After picking up our contact to the Amish community we headed toward the location of the fundraiser. The community had decided to raise some funds for some special needs they had as well as to help subsidize my trip. My job is to help them learn how to help each other better with some special needs they had been facing. I was honored they had asked me to assist them.
We arrived at an auction barn where the women had joined forces like a farm of methodical worker ants. They had been frying chicken since the early hours along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, slaw and a host of homemade desserts. Colonel Sanders was nowhere in sight.
The food was prepared all over gas flames in huge skillets and pots. The women spoke softly or not at all while they seemed to instinctually know what needed to be done. I am not sure who was in charge although I feel certain there was a pecking order of some kind. After all was done, they served almost 200 people from their Amish community and the surrounding English (everyone not Amish). It was a great success.
They had a raffle where you could buy six tickets for $5. You placed your raffle tickets in a paper bag next to the item you desired. The items were all donated from the Amish and some of them were especially delightful to see. A hamper, picnic basket, and a step basket all carefully and beautifully weaved with dyed cane; a box of jars of precious blueberry preserves; a camouflaged compound box with arrows ready to bring in the years supply of venison; handmade leather shopping bag; several yards of blue cloth; and a box of books.
Since their lives were not cluttered with television and other technology, time to prepare these precious gifts showed up in their craftsmanship. The stitching was precise, the canes expertly woven, and I know the preserves were stirred for just the right consistency. No need to hurry. Clara, the woman that is helping host my wife and me, was so excited because she won a set of queen sized sheets for her bed. My wife would go to TJ Max and just pick up a set if she needed it. For her it was a gift from God.
One of the English’s name, John, was called for a prize and the entire barn cheered. He was a man, probably in his 60’s, who was known for his generosity in providing transportation when needed for the community. You could tell he had endeared himself to all.
Janice and I observed this culture with amazement; especially as it related to the children. What was most interesting was what was absent from the children’s behavior. No yelling, running around, fighting or fits. When a small child began to cry, the nearest older child responded to comfort them. If the more active children wanted to run and play, they knew that it was to be done away from the activities and not in the middle of everyone else. They were easily entertained and seemed to be satisfied with just observing with little or no conversation. You could tell that they had not been overly stimulated to a point where their minds and bodies needed some kind of entertainment fix.
I must admit I was envious of what I was seeing. Not to the point where I was ready to walk away from my indoor plumbing and electricity. But where my life was not so cluttered. The slower pace that I was beginning to observe did not mean that their life was absent of deadlines and schedules. I heard Clara talk about how rushed and busy she felt sometimes. Then when I tried to explain what my life was like back home, she could not imagine that level of busyness. I would trade that part of my life for hers anyday.