Do you have Amish friends?
Tamara asked this question a couple of days ago. As she suggested, it seems like a pretty good topic. In fact, Tamara’s exact question was:
“Has anyone had a very close relationship with someone who was a “member in good standing” in the Amish church?”
Keith James has already shared a bit about a friend of his, an Amish bishop. Keith writes:
He was 46 years my senior and we enjoyed a very full friendship until he died almost two years ago at the age of 88. It was through him that I met several of his children who have also become some of our best friends, exchanging phone calls and letters several times a year. We plan our family vacations around visits with them, and are getting ready to visit once again in August (and I can’t wait to get there!).
I am blessed to have a range of Amish friends, buddies, and acquaintances, particularly in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Despite the distance–I visit a couple times each year–I think we keep in pretty good touch.
One thing I appreciate about my Amish friends is that–though they may be strict regarding their own community’s standards–they are quite accepting of different ways.
For instance, they don’t give me grief for not being married at 32 (just gentle ribbing). An Amish friend and produce co-op board member employs a range of tattooed metal and hippie types to run the business side of their operation. I know he considers at least one of them a good friend.
You also don’t find too many Amish hurling fire-and-brimstone condemnations against worldly wrongdoers. They may disapprove of certain behaviors, but I think they generally take a “hate the sin, love the sinner, go easy on the pride” approach, and I appreciate them for that.
I think Amish folks enjoy friendships with English people for the pure companionship, but the differences in culture and background also make things interesting. Obviously, a lot of English are fascinated by the Amish lifestyle. But the interest goes both ways. I get a lot of questions about “English life” and particularly life in Poland, where I spend some time each year.
So, I’d actually expand on Tamara’s question a bit–I’d be curious to hear how you’ve met your Amish friends, how you keep in touch, what you do or talk about when you get together.
And of course, funny stories are welcome. I wrote about a couple of the funnier experiences I’ve had with Amish pals here: The Great Tomato Battle, and here: “The guy with the beard“.
Well, at least I thought they were funny.
Photo credit: Melody Joy Kramer
Yes, we have Amish friends who are also our neighbors. We exchange gifts at Christmas, they share their half moon pies when it’s their week to host church. The one family we’ve been their driver to bring their new baby home from the hospital. Been to each others homes for supper and also attended the evening wedding meal for 2 of their daughters. We double dated in their buggy to go out to supper one time, the idea of the Amish husband. Also one day he asked us to go on vacation with them. He wanted to take his children to a zoo. So we rented and drove a van and he paid for it! We had a great day watching the children experience zoo animals, a big change from their farm animals. We continue to exchange work jobs, he plants a small corn plot for us, and in turn he borrows our skid loader to more easily clean out his barn. They are a blessing to us and friends for life!
College students and the Amish
I just finished teaching a three week course at Messiah College on Amish Life and Culture. I asked the students on the first day to share one thing they hoped for from our time together. A few mentioned having a buggy ride when they did their family stays, but the most frequent response was that they hoped to develop a lasting friendship with their host families. If the past is any indicator, a number of them will have that privilege. I started teaching this class 20 years ago with the kind assistance of dear Abner Beiler, a highly respected Amish elder who helped us find a welcoming family for each student. From then to now, I am guessing that at least some students in each class I have taught continue their relationships with their host families. One student who recently married actually had her honorary Dawdii and Mommy accompany the bride down the aisle. As you might guess, the Amish couple–a bishop and his wife–told us, “We felt very unworthy.”
Our own story (Cliff-Notes version) is that for my first class 20 years ago I had not arranged anything for my own family stay. When I dropped my last student off, I asked the father if he knew of anybody who might be willing to host my wife and me. He thought a minute and finally replied, “Why don’t you check with my brother-in-law, David. Maybe he’ll take you,” a response that did not sound terribly encouraging to me. I thought it likely that David would send me to Elam, Elam would send me to Samuel, Samuel …, etc.–till I got the message–“persona non grata.” But I decided to talk to David. When I got out of my red station wagon, I was approached by a 40-something Amishman who asked if he could help me. He was not neither friendly or un-friendly–just inquiring. Fortunately, I used the magic words, “Your brother-in-law Sam said I should talk to you . . . ” I still remember his response after I asked if he knew anybody who might keep my wife and me. He peered at me with his piercing dark eyes for about seven seconds without saying anything. He then replied, “I can’t think of any reason why my wife and I couldn’t keep you for a few days.” I was amazed as I drove away. I stopped at the first pay phone, called my wife, and told her to pack her skirts and dresses– “We are going to live with the Aim-ish”–actually I didn’t say Aim-ish. Long story long, we spent this past Monday (Pentecost Monday) on a field trip with our now 20 year friends, David and Lena. On Monday, they had their first experience with Indian food (“Not bad,” and we visited their “Mennonite market friends” who have a produce farm not far from where we live. We agree with your idea that many Amish find aspects of our culture as intriguing as we find theirs. One thing for sure is that relational people like the Amish make wonderful friends. I would wish the same for everyone. Aus liebe, Rich Stevick (Sorry for the length. Maybe in part it’s because I would rather write than grade all the journals that loom over me from this recent class. R
Amish friends & pen-pals
Greetings Dear Amish friends…
My wife and I are seniors living in Clovis California which is the gateway to 3 breathtaking national parks: (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia). We are conservative, dedicated Christians parents of three grown men +4 G.K., and retired school teachers.
I have always been enthralled by the Amish life-style and the spiritual reasons behind it! We are planning to embark on what I call a Jericho March/Drive around America, during the Spring of 2015. The purpose is to pray for America, declare Scripture, fellowship with believers, witness to unbelievers, and share our experiences in a book- coauthored by all who participate! We are hoping that other serious believers will join in, as appropriate for their schedules. I have a strong leading to include the New Order and Old Order Amish in this spiritual adventure!
If anyone knows Amish believers who might see the value and benefits of this on-going project, we would love to begin a pen-pal relationship and share our hearts with each-other. We are targeting Holmes County Ohio, Pennsylvania, and possibly North Carolina, but are very flexible at this point.
If interested– please contact us: Forest & Cheri Risch, 303 Minnewawa Ave. Clovis, CA. 93612, phone: 559-299-9063 email: email@example.com
We would love hearing from you! Blessings in Christ,
Will Amish-Mennonite be ok?
We are friends with Enos and Martha who are members of a conservative Amish-Mennoite Church. They left the Amish sect after their marriage.Martha’s father in the ‘dawdy house’next door to them, until he passed away.
We met Enos and Martha through the Gideon organization. Gideon’s place Bibles in hotels, prisons, schools, etc.
We have been a part of a wonderful haystack dinner with their family where we played games with their teen children afterward. There were even some ‘games’ played at the dinner table after eating.
We have also butchered beef with Enos and Martha who do custom butchering for friends and neighbors. Sometimes after butchering a beef, Enos and Martha will bring me a bunch of bones so I can make broth and soup from them.
We have traveled across the U.S. to Gideon Conventions with Enos and Martha. They fit in with the English quite well. Of course they are always an interest to others because of their conservative dress.
Their home is comfortable, and rather plain. The kitchen has homemade custom cabinets, the ceilings in the house are stained plywood, there is no TV,or radio, but the do have a tape player and telephone.
Enos is the same age as I am (72) and Martha may be a year or so younger.
They are a joy to be around and they certainly live for the Lord.
One child went the ‘English’ way and the rest stayed with their home domination.
Janice in north central Indiana
Great articles Erik, No don’t have any Amish friends, but would love to have one…..It seems so many of us are looking for the same thing, but guess the Amish aren’t really that interested eh? Keep up the good work as usual…..
Do you have Amish friends?
I have one friend who is Beach Amish/Mennonite. She’s a very sweet lady and also extremely funny 🙂 🙂 🙂 I enjoy sharing stories, funnies, recipes etc. It’s a real blessing to me 🙂 🙂
We made friends with a couple in Lancaster, PA. We were driving along and noticed them getting off a bus each carrying a suit case. About that time it started to rain. I turned around, pulled over and ask if I could give them a ride. They were just coming back from a vacation with family in another area, and were so pleased to get out of the rain and have a way home. They had called for a buggy, but we were at their home before the buggy had left.
I feel that an Amish friend is a friend forever!
I am so blessed to have my Amish Friends
I have become friends with an Amish family through a business relationship. I have never met them though they often invite me to visit their home in Pennsylvania. We exchange Christmas gifts and have many interesting conversations over the phone they keep in a shed. I love that they are so kind and non-judgmental though our lifestyles are very different. They are as curious about my life as I am about theirs. I have learned a lot from them and often ask for their viewpoint when faced with a difficult business decision. They are truly a blessing to me and enrich my life. Being friends with them makes me want to be a better person. They truly share their faith through example.
I would love to have an Amish Friend. I have so much respect for how they live and sometimes wish I could live that way too. Though in someways I can. Just seems like a very filling way to live. =-D
Absolutely loved reading everyone’s comments. While I do not currently live close enough to befriend any Amish..someday when the kids are grown..I hope to have a home in the country, preferably Amish Country:)
I have several Amish friends. My entire life we have had Amish neighbors. They are wonderful neighbors and friends. One of my dearest Amish friends is terribly afraid of worms. I find this so hilarious since she always has a beautiful garden. One year for her birthday I baked an earthquake cake and put gummy worms in the cracks. When I took it to her I covered it with foil so she could not see the worms. As soon as she peeled the foil back she threw the cake pan down on the table and screamed! She turned to me and said “You are so mean!” Her children all had such a good laugh at their Mother’s reaction. The children all grabbed a worm and then Lydia would eat some cake. We all still tease her about her best birthday cake. She even ask for the recipe.
I have really enjoyed reading all the responses to this question. Keep up the good work.
I’ve met some pretty nice Amish folks through the years, and even though I’ve lost contact with all, I’m never sorry to have known any of them. And i look forward to meeting the ones I’ve yet to meet. Richard from Pennsylvania.
We have had New Order Amish come and stay with us in Australia.
They were so gentle and kind.
I have to say that I learned so much from them, just by watching their wonderful Christian example.
Their lives spoke multitudes on how they loved the Lord and the strength of their faith in Him.
Every thing they did and said was so humble and Godly.
They taught me alot about what a true Christian is, and I loved having them come and stay.
Love Julie (Australia)
I have had Amish acquaintances for several years, but it wasn’t
until about two years ago that I could say I had Amish friends.
Our friendship evolved from a common interest — produce farming,
and gradually our conversations got longer and longer and went
from talking about produce farming to conversing about the
community,our relatives, good things to read, etc. I consider
my Amish friends a real gift from themselves and from God. I am
thankful I live close enough to them to regularly visit. I hope
that all who hope to have Amish friends will someday have that
Just read a good book about an Amish-English friendship. It’s called “Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish,” by Joe MacKall. He had a long-term friendship with an Amish family in Ashland County, OH. The family belonged to the very conservative Swartzentruber group. The author was careful to limit his questions, not wanting to jeopardize his friend’s leadership role in the local district.
Yes, we are fortunate to be friends with a wonderful Amish couple from Indiana. Many years ago we bought an Amish doll, and the maker had written her name and address on it. So my wife wrote her, she wrote back and a friendship developed from there. We have visited with them many times, exchange letters and gifts, and were happy and honored to be invited to their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Now that was a very enjoyable event!
I love to have Amish friends. Since I live on the West Coast that probably won’t happen.
Does any one know any Amish that would like to correspond? That would be one solution…
Nope, everyone I’ve ever known who has a family connection to a plain church is usually not a member. I knew one fellow actually told me he “couldn’t stand the horse and buggy life, like my cousins do, it’s no fun, I like modern music and parties, especially the beer and women part of the modern world.”, the other people I knew were trying to provide opportunities for their children an Old Order life, the life of the grandparents wouldn’t completely give, like health care for a challenged kid. Otherwise that family were well liked respected people, just not the way the grandparents apparently dreamed (the grandparents visited regularly, so I remember, so I doubt they where “shunned”).
My examples are on the Mennonite arm though
Thanks so much for starting this thread, Erik. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s stories. The book (Plain Secrets) that Forsythia mentioned is what made me wonder about others’ experiences. The author tells about the many wonderful aspects of his friendship with an Amish neighbor, but is very disappointed when is realizes that there is a definite limit to how close the Amish man will allow him into his life.
I’ve had a very close Old Order Mennonite friend for several years. They are very conservative: No electricity or plumbing, kerosene only, no tractors for any use, no “push” gasoline mowers or chain saws.
We write each other monthly. I do some grocery shopping for her and she keeps me supplied with bread, eggs, raw milk, and produce. She is helping me improve on my sewing (treadle, of course) and gives great gardening advice. Her children are delightful. Now, periodically they will hire a driver for distant trips. One day, while she was deciding what she needed from the grocery, I suggested she ride with me and see for herself. She very flatly responded, “Oh, we have friends to brings us the things we need.” I have to admit, I was surprised… and a little hurt. Later, though, I came to realize that there really is a limit. I’ve cooked with them and eaten with them, yet there is a risk associated with taking things too far. Riding away with her outsider friend might stir the community. It’s not worth the risk of causing “talk” – I think I understand it now.
It was never mentioned again. I could tell that she hated saying that to me, and I regret having put her in a position to have to. We are the best of friends… But it’s on her turf. It just has to be that way. I can live with that.
Thanks again, Erik.
Human all too human
I live in/around a Amish community, so I guess some friendships with the plain clothed folk was unavoidable. But I have learned that Amish society has many aspects that our modern non Amish culture has. Believe it or not there exist social status in the communities. The poor and rich share many of the same conflicts as our own society. Yes, the Amish do get mad and angry. One day I was talking to a Amish man that I know and he was venting about his Amish neighbor who opened a competing business. I guess in the end we are all “menschlichen allzu menschlichen”
Unfortunately, there are no Amish in my area. We do have a few Beachy Amish, but I have yet to meet them. 🙂
Amish friend lessons
Super responses. I really enjoyed reading through them too. Some good insights here.
Tom, that reminded me of a similar story. An Amishman I met complained of things being a little too cutthroat in his area, business-wise. I wouldn’t say he sounded bitter but was maybe on that road. He seemed an anomaly to what I had found with most people (though truth be told, you sometimes do sense a level of tension, say when a neighbor opens up a shop doing the same thing you do).
There is competition within Amish society even though it is downplayed. Humans compete, and there are the more competitive types in every group. And people are going to get irked, jealous, and deal with the same emotions. A Christian belief system can help give perspective though.
Tamara, I got good insight from your story too. I’ve found that the language plain people use can be jarringly blunt, especially compared to the modern tendency to put things in delicate tones and avoid offense. It doesn’t sound like she was implying that you weren’t a friend. Just that there were others that handle that. I think you drew the right lesson. You are friends, but lines are lines, and some may draw them here, others there, but they need to be respected.
Julie–loved hearing you had plain guests all the way out in Australia. Maybe this was a clandestine scouting trip for the first Australian Amish settlement 😉
Diann, awesome worm story. That is just the kind of joke that I could see some of my plain friends pulling. I can picture it now…I guess if someone really fears worms, then the fact that they are green and blue and yellow won’t matter, at least on the first shock impression.
Claudia, the Amish-English double date, why not! 🙂
To Slightly Handled Order Man – most Old Order Mennonites do not shun in the same way as the Amish do. Shunning in most cases is almost limited to church functions such as Counsel Meeting, Communion, weddings, and funerals. To the outside observer, there is no sign of the shunning.
Tamara, that type of Mennonite will only ride in a car if there is no alternative. It is a matter of keeping order. And yes, plain people are noted for plain speak – no beating around the bush, just say it the way it is. My daughter once took a business phone call for me on a Sunday. In plain language she told my client that we do not do business on Sunday. The next time I met that client, she laughed and said “I won’t ever call you on a Sunday again. I got told!” This client later told me that she recommended me to a friend on a Sunday, so the friend suggested she call me right away. She said “No way! Not today!” She wasn’t upset but she did get the message!
Tom, kanst du Duetch swetza?
I do not have any Amish friends but would love to. I am so interested in the Amish and love their ways. Someday I hope to move close to an Amish community. Is there any penpal Amish communications out there ? If so please contact me…..Blessings to the Amish.
Hi Osiah Horst!
Thanks for the heads-up on that. I remember my childhood friend’s mom saying to someone that he’d be better off living on his grandparent’s farm, but the parents wanted to give him more than farm labor, a chance at education, and help for his “health condition”. Not that the Mennonite lifestyle would fully disallow that sort of thing, of course they would do what is needed to be done, but the parents decided city life was best for their kid.
Sorry in advance for the long post …
This is another interesting thread. I have never had a long term friendship with any Plain person, Amish or otherwise; mainly because I don’t live near any of their communities. However, I did correspond for a number of years with an Amish harness maker near New Wilmington, Pa. I had bought some harness from him and wrote to him with a question. Probably a month later he wrote back a very lengthy & detailed reply. While I found it unusual that he wrote on the back of the same letter that I written to him; it turned out that he did this every time we corresponded. Quite frankly it was almost always me writing to him and him responding, but it wasn’t always about horses or harness or similar. Sometimes it was more personal stuff, yet he always replied. After about 5 years we just sort of quit communicating, but I always wished that we hadn’t.
Anyway, that was as near as I have ever been to having a close Amish friend. Rich Stevick’s comment about “Your brother in law …” made me chuckle, because I had the EXACT same experience. I told Roman B., the harness maker, that I was fond of Percheron horses when I was in his shop ordering the harness. He told me that I should go see his brother-in-lay Andy R., because he had a whole barn full of them. The next morning a fellow employee of the company that I use to work for and I drove out to Andy’s house and the lady at the door directed me down to one of the barn’s where I found him in a well equipped butcher shop processing a hog. He was cordial, but not friendly at first. Since my family had been in the meat packing business for about 4 generations I was full of questions about how he was processing the hog; how he scalded it, what type of casings he liked to use for his sausage, spices, etc. He answered every question without so much as looking up at me. Only after I said; “Well, I can see that you are busy so I won’t bother you further. However, I had the occasion to do business yesterday with your brother-in-law, Roman B. and he told me that you are a fan of Percheron horses and since I am too I thought I would drop my and see your animals” that he changed his demeanor. He dropped his knife, stepped back from the table, ripped off his apron and exclaimed “HORSES! Sure; I’d love to show you my horses”. It was a raw, dreary and snowy March or early April day, but he pulled every horse that he owned out his nice, warm barn and showed each to me. He told me all about each one, where he got them, their bloodlines, how he used that particular horse etc. I think he had about 12 or 14 of them, including a very rare Sorrel colored foal.
After we walked up to his house he asked if we had ever been inside “one of our people’s house?” When we said “no” he invited us in for look. I think I mentioned this visit before on this site. What I didn’t say was that as we were leaving in the other guys pickup truck, Andy raised his hand for us to stop. When he walked out to the truck he leaned into the open driver’s side window and said “Sorry if I wasn’t too friendly when you boys first came into my shop, but I was processing a pig for my neighbor and he is not one of our people. By law I can only process for someone that is one of our people so I was concerned. I thought you boys were meat inspectors from the state department of agriculture!” Later I realized that Ray and I had been dressed identically; starched blue jeans, starched white western shirts, tan vests, brown cowboy boots and white baseball style caps that we had gotten from our company just the day before. I am sure the “uniform” look of our dress had him pretty darn rattled until I threw out his brother-in-law’s name. Ray and I laughed about that for years afterward. I never saw Andy again after that day, but I think he would have been a good person to have as a friend.
I’ll try to keep this one shorter, oh … no I won’t! Two weeks ago this past Tuesday I was in the town that is about 20 miles north of the one I live in when I noticed a place that sold portable buildings. I pulled in because they had a portable barn; something which I have never seen before, but have often thought about building. While I was admiring the handy work of the builder a fellow (the owner) came up and started talking to me. He had a first name on his shirt and we struck up a nice conversation. Since I have travelled to many parts of our wonderful country I am pretty keen on accents, but I couldn’t quite pick his out. So I asked if he was possibly Canadian. He chuckled and said that while he grew up in Ohio, his native language was called Pennsylvania Dutch. When I asked if he was Amish or Mennonite, he said both. He said his parents were Old Order Amish until he was 6 years old, but left the Amish church and joined a Mennonite one. Thanks to a little background that I have picked up on this web site I was able to speak somewhat knowledgeably about his cultural & faith background, which he seemed to appreciate. He said that his parents left the Amish church over an issue associated with a practice where the youth in their community go “sort of wild for a little awhile” before deciding if they want to join the church or not. He had a somewhat shocked look on his face when I asked if he was referring to rumspringa.
Then I asked how he ended up in Texas and he said that when he finished a mission tour in “South America”, then said “Well, actually Central America” he decided that he did not want to deal with winters in Ohio anymore so he settled in the Mennonite community near Lott, Texas, before joining several other people that were starting a community near Bastrop, Texas. So I asked if he had been in the mission field in Belize and he was surprised again. When he gave me his business card I noticed that his last name was Beachy, so I asked if he was kin to the person that sect was named after. He replied that he was distantly related, but now he was totally confused. He finally asked how I knew “so much” about the Amish and the Mennonites and I told him about our friend Erik and Amish America!
We really hit it off well. He must have been convinced that I was truly interested in the Amish (and the Mennonites), because next thing I knew he was inviting me to come worship with them at their church. Bastrop is about an hour & fifteen minutes drive from our house, so we won’t be just popping in over there anytime soon. However, I am taking “Mrs. OldKat” to Austin for our 33 wedding anniversary in July and on the way back we will be travelling right through Bastrop, so we will definitely plan on visiting and worshipping with them at that time. Who knows, I might just have a “former Amish” as a friend when this is all over with. If I don’t; at least I will have met one more nice person … they are sometimes rare in this world. Either way, it is all thanks to Amish America!
A bit OT but Amish-Related
This is a bit off the exact topic, but Im right now watching a re-run off a tv show on Nick at Night (I guess it’s a network?) called “Hot in Cleveland”. It seems to revolve around 3 friends (one is Betty White), and they got lost in Ohio’s “Amish country”. But I dont know what to think. They portrayed Amish as sort of a mix of Little House on the Prairie meets 19th century Quakers. The Amish characters were a fountain of “thees” and “thous” not to mention the Amish bar where the ladies got drunk! One of the principal characters tried to make friends with the Amish women, who were too afraid to speak to her, instead using Amish sign language to comunicate. Now, they did get the kapp style fairly correct as far as I could tell (amazing *laughs*). But I couldnt tell if the show’s writers attempted a charicature (cant spell that!), or were trying to honestly portray the culture. I figure it was meant to be funny as the show’s a comedy…but I didnt laugh once. It pretty much was a good 20min of incorporating all the stereotypes folks seem to carry regarding Amish culture. Did anyone else see this? Am I just being grouchy today? 🙂
Amish media "humor"
Ellie I was seeing snippets of that headline over the weekend but being a bit out of the pop culture loop didn’t know what it was all about. What you describe sounds like the Amish were used as a convenient foil for the humor…though from what you say it sounds like “humor” is how we should write it.
I think on some shows it is clear where producers are at least trying to get things right even if they don’t…then there are the portrayals are just so over the top that it’s obvious they didn’t care–Amish is just the setup to the punchline. Sounds like this was the latter!
Oldkat, no need to apologize, I found these very interesting. Maybe he was writing you Amish circle letter style–where you just add on to the previous writer’s additions and the thing grows and grows.
Your first story made me wonder–was it the horses, or the name that made him warm up? I would bet a little of both, though it’s obvious he is into horses! But getting to the end it looks like him finding out you weren’t from the “heat” is actually what did the warming 😉 Great story.
And, the second one too, this made me smile. I’m excited the site came to be of some use for you there. I actually would have liked to have seen his face as you dropped these comments and questions on him! I hope maybe we’ll hear a bit about that visit when you make it over with Mrs. Oldkat 🙂
I haven’t met many Amish folk in my life, but I had many Mennonite friends growing up, occasionally attended the Mennonite church with my friends. However, they certainly weren’t plain Mennonites but some of them did have Amish relatives. My BFF when I was in high school would tell me her family occasionally went to visit their Amish relatives in Kentucky and how she hated visiting as she wouldn’t be able to watch Boy Meets World on TGI Fridays lol.
The Interational Amish Newspaper....
Hi there friends,
I am glad to meet you on this thread.
There are Amish people that are looking for penpals.. usually they would search for penpals in a weekly paper called ‘The Budget’. It has information on almost every Amish community in USA, Canada and Central America. This paper is so full of incidents and happenings.. funny, sad, exciting, boring, its all there..LOL
You can have access to what is going on in Amish communities… just subscribe to the magazine called ‘The Budget’. In it you will find articles of all kinds of Amish news, interests, accidents, greeting showers, penpal seekers, etc.
The Budget newspaper was established in 1890 and is published every Wednesday. The paper serves the Sugarcreek, OH area and the Amish/Mennonite communities throughout the Americas. It is a very interesting paper and I highly recommend it. Please call or write for current subscription information.
Sugarcreek Budget Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 249
134 North Factory Street
Sugarcreek, OH 44681
I have a few Amish friends! Alta and I met when I stopped to buy some hanging baskets, started talking and we hit it off. We go shopping, work in her greenhouse or just visit. One time we stopped at a flower shop and the owner was closing. She offered us to go in through a unlocked door in the back to browse through the greenhouses because she was closed. I was thinking if I were there alone ,without Alta, would she have offered the same to just me? I notice a few differences between my “English” friends verses Amish friends. My English friends and I hug and are loud when we see each other, we are usually loud, and husbands and wives mingle together (just to name a few). Where my Amish friends are happy with a smile to say hello, they are quiet spoken, and although her husband Henry is a really nice guy, he gravitates towards my husband. We also have many things in common.. being women, mother’s and wives. Somehow the differences get weeded out and our friendship continues to grow and I know I’m really blessed to have them as friends:))
I have many Amish friends. Over the past 14 years we have had the privelege of working with many in and through our business. We work with a health food company and have been in Ohio 8 years in a row to conduct health seminars with the Amish in Holmes County. We have been welcomed with open arms by all of the families there. We have been in many of their homes many times. We were just in Seattle, WA this past week with a good number of Amish that traveled there for the same conference. As we live in North Dakota, we will have 5 familes stopping by here to be with us for a few days.
We are very blessed to have gotten to know so many Amish and Menenite families. Through our mutual business we have gotten to know families from PA, DE, IN, OH, IA, MO,and IL. We have been in many of their homes and are in continual contact. We have Swartenzuber, Old Order, and New order friends. All are very special to us.
As a side note Marlene has just finished an autobiography of her life and life with her husband and children.
Our lives have been greatly enriched because of these dear friends.
We were like family
Your brief here brought back many happy memories. I had the good fortune of spending nine summers with a Lancaster County Amish family. Being plain Brethren, made us almost long lost cousins as I’m fluent in Penn. German, wear a broadbrim, broadfalls, high top shoes and a beard. We usually planned our visits when they needed an extra hand for wheat or oat harvest. I also had the good fortune of being invited to work frolics like barn raisings, a barn cleaning after a fire, and canning for relief work. I even got invited to several young peoples’ hops. I knew I was looked on as more than an acquaintance when I got invitations for weddings and funerals. The matriarch of that family passed some years ago and the surviving children all joined more permissive churches. Many times I miss the fellowship and comradery that we shared and moving from strangers to lifelong friends.
Great to read all these recollections. I wanted to share one more piece written by Brad Igou about an Amish friend of his named Abner Beiler. Brad shared this with the blog last October but I thought it’s be fitting to pass it along again: https://amishamerica.com/abner-the-bookbinder/
i have several amish friends. i have meet them all through there businesses (milk-share or produce stands) and friendship just sort of happened after that.
Not what it seems!
Growing up in Kentucky in an area teeming with Amish & Mennonites, I had always admired them for their simplistic way of life as well as their devotion to God. Ive had many dealings with the Amish & Mennonites at their stores, livestock auctions & even been to one of their holistic medicine men whee he looked in the back of my eye & told me exactly what was wrong with me even before my doctor could figure it out! During each of these encounters they were pleasant enough & straight to the point. This last year we’ve been attending home churches & while we believe along the lines of the Baptist way of faith, the Lord led us to a group of 25 families of EX-Amish & Mennonites. Faith wise they believe in the same Biblical fundamentals as us & while they still wear dresses only & scarves on their heads, they do dress in modern day fabrics. I once asked why they left the Amish/Mennonites & they ALL said it was because of the rampant abuse that no one dares talk about. They said while there are of course some truly loving families there are even more that will severly beat their children or sexually abuse them. Each of these families said they had suffered one or the other & that other family members knew & would turn a blind eye. They said they did not want their children to be raised in that environment. Their outward lifestyle may ‘seem’ idyllic but what really goes on behind closed doors is another story! The ones I attend church with are the most loving, hardworking people I know yet they are also the most scarred. They have ALL been totally shunned by their families & don’t even know if a relative dies! So sad!
We also live in Amish community that used to be 60 families but has over the past nine years dwindled to under ten families now. I wondered where you live and attend church with these former Amish friends. We live in Dunnville and have traveled with and become close with some in our community. You are completely right about another side no one usually see or hears within Amish families. There is also a large order Mennonite community that has split several times just eight miles from us. We shop there often. Please feel free to contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve just recently became aquainted with an Amish family. They are in our city doing work for people who are still rebuilding after the April Tornado. They come to our church. They welcome people from the church to come and have dinner with them every Thursday night at the house they are staying at. This Thursday will be my first time to have dinner with them and I am so looking foward to it because they seem like absolutely wonderful, nice people! I hope to grow closer to them so we can become friends and keep in touch!
I am invited to an 8th grade graduation for an Amish kid that works at an Amish store I go to every month or so. I am not sure what to expect. I asked him if other English people would be there and he said yes, some of them the drivers for those that could not make it otherwise.
My main question is, do I bring a graduation gift of some sort for him, and if so, what? Does anyone have any experience with Amish graduations?
Tom in Lincoln…. LincNebr@hotmail.com
Our NY Amish Friends
We have had a 4 year old friendship with Joe , Mattie and their 9, soon to be 10 children. We have been in their home. On washing day they had a generator (gas), I watched the 12 year old girl chop the heads of of 2 chickens and completely clean and cut up the chicken. I know their favorite breakfast is coffee soup ( instant coffee with sugar and cream and saltine crackers in it!) We send the children packages with treats ( candy, cookies, nuts) and simple toys, coloring book, crayons, journals, yoyos, puzzles and craft items. For birthdays one year everyone received a flashlight and batteries. They are dairy people and milk on a 3 leg stool and bring he milk down the street to pour into a large electric vat run by Cabot Cheese. We were able to name two of their calf, Sweet Lips and Lulubelle. I love to receive their letters about fishing, canning, planting and barn raisers.Joe makes wooden items for extra money, Mattie makes quilts, pot holders and goat soap and soy candles. Mattie makes all the clothing including underwear and the diapers. I am so blessed to call them friends
Our Amish friends
My husband and I live about 30 miles from a large Amish population in Geauga County, Ohio. After buying furniture on several occasions from an Amish furniture store, we have become good friends with the owner and his wife. We see them about every week, and usually take them shopping, out to eat, or just run around exploring the area. They are wonderful people with a great sense of humor. We enjoy just sitting over a cup of coffee and maybe a donut, chatting about various topics and enjoying each other’s company. They are well-read and up-to-date on current events. They have truly blessed our lives, and even though it seems we live in such different worlds, we still have a lot in common. They have taught me the value of family, friends, faith, and a simpler way of life. Life is richer because of them!
That is way neat Karen. Can you tell us anything more about them? Are they Old Order Amish? Do they use electric motors? Do they make the furniture there or bring it in from various places?
I too have met some neat Amish folks. Though some are friendly enough in a business sense, outside of that they are taught not to make close friendships with English people.
I envy you and your husband.
Tom in Lincoln, Nebraska
Our friends are Old Order Amish. I have found from experience that some Old Order Amish are friendlier and more open than others. Not unlike some of us “Yankees”. We respect their privacy, and try not to pry into their private lives…We let them take the lead, when it comes to discussing their private lives. They don’t make furniture at their shop, but buy it from Holmes County, Ohio. They use solar cells to charge the batteries that light their house and business. They have a gas stove and refrigerator and a gas powered lawn mover.
Our Amish Friends
Dear Karen… Thanks for sharing! My wife & I are planning a trip from
California to Ohio (my birth state) this May of 2015. If you visit my comments above– by Forest Risch, you will see that we are trying to make
contacts with the Amish, especially in Holmes County, in order to build
relationships. Please read that comment section. If you could give some of
your Amish friends our contact information, it would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks & Blessings in Christ,
Forest & Cheri Risch
Do you have Amish friends?
We are trying to meet Amish, New Order Amish, & Conservative Mennonites
so as to build lasting relationships with them. We will be traveling to
Ohio this May of 2015 and hope to visit and fellowship with such families.
We would like to visit their churches, discuss evangelism, and maybe get a
buggy ride! We could also host them & anyone who might wish to visit Ysemite, Sequoia, & Kings Canyon National Parks, in our guest house, in Fresno-Clovis, California. We are retired teachers & living for the Lord!
Thanks to anyone who might be our angel and reply with any contacts you might be able to share, or to forward our information to others…
Forest & Cheri Risch
I have an Amish "Family"
Not only friends, but “family” who live in PA. My” sister and I speak on the phone at length, write, I send pictures of my life happenings, she has my book. We share our faith, including the ways we differ. Her husband, our “brother” is very close as well. We are close to their adult children, to whom I am “Auntie Mary.” We travel yearly to PA to visit for a spell. They come to us, we go to them. My sister and I quilt together, shop together, share the deep things in life with each other. We think of each other when we are apart, and look forward to every visit. We share family stories, our joys and our sorrows. We have even been invited by their bishop to a church service. It hasn’t happened yet, and a hurricane passing through the area caused us to depart before the church service.
I love my Amish family with all my heart.
What an interesting thread to read!
First, I’d like to comment on what Ginger said. Yes, abuse happens in Amish families, just like it does in English families. As our Amish friends told my mom 30 years ago, before Amish sensationalism was rampant on tv and the internet, “There are good Amish and bad Amish, because Amish are just people like the English. There are loving families and abusive families.” I think he said this as a warning when my mom expressed admiration for their way of life, as a caution against romanticizing them. I think, though, we should likewise avoid demonizing them. They are humans, for better or for worse, just like we English.
Now for my story…
I was born in Texas. An Amish group had moved there from Illinois to try to establish a new settlement. I don’t know exactly which affiliation they were – trying to find that out – but I know they were Old Order. They were either Swartzentruber or simply very poor. They had outhouses (one for the males, one for the females); a tin roof; no motor/power farm equipment, appliances, etc.; no windshield on the buggy; and so on. My mom says that they had made remarks about their “shack” of a house, in an embarrassed manner, leading me to think maybe they were just poor.
They did hire a driver . . . my mom. She drove a full-sized van, so it was perfect for their needs. As my father was gone a lot (they ended up divorcing when I was 4), and my mother had to work multiple jobs to raise me, this family “babysat” me. That word feels so inadequate, though. They practically helped raise me, and they were hugely influential in my life. I spent most of my waking time there. I was maybe three. They helped potty train me, they sang me German lullabies at naptime, they taught me how to eat corn on the cob, they let me help with age-appropriate chores like shelling peas (I insisted I was big enough and strong enough to churn butter, and “grandma” Mary allowed me to try, knowing – rightly – that it wouldn’t last long!). We didn’t have any family in the area, so this family was like my family.
They had a girl exactly my age, Rachel. I still vividly remember our first meeting. We were in their sparse living room, this little redhead and I seated in either end of a Radio Flyer wagon, trying to talk to each other, but baffled at how the other girl seemed to speak gibberish. Neither of us had ever encountered another language before, so we didn’t understand what that even -meant-. Our mothers got a real kick out of it, and just encouraged us to keep trying. So we chattered away, I in English and she in PA Dutch, and within minutes, she was showing me around and we were playing together as contentedly as you please. We were inseparable.
It’s not that my own home was necessarily UNhappy, but I so enjoyed being at their home that when my mom would come to get me in the evening, Rachel and I would hide. At first, it was just behind the couch, and we’d be giggling audibly, but our moms would play along and pretend not to know where we were – much to our delight and amusement. Then, when we realized our hiding place was too easy, we hid in a buggy in the barn. My mom was less amused that time. 😀
I picked up PA Dutch very quickly. Not surprising, given my age and how close PA Dutch is to English (compared to many other languages). I’d come home and ask my mom for a glass of vassa, and then have to explain to her what that meant. Now, sadly, I only remember about 3 or 4 words.
One day, Rachel’s mom or grandma had to go into town to get something from the store, and for some reason – I guess no one was available to stay and watch us – she had to take us with her. It was quite a difficult decision for her to bring an English child into public with her. So she dressed me in one of Rachel’s outfits, bonnet and all! I remember that very clearly, too. And the buggy ride… so loud on the dirt road. I remember how the English customers at the store stared and whispered, which seemed so puzzling to me. Now I wonder whether it’s because I stood out by my demeanor, despite my clothing, or whether that’s how they treated all Amish there (it was a novelty, after all, to have Amish in that area). When we got back, I was so happy in those clothes that they let me stay in them the rest of the day. When my mom came to get me, they didn’t tell her what had happened yet. She asked where I was, thinking I was hiding again, but they just smiled and said, “She’s right here.” But I blended in, so Mom was really confused! It was hilarious!
They were such a source of comfort and joy for me. I’m an artist and visual thinker, and I think of my time with them like pure, golden sunshine. I felt like part of their family, as they were so welcoming and loving. For being so young, I still have a lot of memories from that time. Falling asleep in “Grandpa” Andy’s arms… being comforted by “Grandma” Mary during thunderstorms… the smell of kerosene lamps… the delicious food… the joke the women used to tell me, that when I grow up, I should be careful not to drink too much black coffee, as it will turn you black from the feet up – and they’d show me their black-stockinged ankles as proof. Ha!
I was crushed when, just a couple of years later, my mom had to move us a bit farther away and I couldn’t stay with the Millers anymore. I saw them a couple of times after that, but then they ended up moving back to Illinois, as the new settlement wasn’t successful. I saw them once more after that, when I was about 12. I’d moved to New York state, where my mom was from, to be around my “real” family (who, ironically, did abuse me), and was flying back to Texas to visit my father and old friends. I had a layover in Chicago, so we stopped to see the Millers. It was awkward for me, as I had forgotten so much and changed so much (and was going through a rough time), but I’m sure if we were around them longer, it would have become comfortable again.
Rachel was fascinated by the idea of airplanes, so her parents let her ride with us and see the airport. That says a lot to me about how much they trusted my mom. (Oh and yes, I was flying alone, so my mom drove her back after my plane left.) It was Rachel’s first time in a car, and she didn’t know how to use a seat belt.
On the way back, we stopped again but only got to see her father and some other boy, maybe a brother or cousin (she was one of 10 children, and her mother was one of 10 as well). They invited us to join them for lunch, which was incredibly delicious, and I made the mistake of loading my plate with more than I could eat. I didn’t understand why my mother was so upset about that until later when she asked if I had forgotten that that’s very rude in Amish culture. Yes, I had forgotten, but I won’t again!
That was the last time we saw them, and we fell out of touch. Then in 2006, when Rachel and I were 24, my mom exchanged letters with her grandma, and they suggested she and I get in touch again, so I wrote her a letter. I hadn’t written a letter since I was a kid writing to my father, who never wrote back. I didn’t know what to do! Now I’m very embarrassed by my first letters, but she responded graciously and has by example taught me the art of letter-writing (though my penmanship will never hold a candle to hers – her letters and cards are like works of art).
I was Catholic at the time, so we shared certain religious views, though we rarely discussed them. In 2009, I left the Catholic church and told her such, though I didn’t tell her that I subsequently became atheist. More about that here: https://amishamerica.com/what-do-amish-think-about-atheists. I have shared with her few things that undoubtedly highlighted our cultural differences, including a deeply personal thing that devastated her to hear, but – being the unconditionally loving friend she is – she never once made me feel judged for any of it, trivial or serious. She expressed her deep sorrow in that one matter, but without the slightest hint of condemnation.
She shares with me the minutia of her daily life, fearing it boring, though I assured her I find it fascinating. It’s funny because I had been hesitant to tell her certain things about my life, wondering if she would be uninterested or disapproving, but she assured -me- that she is very much interested. We feel closer to each other, more a part of each other’s lives, through this mutual exchange. It’s often the little things we take for granted – such as our diets, sleep schedule, or the fact that metal buggy wheels screech on the roads when it’s below 20 degrees – stuff you’d never know if you lived a different life – that we enjoy the most.
She is well-read and has quoted poets and authors, including famous English ones. She and her husband wrote a poem together, which she shared with me one time (which surprised me). We have exchanged gifts, and always exchange cards at Christmas and on birthdays. Though she makes comments referring to her religious beliefs at times, I rarely feel they are in a preaching tone (I say rarely, not always, because there have been a couple of times when I felt that the words were directed at me rather than a general expression of her personal faith, but even then, it was with loving intention, such as when I was feeling really lonely and she included some little poem about God’s friendship always being there, or something like that).
She has on more than one occasion told me how grateful she is for our special friendship, which brings tears to my eyes because -I- feel like the lucky one! Our friendship is so precious to me, I wish I could adequately express it to her. Ha, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Her most recent letter to me included something that shows pretty well what kind of friend she is. She said, “I will close for now, wishing for you what I wish for ourselves. Strength for the struggles, & faith undying, in a God who never fails – and after this life – a home in heaven.” While I don’t share her religious beliefs, the “I wish for you what I wish for ourselves” part is what struck me. What a true friend, and how very blessed I am.
Thank you for sharing this, Jan. It was very interesting to read! I understand better why you would not want to do anything to damage that friendship.
I appreciated the comments you made recently on another topic about keeping this site respectful and welcoming. (I can’t seem to go back to it without losing this place, but you will hopefully know what I mean.)
You made a good comment to Ginger’s post, too. We have our share of wrong-doers and there have been situations in Amish communities that have left deep scars. BUT I’d encourage someone like Ginger to be leery of ex-anyone, if that makes sense. If we listened to ex-non-Amish people who joined the Amish, we could decide the larger society is one big depraved mess and there are no good people left. We have heard some horrible stories from such people, but know that we can’t start judging everyone “out there” by a few accounts even though part if not all of what they say might be true. The same for other exes… just be leery about how such people describe the group they left. Some tend to exaggerate or have their own agenda.
As I was reading your post I had to wonder if your friend truly understands words like atheist or humanist. (Going back to another post.) Trying to put myself in her shoes (not very wise!) I could see myself deciding that my friend Jan has had a horrible experience and is doubting God then deciding I’d try to “be there” for her and gently guide her back to believing. I can’t imagine just dropping such a friendship, especially such a long and deep one.
Mark, thank you.
You’re very right about “ex” anything!
Yes, I imagine my friend might respond/feel the way you described.