Frank Yoder gives Kalona Public Library reading

By Molly Roberts
Posted 11/22/21

Local author Frank Yoder visited the Kalona Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 20 to talk about his life and work as a writer. “Toby’s Journey,” Yoder’s latest book, will be …

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Frank Yoder gives Kalona Public Library reading

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Local author Frank Yoder visited the Kalona Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 20 to talk about his life and work as a writer. “Toby’s Journey,” Yoder’s latest book, will be published and available to readers in January. He has written several books, including “Lena’s Boys,” which tells the story of Yoder’s widowed mother raising four boys on the county line road, “Roy’s Story,” which tells the story of an Amish man who must relocate his faith, and “Ms. Hattie Gibbs & Her Amish Friend Katie Lapp.”

Yoder introduced is work using a bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

“That’s the theme that runs through these books,” Yoder said.

Yoder said he was originally motivated to start writing books after talking the residents at Pleasantview, who had amazing stories to share but couldn’t always remember names and details. He said he wanted to start writing before the same happened to him.

Yoder said his books were born from real stories.

“A lot of “Roy’s Story” actually happened,” Yoder said, explaining that he first heard the story from an Amish man who traveled to Kalona and opened a harness shop. “That’s the way my books go — they’re not totally novels and they’re not totally fiction. There’s a lot of truth in them.”

Yoder was joined by many friends at the reading on Saturday, including fellow writers Linda Egenes of Fairfield and John Bain of Wayland. Egenes is at work on a novel about the Amish community and is also the author of “Visits with the Amish: Impressions of the Plain Life” (University of Iowa Press, 2010). Bain is the author of “Christie’s Journey: The Beat Goes on” (Christian Faith Publishing, 2021), which tells the story of his daughter, who suffered from cardiac arrest at the age of 29.

“I feel like you’re a natural storyteller,” Egenes told Yoder. “You’re really good at telling stories in person and in print… How did you learn to be a good storyteller?”

In response, Yoder told a story: “In the fourth or fifth grade, my teacher had me stay in during recess and he said, ‘Frankie, if you’re not going to pony up, you’re not going to amount to anything.’ Well, I wanted to prove my teacher wrong, and I wanted to amount to something. I asked him what I would have to do, and he said, ‘Well, for four years, you’ve had an F in spelling in your report card and if you don’t know how to spell, you don’t know how to read, and you won’t amount to anything,’” Yoder said. “He opened his drawer in his desk and gave me a little Webster’s Dictionary that I could carry in my pocket. He showed me how to look up words and what they meant and how important they were. By the time I got to ninth grade, and that was the last grade in our country school, I represented our school at the county spelling bee, and I got up to the last round.”

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