I arrived at Jake and Fanny’s house located across from one of the many saw mills in the area. The lawn had just been mowed very short by two of their girls (8 & 10), with the old fashioned rotating push mowers. Also, as usual, unless you were working in the fields or shop, no shoes were being worn. The children do have shoes but they were encouraged to go barefoot throughout the summer to cut down on this costly expense.
The morning was much like before, working with the leaders of the church as they determine how to best serve the family in need. They are becoming more aware that they have been working harder at trying to get the family healthy than the family has. The community is realizing they can only do so much and other outside resources must be called in for them. It only took a few phone calls until I found several great resources at a very reasonable price within 12 miles.
While some Amish find a way to make a very good living, most squeeze out a modest income. $2000/month is pretty common and combined with their frugal lifestyle, they survive very nicely. Practicality and simplicity are the principles by which they live. That is especially important with 13 children.
I met Mr. Hershberger today. He is about 62 and with his wife Anna, were the first to move in the area. Their family began to migrate to this part of Ohio and began the community around 15 years ago. He and his wife were blessed with 19 children. One was lost at childbirth and they are about to lose Mary, 43. Mary never walked or talked, yet the family took such good care of her. They expect her to die any day now. Fanny says the community is already preparing for the funeral. She was precisely pleating all of her girls white bonnets which will be worn by every female. The men will be wearing their black hats.
As in most cases, when an “expert” comes in to talk about a subject like relationships, people want to pull that expert to the side and talk. I keep telling the people who want to talk that I cannot counsel them but I would certainly be willing to listen and direct them to some good resources. My days and nights have been filling up with appointments. The need is great as they seem hungry for knowledge on how to do marriage right. There is no divorce among the Amish, but the marriages are often empty. They are eating up what they are hearing.
This seems especially true for the young brides in the community. I have asked people to write any questions they might have on an index card and hand it to me. Last night, I was handed two questions. Tonight, eight questions were handed to either Janice or myself, all by women in their 20’s. The concept of the couple working together as a team and treating each other with honor and respect is music to their ears.
Tomorrow is going to be full as my time with them begins to wind down. Janice is going to come with me and help Fanny make cheese and bread. A buggy ride is also on our schedule. Tomorrow night should be another interesting night. The crowds are growing ( over 100 tonight). I still can’t believe I’m here.
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