “retirement home planning committee,” challenged the group to “Keep in mind our vision of creating a community rather than the traditional old people’s home facility.”

The vision of our founders, including Charles Good, who recently passed away at Landis Homes, along with Frank Enck, Levi Brubaker, Ira Buckwalter, J. Mowery Frey, Clarence Harnish, Sanford High, Adam Martin, Orie Miller and Lester Wenger, prepared us for our mission of honoring and enriching the lives of residents and their families in a community of Christ-like love. We seek to carry out our mission guided by our values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community.

Current resident A. Grace Wenger authored the Landis Homes 30th Anniversary book in 1994 and closed with a section entitled, “Reaching Outward.” She described the opening of Adult Day Services in 1989 “to non-residents as one small step in a new direction, reaching beyond our own campus to give Christ-centered care to retirees in the larger community.”

Since 1994, additional programs have begun serving the broader community, including a second Adult Day Services center, support groups, Landis at Home, the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning, and other new ventures serving persons living both at Landis Homes and in Lancaster and surrounding counties. And now we are announcing Steeple View Lofts, which will offer 36 loft-style rental apartments in Lancaster City and is set to open in Spring 2013.

At Landis Homes we believe good planning begins with good listening. In 2008, the Board of Directors began its strategic planning work with a time of Appreciative Inquiry, listening carefully to over 150 stakeholders. which resulted in four strategic focus areas:

  • Keeping Landis Homes Retirement Community strong and vital
    • Offering new living options for persons from a wider economic spectrum
    • Serving persons who choose to remain in their homes
    • Being open to creative partnership opportunities.

In September 2011, the Landis Homes Board created Landis Communities as an umbrella organization designed to guide the work of Landis Homes Retirement Community and other ventures.

As was true years ago with the founding of Landis Homes, much prayer, along with careful planning, is going into planning for the future of Landis Homes and Landis Communities. We welcome your joining with us in prayer for this journey of faith today, just like the founders of Landis Homes planned carefully and travelled a journey of faith half a century ago.

Contact information:
Larry Zook, President/CEO
Landis Communities/Landis Homes
(717) 381-3561 or LZook@landishomes.org


Remembering Grace and Elam Stauffer

March 26, 2012

As Landis Homes approaches our 50th Anniversary in 2014, we remember our heritage of being formed by Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions (now EMM) and Lancaster Mennonite Conference to serve as a community offering “creative retirement living” options for retired missionaries.  One of our founders, Frank Enck, encouraged the planning committee to “keep in mind our vision of creating a community rather than the traditional old people’s home facility.”

Over the years, since the first residents moved to Landis Homes on February 18, 1964, many former missionaries from Eastern Mennonite Missions, pastors, church workers and others have helped make Landis Homes the expression of creative community that it is today, and for this we are grateful.

Two long-term EMM missionaries were Elam and Grace Stauffer.  Elam was born in January 1899 in Lancaster County, PA.  He married Elizabeth Kauffman in November 1920; she died in Africa in June 1947.  Elam then married Grace Metzler in June 1949.  Elam died in January 1981 in his home in Lancaster.  (Source: Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online).

After Elam’s death, Grace M. Stauffer moved to Landis Homes in November 1983, where she resided for more than 28 years until she died on Thursday, March 22 at the age of 97.  Grace’s obituary shares her life story well, and follows.  We are grateful for the lives of persons like Grace and others in service to Christ and others. They have helped make Landis Homes a community of Christ-like love where lives are honored and enriched…

Grace Metzler Stauffer

Grace M. Stauffer, 97, whose life touched many people in several countries, died on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at Landis Homes Retirement Community, Lititz, PA. She remained a wise teacher, loving mother, grandmother and matriarch of her extended family to the very end.

She was born Grace Bucher Metzler on a farm in ­Manheim, PA, on November 8, 1914, to Harvey and Katie Metzler. After graduating from Lincoln School in Rapho Township, she attended high school and college at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, VA. Following ­college, she taught school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

She responded to a call from the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions in 1946 to go to Tanganyika, East Africa (now Tanzania) to start a school for missionary children. She opened Hilltop School at Bukiroba, Tanzania, which has continued operating for 66 years at several locations. Now named Rosslyn Academy, it is located in Nairobi, Kenya, serving several hundred students. After teaching for several years, in 1949 she married Elam Stauffer, a pioneer Mennonite ­missionary to Tanzania and a bishop in the Tanganyika Mennonite Church. Throughout her life, she remained a member of Erisman Mennonite Church in Manheim.

In addition to her roles as wife and mother to their 3 boys, she helped open the Musoma Bookshop in Musoma, Tanzania, in 1960 and served as its first manager. In 1964, when Elam retired, the family returned to Lancaster County. She remained active in church life, traveling with Elam to various churches and maintaining a warm and supportive home for her family. When Elam died in 1980, she remained the strong supportive center and matriarch for her family.

She moved to Landis Homes in 1983 where she lived until her death. In 1984, she was invited to and attended the 50th anniversary of the Tanzanian Mennonite Church in Shirati, Tanzania. She described it as an honor to be invited and found it thrilling to be present at this celebration.

During her life, she touched the lives of many people in many roles and in many places. Her life was characterized by humility and service to others. She taught students on several continents ranging from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia to Bukiroba, Tanzania. She and Elam were counselors to many churches. And she meant the world to her immediate and extended family.

Surviving are three sons, Philip E. husband of Velma Denlinger Stauffer of West Chester, Ken E. husband of Carol Maurer Stauffer of Toms River, NJ, Bruce E. husband of Susan Warner Stauffer of Lancaster; three grandchildren, Craig, Corinne and Kyle Stauffer; a sister, Edna wife of Leonard Brunk of Lititz. She was preceded in death by three sisters, Esther Martin, Elta Harnish and Anna Shank.


REC Day Meditation by Resident Ruth Weaver – Isaiah 58: 6-12

March 25, 2012

“Words from God, adapted for Landis Homes”

Ruth Weaver

Every six months Landis Homes team members gather in REC Day sessions, focused on Relaxation, Education and Communication.   In recent years residents have begun these sessions with a meditation, and residents sharing meditations this Spring were Dr. Richard and Ruth Weaver.  Ruth serves as a spiritual director, and also served on the Landis Homes Board of Directors in the 1980s-90s.  They were the first residents moving into the new south campus expansion in June 2010.

Ruth shared a meditation that included the below paraphrase of Isaiah 58: 6-12, which she described as “words from God, adapted for Landis Homes”.

My Friends,

This is the response I desire from you says the Holy One:

I want you to see everything you do at Landis Homes as your gift to Me;

I want you to offer loving care to all those with whom you work daily;

I want you to live in peace with everyone.

If you do this, your light will shine forth as a blazing dawn;

And you will experience healing and wholeness

The awareness of your response to Me will be seen by others

And my glory will stay with you.

And I will answer your calls for mercy,

Saying, “Here I am” whenever you need help.

If you will avoid any oppression of others in your workplace

Or accusations or gossip; if you will give of yourself

To meet the needs of others

Offering hope to those who are needy,

Then your light will blaze even in the darkness;

Your darkest hour will be as noon day; and I will always be your guide.

I will satisfy the thirst of your souls in any desert conditions in which you may find yourselves;

And I will strengthen your bones throughout your life’s journey.

Actually, you will become like a well water garden

And like a bubbling spring of clear, pure water whose source never fails.

Your own woundedness shall be molded into a wholeness

Upon which the health of future generations shall rise

And you will be called a mender of relationships;

One who restores community life.

Dear God; may this be so for everyone here at Landis Homes . . . . Amen

Isaiah 58:6-12


Residents’ Council Devotions by Donald Campbell

March 13, 2012

Donald Campbell

Residents’ Council Meeting
Devotions by Donald Campbell

March 12, 2012

The Landis Homes Residents’ Council begins each meeting with a meditation and prayer.  Residents’ Council member Donald Campbell shared the following meditation at the start of the March 12, 2012 Residents’ Council meeting.

Landis Homes history is rooted in a desire to seek God’s guidance and in prayer, and Donald’s meditation is illustrative of this rich tradition.

Plow at Landis Homes East Entrance

In 1870, Russell Conwell was on a camel caravan along the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers when a guide told this tale. It was a legend about a Persian farmer, Ali Hafed. Lured by stories of a Buddhist priest, Ali deserted his fruitful lands for immense wealth in mythical diamond fields

Far and wide Ali roamed, footsore and weary, youth and wealth disappeared, and he died far from home, an old pauper. Not long afterward, acres of diamonds were found on Hafed’s own land. A great truth had been found, your diamonds are not in far away  mountains or distant seas, they are in your own back yard if you will dig for them.  Russell Conwell gave his “acres of diamonds” speech over 5,000 times. Many of his visions came to fruition including the founding of Temple University and Good Samaritan Hospital. He sowed the seed of service which produced a harvest of opportunity.


Next we go to the village of Willow Street where the Temple of Limestone is located. We stand on the front step and look down at the beautiful Pequea Valley. It must have been about this time of the year in the 1750’s when a man who was called to preach stammered and stammered until he had to sit down with shame and remorse. He was embarrassed and had a sense of being lost. While plowing in the field, he knelt at the end of each furrow to pray. Perhaps he was thinking about what Jesus said about “no man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The word lost seemed to go with him as he followed the plow. At last one day in the middle of the field, he dropped behind the plow and cried “Save me, I am lost.” He then seemed to hear the words – “I am come to seek and to save that which is lost.” He praised the Lord, and left the field to tell of the change he experienced.  His name was Martin Boehm. He shepherded a new spiritual movement in Lancaster County. The Temple of Limestone is the oldest existing structure designed for Methodist use in PA and one of the oldest in the United States. It was frequently visited by the father of American Methodism, Francis Asbury. Today it is known as Boehms Chapel.


We return to the East Entrance to Landis Homes off of Oregon Road and are greeted by our plow. Is it a relic or is it continuing to break ground in new endeavors? The new Steeple View Lofts apartments on North Water Street are a vision in progress.


As individuals, we have a choice to make; do we put our hands on the plow to continue our harvest of opportunity, or do we drop the reins? The direction of the plow is not inward but outward, ready to break new ground.  The person of vision affects eternity. He/she never knows where the influence ends.


Prayer:  For the beauty of the earth and especially for the beauty of this day, we give you thanks. The sun is warming the soil and soon we will experience the beauty of spring flowers, birds nesting and butterflies fluttering around.  We are mindful of your creation and may we be good stewards of all your handiwork.  We have looked at people of vision and pray that you will still be our vision….




New Structure, Same Mission

February 6, 2012

Ever since opening in 1964, Landis Homes has been committed to serving well in all it does. From the early beginnings in the middle of farm fields, to the current campus serving more than 700 persons, Landis Homes has also always been looking forward.

As the Landis Homes board looked at existing services, listened carefully to stakeholders, and anticipated additional efforts and models of service, it became clear a new structure was needed to more completely reflect the efforts of the organization. While neither the mission of the organization or connections to Lancaster Mennonite Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference of the Mennonite Church are changing,the structure of the organization has now changed to add a nonprofit umbrella organization named Landis Communities.

The newly created organization will coordinate a number of subsidiary organizations. Each subsidiary will have a particular focus and will gain by its association with Landis Communities.

Our mission remains to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in communities of Christ-like love. That will not change.

Our guiding values of JOY, COMPASSION, INTEGRITY, STEWARDSHIP and COMMUNITY will not only stay in place for Landis Homes but will guide all our efforts.

In order to fulfill our mission, Landis Communities will explore ways to make senior living situations more accessible to a wider range of people, taking needed services to wherever seniors happen to live and in other ways widening the access of people to the services right for them.

The board is committed to keeping this community strong and vital. Landis Homes is recognized as one of the leading continuing care facilities in the region. The goal of this new structure is to allow those serving current residents and clients to do so while building on existing and new partnerships.

If you have questions about this information, please feel free to contact any of the members of the Landis Communities Leadership Team. They are: Larry Zook, Allen Heinly, Carolyn Burke, Eva Bering and Larry Guengerich.

Contact information:
Larry Zook, President/CEO Landis Communities
(717) 381-3561 or LZook@landishomes.org



Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future

January 9, 2012

[Note: These comments were shared at the January 9 Residents Council meeting].

As we enter a new year, we look forward to all that God has in store for the Landis Homes community and are grateful for the many good gifts that God has given. I value the strong heritage of Landis Homes, and am especially reminded of this as we approach our 50th Anniversary, which is coming up in just over two years on February 18th, 2014. On February 18, 1964, Landis Homes welcomed our first residents.

We are blessed to have a written record of our first 30 years, via a book written by Landis Homes resident A. Grace Wenger to celebrate our 30th Anniversary in 1994. Since I joined the staff here in 1994, I frequently have drawn from Grace’s book to get a feel for God’s working in our community over the years.

Our history actually began in 1961, now just over 50 years ago, when as Grace Wenger writes, “An elderly widow, Mrs. Harry (Emma) Shenk, offered to donate land near Strasburg for an ‘old people’s home.’” Grace goes on to describe how Lancaster Mennonite Conference asked Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions to appoint a group of ten persons to plan this new retirement community. Grace goes on to write…

On November 7, 1961, the Mission Board appointed a ten-member planning committee: Levi Brubaker, Ira Buckwalter, Frank Enck, J. Mowery Frey, Charles Good, Clarence Harnish, Sanford High, Adam Martin, Orie Miller and Lester Wenger.

Orie Miller, who convened the first meeting on December 13, 1961, led a devotional meditation based on Psalm 71:17-19 and Psalm 92:12-15. He commented that ten percent of the United States population was over the age of 65 and that there were now more than a million people over 85. He asked, “For what is God giving us these additional years?” He answered his own question: “Certainly for a purpose, and youth and old age together should find ways to make these extended years meaningful.”

At this meeting the committee elected Frank Enck, chairman; Sanford High, vice-chairman; Ira Buckwalter, executive secretary; and Lester Wenger, recording secretary. In January three sub-committees were appointed: Site, Building, and Program Development.

Just over two years later, in early 1964, Landis Homes opened. Grace writes…

Ninety-year old Henry Weber and his wife, Mary, the first residents of Landis Homes, moved into Unit A on February 18, 1964. Having chosen to pay $1,000 of the $4,000 entrance fee, they were charged $43 a month in addition to the basic rate of $100 a month per person.

George and Grace Leaman, designated as superintendent and matron, had already moved from “The Dell,” an attractive woodland home near Mount Joy, into one unit of a quadruplex, even though the interior was still unfinished and the floors bare. Until the first live-in workers arrived, the Leamans slept in the main building so the Webers would not be alone.

When the first cook, Helen Bucher, came, she lived in the main building so she could be on call for emergencies. Anna Mae Graybill, an experienced R.N., arrived on May 2. Two general workers who lived nearby completed the original staff.

At that time Landis Homes had only two buildings, Unit A with twenty-four rooms, and the quadruplex to the left of the East entrance.

“When I first saw the few small buildings in the vast area of farmland, it was difficult to believe that this could be a retirement home,” recalled Emma Rudy, who with her Philadelphia Mission co-worker, Alma Ruth, moved into one of the quadruplex apartments on March 6.

Our upcoming 50th anniversary provides an opportunity for us to both look back with gratitude for God’s direction and provision these past years, and to look ahead with confidence and trust in God for guidance and direction in the future.

We also value the opportunity that this Residents Council meeting provides to support good communication. … as Kendig Miller, former resident Board member said that, “communication, communication, communication” will help build common understanding and shared support for the vision and mission of Landis Homes – “The ministry of Landis Homes is to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love.”

We seek to carry out this mission of being a Christ-centered community by living out our guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community.

One thing that I know has been true throughout our history is that Landis Homes has been a praying community, and the Landis Homes Board and newly formed Landis Communities Board welcome your on-going prayer for God’s direction in our future.

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