Note from Amish Cook editor Kevin Williams: I really liked this column from Gloria, because she accurately illustrates the vast variety of views within the Amish church. As a general rule, there is a spectrum: you have the most conservative Amish, the Nebraska (who don’t really live in Nebraska) Amish and the Swartzentruber Amish, on one end and the New Order Amish Fellowship on the other (sometimes known as the New New Order Amish). Gloria’s church is New Order Amish and while they are more progressive on some things, I find the New Order more conservative in other areas of church doctrine interpretation. So trying to distill the Amish faith and culture into a single church is impossible. One can only give their own perspective and that is what Gloria has wonderfully provided this week.
Scanning over a list of questions I had filed from some of you readers, I noticed that a more frequent one is that of our Amish lifestyle and traditions. If only there would be cut and dry answers that would apply to all Amish. This is the catch: Like almost all church affiliations out there, there just is not a one size fits all. Since I cannot possibly represent the hundreds of different types of Amish folks out there I will just take the simpler route of filling you in on more details of our Amish life near the small town of Flat Rock, Illinois.
And by the way, we really are people just like you! We just live our lives in different ways.
“What makes people want to be Amish?” you wonder, or “Is everyone required to be Amish for their entire life, with no choice or option on their part?”
OK, so being born into an Amish family is obviously not the infant’s choice. For me, I felt safe and secure in my parents’ love. I was taught, from a young age, not only by words but from an example in day to day living about loving the Lord and living for him.
Now, for your question about “rumspringa.” I have heard of this as a time of Amish youth going out to “try out things of the world” to see whether they like it or not. It is not a part of our custom. There was simply no desire in my heart to leave this safe environment where I felt Jesus in the midst.
Never is anyone forced to stay Amish. In fact, I do have friends who are no longer Amish. Like other Mennonites, they now drive vehicles rather than horse and buggy. We certainly do not claim our plain Amish dresses and the guys’ homemade pants give us joy or take us to heaven. Only Jesus can fill that role in our hearts. At the same time, I do value the simple life and abstinence from many things such as the television, internet and radio. This makes our life more low-keyed and keeps us from being exposed to dangers or negatives that we really don’t want for our children.
What are other modes of transportation we use? Enclosed black buggies are our primary style, simply because they are more accommodating in all types of weather than the open buggies. Some open buggies and pony carts are also used. Ah, these spring evenings are just perfect to go on drives with the children, it’s a perfect way for us to unwind after a busy day. The children absolutely love it. When we come to a stop sign, the youngest ones sometimes make grunting noises, wanting to be on the move again.
Bicycles are also used a lot in our community. I don’t bike as much as I did before we had children, simply because I can’t take them with me as easily. We do have a little bike cart that we pull behind the bikes where a couple of children can have a nice ride. Infant seats mounted to the back of the bike also work well, or I have also used a baby sling while biking.
Tractors are used to haul work-related items or things not practical to be transported with a buggy. When it comes to long-distance traveling we hire someone to take us. For example, here in our neighborhood, we have a couple of drivers that take us to town or even on long-distance trips such as visiting family in Ohio. On overseas trips, we use any type of airlines.
Daniel and the children just came indoors from doing the chores, so I need to run along and get everyone ready for bed. I’ll fill you in more later, and in the meanwhile, I’d be delighted to hear of any additional questions you may have, so pop a note in the mail, and I would be happy to answer it the best I can!
Here is a refreshing summer recipe that is popular in many Amish communities.
1 cup dates, cut fine
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup hot water
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
Bring dates, soda, and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Boil a couple of minutes or until dates are tender. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients. Mix all together and pour into a greased 9 by 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool.
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons clear jel or corn starch
Mix all together in a sauce pan and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; then add the following: 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 tablespoons pancake or maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring. Cool.
3-4 cups whipped topping
Now, cut cake up in bite-sized cubes and place a layer in a serving dish. (Clear glass ones are the prettiest, as you will be able to see all the attractive layers.) Spread half of caramel sauce on top, next layer with two sliced bananas, then half of whipped topping. Repeat layers. If desired save part of a banana to slice over the top layer to make it look pretty.
Note: you may put on as many layers as you like. When serving this at church we use large bowls with as many layers as will fit in. More or less sauce, topping and bananas may be used to suit your taste.