It has been on my mind for a long time that I should write my own obituary but every time I began to think it through I felt it was too egocentric. It is my heart’s desire that when you hear it you will not see me but rather the work of our loving powerful God and Saviour Jesus Christ in the life of a sinful, imperfect human being saved by His marvelous grace and all the praise and glory go to Him alone.
I was one of eight girls born on May 3, 1931, to George and Sara Loeppky. My parents, my sister Anne, sister Margaret, one little sister in infancy, my brothers-in-law: Charles Unger, Henry Koop, and Ed Thiessen; one niece Charlene Loeppky and one nephew Bradley Loeppky went to their eternal home ahead of me.
Surviving me are my sisters: Mary Unger, Lena Koop, Liz and Irv Heinrichs, Agnes Thiessen, my brother-in-law Wes Loeppky and their families and special friends, the Nguyen family.
I was born and raised on a small farm in a village called Kronstal, now New Bothwell and had my primary education there. I did not grow up in a Christian community nor in a real Christian home but already at a young age had a very real consciousness of God and remember some definite answers to my simple child like prayers. I gradually came to realize that I was a sinner and needed a Saviour and that Jesus Christ had died for us and by faith in Him we were saved and at the age of 16 was baptized in the Silberfeld Chortitzer Mennonite Church. I had a real desire to serve God and thought that looking after the sick would be a good way of doing so. In 1952, I applied for the LPN nursing course and graduated in 1953. I worked at the Steinbach Bethesda Hospital which I really enjoyed. However, I was always very much aware of my lack of Bible knowledge and decided to go to Steinbach Bible institute in 1955 and graduated from there in 1957. It was at this time that I felt a call to foreign missions.
Around this time the Niverville Chortitzer Church, where my parents were attending, was in the process of a real revival and I had the opportunity to get involved in Sunday School, VBS and a youth ministry so I thought that this was maybe the work that the Lord had for me yet the Holy Spirit kept reminding me of my call. I heard that the EMC Board of Missions had started a work in Paraguay which drew my interest and when they became aware of it they offered me to go with their mission. I was able to still maintain my membership in the CMC who took on my full financial support for my first term and had a lovely farewell service and dinner for me. With no orientation or any language study I in blind faith left for Paraguay in June 1960, to do the medical work on an isolated Indian settlement in the Chaco with no means of outside communication and our only means of transportation was a tractor and a trailer. My faith many times was tested to its limit in this overwhelming responsibility. After a four year term I was not at all sure what my next step would be, but the Lord has His plan for us and he directed me to spend a year permit teaching grades one and two in Thicket Portage up in Northern Canada. Little did I realize that this was a preparation for my future work. One of my favourite Bible verses is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 (KJV)
The Lord had new challenged for me. In 1966, I was on my way back to Paraguay to join Anne Braun, a locally trained nurse in Eats Paraguay in her pioneer work with a totally unreached tribe. Learning a new language has its challenges. One time when I prayed, Anne had a little laugh when she told me I had thanked God for sending his daughter to save us. This tribe lived scattered all over the semi jungle. To contact them we had to walk along many trails. One day when we visited an old woman she said, you must stay to eat with me today. We wondered what would she serve us? She quickly caught one of her scrawny chickens, rung its neck, plucked it and soon had it cooking in her pot on an open fire. Then she picked up some plates from the dirt floor, washed at least the inside with the little water she had and we were served. Well, all we could do was to remember the saying “Where He leads me, I will follow, what they feed me I will swallow” and enjoy it. Later the mission purchased a parcel of land for the tribe to settle on which made the task much easier. They were totally illiterate so we soon saw the need for a literacy program. This became a good part of my responsibility and here my experience of teaching in Thicket Portage was a great help, I spent some 13 years in this work. In that time I had another challenge that of setting up a language course in the Guarani language and taught some new missionaries.
My last 12 years I had another new challenge. I was asked to join the staff in the church planting ministry with nationals. I lived in the city of Caaguazu but because I was more fluent in the Guarani language which is the main spoken language of the country people, I helped along in the rural church plants working mainly with women, children and young girls teaching VBS, crafts like knitting, sewing and cooking in conjunction with Bible studies to introduce them to our Saviour. My final four years were wrapped working in our Christian bookstore Caaguazu. This not only gave me opportunity to connect with many nationals but also with our Mennonite people from the colonies where there was a beginning of a revival and they were hungry for the good reading material. We supplied them with German Bibles, song books and other Christian books.
These some 35 years were by no means always easy. There were lots of struggles, but I am so thankful to our faithful God who gave guidance, protection, health, strength, and joy. I am also thankful for the faithful support through the years of the EMC Board of Missions and my home church the Steinbach EMC where I became a member in 1966. Reflecting on these years, one of my greatest joys is to hear a recent a recent report of the Guarani Indian work where I had a small part in, that today there is a four classroom school teaching grades one to eight supported by the government with the national Christian teachers, a clinic, a store and a nice church with around 200 believers and more added continually worshipping our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with a national pastor couple in charge. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:9 :Someone sows the seed, others water it, but God alone can make it grow.”
I retired from my work in Paraguay in 1995 and soon got involved in my home church teaching Sunday School, working with the Mission Sisters and many years as a deaconess. The work I enjoyed most was visiting and getting to know so many of the seniors in our church. One of my real pleasures after retirement were the yearly leisurely road trips that Anne and I made out west to visit family and friends. All of this comes to close as one gets older but I am very thankful for God’s provision of such a comfortable place in Woodhaven Manor and the opportunity I have of hosting a small group for fellowship and Bible studies.
When I come to the end of the road. And the sun here has set for me,
Please don’t mourn and feel sad. Why cry for a soul set free.
Just keep trusting in Jesus and be glad. We’ll meet again, soon in may be.
A come and go viewing will be held on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB., with Covid protocols in place.
A private family livestreamed funeral service will be held on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB. Please click the following link to join the family via livestream. https://view.oneroomstreaming.com/authorise.php?k=1617303682108751 The link will be available for 90 days followin the service.
If friends so desire donations in memory of Sara may be made to the EMC Missions in Paraguay.
Death is the Gateway to Eternal Life
Death is just another step along life’s changing way,
No more than just a gateway
To a new and better day,
And parting from our loved ones is much easier to bear
When we know that they are waiting
For us to join them “There” –
For it is on the Wings of Death that the living soul takes flight
Into the “Promised Land of God”
Where there shall be “No Night” –
So death is just a natural thing,
Like the closing of a door.
As we start upon a journey
To a new and distant shore –
And none need make this journey undirected or alone,
For God promised us safe passage
To this vast and great unknown –
So let your grief be softened and yield not to despair,
You have only placed your loved one
In the loving Father’s care.
~ Helen Steiner Rice