We gather this morning to pay tribute to the life of Helen Mondorf. And we also come here to seek meaning in this time of sadness.
In the book of Habakkuk the prophet expresses a faith which should be a model of our own. The prophet had gotten some really bad news. He was devastated and confused. He was even a little angry with God. (Maybe you understand how he felt). He had a talk with God and God talked back. God told Habakkuk that he did not see the big picture. God assured him that if he would trust Him, He would see that God was faithful. At the end of the book Habakkuk writes these words,
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength’ he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights. (Habakkuk 3)
This is our goal today: to face this difficult circumstance with faith.
Our Father, help us. Even though Helen has not been well for awhile this still seems all so sudden. Help us today as we grieve, as we remember, and as we try to hope. Help us to see You, trust You and hold on to You. We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.
Mrs. Helen L. Mondorf, was born May 7, 1938 in LaHarpe, the daughter of Floyd and Hazel Shepherd Allen. On June 13, 1968 she married Harold J. “Bud” Mondorf in Galesburg, IL.
As a young girl her family moved to Burlington, IA where she lived for 50 years before returning to LaHarpe in 1999. When Helen was young, her Grandmother had a big influence on her life. She was a strict woman but also taught her many things.
Helen always worked. While in Burlington she worked for the Hawk Eye newspaper for many years, retiring in 1996. She picked up odd jobs on occasion when family finances were extremely tight. Her first husband left her with young children and she had to work hard to provide for them. Though times were sometimes rough she always made sure that her kids always had a Christmas gift and felt special during holidays and special days.
She enjoyed camping, fishing, flowers, and anything outdoors. The family enjoyed picnics on the river and going to the home of friends to play cards. Helen made sure the birds were fed every day. She was an avid reader. She didn’t really care what she read; she enjoyed stimulating her mind. When she read the newspaper in the morning she read ALL of the newspaper. It would take her a couple of hours.
Helen was a wonderful cook and an excellent seamstress. She made and mended clothes for the kids. Once she even made a three-piece suit. When it came to meals, Bud used to plan out the weekly food menu. He would do the grocery shopping and she would prepare the meal. As a cook she was always concerned about presentation. She wanted the food not only to taste good but also to look good.
She was the same way when it came to presents. She always made sure they were wrapped with sharp corners and big bows. She felt how a present was wrapped was also an expression of love. The family remembers the Easter she bought Care Bears for many of the kids. Helen hated to go shopping in a store but she loved to shop through catalogs and ads. To her, giving gifts was not an obligation to fulfill but a way to express love and show someone they are special.
She was a woman who warmly welcomed the spouses of her family members. Helen was a family person. She loved all her family and this extended well beyond her own children and Grandchildren.
Helen was tender-hearted. She kept every card ever given to her and anything that was mushy made her cry. She would read cards in the store and start crying! Speaking of crying, one of her favorite movies was the Notebook.
Helen loved dogs, she loved to garden, she loved her Z24 Sports car, and in truth, she loved life. She did worry about everything but she said that was “her job”.
She really enjoyed living with Ryan and Christy. She looked forward to the kids coming home from school. She might color with Hayley or ask for every detail about her Volleyball or Bastketball games. She would sit with the kids and help them with their homework and talk about their day together. If Hunter couldn’t sleep he knew Grandma would always make a place for him in bed.
Helen was an avid Cardinal baseball fan. Bud was a Cub fan. Helen really enjoyed watching her Cardinals win the World Series with the kids last year. She enjoyed watching any kind of racing. Her favorite driver was Jimmie Johnson. She watched “American Choppers” anytime it came on TV.
Helen liked to listen to the old time country music. She wasn’t real interested in embracing technology. She knew what she liked and liked what she knew. It sounds to me like this was because she was content. Helen Mondorf lived a full life.
She is Survived by 3 daughters, Cheryl (Terry) Rich of Manila, AR, Kathy Fisher of Burlington, IA and Christy (Ryan) Kienast of LaHarpe, 2 sons, Charles (Sandie) Waterman of West Point, IA and Harold “Joe” (Deb) Mondorf Jr. of Burlington, IA,
12 grandchildren- Dianna, Michelle, and Ashley Whitmore, Justin and Tara Fisher, Samantha Wiseman, Jason Belknap, Amber Curry, Colten and Tessa Waterman, and Haylee and Hunter Kienast., several great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild,
She is also survived by1 sister, Leona Skelton of Burlington and 3 brothers, Kenneth “Doak” Allen of West Burlington, IA, Dan Allen of Burlington and Delbert Wagner, of Ohio.
She was preceded in death by her husband on February 5, 2001, 2 brothers, Russell and Fred Allen and her parents.
We are nearing another Easter. It’s not just another holiday or a contrived excuse to get us to buy candy and stuffed animals. Easter, rightly understood, is what gets us through times just like this.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live even though he dies.” (John 11)
Jesus was speaking to Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Lazarus had just died. Martha was frustrated that Jesus wasn’t there to save Lazarus. Jesus looked her in the eye and told her about the resurrection. He then asked her: “Do you believe this?”
If you know the story, you know that Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and brought him back from the dead. That alone gives his promise credibility. But the miracle was designed to point us to a greater principle: that there is life beyond the grave.
Anyone can tell you that there is life beyond the grave. We all want to believe this because it makes us feel better. The difference here is that Jesus backed up His words by His own resurrection! Easter is the time we declare the most important truth we know: This life is not all there is!
Jesus did give us a condition for life beyond the grave: we have to truly believe in Him. This is more than thinking Jesus was OK or that He was a great teacher. The kind of belief Jesus requires is a belief that says, “I cannot be right with God apart from what Jesus did on the cross for me.” It is not a matter of trying to be a better person! It is about being willing to bow before Jesus as our Savior and King. To really believe in Jesus means to see ourselves as people in need of His help and the forgiveness that only He can provide. Truly believing means that we are willing to “bet our lives” and our eternity, on Christ.
Going to church is heading in the right direction, but going to church does not get us to Heaven. Trusting Christ does.
I didn’t know Helen well enough to know what was in her heart. However, God knew her perfectly.
Jesus asked Martha a question that we need to ask ourselves today. “Do you believe this?” The question has two dimensions. Do you believe the promise of God? Do you believe that Helen, if she trusted Christ, lives even though she dies? If so, then the sadness of this day gives way a little to the joy that she is free to live again.
But the question is also one we need to ask about our own faith: Are you putting your true trust in Christ? Are you right with God? Are you ready to live even though you die?
My favorite image at the time of death is a picture of an airport. You are there to say goodbye to someone you love. Imagine you are sending someone off to war. You know they must leave, but it is terrible to let go. You hug. You cry. You wonder when you will see each other again. You feel numb. The departure gate is a sad place.
Fast forward to when that same soldier comes home. Now you are at an arrival gate. This time you are filled with anticipation. You stand on tip-toe. You might even jump up and down. When the plane arrives you scan the passengers leaving the plane. When you see your soldier you may squeal, jump up and down, run to them or even start to cry. These tears however are different. This hug is one of gratitude, joy, and love.
Today we stand at the departure gate. It’s hard. We must say good-bye to someone we love and we don’t know how long it will be before we see each other again. We need to keep in mind that for everyone who puts their trust in Christ, there is an arrival gate ahead. If her faith was solid, Helen has already arrived. Imagine the greeting she received from those who are so excited to see her. Someday we hope we will be the one arriving. There is a good chance that one of the first people you will see jumping up and down will be Helen. She will be there to greet and welcome you.
Today we commit her body to the ground. But we do so not with despair but with hope. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The Resurrection of Jesus which is commemorated by Easter tells us that He was telling the truth. The only question left is this one: “Do you believe it?”
Let’s pray together. Our Father we ask that you help us to see beyond this grave. Help us to see and embrace the life that you offer to everyone who will put their trust in You. We ask that you see the faith in Helen’s heart and welcome her into your Kingdom. We also pray that you would fan the flame of faith in each one here. Help us to trust you. Help us to experience Easter in a new and wonderful way. Give us hope even in the midst of sadness. We ask in the name of Christ. Amen.