When a son joins the Amish: Hard times

Last summer we first heard from Anne, whose son Ed a few years ago joined an Amish community in Minnesota.  Anne shared her experience as an English mother to an Amish son in posts on language challenges at Ed’s weddingfriends’ reactions, and expectations regarding photos.

Becoming Amish is not easy to do, which is probably as it’s meant to be.  One reason is the change in lifestyle required.  Today Anne shares some of the hardships encountered by a young Amish family in wintertime in the upper Midwest. You’ll see that despite the tough times there are blessings too.

We got a letter from our little couple in cold Minnesota yesterday and I thought I’d send along some news and prayer requests for those so inclined. They are all fine, but having some not so small troubles. First, Ruth is having “severe tooth and gum pain” and we are wondering why? I think she will need to get quick attention and hope they realize how important that is. Second, their (only) horse has gone lame, which is serious for them, as they have no other means of transportation. This will make it hard to get her to a doctor, though they can always hire a driver. Also, if they lose their horse, it’s an expense they just can’t afford. How will they handle that? To get to church, they’ve been trekking over to the neighbors (1/2 mile away) and going in their buggy with them. That’s one cold walk!

Ed Home Minnesota
Building home in warmer days, 2010

They’ve both been fighting off flu, but Ed continues to work somewhere nearby finishing a house. My guess is that their summer produce season was so bad (drought), he’s doing whatever he can to make up for lost income. On top of this, they’ve had a pretty wretched winter so far. Not much snow, which is badly needed, but extremely low temps. Yesterday their high was -11, with a wind chill of -40 or 50, due to high winds. I just checked the week ahead and there’s not much relief in sight, except for Sunday when they could reach 30 for a high (I’m sure they will be ready for a May Day event!). But then temps drop again very severely for the rest of the week. Doesn’t seem to be much relief from the extreme conditions for a long, long time.

Baby is doing well, but somewhat fussy in the evenings. I can’t imagine not being able to at least take a short walk outside to get some momentary peace. Of course, not an option for them. But he’s smiling, cooing, and even laughing some which delights his parents (not to mention his grandparents!).

Amish Home Building MN
It’s a hike to the neighbors’

The overall picture is one of living very close to the edge. If they had an established business, or an extended family nearby who could be relied on, we’d all feel better about their situation. Ed is still experiencing the learning curve of all that goes with being Amish. I was wondering if one of his close friends- someone more experienced with horses – could come take a look at his horse, but with such low temps, no one gets out. And Ed’s home is on the edge of the Amish settlement there. His good friend, who’s taught him quite a bit, is miles away, almost the other side of this community. Another hard thing is the water situation. Most of the other families there have indoor plumbing, but Ed and Ruth are still pumping theirs outside and hauling it in for everything. Ed would love to provide this for Ruth, but it involves precious funds they simply don’t have yet.

Ed writes that the winter seems unbearable at times, but they are thankful for plenty of firewood, food, and love. He said he is finding family life an important time for grace to be extended to all, and prays that God will keep him in a place of humility. Guess he’s got his priorities right. I know they need our prayers and thank you in advance for remembering them to the Lord.

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23 Comments

  1. Felicia

    Grace Abounds!

    What an amazing young man and young lady they are!! I am in awe of his commitment to his new culture, family and faith!! Many would have quit! He is a testimony to what he is allowing God to do in and through him and what he knows God has called him to! He seems to be in a place where he fully understands what the grace of God is and I pray that he continues to walk in the unforced rhythms of that grace. Prayers will be lifted up for he and his family for continued, grace, peace, strength and increase!! God is willing and able to meet us at our need as we remain faithful in the valley!! God bless them all! Peace and strength to his mother who remains faithful in prayer and confidence for her beloved son! God’s arm will not be shortened!

    1. Rich Stevick

      Felicia

      Lovely faith-warming thoughts and prayers. I was blessed reading your post this morning. Rich S

  2. Anne, the mom!

    thank you!

    To know his efforts are inspiring to you is an encouragement. And one reason I sent this to Erik was in hopes of gathering much needed prayer for them. You have no idea how much it is appreciated…

    1. Anne I appreciate you sharing this too. I think all of us who read Ed’s story beginning last year have been glad for the updates you’ve been sharing. Realistically the vast majority of people drawn to the Amish are not going to do what Ed has done, and that is fine. But his conviction is admirable and I wish he and Ruth and baby (and you) the best.

    2. Chase

      Proud and Supportive

      Will be praying for Ed and Ruth. Mrs. Ann I was wondering what part of minesotta Ed is in as I am praying about joining the Amish when I move to minesotta in Auguest. would love to hear back.

      praying for you guys your friend in Christ Chase Hollenbeck

      thanks for your time

  3. Betty Hamilton

    Thank you so much for sharing. I do not usually comment, however, I love to read the postings. I will be adding to the other prayers. May God Bless you and your family, Betty

  4. Sending prayers.

    I so enjoyed reading your post. They sound like such a strong couple, who are stronger thru God and with each other. I’ll be praying for the pain to subside for your daughter-in-law and for their horse to be healed.

  5. Patty Tolliver

    When a son joins the Amish: Hard Times

    Anne,

    Your son and his family will be in my prayers. My family is far away as well and live in states that have snow. My brother is okay but my sister hasn’t had it as well as he. You do worry about family when it is cold like this and feel a little on the helpless side becuase you are far away. I will keep Ed and Ruth and their son in my prayers and hope that they see some relief in sight soon.

    Patty-

  6. Naomi Wilson

    Anne, I think of your son and his family all the time! They are in my prayers, with or without the hard times. Re the sore gums, we had a strange flu go around the family last month that involved severely inflamed gums, along with the usual fever, aches, etc that goes with the flu. I recall having a bad “gum infection” back when I was 12, and I was the only family member who did not get sick at all from this strange flu! I hope that perhaps this is all that your family is experiencing. It was not fun, and my five year old son did not eat for five days, but nobody needed a doctor.

    Our family also feels very much “on the edge,” lately. We lost our running water and have been pumping by hand since November. It’s not as bad as we expected! We find washing our hair to be the biggest challenge/frustration.

    We just learned that our insurance company is dropping our coverage next month. We are not sure that we can qualify for anything but the most expensive fire insurance, now. The worst case scenario would be losing our mortgage. We could use some prayers, also.

    We are not part of a plain Christian community, although we wish we were. Over the last few years, we have become convinced that through our choices, we either build up God’s Kingdom, or satan’s kingdom. There is no in-between. This helps us experience all our challenges as blessings. Please continue to share updates on your son’s family. We don’t personally know any other family who is experiencing similar hardships to us, although we know there are many out there. It is reassuring to hear from others!

  7. stephanie

    As you may know, my ffamily converted to Beachy Amish-Mennonite. It has been a blessing but with many challanges. The greatest is the language and cultural differences. I could not imagine going to Old Order! I have many Old Order friends but the life is hard. We have cars. The Old order around us live very well. They have indoor plumbing, gas lights and stove ect. 2e own an Old order home! The car gets me! Our Church does not carry insurance either so that would not be a factor. God bless your son and his family! I pray things get better. The learing curve IS there. I just would hope if things get worse (such as aa lame horse that will not recover) that the church will step in and help.

    1. Garrett

      Hello, I thought that the Beachy Amish spoke English for Church and things of that nature. I know many of them were Amish at one time, but wasn’t aware of the need to learn Pennsylvania Dutch.

  8. Lattice

    Anne, thank you for sharing this. It seems like they are getting more than their share of tough times right now. I’m thankful that they have each other to lean on, and God’s protection. As a mother, isn’t it difficult to not go right out there and “rescue” them? I sure Ed wouldn’t hear of it. It’s even more heartbreaking as he seems like he might be an “underdog” in some ways (the learning curve/the “can he make it as Amish” hanging over his head). It might not be that way at all, I’m only speculating.

    Yes, I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I had the means to help them out. In James 2:16 it says, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; yet you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?” I wish I were close enough to take them some soup and to drive Ruth to the dentist.

  9. Erin

    Oh Anne. This just breaks my heart! I wish I lived closer to Ed & Ruth (I’m about four hours away). It sounds as if Ruth needs to see a dentist. My mother-in-law had a lot of gum pain and it was periodontitis which required deep cleanings every three months. I know that warm salt water rinses and a very soft toothbrush helped my mother-in-law. After doing a quick google search on it, it seems to be most common during and after pregnancy.

    I hope someone in their community can take a look at their horse. Is it common for families to own just one horse? Is there a community member that could lend them a horse for a while? 1/2 mile walk in this weather can be very dangerous especially for infants.

    Does this district have a community fund in which Ed and Ruth could get financial assistance should they need to get care for their horse and/or purchase another one? Are they willing to accept outside funds from the English?

    I’m sorry I have so many questions for you Anne. I really admire your son and his faith and commitment. Felicia couldn’t have said it better! Please know I think of Ed and Ruth often and wish them the best.

  10. Anne

    I am truly grateful for your prayers everyone. Thanks for the kind thoughts and understanding. One issue Erin touched on, about the community having resources to help those in need, IS an issue. With a fairly new community, the families tend to be poorer than more established communities. As you can imagine, they don’t yet have established businesses, and most of these are young families. So there is not much help for those in extreme need. In fact, if Ed knew we were even having this discussion he’d probably laugh and tell us about another family there in greater need than his. And most families have more than one horse, but only if they can afford it; Ed can’t right now, and wouldn’t want another because of the need for hay and water. His pond dried up due to the drought last summer so now he has to pump water for the horse (and cow and goats) too. Must get old!

    I’m so glad to know that this gum/tooth problem might actually be a bug of some kind. I hope that’s all it is and she is over it by now. I mailed them phone numbers for a couple of dentists that often visit Fertile. Not that it will do much good without a phone! But if anyone comes to visit who has a phone, they might let Ed borrow it to make a call. There are many ways the Lord can answer our prayers. It has been a couple of weeks since we got the letter outlining their distress, and we’ve written several notes but heard nothing. If I hear from them I will let you all know.

  11. Carolyn B

    Hi Anne & Erik, Thanks for sharing the update on Ed & family.
    Sorry to hear they’re going through so much but they will be able to look back in a few decades and smile, recalling their early years.

  12. Annmarie

    I will be praying for your family Anne. Please keep us updated. The long hard winter they are experiencing, brought me to an image from my favorite books/show Little House on the Prairie….that was one unbearable winter. Well the groundhog here predicted an early spring….much prays that this occurs in your son’s neck of the woods!!!!

  13. Alice Mary

    Sending good thoughts & prayers

    Anne, your son and daughter-in-law have been blessed, alright, with a positive attitude. I feel in my bones (& I can’t say why) that they will soon see better times. I’ve thought of them at times when an “everyday” annoyance rears its head…and I feel a jolt of humility, recalling your posts about their trials.

    The three of them (and you & “Grandpa”) are in my prayers and I hope you can feel the hug I’m sending you…especially that little grandbaby!

    God bless you!

    Alice Mary

  14. Don Curtis

    a question

    Hi Anne,
    Just wondering. Did you receive my e-mail about getting your son’s address so Mark could write to him? It would have been from a Jiggie. That’s part of my e-mail address.
    Don

  15. Elizabeth R. Snoke

    Hard times help

    Is there a way I could get your son’s name and mail address. I would like to send a bit to help. Have been supporting an Amish family since 2008 (Old Order woman’s husband deserted her & their 5 children, later divorced her to remarry English woman he’d worked with. 2 years ago one of her daughters was killed by car that passed slow car by driving on right side (dirt side) of road and striking girl as she was collecting mail.) I send a bit each month and have a “family” of my own since I have no one else.

    ANYWAY–I would like to send a bit. ?? Can I post my e-mail here so you could contact me. Or is there a way you can write me privately thru this site if you prefer privacy??

  16. Only a few miles away

    We would love to send Ed and Ruth a note of encouragement. Thanks for the update on how they are doing. We live only a few miles (50-60) from them so we would love to be in touch a little. We do have acquaintances in that area and would love to meet them too.
    Would you send us their address? I think you can have access to my e-mail. We are praying for them too. God never forgets His own. Blessings to you and your family from another Grandma and Grandpa.

  17. Anne, the mom!

    responding

    Hello All, thanks again for your great concern and reaching out to our Amish kids; it’s much appreciated! For the few of you who asked for more info, I’ll let Erik connect us. You will hear from me soon!
    Blessings in Christ to you all,
    Anne

  18. Stefano Bacc.

    A greeting

    I hope you and your son’s family well.