Lancaster Amish Highlights

So far:

  • Seeing the Christian Aid meatpacking operation in action. A mobile canning station in a converted tractor trailer travels across North America (13 states and 2 provinces, I was told) stopping in communities (often Plain) where volunteers contribute labor and supplies to prepare and can meat for humanitarian aid purposes. The program has heavy Amish involvement in places like Lancaster and Holmes Counties. Yesterday operations were set up at a local Amish butcher’s. Crews starting as early as 4 am took turns cutting, canning, labeling and packing cans of beef and turkey for donation. There were probably close to a hundred Amish in attendance while I was there; food concessions had been set up to accomodate them. I took my turns at packing and stacking and appreciated how well run the operation seemed to be. The Amish volunteers worked with good humor, ribbing each other when someone slowed down the line. That someone was me a couple times but it wasn’t enough to get me fired. All in all a nice example of how Amish quietly support charity outreach.
  • Sitting in on Donald Kraybill’s Amish, Mennonite and Brethren history class at the Young Center at E-town College. It was a very nice group and I enjoyed sharing a little on Amish business and this blog. Prof. Kraybill also shared a copy of the letter Jacob Gingerich sent to KY lawmakers laying out the Swartzentruber case against the SMV triangle.
  • Ping pong.  It’s a good game for the winter and popular here.  You’ll have tables in basements (which often double as children’s rec rooms) or set up anywhere there’s space, as we did in the living room the other night.  In a testament to Amish frugality that table was homemade but played great. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I think my two day record stands at 0-5.
  • A brief visit to the Lebanon County Amish settlement.  I didn’t see Richard’s favorite grocery store but left well fed thanks to John’s skills on the grill.
  • Saying goodbye.  In an odd twist of the usual course of things, it was me waving farewell as Amish friends left on a long distance trip south.  I didn’t envy the 24 hour train ride ahead of them, but wondered how much sleeping they planned on doing anyway.

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    1. John Stoltzfus

      Great to have you

      Have a safe trip home

    2. Richard from Amish Stories

      Hey Erik I’m sure you had a brief but interesting time in Lancaster this week, and I’m glad you were able to drop over to our own Amish community of Lebanon county. Have a safe trip down south. Richard

    3. I have seen footage on television of the meat packing operation. Which goes to show what churches can do for feeding the needy when they aren’t tying up their money in other ways.

    4. Lee Ann

      It looks like some mis-read the message on who took the trip south.I’ve thrown it back in. ” In an odd twist of the usual course of things, it was me waving farewell as Amish friends left on a long distance trip south.”

      Wish you had pictures to show of the meat packing for charity. Would have liked to see how it was. My own church has several canneries around the country and we are able to use it to can for the community and ourselves. We all go volunteer to help. We have canned apples and such for the community food bank. Some were made into applesauce, and some for pie filling.

      Keep up with the interesting post Erik. Have a safe trip home when you go again. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you would want to live in Poland, and not stay in SC.

    5. Carolyn B

      Great update, Erik!

      Great update, especially when you’re admitting your lesser skills. Very humble of you.
      Re: your friends’ train trip, I think they are going to have the better time–I’d love to ride the rail & sleep on a train.
      Take care, have lots of fun, and keep us posted.

    6. sherry

      Erik have you ever to a Mud Sale in PA?

    7. Ann

      meat packing

      I have participated in several meat packing sessions in Berlin, Holmes County Ohio. The canning unit which is mounted in a semi truck pulls up a building dedicated for this purpose and the meat cutting is done in the building with the canning done in the truck. I have helped with both beef and turkey. The beef was on the bone but the turkey was deboned. We cut the meat into small chunks for the cans. Very well organized and efficient and it is encouraging to see the boxes of meat ready to go to disaster areas at the end of the day. I am usually one of only a few “englishers” with the majority being groups from different plain groups both Amish and Mennonite. This last year I took an Amish friend with me as she had never been.

    8. David


      Here’s a video on YouTube of the Mennonite Central Committee during 2010 canning turkey I believe.

    9. Interesting!

      At Berlin, which is located in Holmes County, Ohio, I have been a part of multiple meat packing sessions. The canning unit is installed in a semi truck, and the vehicle draws up a building that is specifically designed for this purpose. The building is where the meat cutting takes place, and the truck is where the canning takes place. I have experience helping with beef as well as turkey. Although the turkey was boneless, the beef was served on the bone. For the cans, the meat was chopped up into bite-sized pieces.