My son suggested that I visit a spa. I truly wanted to go where I’d never been before and told him that one of my goals had been to visit Amish country. Everything that I had read about the civilization seemed inviting and I believed I would benefit from the relaxing style and ease of being around their simple and relaxing culture.
Coincidentally, I had been working on my family tree and was intrigued by the fact that my fifth great-grandfather, Conrad Eichelberger, had immigrated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania from Germany in the mid 1750s.
Bird in Hand is a rural village with a population of 300 people but the place is a major drawing card for tourists. In actuality, Pennsylvania boosts earning $1.8 billion each year in tourism, most which can be attributed to summer guests in Amish communities.
- Religion – Like most bands, the Amish left Europe because of religious persecution.
- Community – There are not many Amish groups in Canada. Although they live in single-family houses and on family farms, they’re extremely close knit.
- Self-support – They cooperate and discuss their work, religion and social activities with others in the region. They do not vote or think in insurance but rather meet the needs of the vulnerable without outside support.
- Rules – Each community has specific rules that their baptized members must follow. None of them use electricity, vehicles or technology in their lives. Although they are a branch of the Mennonites who often focus more on the Bible, the Amish tend to concentrate on rules made in their districts which are enforced by their preferred Bishops.
- Family – Children are viewed as a gift from God. Consequently, families are big and often consist of six or more siblings that are close in age. Relatives usually reside within buggy-drive distance so there is inter-generational contact.
- Language – The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch in the house. Their kids do not learn English until they begin school that they attend until they have reached the grade eight level.
- Living off the Land – In the past, Amish were mostly farmers who believed in hard work where fields were tilled and plants harvested using horses. Corn, soybeans, tobacco, and cauliflower in addition to garden produce brought income but now only twenty percent of the Amish have farming as their principal source of revenue. Some have moved out of their original homesteads to regions where tourism is not as widespread in order to protect their distinctive Raccoon Removal identity.
- Skills – The Amish are specialists at finding niches and filling them. Today, many have companies that sell their beautiful hand-made furniture, garden sheds, quilts, and meals.
- Simplicity – The Amish foster humility and this is evidenced in their unadorned houses, uniformity of dress and routines. Lovely!
- Forgiveness – The Amish strongly believe and practice the belief that the person who does not forgive is the one who suffers. From birth they are taught that God forgave them and they are to do the same without question. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel powerful emotions like anger, hurt or despair. They do, however, let go of resentment and bitterness quickly and find it hard to understand that others might not know that this is simply common sense.
The Amish are not perfect! They are human. They don’t like the idea that some”Englishers” have experienced an inaccurate and negative impression of them through movies and television.
Staying in an Amish community has given me some insight into how they could have remained so consistent and faithful to their values for over three hundred years while all the world around them has changed!
What are your values and how have they remained consistent or changed through the years?