The “Before” and the “After”

In life, we have many incidents in which we consider as landmarks and refer to them as the “before” and the “after”. The happenings of the past few days have brought into sharp focus that fact in a very real way as adjustments are made and plans for the “after” are made. However this is the very normal passing of time and it should not surprise us. But are we every really ready for those kinds of interruptions in our lives?

Lowell took this picture last night of the Traveller’s Palm tree that stands in front of the house where Dad and Mom lived for quite a number of years. His caption: “Adios Grandpa. ‘Travelling on’.”

I would like to share yet what Phil wrote up yesterday in recounting the events of the day on Sunday. His account I think very well describes the sentiment of the experience we so keenly felt as Dad stepped over the threshold into glory. May Dad’s testimony of life, real eternal life, live on in our hearts.

Good morning.

After the update Sunday morning things changed very quickly. These are, of course, my perspectives.

Dad had gotten up as usual and had eaten a good breakfast. That was when I had written the last report. 

As I look back, I think he had probably rallied for the children’s arrival. Once we were all present and had spoken to him, he was ready to go. He had said that when all the children were here would be a good time to die. 

We noticed that every time we would check Dad’s oxygen levels they were very varied and fluctuating. Joe’s daughter had told that that could mean congestive heart failure. I kept checking and as time went on, the levels were bouncing all the way from in the 40s to the 90s. Something was different. 

Since all ot the siblings were here, we decided to have our own little service at Dad’s house at 10 am. Tim wasn’t present and Duane and Ruth were going to be late because Duane needed to go get a shot for her Covid treatment. I asked Dad if he wanted to be with us in the living room or if he prefered to stay in bed. I noticed that he seemed extra weak. He said he preferred just to stay in bed and listen from there. We were a little late getting started and he (who was always very punctual) began to ask why we weren’t singing. We had a wonderful time of singing together. Dad said he could hear from the bedroom. He put his hands together as in prayer and when we would stop, he would ask why we aren’t singing. 

Suddenly Joanna interrupted and said Dad is saying “help me!”. We alI ran in expecting the worst, but then he was just saying help me go out to the living room. We all relaxed and laughed at the scare and helped him up and into his wheelchair. Then he wanted to sit in his recliner. So we helped him sit back and relax. I noticed that he was very very pale but I didn’t say anything. 

We began to sing again and he seemed to be enjoying it. Duanes then arrived and our children who had gone to church just drove in as well. I noticed that his breathing was getting more shallow and rapid. So I checked his oxygen levels again and they were all over the map. I tried to check his pulse but couldn’t find any. By then we all saw that the time had come and gathered around him. The oximeter suddenly went totally blank. He began to breath harder, then made perhaps 3 or 4 hard gasps and his body relaxed. It was 12 o’clock sharp. Even in death Dad was on time. 🙂

It was such a sacred moment for all of us. Mom was sitting beside him, holding his hand. He suddenly looked so peaceful. We all had such a sensation of peace and joy. God seemed so very near. Victory at last! At the moment, there was almost no feeling of sadness; just sacred joy. Don’t get me wrong, the separation and emptiness is also here. But the overriding attitude is of joy. Mom was very much at peace. 

We are so grateful to God for working things out so perfectly. 

We carried the body into the bedroom and laid it on the bed. Then began the hectic preparations for the funeral. 

The first thing was letting family and friends know of Dad’s passing. I called the Dr. Since she knew the case, she didn’t even need to come out, but prepared and signed the death certificate and sent it digitally. Since the cause of the death was Covid, the legal protocols are very strict. The government has given the authority to the funeral homes to see that they are obeyed. The law says in this kind of situation they must pick up the body at the house, put it into a plastic bag, then into a special sealed coffin, and deliver it immediately to the grave site, and stay there until it is buried. 

I called the funeral home. We will be forever grateful for their understanding and confidence in us. They immediately said they will come out with the coffin and pick up the body. When they arrived we asked about the possibility of giving us some leeway. He told us what the law says but then said he is not allowed to leave the body at the house but is willing to take it to the church. Then he will disappear and we are responsible for what we do from there under the condition that it is buried within 24 hours. What a relief. They proceeded to put the body into a plastic bag and into the coffin which was then nailed shut. He then had to disinfect the whole house. They then delivered the body to our church building here in La Estrella. 

Sunday night we announced a wake service at 7pm. at the church which is the custom here. It is an informal gathering of friends to be with the family and show respect for the deceased. Snacks are served. Since it was so quick it was not widely known, but I am guessing probably 250 – 300 people showed up throughout the evening. Of course, there was no viewing of the body. We did have some singing and a short devotional there. Around 10pm we closed down and went home for the night.  

Yesterday morning the funeral was held at 8:30 am. at our local church here in La Estrella. Our facility is larger and is open sided which is more favorable for Covid protocols. Jimmy Ramirez was moderator, Edwin Hershberger was song director, Duane read the obituary, Chente Mejia had the message. After the service we moved on to the cemetery in La Merced where Dad wanted to be buried. That’s about 20 minutes from here. 

Our church has been wonderful through all this. They have provided food for the family since Sat. evening. And they served the snack at the wake and a meal after the burial yesterday to everyone. 

God has been so wonderful through this whole process. First for giving Dad grace these last 5 years that they have lived here. After losing his sight and then the ability to walk on his own. Then as he grew weaker and lost his ability to care for himself with the loss of dignity that comes with it, he never complained and was always very gracious and grateful. Secondly, for giving Mom peace and grace for every day. We want to stand by her as she adjusts to life without Dad. This coming Oct. they would have celebrated their 70th anniversary. Thirdly, for working things out so beautifully during the time of Dad’s passing. All ten of us were able to be here for the goodbyes and to send him on his way to his eternal reward. For the generosity of the funeral home in allowing us to even have a funeral even under the circumstances. For the legacy that our parents have left us. The challenge to be faithful. We will be forever grateful. 

And now life will go on, but the “after” is something we need to face, especially Mom. Keep lifting her to the Father as she faces a very “new” life in her old age. Thank you to all for your prayers and support through this time. It has meant so much.

God be with you, Mom.
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Precious in the sight of the Lord…

The family was all aware of the reality of facing this momentous, albeit painful time when Dad would leave us and move on to be with his Lord. I am sure we all wondered how that would be and when it would take place. But the way God orchestrated it was beyond any of our imagination. Most of the family had gathered for a Sunday morning worship service at the house. Ruth and I had planned on being there, but were not feeling too well and decided to wait to go till dinner time. We were observing on the security camera how the singing was happening in the living room, and that Dad and Mom were still in the bedroom. Suddenly we noticed that the singing stopped and a mass exodus toward the bedroom. We knew something was up and quickly sped toward their place about 15 minutes up the road. We kept watching the camera on the way and noticed they had brought Dad out onto his recliner. So what was going on? There was still a lot of concern in the air, but we could see Dad’s tell tale hand stroking and knew he was still with us. When we arrived, the singing had resumed, and Dad was still breathing but it was obvious that he was transitioning. As we were around there, singing and praying to the Father, Dad slowly and peacefully left us. We seemed to be on holy ground. We learned then that as the group had been singing, Dad was listening from the bedroom and whenever they paused, he wanted them to continue singing. Suddenly he exclaimed “help me” and this seemed to everyone to be the cry that he was dying. But no, he wanted to be helped out into the living room into his recliner to be with the rest of the family who was singing. And in only about a half hour, Dad stepped into eternity to be with His Lord forever. What a sacred and blessed moment.

Covid patients are required to be buried almost right away, but the authorities allowed us to have his body, although closed tightly into the casket for a wake service on Sunday night and a funeral service Monday morning. That was a huge blessing and miracle and allowed us to have a meaningful farewell for dear Dad.

Dad’s theme in life was presented in clear terms at the funeral as Chente Mejía brought a very meaningful message. The comments from community people about his testimony on the facebook news post were an indication as well of the legacy he had left. Maybe the clearest testimony came from the private nurse who cared for him up until the last few weeks of his life. Here is what she said:

Doña Ruth, I was able to be with you at the funeral for a little while yesterday, but I couldn’t stay. But the message I have for your family is this:

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be Mr. Sanford’s nurse. For me it was a true pleasure to be able to care for him during the time I was able to. I learn something from all my patients. Mr. Sanford taught me to look at death in a new way, to learn to wait on the Lord in a serene manner, and at the same time waiting anxiously to see Him and rejoice in His presence. This is what I was able to clearly see in the last days that I took care of him, and this just goes to show someone who has the conviction and confidence that He has accomplished the purpose for which the Lord has for him here on earth and how he was only waiting for that moment to “cross the river” as he would say, and meet Jesus. 

I am waiting on God to be able to see him again some day when we can rejoice together in the presence of the Heavenly Father. 

I wish peace and resignation for all the family. I will always and eternally be grateful!!!

The challenge for the family and the churches is to carry on that legacy and vision that Dad had. May we be found faithful in carrying that out in the fear of God.

Duane Nisly for the family

The beautiful mountains in the background.
Funeral procesion toward cemetery
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Asleep in Jesus

Our loss is his gain

Funeral services are planned for this morning at 8:30 Central Standard Time. Your prayers are appreciated even though you cannot be present. For those who care to, here is a link to a livestream service which we hope will work.

Sanford’s song:

Several years ago, Sanford had an inspiration for a song and told Ruth about it. So she took that inspiration and composed this song. It certainly speaks to the heart that this man of God had.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Thank you for all your support and prayers. May God only be glorified and honored today.

Here is a draft copy of the obit:

Sanford Yoder

(June 17, 1930 – February 27, 2022)

Sanford Yoder, 91, of Santa Rita de Río Cuarto, Costa Rica, died February 27 2022. He was born on June 17, 1930 in Hutchinson, Kansas to Ben and Mary Yoder. On October 30, 1952, Sanford married Martha Yoder.

Besides his wife Martha, he is survived by his 10 children, Sanford Timothy and wife Yadira (Aguas Zarcas, Costa Rica), Philip and wife Elaine (Santa Rita de Río Cuarto, Costa Rica), Mark and wife Ruthanna (Chachagua de San Ramón, Costa Rica), Paul (Pablo) and wife Eunice (Waslala, Nicaragua), Judith and husband Lowell Miller (Nickerson, Kansas), Ruth and husband Duane Nisly (Pital de San Carlos, Costa Rica), Lois and husband Joseph Peachy (Amelia, Virginia), Nathan and wife Vicky (Lisbon, Ohio), Joanna and husband Dwight Miller (Minerva, Ohio), and Deborah and husband Kevin Hershberger (Monterrey, Tennessee). Also surviving are 45 grandchildren, and 31 great grandchildren.

After a troubled and stormy youth, Sanford had a radical new birth. That experience and commitment was a driving force for the rest of his life. Sanford was ordained to the ministry in July 17, 1960. Some years later, Sanford felt the call of the Lord to move his family of nine children to Costa Rica to begin a Christian colony with the purpose of evangelization. They moved to the Arenal area in 1968 and helped establish a church there until they were forced to move out because of a hydro electric project, where they then moved to the San Carlos area and established a church there. In the following years, several other congregations were then formed as outgrowths from the La Merced congregation in San Carlos.

God gave Sanford a long and blessed life and used him very extensively both in church planting efforts as well as widely using him as an evangelist. His life theme was Mathew 28:19-20. His desire was always that his family and “whosoever will” be active warriors in the Kingdom of God. Brother Sanford has suffered from numerous health issues over the years and a number of times the family assumed they were saying their goodbyes, but God had other plans. Although his heart was severely compromised, it continued to pump faithfully long after it was assumed it would no longer function. Now his life here on earth is through and God has now taken him home to his eternal reward. Sanford would be quick to deflect any praise directed to him. Today we can give honor to this servant of God by serving the God that he so faithfully served.

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Sunday evening

This has been a day which shall long be remembered. I wish I would have time to write a more detailed account of how Brother Sanford graduated to his heavenly home. It truly seemed to be heavenly ground as an earthly soul stepped into heaven’s realm.

There are Covid protocols that we are needing to abide by, however we were allowed to hold the body over till tomorrow and bury within 24 hours. Otherwise it would have been immediate burial. There was a large group of people there tonight at the wake, and a short service is planned for tomorrow at 8:30 Central Standard Time. We hope to be able to livestream the service and will be announcing the link once it is available.

As a family, we greatly appreciate the outpouring of your condolences and your prayers. Pray for Martha that she can remain strong. She is still weak from her bout with Covid but she has been amazed at how God’s grace is caring her through.

I am hoping maybe after this is over with, Phil or someone will give a more detailed report.

Again, thank you to all who have lifted us in prayer to God. We have certainly felt it.

Sanford’s wish for a Bright New Dawn, was made a reality today. This song by Dallas Holmes might express it best:

Some day a bright new wave
Will break upon the shore
And there will be no sickness
No more crying no more war
And little children never will
Go hungry any more
And there’ll be a bright
New morning over there
There’ll be a bright
New world for us to share

Some day there’ll be an end
To unkind words and cruel
The man who said there is no God
Will know he is a fool
And peace will be a way of life
With love the only rule
And there’ll be a bright
New morning over there
There’ll be a bright
New world for us to share

Some day we know not when
When time on earth is done
And those redeemed from every land
Will all become as one
With voices of all ages
Praising God the three in one
And there’ll be a bright
New morning over there
There’ll be a bright
New world for us to share
There’ll be a bright
New world for us to share

The sunset this evening from outside Sanford and Martha’s house.

“Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning
When with our Saviour heaven’s begun
Earth’s toiling ended, O glorious dawning
Beyond the sunset when day is done.

“Beyond the sunset, no clouds will gather
No storms will threaten, no fears annoy
O day of gladness, O day unending
Beyond the sunset eternal joy.

“Beyond the sunset, a hand will guide me
To God the Father whom I adore
His glorious presence, His words of welcome
Will be my portion on that fair shore.

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting
Beyond the sunset forever more…”

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Sanford’s Homecoming

As the family was singing in the living room, and he in the bedroom, he asked to join the group in the living room and was here for about 1/2 hour before he left for his heavenly home peacefully at 12:00 noon.

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Update for Sunday morning, Feb. 27

Dad is still with us even though his night was rough. When will a Bright New Day dawn for him? Our daughter took a picture of the sunrise this morning, wondering if a New Day would dawn for Grandpa today.

All of the out-of-country children arrived yesterday. Last night we were all together except for Lowell and Judy who came in on a later flight. Today, most of the family is at Dad’s for a service. Ruth and I are still not quite out of the woods ourselves, so we are not present for that. Here is a peak into that service from the surveillance camera:

A few pictures of last evening:

Here is Phil’s update for the morning:

What a beautiful morning! 

Sometimes when life becomes difficult, a little humor can lift our spirits and help us on our way. This morning our daughter Diana was having a discussion with her little daughters about heaven. She told them that in heaven there will be no more bad attitudes and no more spankings. Little Alyssa´s (a two year old, that is struggling with curbing her impulses) face lighted up and her eyes became huge, and she exclaimed “That´s INCREDIBLE!”

How often we adults become so concerned with the theological correctness of our concepts that we forget the INCREDIBLE delights that amaze a child. Oh, the glory that awaits us. Although there are details that our finite minds cannot comprehend, may we never lose the sense of incredibility (I mean the sense of awe, amazement, delight, hope, and joy) of what our God has prepared for those that love Him. When all the effects of the fall will have been eliminated forever. Maybe that is part of what Jesus had in mind when he said that unless we become as little children… Thank you Alyssa for todays sermon. 

The siblings all arrived yesterday. What a grand reunion! We haven´t seen Lowell and Judy yet. They got in late. 

Last night Joe and Lois stayed with Dads for the night. Bless their hearts. Elaine and I both had a very restful night. 

Dad had a rather bad night. Much coughing and just not feeling well. This morning his oxygen levels have us wondering. On one hand it´s at 54 and on the other 70. There could be several reason for that. Joe´s daughters (nurses) informed us that it could be a result of a faulty oximeter, poor circulation, or congestive heart failure. She suggested we take a manual test of his pulse and compare with oximeter. The one that coincides is probably the correct one. We haven´t checked that yet. 

Other than that, he seems about the same. He ate a good breakfast. 

Mom is about the same. It looks like she´s pulling out fairly well. 

Have a wonderful day, all of you. 


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Saturday morning update from Phil’s perspective

Dad’s night was not very restful because of his cough. Other than that, he seems about the same. This morning he wanted to sit outside in his wheelchair. As we were moving him around, we unplugged the oxygen. Almost immediately the level dropped to the 40s. This would seem to indicate that his capacity to breath on his own is still on the downward slope. When we put the oxygen back on, it jumped back up to around 80. 

So, other than the oxygen issue, he seems to be holding his own. It seems that if we can keep his oxygen up, he could be with us a while longer.

Yesterday it was a week that Dad showed his first symptoms of Covid. They say the virus itself is active about 11 days then we start dealing with the effects it leaves us with. Could it be that, if Dad can hang on that long, he could begin the long road to recovery? He has surprised us before. I almost hate to think of the quality of life he would have if that happens. But I’m glad I don’t have to decide. He is in God’s hands. We do what we can, and leave the rest in God’s loving hands. 

Mom seems to be pulling out of her sickness quite well. She feels quite well this morning. 

We are expecting all the siblings to arrive today. It will be good to be together again. 

Thanks again everyone for your encouraging words and prayers. Although we see so little of the larger Yoder family, we are made aware again of how fortunate we are to be part of such a wonderful family with such a blessed heritage. 

May each of you have a wonderful day. 


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Six years later

This blog has been dormant for six years, and I should have revived it a week ago when we discovered Sanford contracted the Covid virus. Sanford is not doing very well at all, is on oxygen at home instead of transferring him to a hospital, which was a family decision. At the hospital, none of us family would have been able to be in with him. This has been a difficult week with many decisions that seemed almost overwhelming. As of today, most of the out of country children will be arriving in Costa Rica. I will try and keep an update on here as I can. We would appreciate your prayers.

This last one is a image grabbed from the surveillance camera yesterday, we have installed in their house.
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June 5th – Forty Eight years

It was 48 years ago today that the Sanford Yoder family made that adventurous trip that landed them in Costa Rica. Sanford says it was 7:00 in the morning when they landed and were met on the tarmac with people receiving them with umbrellas, as it was 2


Yoder siblings and Tim sharpened

And now 48 years later, many adventures have been experienced, and many stories could be told , but above all, God has been so good!

We are very happy to report that Sanford is doing much better… slowly regaining his health. He says that if it wouldn’t be for the pain in his leg, he thinks he would actually be WELL. We rejoice in the recovery.

Today, 5 weeks ago, we were called to the hospital, where he had seemed to take a turn for the worse and wondered if this would be his last day on this earth. Of course, for him to move on to Glory would have been sweet release, but the Lord had other plans and for us it is a joy to have him with us a little while longer.

Today was the first time they have been back to church since he was hospitalized and he reports that it went well, although he really tired by the time it was over with. They were very happy to be able to be back with their church brothers.


Ready for church… what a handsome couple!


Sanford loves his little Pomeranian puppies. Kari has had the privilege of taking care of them the last while, and she is doing very well.



He has also been blessed with visitors. They are always welcome and a blessing!


Lately Sanford has been listening a lot to audio books, since his eyesight is so poor and he has a lot of time on his hands. He also enjoys listening to sermons.




And Martha is back to painting… aren’t they lovely?


This has been a special time for us, my wife Ruth and daughter Kari, living next to them and helping to take care of their needs.

Duane for the Yoders

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I apologize for this long wait. I had prepared a post and thought I published it, but some how I did not get it done. Alas… I will try and reconstruct and catch you up to date on what has been happening.

After Sanford was released on the Monday, the 9th of May, he was taken to Phil’s where they took care of him for several days. Then on Wednesday, Joe and Lois came to take him home and care for him there. Dad’s were very happy to be home again. Joe’s stayed for a week to take care of him.

When it looked like Sanford might not make it, our son Vincent and his wife Holly, and daughter Connie and her husband Travis Mast and their 1 year old son Kendric came to visit. We of course were very happy that God chose to spare Sanford’s life again this time. We really enjoyed family time for the two weeks they were here.

I will give a kind of photographic update this time:


Sanford convalescing in the breezeway.


Kendric entertaining Great Grandpa and Grandma.


This thing is so fascinating!


Joe and Lois in front of the cabin door, and Connie and Kendric. Some time ago, the carpenter shop that was across the breezeway from the house was converted into a two-room cabin. So this is extremely nice when family wants to come visit or as in this case to take care of them.

Since our children were here and Joe and Lois, we had a family get together on Friday evening, the 13th. Sanford was able to be there for awhile, but he did tire and “retired” before some of the rest of us did.


After Joe’s left on Wednesday the 18th, Ruth moved out to take care of them. We had agreed that we would temporarily take care of them for awhile and as I was involved in a Teacher’s Institute I was unable to go out till Friday evening when Kari and I moved out. So now we are enjoying the little cabin, and being able to take care of Dad’s. It is an honor to be able to do that, and for a bonus, we have this beautiful view ….


and lots of birds:


Ringed Kingfisher8  female




Sanford enjoys his puppies.


He also enjoys his popcorn. Sanford is slowly getting better… slower than he thinks it should be. But we are thankful that he is improving.

Thank you all for your prayers and interest… this may be the last update for awhile, unless something changes.


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