Amish Life In Shipshewana (Video)

This 3-minute videoΒ from Voice of America News is a nice general look at Amish/Anabaptist life as well as the Shipshewana, Indiana area, home to America’s third-largest Amish population.

The meat of the video is an interview with Alvin Miller, member of a local Amish Mennonite church who grew up Old Order, discussing the Amish and related groups.

A few interesting points made in the video:

  • Anabaptists can “shop around” to find their spiritual niche in lesser or more conservative churches
  • Local benefit auctions supportingΒ Haiti relief, Habitat for Humanity, and ARC raised $1 million+ last year
  • Amish and English came together in 1965 to help rebuild Shipshewana following a tornado which “leveled the town”
  • Miller feels one reason his faith is growing, is “because it only works if theΒ members really love and care for each other”

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    1. Alice Aber

      Very nice little video. Erik, do you find that the varying practices of the Amish causes more confusion for us outsiders? By that I mean, some allow electricity, cars, etc., while others do not. When some people see Amish using modern things do they have a tendency to think they are not really Amish?


      1. Yes good question, I think this video uses “Amish” very broadly, with images like the woman getting into a van…we had a pretty good discussion on Amish identity and who uses it here:

        There is certainly confusion for outsiders even within the horse and buggy Old Order–for example why Amish in one area use the SMV and others do not, or why some Amish communities are more active in the non-Amish community and “friendly” towards outsiders compared to others.

        I think you are right that when outsiders see Amish on a cellphone or riding in a car they sometimes judge them to not be “authentic”, which is its own discussion as well πŸ™‚

        1. Nicholas


          Thanks for posting this, Erik! It was enjoyable.
          You are very much on spot with the confusion generated by the broad use of the term “Amish.” The woman in the video getting into the van is actually Old German Baptist Brethren, as is the man loading the van (there is a reasonable sized community in Goshen, which hosted their Annual Conference in 2013. I remember some Amish were there for the services.). This always amuses me when people confuse the many different plain Anabaptist groups. It doesn’t help that the German Baptists like to visit Shipshewana and Holmes county as tourist, too!

          1. German Baptist Brethren

            Interesting Nicholas, did not catch that, thanks for pointing it out. Looks like, as I know happens often, I’ve been inadvertently fooled by the German Baptist Brethren here πŸ™‚

            1. Nicholas

              More confusion

              Erik, don’t worry, I have noticed if someone is plain, the general population seem fooled that the person is Amish, even when told differently! Ha. I hope I didn’t fool you in any way, as that was never my intention. I did notice in the original article from Voice of America, they incorrectly stated that the Quakers are related to the Amish, as are modern Baptists (I assume this means the mainstream Christian groups, not any Anabaptists). From my own research, I was under the impression that Baptists were not a part of the Anabaptist movement at all.
              I greatly appreciate this site and it’s purpose, the spreading of reliable information about the Amish. Whenever I have commented, I have kept in mind that goal. If I have contributed to the negativity in the comments section, it was unintended and I apologize.
              Perhaps a subject for the future might be to give out some differences between the different Anabaptist and Plain groups that live near one another to help ease the confusion.
              Merry Christmas!

    2. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Shopping around spiritually

      Nice video!
      This is the first time I’ve ever heard that the Amish/Anabaptists can “shop around” to find their place in the faith. The impression generally implied by almost every thing I’ve heard of (including Amish America) is that no you cannot shop around when you are “Amish” you either are or you are not “Amish”, and if you are born to one ‘sect’ and you decide that community isn’t for you, you seemingly certainly cannot return, there are so many examples of this happening online and in real life and the treatment inspired a feature documentary film.
      I wonder if ‘shopping around’ is the happy ending, and if folks in the faith are fully made aware of it??

      1. I can’t account for all the comments and external content, but usually when we’ve written here about shunning and excommunication we try to include mention at least that it is possible to return. And that there are a couple of different ways that it is practiced:

        As for the “shop around” term, I think it probably better applies for those who leave the Old Order and visit related, higher Anabaptist churches.

      2. Mark - Holmes County

        I think the majority of Amish people do tend to stay in the kind of church they were raised in, assuming they stay Amish,but I know many Amish people who have changed their membership, some to go more progressive, some to go more conservative out of concern that there is too much “drift.”

    3. Debbie H

      shopping around

      Nice video. I think the phrase “shopping around” is what brings us up short. I think all Christians “shop around” for a church they feel God is calling them to become a part of. I think we are taking it negatively. I personally would not be a part of a church group that did not share my beliefs, even if it was my denomination. Amish are no different than we are.

      1. Good point Debbie, maybe the term itself makes that process seem trivial, but you could describe it otherwise in grander terms meaning the same thing, such as a “spiritual quest” or “seeking a church home”. It seems like a common sense no-nonsense “Amish” way of describing it πŸ™‚

        On the flip side there is also the school of thought which says to bloom where you’re planted. An Amish friend is fond of that concept.

        1. Elva Bontrager

          Discontent can have consequences.

          I was brought up Amish Mennonite, i.e. we had electricity and tractors (although iron-lugs were required, in order to keep the tractors off the roads, I guess). We called ourselves Amish though some family in Ohio and Indiana informed us that we were scarcely Amish at all since we incorporated a great many English words into the dialect.

          Eventually my father was expelled from his church, not only for being ‘progressive’ but for being contentious, a serious character flaw among Amish. The other men who had also agitated for reform ended up recanting and remained members in good standing. My father did not and immediately joined a Mennonite church. (I didn’t respect him for that, because all my life he had badmouthed the Mennonites. But so it goes. πŸ™‚

          I’ve never heard the term ‘shopping around’ in this context.The point I want to make, however, is that should an Amish person shop around and find a church they decide to join, the new church informs the old church of the membership application and they in turn send the new church a report on the individual’s spirituality and standing in the old church.

          Given that by the time a person makes the break, chances are fairly good that there was a certain amount of tension engendered by their dissatisfaction in the old church. That may well affect the report they submit.

          1. Kiki

            Thank you, Elva

            Thank you, Elva, for explaining the process of moving to a new church and how difficult it was for your father and, therefore, for you, in certain aspects of the Amish culture.

            We need more Amish and Mennonite comments on this blog, for the sake of wisdom and knowledge. Too many comments are actually questions posed by those of us who really don’t know the right questions to ask or who base comments on inaccurate or “T.V.” facts. The fact that we’re not asking actual Amish/Mennonites (because they don’t, unlike you, read this blog in the first place) puts everyone at a loss and in a continued state of ignorance.

            Again, thank you!

    4. Kiki

      Video in Shipshewana

      Love it! I “shopped around” in protestantism for years because something was missing; I found it in Orthodox Christianity, the way the Church was in the beginning. Very ancient.
      I love that the Amish and Mennonites aren’t afraid to retain their conservatism in the midst of a very liberal world that has become more perverse by the day. I’d love to be able to take my time to get somewhere, which is why I plan on getting me either a donkey or mule once I move to Oregon from my home in Hawai’i (it hasn’t been “paradise” since 1778). We’ve all become slaves to our cell phones and other gadgets that get in the way of REALLY listening to each other and, more importantly, to God’s “still, small voice” Come on, do you really need to get that phone call at the beach!?? I miss the old days ;-(

      Great video! Thanks Erik!

      1. Jan

        quick note

        Liberal =/= perverse. πŸ™‚

    5. Jan


      Thanks for sharing this interesting video, Erik!

    6. Kathy Rowe

      Very nice video, Erik. Thanks for sharing! Always enjoy your articles. Merry Christmas to all.

    7. Judith


      It seems the High Churches are very active in their fundraising and generosity. Is it the same with the Low Churches? Is it pretty much across the board? And do the High and Low come together for these fundraising events? It seems like they do. Especially after the tornado disaster.

      Also – in terms of “shopping around” – how exactly do Amish people do that? I know they would attend the services of another group, but do they ask for a copy of the Ordnung? Is that actually a document? Has anyone seen a copy of one? And when they join a new church – how does that work? Is their money that was meant for retirement transfer over?

      I am also interested in reasons people would leave a district. Are they looking for a particular relaxation of a rule, and if so, does anyone know which one? For instance, perhaps an Amish Farmer would like to use a certain tool that is forbidden in his church, or maybe an Amish business would like a phone. Does shopping around happen often?

      I have read that the higher the church the lower the retention rate – but is the overall tally evened out a bit due to Amish switching to a different church? Does anyone know who leaves what order to go to what order most often, or least often?

      Anyhow – this may not be the place to post these questions, but I saw the plethora of different orders in that video and that got me to wondering.

      By the way, I think shopping around is the smartest way to go about switching churches. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I wonder also, what about it that people don’t like. What do they view as wrong with it exactly.

      1. Hi Judith, just my shot at at least briefly answering a few of your numerous good questions.

        Higher vs. lower Amish churches and charity – generally higher tend to be more active as they are generally more involved in civic activities and “outreach”, also income levels tend to be higher than the lowest churches which also may have an effect. The book An Amish Paradox has a good section on charity work across the different affiliations in Holmes County.

        Ordnung – Don Curtis mentioned that his son Mark’s church has a written Ordnung, which is sometimes seen, but the norm is that it is an unwritten “document” reviewed orally twice per year. See also:

        As for retirement money, I am not exactly sure what you mean by that–Amish individuals control their own household funds.

        As for changing affiliations, “shopping around” and how that works, Mark above and Don below shared a couple of Amish perspectives on this that might be useful.

        As for retention rate, interesting question, I am not sure how switching is factored into those statistics. Generally the statistics I have seen suggest the lower churches do have higher retention. The Andy Weaver group in Holmes County which is not the lowest church (Swartzentruber church there is a notch lower, though a pretty good bit lower notch) actually has the highest retention in the figures I have seen (also can be found in Amish Paradox I believe).

    8. Alice Mary

      Erik, please correct me if I’m wrong, but the way I understand an “Ordnung” is that it’s not “one size fits all”, first of all. It can differ from church district to church district (Amish). And as I understand it, it’s not a written document, but something “learned by doing”—you grow up with your parents & siblings & relatives following your own district’s ordnung, much like we English might grow up with various traditions or beliefs that might not necessarily be written down anywhere. No one points to a verse & chapter in their ordnung (because it’s not written down!)…but you probably would ask your own bishop (again, different districts each have a different bishop)for clarification on any matter the ordnung covers.

      I enjoyed the video and think I noticed a familiar spot or two. Thanks, Erik!

      Alice Mary

    9. Don Curtis

      Answers from my son, Mark

      I asked my son, Mark, about some of the questions. He said that the ordnung depends upon the Amish community. Mark’s community has a written ordnung. The more conservative the Amish the less likely they are to have a written ordnung. Mark said that Amish don’t really “shop around” for a church. They, usually, are baptized into the church they grew up in and usually stay within that church or one like it. If they leave a church it may because of church discipline issues or wanting a church with more “evangelism.” Mark says that in his experience the Amish that leave the Amish and use the reason that they desire a church with more “evangelism” usually results in a move to a church that allows automobiles. This is one of the reasons that the Amish don’t talk so much about their beliefs. They have kind of a knee jerk reaction when fellow Amish talk about evangelizing because they know that it won’t be long before those folks will be leaving the church and going to a car church. It’s just a pattern seen over and over. As far as why a farmer would leave for a more liberal church usually it’s over going to a church that allows tractor farming instead of farming with horses.

      1. Jan


        Great info as always, Mark!

    10. Don Curtis

      In Response to Harriet

      I have to agree with Harriet. I have not enjoyed the site for a while, now and haven’t posted much. I don’t appreciate all of the arguing and long-winded verbose critiques of the Amish. Some of them go on and on and don’t even make sense. Who cares what you think? I would just like to point out to everybody that this site isn’t for Amish. They aren’t online. They don’t know what you post and what your opinions are of them. Actually, most of them could care less what the English think about what they do. As for some of the recent posters and their patronizing comments “Amish education should be revisited” they need to visit an Amish school for themselves and talk to actual Amish and not rely on what they’ve read by non-Amish authors. I don’t care if the authors consider themselves authorities on the Amish or not. It’s whether the Amish respect their writings that counts and you don’t read about that. Regardless of what is written or not written on this site I imagine that long after we are all in our graves the Amish will be going on pretty much as they always have with minor changes and adaptations here and there. Everybody’s entitled to his or her opinion but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to spend a half hour reading it and trying to figure out what they’re saying. So you can “put that in your pipe and smoke it” as my dad used to say.

      1. Mark - Holmes County

        Don, I find myself checking in here occasionally because it’s not what it was when I first learned about it. Anyone who finds comments objectionable certainly has a right to ignore them. You make a good point about the experts maybe being experts in their field but the reality may be different, and let’s not overlook the diversity between not only community to community or group to group, but the differences between individual schools, families, or individuals.

        1. To Don and Mark

          Don and Mark, sorry to hear that the site has not been as enjoyable lately. If it has to do with the tone of comments, that is partially on me for maybe not being on top of that as much as I should be as a moderator. I know we’ve had a few “hot” comment threads in recent months.

          Discussion is generally good but I realize that at some point we are just blowing off steam, and it doesn’t really benefit the rest of the community. Anyway, I am always glad for both of your contributions here as you are bringing a direct Amish perspective to the discussion. Thanks for that.

        2. Geniene

          The dark wooled opinion

          Mark, I seem to have acquired a dark wooled identity on here, so just ignore this if that works for you.
          Aren’t there some distinctions that apply across the board in education. I know the Ohio arrangements regarding compulsory education requirements played out differently, but how different is the end result? The Amish I’m familiar with end normal school attendance at eighth grade, with some additional part time till the student is fifteen years old. According to Karen Johnson Weiner, the part time thing isn’t upheld everywhere anymore. Do children in your area continue until twelfth grade?
          My children took varied paths after high school and their chosen paths dramatically affected their last years in high school. The ones planning on continuing ed were far more concerned about their grades than the one who wasn’t and the school even had different standards for them to meet. I felt that our family was well served by this two track option, but the implication was pretty clear, once the expectation of attending college was removed, the push towards academics slowed down.
          Wouldn’t the same dynamic occur with Amish students except in their case the slow down would be universal? My son who didn’t attend college has far more money in the bank than anyone else in the family, including his parents :-/, so far be it from me to diss that option. He is also a nice young man. (not to get to focused on finances here)
          But isn’t it pretty much an undeniable fact that, educationally, the Amish are in a completely different world, and there are real consequences that go along with that? I’m not saying I have some special insight into what those consequences are, but in my opinion, a general respect for the Amish should include acknowledgement of this issue. A high respect for a worthy subject wouldn’t ignore this component of Amish reality.

    11. Kiki

      In Response to Harriet

      AMEN, Don, AMEN!!!

    12. Judith


      I have never met a more close-minded and most unwelcoming group of people on a website. This saddens me because I came here to learn about a Christian sect in America, with all good and pure intentions, and I have been met with behavior that I believe is purposefully obtuse and un-Christian. If you don’t like my comments, you certainly are not required to read them. There is a scroll button that you can use. But to “AMEN” abuse towards me is another matter. And one only your maker can judge.

      1. Hi Judith, I’ve been reading through these comments, and I think I’ve gotten a little lost here πŸ™‚ I thought you asked some good questions in your longer comment above and I’ve been planning to answer the ones I can when I get a moment here.

        As for what you mention here, I’m not sure what was directed towards you, I see the “Amen” comment is titled “In response to Harriet” so maybe there is a misunderstanding here. In fact, I don’t see any place where Harriet has commented on this entire thread (and I did not delete anything by her) so I think we have a second point of confusion somewhere along the line. Anyway I appreciate the different voices here and I hope that we can all get along πŸ™‚

        1. Alice Marry

          Let there be peace on earth...

          …and let it begin with me. (As the song goes.)

          Erik, I guess I was as confused as you (re: the Harriet reference, which I looked for over & over & couldn’t find). I also agree with Jan’s perspective on this blog. I’m glad I discovered it, and I know I’ve not only learned a lot about the Amish (and other anabaptist religions), but I’ve been connected with much valid, well-researched material, books, films, other sites (& authors) related to learning the truth about the Amish religion and culture. Working in libraries most of my adult life and having a interest in finding out “the truth” (born that way, I think) I’ve found this blog to be pretty darn reliable to that end. I’ve even begun exploring Amish communities (albeit a little bit at a time) to try and observe the Amish (and Mennonites, and other anabaptists) in person and to compare what I’ve learned here & otherwise…not to “disprove” what others claim as their own truth, but to help clarify mine. None of us can travel back to the past (even 10 min. ago) and experience events as they happened. We learn to trust others to tell us their versions…and in doing so, we also learn who NOT to trust at times.

          Erik, I appreciate your dedication to this blog and to learning about Amish life, history & culture and passing it on to the rest of us who are also interested in the same.

          To all who post, comment (or not) here, may this holiday season find you all well, happy, and peaceful.

          Truly, Alice Mary

          1. Judith


            I see there is some confusion about my encounter with your community. Don’s response here is a response of his and Harriet’s response to me on “Do Amish Use Electricity”. I am not sure they read my full comments, or perhaps they did not understand them, but if you look at my comments you will see I was not spoiling for a fight. I honestly think, now, that they did not understand my motives nor the content of my comments. The umbrage I take is when I receive comments that are hostile such as:

            “What are you talking about?…”
            “Why do you care, you aren’t Amish…”
            “What gives you the right to make any suggestions…”
            “people come here just to stir-up controversy.”
            “My point is directed to those who seem to belittle the Amish”

            How would this established community respond, if I wrote to Don Curtis the following:

            “Who cares what you think? …”
            β€œput that in your pipe and smoke it”

            I feel bad for Eric, he’s trying his best to help everyone. And I am appreciative of his understanding and response to the whole matter. I would like to learn more from this website and I would like to participate in the future as long as I am not treated like an interloper who hates the Amish. Perhaps if we tried to understand each other’s point of view before we comment, we might achieve what we are seeking here. A deeper experience of learning about the Amish Community.

            I forgive Harriet, and I forgive Don, no hard feelings. (Don, I know you’re 93 because I was the only one who wished you a Happy Birthday on this site last month).

            Peace to you all,

            1. Judith

              The site...

              I think there’s something still wrong with the site. I’m getting the same name over and over in the “Last 25 comments” section. I’m also having trouble navigating. I don’t think it’s my computer as I’m able to navigate freely on other sites. 10:03pm PST. 12/17/15

              1. Thanks for letting me know Judith. I see your name is repeated in place of other names. I updated WordPress yesterday as well which may have caused things to act funny. I’ll look into it now. What kind of navigation issues did you experience? Thanks!

                1. Judith


                  The navigation problems are two-fold. I can’t back up on the site (in other words, if I go to one thread and then another thread, my back button won’t let me go back to the first thread) – and then two, if I click on any of the comments, in different threads, they automatically take me the last comment regardless of thread. I can get around that by clicking on the thread if it’s on the welcome page and then scrolling down.

                  Ugh, all that drama yesterday and now this. Poor Eric!

              2. How to view recent comments

                Since it’s not functioning properly at the moment, I’ve moved the recent comments list down to the bottom of the left sidebar, and have asked someone who knows this better to help take a look at it.

                In the meantime, you can access and read the last 25 comments in full, by clicking the “View 25 Most Recent Comments” link which you’ll see in the right sidebar under the ad images. That should be working fine.

            2. Don Curtis

              In reply to Judith

              I will repeat what I said before. Your name was never mentioned when I made those comments. And if you read what I wrote when I posted that comment I specifically mentioned a quote from the person I was referring to and it was not yours. It was a condescending and patronizing comment in the extreme. So stop getting your feathers all ruffled when nobody was even speaking to you. Something you’d better understand, as well, is that the Amish are not an interest or research topic to some of us on this site. They are people we know and love. The Amish have been a real blessing to my family and me. So much so that my son became Amish.

              1. Judith


                Don, thank you for clarifying that. Perhaps in the future if you find a comment that is condescending or patronizing,as you put it, you could actually ask the person directly (with kind and well-mannered language) if they could clarify what they are talking about. Maybe the dialogue could be more courteous all around on both sides. Perhaps the person did not know they hurt your feelings and did not intend to. Clarification almost always allows grace to enter in.

                For instance, I’m almost sure you didn’t mean to be disrespectful by just now telling me…”So stop getting your feathers all ruffled when nobody was even speaking to you.” …right?

                And I’m pretty sure you did not mean the following as patronizing and condescending…”Something you’d better understand, as well, is that the Amish are not an interest or research topic to some of us on this site.” …correct?

                Because the Amish and the Amish Society are an interest and a research topic to me, I hope you will ask in a positive tone for clarification from me if you find any comments I make offensive.

                No one ever said being Christian was easy. πŸ™‚

    13. To Judtth

      To Judith

      First of all I would like to know why you think you’re being abused and where your name was ever mentioned. Looks to me like a case of “if the shoe fits then wear it.” I merely stated that I don’t appreciate some of the verbose and critical comments about the Amish. And I am entitled to my opinion as well. And trust me I do scroll past certain names that crop up. I’m 93 and I don’t have the time for this rubbish.

    14. Jan


      I missed a comment that stirred up some angry feelings… Maybe Erik was swift in deleting it. I just want to say that I am actually quite grateful for this site. It has taught me a lot. And there -are- actually a few Amish people on here. One of them, Rebecca, contributes articles and comments. Another is a retired Amish teacher who has been very kind and informative to me, an especially nice thing since I’m very non-religious.

      I’ve really encountered very little hostility here compared to genuine, open, thoughtful discussion. And especially compared to pretty much any other community online, this one has been very nice. I do hope no one lets one or two individuals ruin their experience here, but I’d also humbly point out that no one forces anyone to read comments they disagree with or aren’t interested in… Take what you find valuable, ignore the rest.

      Also, one doesn’t have to -be- Amish to want to share their experiences and opinions. Just because Erik isn’t Amish or an “expert” (not sure what qualifies an expert) doesn’t mean he doesn’t provide interesting and informative material – or at least, to some of us.

      Just my two cents.

      1. Don Curtis

        Reply to Jan

        I don’t see anywhere that Erik’s name is mentioned as an expert. I wasn’t referring to him at all but to the fact that some posters quote authors of books when criticizing the Amish as if that makes it so yet have no personal experience of Amish life or culture themselves. Well, I do have personal experience with Amish life and culture. And my son is Amish. Not that I am an expert but some of these critiques get under my 93 year old skin. Some folks say whatever they like and that’s okay. Criticize, state opinions, and that’s okay. Somebody disagrees with them and those who disagree are abusive and obtuse. I try and share insights from my son, where appropriate. If you want to learn about the Amish then the opportunities are here.

        1. Jan

          experts and stuff

          Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. I thought it was about the site in general, so I thought you also meant Erik. My apologies for the confusion! You’re right, reading something in a book certainly isn’t the same as experiencing it first-hand. And yep, I think this site is all about what you’re seeking. It’s usually obvious who shows up to start fights, and who’s here to learn and share. πŸ™‚

      2. On comments

        Jan, I’m very happy to hear the site has been helpful, and that you find it open.

        I know in recent times we’ve had a couple-few instances of commenters and threads that have gotten contentious.

        Probably my biggest challenge as a moderator is trying to maintain civility while also allowing a free flow of conversation. This site gets a substantial amount of traffic so there are people coming here from many different perspectives and views and feelings about the Amish.

        I want to honor people’s ability to share their thoughts here, but also maintain a civil community. I usually err on the side of not tamping down discussion. But having a civil and welcoming community is more important than just allowing anyone to say anything they want and essentially take over a conversation, especially if that person is not respectful. I probably could have done a better job in that role at times.

        I still have faith that as adults people can respond in a spirit of kindness and civility, even with those with which we disagree (even in the relative anonymity of online communication)…and for the most part that faith has been rewarded here which is a credit to the vast majority of readers πŸ™‚

        1. Jan

          the site

          Erik, I think you do a great job. I certainly don’t envy the responsibility of walking that fine line between “free communication” and “warm community.” But I think the community that -has- been established here does a good job on its own, too. Like, when someone comes along looking for a fight, it’s usually pretty obvious that’s their intention, and they don’t seem to last long. I guess it’s like that bumper sticker I see a lot lately, that says “Love wins!” πŸ™‚

          P.S. Merry Christmas to you and everyone here.

          1. Thank you Jan, much appreciated! I like your bumper sticker message πŸ™‚

    15. Al in Ky

      I enjoyed this posting, especially the video. I was in the Elkhart/Lagrange Counties area a couple of weeks ago and recognized some of the sites in the video. That whole area has so many different Amish/Mennonite groups that I can see where it would be confusing to a newcomer to Amish/Mennonite life to see such wide variation in dress/use of cars/use of technology, etc. I think that many newcomers confuse Mennonites with Amish. I would say there are at least 15 different Mennonite groups in the area which range all the way from Groffdale Conference Old Order Mennonites who dress plainly and use horse and buggies to Mennonite Church USA members, of whom most are thoroughly modern. Am I correct in thinking that the Old Order Amish Elkhart/Lagrange affiliation is the only Amish affiliation in this
      area? In that affiliation I know there are high churches and low
      churches which is reflected in use of technology, etc. But it would be even more confusing to people learning about Amish life if there were also Swartzentruber, Nebraska, New Order Amish, etc.,
      living in the area who would show even greater variation in dress, use of technology, etc.

      1. Al yes that is just one affiliation, though nearby Nappanee is considered to be its own affiliation. If I recall correctly there was a small offshoot church in the northern Indiana area at one time but I don’t think that is the case anymore.

    16. Cindy

      Love this blog

      I really love this blog. I’ve been to almost every community of the Amish and loved them all especially Shipshewana! I have learned a lot from this blog. I always love it when something is posted.
      Keep up the good work!

    17. Geniene

      keeping it real

      The “shopping around” concept is a classic scenario in which Amish reality gets distorted. Kudos to Eric, Don, and Mark for affirming that “shopping around is not necessarily the norm. There are many factors contributing to the distortion. One is that non Amish society in general is pretty fervent about the idea of choice and frequently the western concept of choosing gets transposed onto Amish life with little regard for whether it fits.
      A well known scenario that sheds some light on this is the under lying catalyst for the Bergholz beard cutting incidents. Several families from the Bergholz settlement moved away from Bergholz and because they weren’t in good standing with the Bergholz community at the time, they were unable to join another Amish community. It took three hundred bishops getting together and making an unprecedented, one time exemption, to enable those families to assimilate into another Amish community without having the blessing of their home church.
      As Eric notes, it is generally those leaving the Old Order, when the shopping around happens. Albeit Mark’s community apparently has somewhat more relaxed standards in that regard. Although, this seems to be about degrees, given Mark’s references about some Amish not making it to heaven. Mark’s comments may have been an attempt to acknowledge human fallibility among the Amish, but the implication I got is that sharp outlines of judgment are there just under the surface.
      The idea that there is a rich diversity among the Amish which enables Amish adherents to find the right fit, is a myth. Diversity among the Amish is a sign of alienation and brokenness, the exact opposite of how the non Amish world interprets diversity. Diversity means their children can’t intermarry. Diversity frequently strains collaboration on common goals like fundraising for clinics that serve their special needs children. It is not all bad. The Amish have some amazing strengths when they do collaborate, but saying they are “like us” when it comes to shopping around for a church community, does a disservice to what is real for them.

      1. Don Curtis


        I read your post to my son, Mark. He said that your are incorrect as to your reasoning behind the hundreds of bishops needed to allow the Berholz folks to rejoin the larger Amish community. You must understand that the entire Bergholz community was excommunicated and rejected by all other Amish churches. The beliefs and practices of that community were adjudged heretical and un-Christian. They were no longer considered Amish by the Amish but as a cult group. For any of the Bergholz folks to leave and request to rejoin the other Amish required a great deal of consultation and I am sure inquiry as to the beliefs of the folks wanting to leave Bergholz and rejoiningg the Amish. For the Berholz group attempting to leave Berholz and being disciplined by the Berholz church would have been considered a positive move by the other Amish churches and not a deterrent. To leave a cult and want to come back to the Amish church would have been encouraged but needed caution.

        1. Mark- Holmes County

          Don, this was also my understanding of what took place.

      2. Mark- Holmes County

        I checked in on this today and my heart sank at all the negativity and bickering. (After reading the 25 Most Recent Comments.)

        I did want to add, before signing off, that the diversity comment Geniene made sounds questionable in my experience. My own wife comes from a totally separate group of Amish that did not “fellowship” with our church and we have friends & relatives who have married people from other groups. The no-marrying idea might apply to a very conservative minority (like Swartzentrubers) but it does not reflect reality for the vast majority. I’m really confused at the idea that diversity supposedly causes alienation and brokenness… I live in a community with 11 different kinds of Amish and family ties, neighborly relations, etc. don’t seem to suffer. Attend any funeral, viewing, auction, barnraising, wedding, or school function and in this area you are sure to see people working together and socializing regardless of what group they belong to. I have yet to attend a wedding or funeral etc. where only one group was represented and I’m fortunate to be able to count numerous “kinds” of Amish among my close friends. But I guess I’m not a bona-fide expert — I just live it.

        I’ll sign off wishing a joyous Christmas to all.

        P.S. I’m sorry to see you’ve been chased off, Jan, but I “get it.” I had wanted to share a conversation I had with someone on my trip, but it’s not worth getting into if you’re not going to see it.

      3. Mark- Holmes County

        So moving to another community or fellowship to find a right fit is a myth? Hmmm… the 8 families now living in our part of the community who moved here from a very conservative community in PA to find a better “fit” might disagree with that, as might our cousins who have moved to other communities & states to find an Amish church & community that was a better fit for them, but if it’s a myth, their new-found contentment must be just imaginary.

        My wife’s family (grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts) all grew up in one community. Now when the family gets together, the relatives come from 8 states and 14 different Amish fellowships. These range from no-longer Amish to various Mennonite and Amish fellowships. Maybe I’m just basically undereducated, but it always seems to me like a rather diverse group who have not shied away from “shopping around.”

        1. Judith

          I think, from what I have read, that nothing about the Bergholz Community was regular. It seems to be an isolated weird case and their practices were very non-Amish, almost so as to be an alien community not related to the Amish with the exception of their dress. That it took 300 Bishops from all ends of the area to sift through the mess is a testament to how much those Bishops want to tend their flocks. It takes 216 cardinals to run my religion, and believe me – they don’t move as fast as these Amish Bishops did. It usually takes centuries for something to “move an inch” in the Catholic Church.

          And Mark, you are not undereducated and you are not “not an expert” on these matters. Heck, like you said, you live it. It’s great to hear this information straight from the horse’s mouth (I mean that in a good way, I’m not call you a horse! πŸ™‚ )

        2. Geniene

          diversity and shopping around

          Mark, it sounds like your family is pretty diverse and they are still getting together. That’s great! But like Jonathan Edwards elaborated on the issue of assimilating outsiders, if you look at the whole, I would say your experience is in the minority. Out of the three hundred thousand Amish population, what percentage don’t fellowship together? And specifically what are the boundaries that get drawn around those who don’t fellowship together? You don’t need to answer this but, when you say your wife’s family’s church didn’t fellowship with yours, how did that play out? Was she shunned for joining your group? Hypothetically, if you were a minister and her mother passed away, would you participate as a minister at the funeral? Maybe, whatever the sacrifice was, you and your wife were willing to make it, but how would you feel if your daughter married someone with whom your group wasn’t in fellowship with?

          The size of the elephant in the room may vary, but schisms are almost like a byproduct of Amish culture. The havoc they’ve wreaked on families historically and continue to wreak is substantial. To refer to this phenomenon as somehow being a positive seems more than a little disingenuous.
          The author and blogger, Ira Wagler writes extensively about his family’s experience and of the families from his community of origin. Ira’s father David, of Pathway Publishing fame, was one of the founding members of a community in Canada. Ira writes how all of the founding members left the settlement within about fifteen years of its founding, not necessarily under amicable circumstances and not so favorable outcomes in where they went.
          Ira also writes, quite eloquently, about the sacrifices his mother made in following her husband in search of “the true Amish life.” How she wasn’t allowed to visit her family, not even during a time of a death in the family. These are not the experiences brought to mind when the non Amish in modern day America think of “diversity.”

          1. Kate

            Geniene, non-Amish culture isn’t always as open-minded as it could be. Compare conservative Baptists living in rural Arkansas with Episcopalians living in New York City. The assumptions you are making about divisiveness in Amish communities needs to be put in the context of the area you are talking about and Mark lives in a huge Amish community. Where we live there are 8 different kinds of Amish in one community. We see the different colors of buggies and at weddings, funerals, benefit auctions and such things we see various groups represented. The intermarrying is more common than you seem to think — our closest Amish neighbors grew up in different groups and married and their 7 married children are members in four different Amish churches. Our other Amish neighbors are younger and do not have married children but she is from one church and he from another and both have siblings in yet other Amish churches. At the funeral of an older Amish man in our neighborhood there were relatives from many other kinds of Amish churches. Personally I found it fascinating to go to calling hours and see not only the various kinds of buggies, but Amish clothing styles I had not seen before. But I guess the Amish people and the non-Amish people like me that live in these communities just need to accept the fact we don’t know what we see and hear and experience because it’s not relevant when the highly-educated critical thinkers so quickly tell us our views are in the minority.

            1. Judith

              I totally get where you're coming from but...


              One of the reasons I come here is to here first hand accounts of Amish life. I love it when I find surprises here. And your comments are appreciated, and all information acquired is so appreciated here.

              However, I hope you’ll understand that when I read comments like this, it makes it harder for all of us to come together with a common goal of all of us learning more about the Amish in real and tangible way.

              “But I guess the Amish people and the non-Amish people like me that live in these communities just need to accept the fact we don’t know what we see and hear and experience because it’s not relevant when the highly-educated critical thinkers so quickly tell us our views are in the minority.”

              It turns us all into living schisms. Education and experience should not be mutually exclusive tools in learning. No one is telling you what is going on in your neck of the woods. It’s not two teams fighting it out on the grid.

              We’re all on the same team here.

              1. Judith


                I meant “hear” you know where… πŸ™‚

            2. Geniene


              It isn’t that they don’t intermarry, but that doing so goes against the doctrine of their group. I’m also not suggesting that no families exist that successfully counter the prevailing ethos around these differences, but I question whether the ones that do, aren’t achieving that in reaction to the historical carnage. And good for them, but in my opinion it is in poor taste to glorify the hurdle they needed to overcome. I would only ask that you consider that your fascination with their differences may contain an element of morbidity, at least from the perspective of those who paid the price of those differences.

              1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                Geniene, what are you talking about? People don’t face hurdles in marrying into other churches. For the majority of Amish marrying into another group is not a big deal. It certainly has not been for us or any of the other many couples I know who have done so. Are you perhaps thinking that moving to or marrying into a church that is not in fellowship is going to result in sanctions or “shunning”? There are some groups, like the Swartzentrubers, who might have that approach, but for the majority of Amish people changing membership to a non-fellowshipping church is a formality and not a hurdle. The person wanting to change their fellowship either for marriage or a better fit takes a letter from their home church stating they are in good standing, gives it to the church he/she is wanting to join and they vote to accept it. (And in the many cases like that that I am personally aware of, I know of only two where the vote was opposed.) If the home church is unwilling to give a letter either because of the person’s conduct or reservations about the church they are joining, the moving member can still obtain membership by going through a proving period. I know of many couples who married outside their own church and do not know of a single incident where one was shunned for it. I’m not applying this just to Holmes Co., either. As a side-note, no, I would not preach at my mother-in-law’s funeral if I was a minister but mostly because close relatives do not preach at a funeral, they join the mourners. A funeral is actually one time that ministers from non-fellowshipping churches might preach to “help out” or because they were somehow connected to the deceased through friendship, neighbors, co-workers or whatever. As for a daughter marrying into another group, it didn’t bother me at all. I was far more concerned that they are certain they are meant for each other, able and willing to respect one another, and begin their marriage in Christ. I’m going to be far more concerned about the prospective spouse’s spiritual life, maturity, and personality than whether our churches fellowship!
                No one is denying there are church splits. As I wrote before, there are 11 separate groups of Amish in this community. (Though a few are very small groups indeed.) How does this affect us? Maybe not as much as your reading might suggest. Some of my close friends, co-workers, neighbors, family belong to different churches than the one I belong to. We worship separately and there are differences in our Ordnung, but those differences seem to be much more interesting and important to the ones who research that kind of thing than they are to me or us. Typically emotions run high before & after a division, then life continues, people adjust, and it becomes history. Naturally this could be different in smaller more conservative communities, but we have relatives in some of those settings and though their experience might be somewhat different, I think you’ve got a different view than those of us living it.
                As for David Wagler and the Aylmer community. Aylmer can hardly be considered a “typical” Amish community, if there is indeed such a thing. It was formed by many families from varied Amish backgrounds to create a community with New-Order-type standards without actually severing ties to the Old Order. It takes a rather strong personality to jump into such an endeavor and a whole group of people moving together to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, and have most of them being very strong personalities with some difference of opinion as to exactly how this should go, well… conflicts are inevitable. Many people moved into that community; many moved out. It wasn’t so much a schism or split as a good idea that did not turn out quite as they hoped. Even today that community seems to draw a lot of people from a very wide variety of backgrounds, from Swartzentruber, Swiss, Lancaster Amish as well as Russian Mennonites and converts. I have a lot of respect for what Aylmer has become, despite it’s somewhat rocky start, but I don’t think it can be considered a typical community.

              2. Kate

                I copied these comments and shared them with some Amish neighbors. They were either offended, amused, or puzzled at anyone suggesting that marrying with or into other groups was against their doctrine. The amount of intermarrying with other communities & fellowships is quite evident at a wedding or whatever where you have relatives from various groups all gathered together. In harmony, I might add. I asked my closest Amish friend if she felt intermarriage was a “hurdle” and her response was there would be communities she would not want her daughters marrying in to but it would be more for economic or moral reasons and she would not stop them but she’d have concerns. She adds that the Swartzentruber and some Swiss groups “probably make a big deal out of it” but she’s not aware of it being a problem for others. I thought her next question, asked in a bit of a confused tone, was interesting. “So is she saying the people who are not Amish marry whoever they want and the families are always happy about it?” That led into some very interesting discussions.
                No need to respond Geniene. I’m going to exercise my right to scroll over.

                1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                  Your neighbor made a good point, Kate. I can think of communities I’d not want to see my children marry into or move to, but it would have nothing to do with beliefs, doctrine, Ordnung, or any consequences. A relative of ours has a child dating a person from a community where land-prices are very high and land for new homes is scarce. Their biggest concern was their daughter marrying into a situation where her financial picture was going to be very different from what she had grown up with — a smaller home with a much larger mortgage and the question of how this might affect any children SHE might have. It was a relief when the boy decided he would move to her community, but nothing to do with beliefs, doctrine, Ordnung, or hurdles — a lot to do with land availability and pricing. They will be able to buy a property AND put up new buildings for what they would have paid for a smaller, bare piece of property in his home community.

          2. Donald F.

            I grew up Catholic. The way my parents carried on when some of their children married non-Catholics was very upsetting and I wished my parents could have reacted like our Amish friends did when one of their sons married a Mennonite and a daughter married a man from a totally different Amish group. But you know what? On a nice summer evening I still see them all enjoying a supper at their picnic table TOGETHER. Too bad my parents couldn’t have shown the degree of acceptance my Amish friends have shown. I heard the parents say those matches were not what they would have preferred or chosen but they are thankful their children found good Christian spouses and they love their children and in-laws just the same as those who married within their own congregation.

          3. Judith


            Geniene, I saw this as I was working my response to you on the other thread, and thought I’d slip this in before I forget.

            From what I have read, the church schisms of the Amish are definitely not a figment of your imagination and they have been written about in the 5 or 6 books I’ve read about the Amish. They even note the reluctance of the Amish to discuss them. However, I don’t think Mark was being disingenuous in relating his experience and opinion. His situation and attitude towards it is sign of optimism and perhaps change of relaxation in the communities’ strictness in that area.

            I’ve also read Mr. Wagler’s book and blog. And he is relating incidences that occurred 30 years ago, and longer with relation to his dear Mom. I believe that David Wagler left Aylmer because he saw his sons dropping like flies out of the Amish lifestyle and Anabaptist faith. Not so much because of a diversity/church schism problem. Even recently Ira’s father went to visit his dying daughter who had left the community for another that originally created sad problems.

            So overall, I think there’s some change going on, that hasn’t been written about yet in periodicals and books as of yet. I think this change will be reported on in future academic publications, though.

    18. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Judith, it was good to start my work day with a genuine laugh. (The horse comment.) No, I knew what you meant about the horse’s mouth, but it made me laugh to read your clarification.

      You are right about the Bergholz commmunity not being regular. The whole Bergholz saga was unprecedented in our history. (Thankfully.) I’m thankful I did not need to “call the shots” on how that was handled!

      1. Judith


        I wasn’t sure if there was a “wink” emoticon for that. I’m glad it was clear and you knew I was just “horsing around”. πŸ˜‰

    19. Kiki

      Mark's info

      Aloha Mark!

      I’m so glad we have an “expert” on this site, and people who know how to forgive each other. If the whole world did that, perhaps it’d be a better place.

      I have a question about buggy safety; when there isn’t any wide shoulder, I know buggies are driven in the lane for regular traffic. If there isn’t a large community of Amish or Mennonite (small group in Oregon for example),who are accustomed to buggies on the road, do you know if there are many complaints from people who haven’t grown up around them? I know you’re not there, but I was just wondering if you’d heard of places where there’s a problem between the “English” and Amish/Mennonites because of this. I have an idea for a safer buggy, where the back moves independently from the buggy itself so if there’s a rear-end collision, chances are better for horse and driver. Why haven’t buggies been designed with a safety feature like this?


      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        And Aloha to you, too, Kiki. I’m not sure about being an “expert,” since my experience seems to sometimes differ from what the “experts” report.

        As for complaints in areas where there are no buggy lanes, I’ve been trying to remember what I have heard. (And as you wrote, it’s not been an issue here since the Amish have been here over 200 years and there are a lot of Amish people here.) I seem to remember hearing/ reading of problems in new communities where car-drivers are unfamiliar with buggies on the road, but in the situations I know of it usually died down as local drivers got used to sharing the road with buggies AND the Amish people got used to local traffic patterns, short-cuts, and the local folks. It’s been more of an issue in areas where buggies are not well-lit or clearly visible on the roads. We really are rather spoiled in our area with the busier roads usually having a good buggy lane and with the large Amish population car drivers are looking for buggies.

        You have me puzzled about the buggy safety idea, though. The running-gear of a buggy extends from the front to the back with springs in front and rear. Obviously the front axle is movable, as that is what allows us to steer, but I can’t quite figure out how you could make a buggy in segments. To have it fastened to the front you’d need something solid like a trailer hitch, so a rear-end collision would still thrust the back part into the front. Making turns or backing would be difficult. Maybe I’m missing something? There would also be a problem with brakes because the buggy would not be one unit. It’s a kind and concerned idea, though! I wish you could put a sketch of your idea on here!

        1. Kiki


          Hey Mark,

          Mahalo for your response! Well, the buggy extension would be connected by a rail system which would connect to the buggy itself, only a large spring would prevent it from coming into contact with the buggy itself and be made of an impact absorbing material like aluminum. If there’s a collision, it would slide forward only so much and crumple. It could be removed and replaced by a new “rear-end collision absorber” if damaged. Something like that, lol. I’m not (obviously) a mechanical engineer so I don’t know how the heck it’d really work. Silly me!

          Merry Christmas (I’m an Old Calendar Orthodox Christian and our Christmas day is Jan. 7)!


          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            Okay, I can sort of visualize this… but not totally. I see what you are getting at, but it would need a solid connection not only to allow going in reverse, but to prevent swaying (and sickness in passengers being swayed). Plus the speed at which a rear end collision could take place might still push the rear-part into the front part hard enough to cause injury, but like you I am NOT an engineer, so who knows? Maybe you’re on to a great idea!

            It’s interesting you observe Christmas on Jan. 7th. We observe “Old Christmas” on Jan. 6th, but unlike the 25th of Dec., it’s a more solemn event marked by a period or fasting, prayer, and reflection, though some family or friend gatherings might take place later in the day in form of an either “really late lunch/ dinner” or a “very early supper.” This observance varies a lot, by the way. Some groups of Amish don’t observe it at all or observe it differently. In some communities you might even have some groups who observe it while others don’t.

            1. Kiki

              Old Calendar

              I hope thinking about my idea didn’t leave a scar on your brain!

              Many Orthodox observe on the 25th, but all Orthodox, regardless of whether on the new or old calendars, will fast from all animal products except fish (except on Wed. and Fri.), until Christmas Day. We fast for about 210 days out of the year, always on Wed and Fri and on special times like Christmas, Pascha (Easter), the Apostles Fast, the Annunciation, etc. These aren’t fasts from ALL food, but from animal products. As Jesus said, “these can only come out by fasting and prayer.” when He referred to demons being exorcised, so it is with getting control of our passions. Fasting without prayer is just a diet so this time is when we pray more often, help those who are needy, and try to live more simply.

              I never realized there were Amish who followed the Old Calendar and I love that, as well as the simpler life and love of Christ the Amish and Mennonite communities try to share with each other and those around them. “This is how they will know you are My disciples, if you love one another.” We get so side-tracked by the hussle and bussle of life. Items of convenience like cell phones, etc. have become balls and chains around our ankles and we just can’t put them down. We’re more concerned about the phone calls we’ll miss than about talking to our Lord and Savior and reading His word. Shame on us who call our Christians! May He have mercy on us all.

              1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                No, Kiki, no brain scarring yet! πŸ™‚ I was thinking about the whole idea while driving our own buggy last evening and thought of another drawback: there would almost have to be an extra set of wheels to support the middle part, or so I’d think. But I did think about mounting some kind of bumper system in the back, though it’s all just casual thinking.

                That’s very interesting about your Orthodox Christian practices. I’d like to see what I can find in the library on that. 210 days of fasting a year sounded like a lot to me until I realized that it’s fasting from certain foods. We have, if I’m counting right, 6 set fasting days a year, but individuals or church districts might have a fast for a certain reason, such as parents fasting for concerns over their children. When we fast we abstain from all food and drink though those who have health issues are urged to use common sense. Children and unbaptized adults do not typically participate in a fast. And you are SO right — fasting without prayer and spiritual reflection is just dieting!

                1. Kiki


                  LOL! I’m glad no scarring yet!

                  I hope to some day have a mule and buggy; I’d like to have a grocery delivery service in Sprague River, Oregon where out land is (in the Tablelands above the town) so I’m trying to learn as much as possible from those who use buggies all the time. I’m glad you thought about my idea but I just wish it’d work so children and adults would be safer from all the idiot drivers out there!

                  Total fasts are reserved for those with permission from their parish Priest and are also common among Monastics in monasteries (nuns and monks). I attend a Coptic Orthodox Church but was baptized Orthodox in an Orthodox Church in America parish after my Greek language teacher took me to her Greek Orthodox Church. I was just learning Greek so services in English were important to this former Southern Baptist new to Orthodoxy. Thanks for the questions and for helping me better understand Amish practices. I look forward to moving to Oregon so I can at least have a better opportunity to visit an Amish community. Maybe if Amish had come to Hawai’i, we wouldn’t have so darn much traffic!!

                  Aloha, God bless you and yours, and a very Blessed Nativity Feast!

                  1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                    Hi, Kiki. Reading your comment I had to think of some Amish folks from our area who were in Hawai’i last winter. Obviously you did not see them. πŸ™‚ It sounds like such a beautiful place to visit. It was interesting to read your further comments about fasting and the Orthodox church.

                    I wish you well in your mule & buggy plans. Do you know there is a book on learning to drive? It’s a Pathway Publishers workbook (and answer book) and it is used in many Amish schools. (Which is why there is a workbook & teacher’s answer book.) The name of the book is “Learning to Drive Safely With a Horse and Buggy.” I’d recommend it as a good starting point.

                    1. Kiki

                      Buggies - thanks Mark!

                      Thanks Mark!

                      I’ll order the book soon πŸ˜‰
                      Yes, Hawai’i is a beautiful place, but so is everywhere else. I’m part Native Hawaiian so I know it hasn’t been a paradise here since 1778 when Cook arrived. Many of the cultural practices back then were very bad so I’m thankful Christianity came in to get rid of them (i.e., human sacrifices). However, the protestant Missionaries also changed our language (my father was beaten as a child by the teachers if he spoke his native Hawaiian in school) and tried to take our identity from us in other ways. I’m not an activist and many of the things some Hawaiians are claiming were ancient practices never were. I’m a Police Officer and also a Bioarchaeologist so I know of what I speak.
                      We have lots of problems with more and more homeless coming from other states and Micronesia, our crime rates are rising, we have almost 1 million people on O’ahu Island alone and the Honolulu Police Dept. is the only police dept. to handle it all. So, yes, Hawai’i is a beautiful place if you like sitting in traffic for an hour just to go 20 miles and like over-priced goods and houses priced out of the range of most folks. But the beaches and mountains are nice ;-|
                      I think there is beauty in taking one’s time to get somewhere, a smile from someone you don’t know, seeing a horse-drawn buggy going down the road against the sunset, and, most of all, PUTTING GOD BEFORE ALL ELSE AND TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN TO DO THE SAME! This is missing from Hawai’i now because we’re all working more than one job just to make ends meet and we’re really tired and grumpy, lol! The values are not the same as the old days; too liberal now and the Lord has been kicked out of just about everywhere. We’re all in a mad rush and, unlike the old days, no one looks you in the eye as you pass on the street and gives you a “howzit” nod. Farms are being taken over by over-priced housing developments and there’s a stupid elevated rail system going up (we’re on a rock for goodness sake! Why do we need a rail system when we have a great bus system) causing even more traffic woes. This is not Hawai’i anymore! Sorry to all those who’ve wanted to visit but I don’t want you coming here under false pretenses. As with the Amish and any other culture, approach Hawai’i with your eyes open, not with fantasies.


    20. Mark - Holmes Co.

      This was very interesting (though sad in many ways), Kiki. I’m fascinated by bio-archaeology. Well, I should say it’s not been a long-term interest, but I enjoy reading articles along that line in The Smithsonian or National Geographic. I’d love to learn more, but this site is not the place to do it. (Off topic and all that.) Are there a few books you could suggest?

      I know from talking with people that Hawai’i is not the “paradise” it’s often shown as, much like Holmes County looks great on post-cards but it’s full of humans and where there are humans there are going to be issues. The homeless rate really surprised me, though. I’m curious how many of the homeless come from mainland US? Your advice to approach any culture or region with open-eyes is good. I’m fortunate to get to meet people from all over the world — over 112 countries this year alone — and I find that our perceptions of other countries & cultures is so often wrong. It can be very interesting to talk with common people from other countries & cultures and ask about their daily lives, what they see as strengths and problems in their homelands, and one of my favorite questions — What do you wish Americans would understand better about your country or culture? The results can be quite interesting! (And surprising at times.) I guess that interest is what makes me interested in this site.

      A customer from Hawai’i had told me some of the things you mentioned. One thing that really got my attention was the price of pineapples in Hawai’i! They are apparently cheaper here than there! But once she explained why, it made sense.

      1. Kiki


        Hey Mark!

        Bioarchaeology is a fascinating field and a couple of books I’d recommend would be:

        “Bioarchaeology’ by Buikstra and Beck; Academic Press
        “The Archaeology of Death and Burial” by Mike Parker Pearson; Texas A&M University Press, College Station
        “Forensic Recovery of Human Remains” by Dupras, Schultz, Wheeler, and Williams; Taylor and Francis Group Press

        These should get you started. Basic archaeology is a must for anyone interested in the more advanced Bioarchaeology, and a course in Osteology (anatomy and biology of bone) is required. For forensic archaeologists, knowledge of criminalistics for forensic recovery of evidence and evidentiary methods is also required.

        The basic truth is that, no matter where we come from in this world, we need the salvation that only comes from Christ. When we meet people from other countries and faiths, we Christians need to shine that Light so that, without a word from us, they’d see Christ in us and know that we’re not like everyone else who doesn’t care about them or about glorifying God. You’re in a unique position of being able to meet all kinds of people (as a Police Officer so do I, only it’s mostly under negative circumstances), find out a little about their lives, learn their names, and pray for them. I have lists of detainees’ names; those who’ve asked me to pray for them and those who haven’t but obviously need it. I pray God continues to bless you with this opportunity!

        I ordered the book you recommended and am anxious to start reading it! Mahalo Mark!


        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          Hi Kiki,
          Thank you for the book suggestions! Those will go on my local-library request list. Our faithful librarian, Josh, is able to find almost any title I request. It looks like I’m about to go off on another reading kick! I get these interests in various subjects and then read a lot on the subject until another interest appears. I’m just finishing up some very interesting books on the history and modern-day trials of Gypsies/ travelers/ Roma, mostly in the UK. A look at bio-archaeology sounds fascinating. I’m just ready to start “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” which was a Christmas gift, so this ties in well with that.

          Yes, I am privileged to be able to meet so many people and be in a position where they (mostly) are interested enough in our faith to want to know more. (Although the faith & lifestyle are often mixed and can be confusing to people not familiar with it.) I want to point out to visitors that I consider myself a Christian who is Amish by denomination. Without Christ, the rest of it is pointless. I try to be respectful of other people’s faith while being true to my own.

          I never thought about a police officer being asked to pray for someone, but I think that is great. You must meet many people in negative circumstances, as you wrote, but somehow I never thought that those same negative circumstances might be happening when people are at an absolute low-point and desperately wishing for an alternative. I don’t know if that makes sense…

          I wish you happy reading on horse & buggy travel!

      2. Judith

        112 countries?!

        Mark, how does a nice Amish man from Ohio get to meet people from 112 countries?! I think not even Secretary of State John Kerry went to 112 countries this year! That’s incredible – what profession do you work in, if I may ask?

        Kiki – you have a difficult job. I had an uncle who progressed from patrol to Sgt. and then homicide detective in the LAPD. It’s a tough, thankless, brutal job. Stress is beyond belief for patrol officers. He was the first person who told me that for some people in this world, a human life is cheap. When I asked him how he could work in such a sad job, he said “God helps”. He went to daily Mass for as long as he lived. Hard profession.

    21. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Judith, it’s now at 114 countries. πŸ™‚ Like some bird-watchers, I keep a “Life List” of interesting people, professions, and countries I encounter at work. My “career-long country list” has 196 countries on it and I consider it a blessing and privilege to be able to meet so many people from so many places. The vast majority of them are nice people, too. Like any job working with the public, we sometimes meet the not-so-nice, but overall we meet nice, respectful, and interesting people. (I did chuckle at the “nice Amish man from Ohio” description. πŸ™‚ Thank you for giving me the benefit of a doubt on the “nice” part!) I’m not sure how to describe my profession — part hospitality industry, part retail, part clerical, part tourism-related. It seems no two days are alike, and I like that. I am thankful for a job I genuinely enjoy and find very interesting and for the opportunity to share my faith while helping and serving others.

    22. Kiki

      Aloha Judith and Mark

      Aloha Judith!

      I commend your uncle, as LAPD is one of the hardest places to work. We have a couple of Officers in the division I’m in who worked in LAPD so I hear of all the hardships. Tell him, if you speak with him or see him,” thank you for your service from one Officer to another.”If you give me his first name, I’ll put it in my prayer list book.

      Mark, you and I are similar in that I get books on interesting subjects, read ’em, then move on. However, I plan (God willing) on raising chickens, a couple of Assaf dairy sheep, and a mule once my husband and I move to our property in Oregon. So, the books I’ve gotten are really important. I also have a great book on how to live the self sufficient life written by John Seymour in the UK. I’m learning (via YouTube) woodworking too!

      May God bless you both and thanks so much for sharing!

    23. Judith

      Thank you Kiki -

      Hi Kiki – My Uncle Joe is in Heaven now. I’m sure he made it in. Thank you for your prayers for him. He would love that.

      Mark, oh I see – they come to you! That’s so awesome that you get to meet so many people from a over the world – and that the majority are nice people (like you :-)). When I was in high school, I had a part time job as a front desk clerk at a hotel by the sea. I have so many stories from that time. I’ll tell you a quick one…

      When I was first hired, I was at the front desk and they had this intercom thing where if a room was having a maintenance problem, we would page the scheduled worker on the intercom that blasted over the whole hotel. Well, my second day, room 201 called the office with a clogged toilet. So I looked on the schedule to see who the maintenance man was and, even though I was slightly perplexed at the name, I pressed the button on the intercom and said,

      “Jesus, can you help us? We have a stuffed up toilet in room 201 – Jesus, please help us.”

      Being a very white bread, Catholic girl, I pronounced the name “Jesus” like in the bible. In walked a very big Latino guy and said my name is “Hey-soos”. πŸ™‚

      Oh yeah, I have a ton of hotel stories.

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        That’s funny, Judith. Another laugh-out-loud start to the day. πŸ™‚ I had the same reaction the first time I came across the name Jesus on a business matter. I’m sure the man I called was rolling his eyes when I asked for Jesus (Gee-zus) so and so. He kindly corrected my pronunciation. If there were others present when you made the call, they might have wanted to tell you it’s not necessary to use the phone to address a prayer to Jesus.

        A ton of hotel stories — sounds interesting! Because I work with a lot of hospitality businesses, I sometimes hear stories that are almost unbelievable but I have learned that in that type of business you can expect to have your ideas of “unbelievable” turned upside-down and inside-out.

        1. Judith


          “If there were others present when you made the call, they might have wanted to tell you it’s not necessary to use the phone to address a prayer to Jesus.”

          Ha, yes, I remember getting a lot of jokes at 11am check out time from the leaving guests – lots of winks and quips about whether Jesus performed a miracle on the toilet in 201, or did Jesus change waste water into wine, etc. etc. The funniest was when Jesus told me has name was pronounced hay-zoos, I immediately said “Oh God! I’m so sorry” and Jesus said “I’m not Him either.”

          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            Another mix-up… the man’s response that he is not God either sounds like someone who has heard this before. What caught my attention, though, was the “Oh God” comment. I hear a lot of comments like that from visitors and it always makes me feel like I could cringe. I was taught, and I believe, that using God’s name (or variation of it — Jesus, Christ, Lord, most commonly) as a by-word is unacceptable. One of the Ten Commandments is: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” I’m not saying this, Judith, to put you down or be rude or disrespectful, but because if I were doing something that might be harmful or disrespectful, I’d want to be told.

            I can give you an example of that. I used to use the phrase “Jimminy Crickets” a lot when I was surprised or exasperated, or whatever and thought it was perfectly “okay,” but someone kindly pointed out to me that that phrase is simply a euphemism for “Jesus Christ.” I was embarrassed, but appreciated the fact someone cared enough about me to point it out. So… take it for what it’s worth.

            1. Judith

              God's name

              Point taken, Sir. Thank you.

              I’m sure you know already, that the English use God’s name in almost every situation involving, exasperation, happiness, surprise, tragedy, awe, despair, relief, anger, confusion, laughter, recognition, even in the throes of passion. And it’s used by believers as well as non-believers, it seems to come out of mouths without a thought. I can’t think of one emotion where people couldn’t utter God’s name. Which kind of makes one wonder about God’s omnipresence.

              Your Jimminy Crickets comment reminded me that almost all seemingly innocent exasperative words have their roots in either God or Jesus. Gosh, gee, geeze, darn, and my personal favorite, dagnabit. Even Mary, the Mother of God gets into the act. If you say Holy Cow, you can insult a whole other religion. The only words that seem innocent enough are “Oh Man!”. Which seems sort of anti-God in a topsy turvy way.

              Anyhoo, thanks for pointing that out. I’ll be sure to add that to the lengthy list of sins I tell my priest at my next scheduled Confession. I truly thank God for forgiveness. πŸ™‚

    24. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Judith, I’m relieved you can accept my comment in the spirit it was meant. About 5 minutes after hitting “submit” I was mentally smacking my forehead and thinking I’d overstepped. I’m good at reacting and THEN thinking things through more carefully!

      You are right about how often we hear God’s name used without thought of how it sounds to others, or more importantly, to HIM. And you are right that so many by-words go back to God or Jesus and we don’t realize. Maybe that is why we are taught that the use of by-words is wrong. It’s not only because we may be using words without understanding what they are euphemisms for, but it ties into the teachings of Matthew 5:37 — But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. YET don’t we all tend to use expressions of surprise, dismay, or whatever? I wish I could honestly say my own speech is free of by-words, but I know it’s not. (Maybe I need to train myself to only making that annoying “Tsk” sound when surprised.)

      And finally — best of all, forgiveness. Where would we be without it?!

      1. Judith

        Don't smack you head...

        No need to fret, Mark. Even though I’ve only been commenting on this site for a couple of months, I think you know me well enough by now to know that I have a keen eye for unkindness and disrespect towards others, or myself – and that I have a formidable, and almost chivalric, duty to defend the attacked or downtrodden.

        I also have a keen eye for kindness and respect, which I appreciate with grace.