This past weekend was Memorial Day Week and we have so many Veterans to remember and be thankful for! We owe our freedom to these heroes that are among us or who have gone on before us. God Bless us everyone!
It is also a good time to do a little traveling after being restricted for so long. It’s time to visit family up north or enjoy picnics or seeing old friends. I think now, more than ever, we have all realized we need family, friends, and fellowship. As many of you know, I have extended family in Amish Country, Berlin, Ohio. Today I’d like to tell you a little about how the Amish have changed over the years we’ve been “family”. In the 25 years since I’ve enjoyed being like family with the Raber’s and Miller’s, much has happened. When I first met them in the 90’s they had no phones, they used horse and buggies to travel, had gas lights or candles, and they worked at shops or retail stores or even made beautiful wooden furniture. I would pick up my friend Fannie, who was almost like a sister to me, from her job at Der Dutchman in Berlin, Ohio and take her home because I had a car up there at my cottage. We bummed around looking in stores or visiting her sisters or friends. My friend is Fannie Miller, and she is an Old Order Amish member. I’m mostly familiar with Old Order because of her, but there are different denominations of Old Order, New Order, and New, New Order. There is also another denomination called Dan Church Amish, with quite a few members, and then there is an order called Swartzentruber, whom I would describe as Primitive Amish. They remain strictly primitive, with no running water in a sink nor a toilet, no showers, and to bathe they have to heat the water on their wood burning stove. No batteries can be used, no refrigerators or stoves, and even their buggies have no conveniences like side curtains to protect the people from the rain and snow. When you read about the Amish breaking away, this is the denomination they are usually referring to. The Old Order Amish live life very comfortably with gas refrigerators and gas stoves, hot water heaters in their home, hot showers, washing machines and dryers, and some have already installed solar electric in their homes. Now a new business has cropped up among the Mennonites: driving the Amish for hire (or hauling the Amish). Usually the Mennonites can also speak “Deutsch” (Dutch), which is the language the Amish use, and it means a lot to the Amish when the drivers can speak their own language. When the young Amish reach the age of 16, they move into a new age among the Amish called Rumspringa, meaning they are eligible to learn more about what it is like to be “English”, or how the other half lives outside of the Amish Community. And now let me take you a step further with my family: when the first grandson turned 14, he talked with his Dad and asked if he could buy a truck to learn how it functioned and how to fix it. His Dad approved as long as he could pay for it himself. The son worked on the old truck with his Dad every night after work and began to learn how the vehicle functioned and repaired parts that needed repairing or replacing. Soon his buddies asked if he could fix their cars, and Dad was always there to help. Once the young man was legal to drive, a whole new world opened up to him, but he remained within the Amish Faith even though he could now drive until he was baptized into the Amish Faith. More and more people came to their farm to ask for help on their cars, and finally Dad said to Mathias that he would have to quit his job and work full time at his business, but Dad would still help after he worked at the lumber company. This continued on until the next brother was asked to also learn the car repair business and work on the cars. Finally in a short time, the business was thriving, and the Dad said he himself would also have to quit his job to help Mathias in his car repair business and the other son was asked to work with them. Mathias met his true love and they married into the Amish faith, which meant he could not test drive the cars they were working on anymore, but the next son had moved into the position of Rumspringa, so he was able to do the test driving. Meanwhile, the youngest son was intrigued by the business and hung around constantly to learn all he could. Fast forward another year to present day and all three men and the young man are all working in the business and now they have had to lease a huge building to work on trucks and cars in a close-by village, so they needed someone to answer the phones and run errands, and the sister was hired. Just recently the young man Mathias, who wanted to work on cars originally, talked to his family and then to the Bishop and asked to leave the Amish faith so he could keep his family working and keep himself in business, yet he would remain a Christian and stay faithful to God. The Church members voted to approve, and now Mathias can do the driving and get a computer and internet and start to advertise. The family is all supportive and so is their congregation. Oh, by the way – Amish are only allowed to attend school through the eighth grade. As you can see, hard work and togetherness have paid off and the whole family is now working together for the benefit of all.