When a son joins the Amish: How do others react?

You may remember hearing a while back from Anne, whose son Ed joined the Amish.  Anne has just returned from a visit to see Ed and her new grandson in Minnesota.  She also spent some time recently in Pennsylvania.  I think you’ll enjoy this update in which she sheds light on how others, both Amish and non-Amish, have responded to her son’s decision.

Two recent events have brought me up short with thoughts of how those around me think about the choice my son has made to become Amish. As you might expect, these reactions tell me more about the people themselves, and less about our actual situation. But it’s always interesting, so I thought I’d write you some thoughts about it.

First, about a month ago, my daughter, Fiona and I participated in the half marathon in Bird In Hand, PA, in Lancaster Co. Lots of Amish run this race and it winds through beautiful Amish countryside, with many Amish families along the side to watch you go by. By the way, it was really odd to me to see people lined up alongside the road, just watching us. Normally, the locals near a route are there to cheer the runners on. This was the quietest run I’ve done!

Amish Marathon Lancaster
Running Amish Country. A competitor in the Garden Spot Village marathon, 2010

At any rate, the most memorable moment of this weekend was running alongside an Amish family (mom, dad, two mid teen kids) and telling the dad that my son was also Amish. He had been cheerfully encouraging everyone around him, yelling out “Keep going and you’ll get to Canada” more than once. But when I told him this, he was completely stunned. All he said, over and over, was “This is MOST unusual!” I don’t think he ever recovered from the blow, ha, ha.

Then a second event that day was worth noting as well. We went into a small quilt shop where the shopkeeper was an Amish girl. She was friendly, helpful and courteous. As we talked I told her about Ed. She seemed shocked by such news! I found that when I got home, she forgot to include envelopes for the note cards I purchased, which seemed to corroborate my suspicion that she was somewhat undone to think an “English” could become Amish. Seems this is quite unheard of among these Amish communities. This characterized my time in Lancaster County; a feeling of being “on the outside” which is very different from the reception we get when we visit our son in Minnesota. Perhaps I can write more about that in a later note.

Otherwise and probably more importantly for us, has been the reaction of friends to Ed’s becoming Amish. We’ve found that most people are initially supportive. But after a few months of saying nice things, like, “Well, everyone has to make their own choice about how to live, “ and, “Oh, it’s great that he’s so committed to principle that he would make this kind of sacrifice”, the comments become more honest. I’ve recently had friends tell me how sad it is that Ed’s new baby boy(more about this darling child in another post!) will not have the choices Ed had growing up; that’s what life is all about, right? Freedom, choice? Others have said they wonder how long he’ll be able to keep this up, as it’s such a hard life (they are right about that).

One of the hardest things for me personally has been the dear friend who increasingly “gawks” at our situation. In her view of life, (though she claims Christ) the most important things are wealth and prestige. BEING somebody is what it’s all about. I know she feels very sorry for me. So many of our friends come to us as if they are consoling us, just there to help us with this terrible situation. My favorite comment is, “Well, it could be worse; he could be on drugs!” At least this person is being honest.

I REALLY want to tell all these friends that I’m proud of my son (and I usually do). The last time I checked out Scripture, the most important God-given guides for people who want to live in His ways are pretty simple: love God & love your neighbor (yep, I just checked; that passage is still there). I am convinced that context is pretty big in determining how we chose to live out those two overriding commands. And I’m convinced that Ed is in a much better situation than most of the rest of us, for incorporating those things into his life.

Of course, no one has a perfect situation that will automatically lead to holiness; I’m not saying that. But living in an intentional community that forces you to be accountable, work hard, and not be distracted with all the ridiculous silliness of modern life can certainly help. I know most of you reading this blog would not be like this gawking friend, and I really appreciate you. It’s very encouraging to have friends (even virtual friends) who find the life Ed’s chosen to be challenging and worthy of contemplation. Did I say thanks?

Amish marathon photo: reflexblue/flickr

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    1. SharonR

      How do others react?

      I know I would be proud of my son, as well. Your son, made a choice for himself, not for anyone else. We live in a challenging world, these days, with so many influences of “must haves”. I’m sure your new grandson will be perfectly fine, growing up among many people who will love him and guide him in life.
      Keep the faith.

    2. Common Feelings

      Good morning Anne,

      What is amazing is that the feelings are mutual or rather mirrored. When one of the children leave, either to leave the Amish (our case) or joining the Amish (your case) the people outside of the family circle don’t understand feelings, unless they have the same experience.

      The bottom line is the child has chosen to live as an individual and they have their own personal motive for their choice. We as parent need to support the “Decision” the best we can.

      The best family story we have is when our youngest daughter was around 3 years old she got into stuff and my wife asks her “Lavina, what are we going to do with you”, Lavina gave us the best parental advice, “Just, Keep me and Love me”



      1. Mirrored feelings

        Great insight here John. Thanks for your perspective. Little Lavina, like other children, knew what she needed, but she was also able to verbalize it well.

    3. Melissa

      I commend your son!

      You should be nothing but proud of your son and your friends should be supportive. It’s his life after all and of course a loving mother is going to be supportive and proud.
      I think it’s great! I love all things Amish. Amish Country, (specifically Holmes County Ohio area)their work ethic, their strong beliefs and convictions and their simple and plain lifestyle. Your son went into a much harder, guided way of life by choice. There is alot to be said for that.
      So many people today are way too opinionated and judgemental. They so strongly feel that everyone should think like they do and be like them and live the same lifestyle (keeping up with the Jones’) how boring would it be if we were all exactly the same? No thanks!
      Keep supporting your son like you are and let him know there are people out here that really admire him (me for one). 🙂

    4. Loretta T

      How do others react.

      I’m not sure how I would react, at first, to my child joining the Amish because it is restrictive to the English families as well as to the person who has joined. A total change in lifestyle.
      However, I do believe I could accept it more so then some of the other choices children are making today. In our world,today it is a ‘gimme, gimme’ lifestyle and woe to those who do not get it.
      From our personal experience of the Amish, there is nothing they do that compares to some of the selfishness of our younger generation.
      They are hardworking, faith based, family oriented, community minded, mission supporters,and supportive, by prayer, of our government.
      Yes, it is a different lifestyle but there are many who would like to be able to have half the peace of mind this sect has.
      Wonder why we English don’t embrace more of their ways.

    5. I think the hardest part of having a child become Amish would be the lack of pictures. I think if your son is following Christ and is happy – what more could you want for him? You should be proud. 🙂 Thank you for another peak into your life.

      1. Photos

        Karen I wonder if you saw this earlier post from Anne about the photo topic.

        Anne was kind enough to share her challenge with this issue, which got some interesting feedback.


    6. Nancy


      the word tells us to come out from the world,I think this is great and also it said his people are a peculiar people,you need to be very proud of your son,he has given up a lot,and we as christians should give up a lot for our Saviour,

    7. Alice Mary

      We live by our choices

      Anne, I’m thankful you’re keeping us informed of your son’s life since his decision to turn Amish. I remember when you first wrote to tell us of the impending wedding, and now he and his wife are parents! Please send them all my good wishes & prayers.

      I admire and respect his choice. That others can’t accept it, or feel it’s something to be mourned instead of celebrated, baffles me. Perhaps the choices they’ve made haven’t lived up to their own expectations, and their opinion of your son is just a reflection of their own failed choices. I wish them half the peace of mind your son seems to have found!

      So many English, I think, just don’t understand how close the Amish community is—you’re never alone in your trials and tribulations OR your joys! Both are a shared experience. The community is willing and able to step in to help with field work, housework, barn-raising, medical expenses, child-rearing, you name it. That alone would offer so much peace of mind, that like Loretta T., I also wonder why we English don’t embrace more of their ways.

      Thank you, Anne! I look forward to more news regarding your Amish son and his family, and your unique “take” on it all!

      Alice Mary

    8. Carolyn B

      Anne, thanks so much for another update. I enjoyed the shock and dismay you described re: the Amish people you told re: Ed’s acceptance into an Amish community. You may have very well opened the door for another individual to be welcomed into such a community.

      Outside the faith practice part, Ed is doing what many people are now trying to do which is simplify and unclutter their lives. The internet is full of people, especially the younger than us (I’m 40s), embracing voluntary simplicity and the tiny house movements.

    9. Denise

      Thank you for sharing! Sometimes English families face similar challenges with a combination of faiths (or no faith, at all) by marriage, and they face differences in values, lifestyles, celebrations, etc. I think you’re blessed!

    10. Lattice

      I just recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “The Listening Project” (I highly recommend it). A handful of Americans went to various countries around the world to find out what others think of Americans, or what they would like to say to Americans. In a nutshell, their complaints centered around the notion that Americans have no interest in other cultures, and that they believe the American way is the “only way” (of course, political issues were mentioned, too).

      The Amish Community is a completely different culture within America. Only those who recognize the typically selfish, “American” way of thinking as being fundamentally anti-Christian can recognize the value of living within a culture of accountability – where your actions, and hopefully your thoughts, are always measured against the example of Jesus Christ. Sure, many mainstream Americans have accountability to their individual church, but what about the rest of the week? In the Amish Community, the goal is to “live” your religion, not just practice it on Sundays. Of course, the Amish have those who only want to stay under the radar and have no interest in honestly living a God-centered life, but Kudos to your son, Anne, for thoughtfully choosing this type of lifestyle as better one, compared to the mainstream American culture which stresses: Be the best, stand out, get noticed, win, be self confident, take what you want, etc.

    11. LeeAnn

      Thanks Anne for sharing about Ed. I agree with accepting his choices and loving him no matter what. Today we have mixed religions in our family’s and mixed races. Why not embrace the life of the Amish. You will have a greater knowledge and experience of life and the differences with others, due to your son and his family. How neat for him to choose this life and give up so much of the worldy things.

      Yes, its a hard life he choose, but that is his life and as parents we just need to love our kids and accept their choices. I love your response that “He could have been on drugs” That sounds like something I would say to someone.

      Enjoy the experiences you have and the time you have with Ed and his family and your grandson. Those kids in Ed’s family will have a wonderful experience in knowing you, outside the Amish family and knowing you love an accept them as they are.

      Thanks so much for sharing and your thoughtfulness. Im wondering if Ed is in the same Minn. area as I went to a few years ago. If so, I found that community to be so kind and loving. Enjoyed speaking with many of them while out there.

    12. Daryl

      Nice Anne, I see you have grown yourself more accepting and positive about your son’s choice. I am sure it brings him peace of mind to know that his lifestyle is not causing his beloved mother undue stress and discomfort.
      May this be the first of many grandkids.

    13. Don Curtis

      Mark's friends

      Mark’s journey to the Amish was a long one. He visited the Belle Center Community for almost 18 years on and off before he joined it. That gave him plenty of time to find out about the Amish and how he wanted to relate to them. It also gave my wife and I time to get to know them, too. Charline died in 1998, four year before Mark retired and joined the Amish but we both learned to appreciate Mark’s friends. When Mark retired and decided to join the Amish I supported his decision 100% although I knew it was not for me. However, a number of his friends, especially his teacher friends were not supportive at all. His one close friend appealed to me to try and change Mark’s mind. I told him, “Don, (his name is Don, too) Mark is happier when he is with his Amish friends than he has ever been here in Columbus. He has thought this all through and I support him in his decision and I will NOT try to talk him out of it.” Another teacher friend who had previously retired basically just cut Mark out of his life. Another teacher friend and neighbor reacted to his calls in a very cold manner and he just never called back. I was really disappointed in this family. I knew them, too, because they lived close to us. It is interesting that the first two friends I mentioned were older than Mark and committed atheists. I guess they just about couldn’t stand to see a man take a stand for Christ to the extent that Mark did. But, Mark had a number of friends who tried to be supportive. Some of our church friends had a farewell party for him and had purchased gifs they thought would aid him in his new life with the Amish. Things like coal-oil lamps and hoes and lots of candles. English people have their own ideas of how the Amish live. Mark doesn’t use coal-oil lamps or candles.

      1. Lance

        Mark had a very different journey into the Amish than I did. I did not have a single non-Amish try to stop me, nor did I lose any friends or family members over this. Indeed, many thought it was rather cool. Several told me to be careful about joining if you cannot stay, and I never did join them because of that caution. On the contrary, there was a then Amish person who tried very hard to talk me out being in the order of Amish I chose. That man has since left the Amish and when I do return and join, we will be on opposite sides of the Bann, which is sad. Our friendship will have to change then.

        When things have gone well, like they have for the last 6 years, there is nothing better than being with the Amish. I still need a lot more of the way to rub off on me, but it is, as I see it, the best place for me to live the rest of my life.

        1. Valerie

          Sometimes it Costs us

          Lance, I know you know that sometimes following Christ can REALLY cost us-(shouldn’t it always cost us?)
          We count the costs and make our decision to follow or not to follow. You cannot go wrong by following Jesus, even when it costs.
          This life is short.
          God bless your journey.

      2. Don this account of Mark’s friends’ reactions was interesting to read. Generally speaking, I wonder if such strong reactions stem from people wishing to denigrate a spiritually-enriching (though difficult) decision which they themselves, for whatever reason, are not able to take? Or in other words, sometimes people feel better when they hold others back to their level. Not trying to play armchair psychologist here, but this example just gave me some food for thought.

    14. Don Curtis

      Contact Mark

      By-the-way Anne, if you get the chance you could give Mark’s address to Ed. Mark would enjoy corresponding with him. Mark’s address and phone number is:
      Mark Curtis
      9417 County Road 101
      Belle Center, OH 43310

      1. Anne

        Will do Don! I’m sure he’d be glad to communicate with Mark.

    15. Lance

      I must say that my parents have never told me how they dealt with me going Amish years ago, in regards to other people and family. Now that I am headed back that way, they will be in that situation again. I hope people are decent and kind to them.

      I think that the exposure to tourism that Lancaster Co Amish have to put up with conditions them to believe while many people admire them and the Amish way, extremely few people are willing to act out that admiration and join the Amish church. It is very uncommon for someone to stay long enough to marry and have a child. Yes, that is MOST unusual to them. You did see that there is a difference between attitudes of Amish with a midwestern tradition vs the Lancaster tradition. I have also found this in the Lancaster transplants here in Indiana vs the Nappanee or Elkhart/Lagrange Amish. I have never been in a Lancaster tradition house. I am quite welcome in many midwestern tradition Amish homes. All that tourism does affect people and I am sure that the character of the tourist is part of this too.

      A lot of the ease or difficulty in living the Amish way is about attitude and depth of conviction to carryout the vows to the end. If you are convicted and converted, it is not as hard as it seems outwardly. You just do it. If you are doubting in any way, it get a LOT harder. If you do take the vows and join the Amish church, you need God’s help to guard and protect that conviction for the rest of your life. I have lived both sides of that while I was Amish and can say that it is the same for people born that way, as they can struggle hard with this too. satan plants some nasty seeds of doubt in the minds of God’s people and we need to guard our hearts, minds and souls from that with prayer and scripture.

      Anne, I am glad to see Ed is getting along well with Amish. I pray God will protect his family from the wiles of the devil and his angels. May God be with you and all of your family.

      1. Anne

        Thanks for writing Lance. Your parents will probably not tell you what kind of response they get, at least if it’s a negative one. We won’t let Ed know…it accomplishes nothing, and I don’t want to discourage him. But it’s good for you to know that your folks are most likely making some sacrifices regarding this; your choice effects them too, but I’m sure they feel that’s ok!

      2. Lance this was quite an interesting insight that I hadn’t considered before (tourists providing constant reminders that 99.9% are not “cut out” for Amish life). I’ve often wondered why so few converts have joined the Lancaster group.

        On another note it’s very nice to hear that you are heading back in the direction of the Amish, as it seems like something you are called to. I don’t know whether/when that means you’ll go silent on this blog, but if so I hope you’ll let us know beforehand. Your contributions here have been invaluable, and would be missed.

    16. Richard

      A question for Ann..............

      Hi Ann and since I live in the Lancaster area I had heard about the run in Bird in Hand, My question for you is what are the thoughts from the Amish and even from your son regarding all of the reality shows that have been shown on TV.

      We all know that the Amish don’t generally watch television but they may be aware of these shows either through word of mouth or maybe reading about them in the local newspapers. This is a question that I have not had a chance to ask any of the plain folks in my travels yet, so I thought I would maybe find out something in this post on Erik’s site.

      Richard from http://www.Amishstories.net

      1. Anne

        Hi Richard, I have no idea what they think about these sorts of things….however, I know Ed well enough (and from previous similar types of things) to predict that he would merely laugh. He would think it funny that anyone could think they could capture with any kind of precision what an “Amish” community is like. They are similar to any evangelical church the rest of us would know; and think of all the disagreements, splits, etc. that take place in that realm. I know this is a sad thing for many in the Amish community; that discord causes groups to split and new communities to form. But as you know, Amish groups differ greatly; some have more modern technologies, others have almost none. Ed has already been through this once, and hopes he doesn’t have to experience it again.

        His community, for example, does not follow the custom of Rumspringa (sp?), as they do not agree with letting young teens run around with no supervision. And his group would not allow any of its members to participate in a race, like the one I just did in Lancaster Co. Richard, if you have a change to ask your Amish friends what they think about all this attention, please let us know, as it’s a great question!

    17. Dave

      Here Here

      Wonderful story. Please share updates. Your summary says it well, “But living in an intentional community that forces you to be accountable, work hard, and not be distracted with all the ridiculous silliness of modern life can certainly help”

    18. Anne

      thank you!

      I really appreciate all of you who’ve written in. It’s surprising to me (truthfully) to have so many people out there who are ONLY positive! One way to sum up the negative reactions of some of my friends is this: “What a shame, as Ed had SO much to contribute, but now he’s wasting his life”. These are the types who measure “the good life” by checking out one’s earning power/income. I am so glad Ed does not have that as a criteria for success! He is in fact quite impoverished, and I hope to write more about that in an upcoming note to Erik. Maybe he’ll think it worth posting, though I know Ed’s situation is not unusual for a young Amish man.

      1. Valerie

        What did Jesus say?

        I think alot of people may be convicted by watching someone who is making sacrifices for Christian living and so they handle it by putting them down. I think about the words of Christ such as “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25,26)
        I feel that is one of the scriptures at the core of Amish life-

        At this point, I’d be thrilled if my 2 children made such an announcement to me, if it was the right community like Ed’s, Mark’s, & the one Lance is going to. At least compared to being drawn by the world.

        Thanks for sharing Anne, I admire how you are making strides at accepting, adjusting, and then embracing. God Bless You.

      2. Various forms of poverty

        Anne that sounds like it would be a very interesting topic. Beyond the financial there are many definitions of poverty.

        You mentioning this reminded me that we had an interesting discussion on this topic last year…there is an Amish businessman in Indiana named Mervin Lehman who was asked to define wealth for a newspaper article. Mervin focused on the financial in his response though that element is tied into other aspects of course:

        “My goal,” he said, “is not to become a millionaire. My goal is to pay for my home, have something to live off of in my retirement years comfortably and make sure my kids and family are comfortable. That’s all I need out of this life. And helping my neighbor if he is in financial straits. Having enough money to help him.”


        1. Anne

          Great comment Erik. yes, sometime we should have a discussion of Amish “poverty”. Such a discussion might include the poverty of some of our wealthiest citizens; poverty of soul and spirit. We often fail to measure these things as God does. But our hearts tell us what is right, what is of true value.

    19. Julie Turner

      Going Amish

      I think its wonderful for Ed top become Amish.
      He is following the Lords leading I’m sure.
      May his fine example be a light to his friends and family that he has left behind.

    20. Richard

      Hi again Ann.................

      Hi Ann and I’m sure that your son would maybe laugh about some of these shows now on TV like for example “Breaking Amish”, or as I like to call that one “Faking Amish” because of all the controversy involving this particular one.

      These type of shows using the Amish dates back around 10 years now and while I believe in freedom of choice and the right for these networks to show something like this, I consider everyone of these made dating back to the first until now to be pretty much throw-away shows.

      Like your sons story I had and still have a woman who joined the old order Mennonites from the outside and shared her story on my own blog, so I was fascinated like most of my own readers were when that post came out last year.

      I hope that Erik does another update about you and your son so we all can hear how he’s adjusting to this very different way of life, and I wish him all the best as he explores his new life with the Amish.

      Richard from http://www.Amishstories.net

      1. Anne

        Thanks Richard, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about our experiences as I have time to send updates to Erik. Our last visit was so mixed; very hard living conditions but very sweet relational realities going on. Boy, was it hard to leave!

    21. roxie stephens

      Going Amish

      Beautifully said…God loves us no matter who we are…..

    22. Jackie S

      May he live a happy life! G-d bless him! I have always thought about becoming Amish, but never knew how to make that step. Where is he in MN? Is he in Harmony or in another location? I am in the Twin Cities. I do visit the Amish areas, when I can and support the Amish by buying their products. I am not sure what your son does for a living, but it would be nice to support him and his business.

    23. Elizabeth Snoke

      Bravo to Mark

      I have had the greatest respect for the Amish and Mennonites all my life and knew from a young age that one of my family lines included an Amish-born girl who chose to marry my Mennonite great-grandfather–with the permission of her family as she had not joined the church yet.

      Mark found the place where he belonged in life and is happy with it. He made a choice that leaves him close to Christ and in a close-knit community. I wish him the best. How many other younger people choose other paths that lead them into drug use or whatever?

      It’s coming up on 5 years now that I have been using my library experience and my home computer to help Amish and Old Order Mennonite people find books, medical info for the layperson, and many other kinds of items that they need/want. Word speads among them by mouth, letter and ?? I get 2-3 contacts a week from all over North America. It gives me great joy to work with them–for no pay, of course. I have made a number of good friends, too.

      As for my personal experience, I wish with all my heart that I belonged to a group such as Mark has found. Now 72 and retired-badly disabled physically, I have NO one to support me/help me. My 85-year-old brother cares but he has his own severe problems. I seem to be “dead” to my only direct blood relative–my nephew. So that’s the way it goes.

      May more people like Mark find their heart and mind’s true place in life!!

    24. Naomi WIlson

      Thanks, Erik, Anne, and Don for discussions like these. My husband and I have partly chosen, partly been forced through economic circumstances to live plain. It’s a blessing, but most of the time I wish we were Amish so we would feel a part of a community. Anne, I hope you will share whatever of Ed’s experiences you have time or feel led to share. It is so helpful to learn about someone who is struggling with way of living for a set of convictions.

      1. I want to second the thank-you to Don and Anne. Glad these discussions can be of benefit Naomi. Generally speaking, even if I’m not directly facing an issue, they help me consider things I may one day face. We never know what is in store (not that I’m planning to ever join the Amish, but I mean the broad-strokes issues here).

    25. Erin

      Thanks for the update, Anne. I have been thinking about you and your visit to MN. Where you here during our peak fall leaves? It was gorgeous!
      I spoke with the newer Amish settlement near Mora, MN and they are related to your daughter-in-laws family. They all spoke very highly of your son.
      I hope you enjoyed your time with your family and were able to bond with your grandson.
      Kind of off subject, but did you hear about the buggy accident in MN at the beginning of September? It was an Amish gentleman from Ontario that recently moved to MN. He was thrown about 50 feet. He is very fortunate to have not been more seriously hurt.
      I’m anxious to hear more about your stay.

      1. Anne

        Erin, Sorry to be so late responding to your great note. Yes, the leaves were peak when we were there; it was a treat! And I’m thrilled you met Ruth’s family or friends of family. I know they have only just moved to Mora and hope they are well. With all the chaos of moving, I have not heard from the Millers for awhile. So sad about that buggy accident, no, I did not hear about it. Which community was it in? Would appreciate knowing more about it. The community at Fertile is very small, and the back roads are easy to get around on with good site distance. But one always worries about these things. Compared with modern seat belts and airbags in cars, the buggy is pretty lacking.

        1. Erin

          Thanks for the response, Anne. The gentlemen that was in the buggy accident was Wayne Bender near Mora, MN. He was hit from behind on a country road about 8:45 in the evening and was thrown 50 feet. Other than bumps and bruises, he was o.k. His buggy was damaged but his horse was o.k. He said that he had battery operated lights on the front and back but the woman that hit him said they were not on. He was evaluated at the scene but refused medical care. When I saw him about two weeks after the accident, he was very stiff. He said he didn’t want to be stuck with a hospital bill. I suggested seeing a chiropractor and he said he was so sore that he couldn’t even think about that. I asked if he was going to have his buggy repaired and he said the he had just bought the one and hadn’t even painted it yet. He was planning on ordering a new one but was concerned about shipping costs. Fortunately, he was alone and did not have any of his children with him. I felt so badly for him because he had told me on a prior visit that he had lost a 13 year old son a few years ago when the team got away from him. This is the same gentleman that said he knew your son and his wife. I know you mentioned your son living in poverty and Wayne did mention that your son was very intelligent and highly educated and set out to make a lot of money before he made the decision to convert.
          I have visited with quite a few of the 10 different families and they are all so kind and welcoming. When I asked them how the community has been, they said very welcoming. The had a steady stream of visitors welcoming them the first few weeks they were there. The few times I’ve stopped in their community shop, many of their neighbors were stooping in for fresh eggs and baked goods. Rachel and Joas always greeted everyone by first name. Another time I stopped in, the men were unloading the benches for preaching services the next day. They were obviously busy, but Jonathan took the time to talk with me and answer all of my questions. Wayne said that the community was a little strange at times. He said that someone had called in a report to the police that his horse was lonely as he ran his stand at the farmers market. I imagine that they’re so new to the area, that the person that reported it, probably wasn’t aware of whom the horse belonged to. It seems like this new district is doing well. The local newspaper did an article about them this past summer. While they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves, they did want their community to know what products and services they offered. I did suggest to the city that they list Comfort Community Foods on their website as many other towns do. Osakis, MN and Long Prairie, MN even have maps to their homes. I did mentione this to Wayne and he said they stay away from the Internet and don’t want to feel like animals in a zoo. I viewed it more as advertising for their business.
          Do the Amish near Fertile have businesses that could be advertised on their city’s web page?
          I really wish your son well. Perhaps I’ll visit his community one day. What would his reaction be if I were I say I had met you via Internet?
          Thanks again for sharing your story. I look forward to hearing more about your stay with them.

          1. Anne

            Sounds like a terrible accident. I hope this man gets the medical care he needs and recovers 100%. If you get up to Fertile to see the community there, please let me know. I can give you directions to my son’s home and he would love to meet you. He knows I write some on this blog, and is open to that; no worries there. If you want to email me, use this email: ahughes@earthlink.net

            1. Erin

              Thanks again for taking the time to respond, Anne! I will save your email address and be in touch!

    26. Cam

      Thank You

      Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is heartwarming and was a bright
      spot in my day. You display the qualities that I think every child wants in a parent and,
      perhaps most importantly, accept and love your son for who he is. That takes love
      and courage. In a world full of too much bad news I’m glad to hear your good news.
      Best of luck to your family and Ed. He sounds like a remarkable person. Please keep us posted,

      1. Anne

        Cam, thanks for your sweet comments. I’m so glad the story we are a part of is encouraging to others. Never, EVER in my life, did I dream I’d have a son in a plain community. Life is full of surprises!

    27. Allen Schwuhl

      My own thoughts

      On some level it saddens me that people can’t rejoice with this young man who has found a spiritual home for himself. Not that the Amish church, or any other church is perfect for that fact, however, he has found a place as the plain people say, ‘zum wuhne ins karrich’ or ‘to live in church’ which means a wondering soul has found a resting place to give direction to own’s life and follow through on one’s convictions. I went through a similar thing with my own parents telling me that my Amish friends were a bad influence on me. Now mind you, while my high school friends were doing drugs, drinking, and getting into other trouble, I was learning how to work teams in a hay field, going to barn raisings, and hymn sings. I leaarned many things that I never would have had a chance to learn otherwise and I owe much of that to a Stoltzfus and Zook family who have been long term friends and are closer than many of my family members. Within plain culture, there are many opportunities, you just have to remember who you are and find the ones that work for you.


      1. Anne

        This is a wonderful story. Your life is a picture of the choices available to the young person. We are so deeply influenced by the world it can be hard to see the truth, as shown by the reactions of some around you at that time. But you are a great example. The time spent doing real labor and growing relationships is a treasure so many will never know.

    28. Katrina

      Gifts of Coal-Oil Lamps, Etc.

      I would give his friends the benefit of the doubt. I assume his friends meant well, wished your son well, and gave him things that they thought he would need in his new life. May be I missed it in a previous post, but did your son join the Old Order?

      1. Anne

        I know you are correct. And these friends have been good friends in most every way. But most of them thought his commitment was temporary, “a stage”. They can only see what he has given up, not what he has gained. Yes, he’s in an old order group now. He’s a fabulous cellist, and that is off limits now, plus he was a brilliant forester (graduated from VaTech first in his Natural Resourses college). I can understand how they feel; he has made sacrifices in these ways, BUT all in order to gain something he feels is better.

      2. Don Curtis

        Mark's gifts

        Please don’t take it that Mark was offended by the gifts. Not at all. He appreciated that the folks were trying to honor his decision the best way they knew how. He was just amused by their choice of gifts. I guess they surmisd that all Amish must use coal-oil lamps and candles. Mark’s group did use coal-oil lamps when he first met them. But, now all of the houses are piped for propane lights. Mark was amused not offended.

    29. Linda Laird

      Proud of your son!

      So proud that your son chose a lifestyle. He could have went out there and done drugs, ending up with the wrong crowd of people. Instead, he chose a way of life that serves God continually. That should put much happiness in your heart. He has the community, family and friends that are very loyal to one another. I sincerely hope that all goes well with him and his life among the Amish!

    30. Looking for ppl to interview

      I am working on a book about joining the Amish. I am interested in talking to people who are interested in joining the Amish as to why they are interested, etc. I’m interested in talking to those who tried joining the Amish and it didn’t work out.
      I’m also interested in talking to some Amish folks to get their perspective on the English joining their communities.
      All interviewees can remain anonymous. I do need to be able to verify your story. We can go into further details through email. Those interested in sharing can contact me at: goliveplain@gmail.com
      Thank you!