While at a recent family reunion in the heart of the world’s largest Amish community in Ohio, I had an opportunity most tourists to the area would pay big money to experience. We had dinner in an Amish home and we had an outdoor picnic with another group of Amish friends.

 

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Of course, the photographer in me seeps out of my pores as I drive the local Holmes County back roads and I just can’t resist doing some sort-of discreet “drive-by shootings” as seen in the pictures here.  And, in those moments, I sometimes yield to temptation and just blatantly act like a tourist, hoping they won’t recognize me as being connected to my wife Linda’s kin, the Augsburger family.

2DG_4105Here’s the deal. Linda’s family bought 37 acres (for $700) in the heart of Amish country the year she was born. While growing up, this land was a place for her parents and family to get away from the rigors of starting two cross-cultural churches in the heart of Youngstown, OH over 30 years.  In their retirement years, Linda’s parents built a home on the property and lived there another 20 plus years until needing the benefits of a nearby retirement community.  So, my wife’s family has built a lot of relationships with their Amish neighbors over the past 58 years.

Now you have the background as to why and how our family reunion included up close and personal interactions with some very wonderful Amish folks. Here are a few things I’ve learned about life through interactions with the Amish.

Faith is More Than An Hour or Two a Week. What they do and how they do it is pretty much always rooted in the spiritual question: What is pleasing to God? I come out with a different answer on many things but I also want to make sure faith infuses my entire life.

Family is to Be Cherished. A family that works together, grows together. Children are included in all of Amish life—farm work, barn raisings and three-hour church services. Involving children in all activities my not be most efficient but the benefits are eternal.

2DG_3679Convenience Comes with a Cost. The Amish don’t want to be dependent on outside sources such as electricity and gas. They believe convenience means the loss of something valuable. That’s why we love their completely homemade meals over fast food—the taste, the flavor, and the nutrition.

Nothing Replaces Face Time. The Amish bishops made a decision to keep the telephone out of the house because they didn’t want to interrupt family life. They avoid technology so they can have authentic face time—a face-to-face conversation. They would cringe watching families send text messages to each other while in the same house.

Honor the Sabbath. I’ve never seen an Amish person working in the field on a Sunday. They cherish a break from their work. They use that day to reconnect with God, with self and with family. It is a time to recharge the batteries. A time to re-energize.

No, the Amish aren’t perfect. I don’t plan to join them. Some things they do seem so disconnected from modern culture that it borders on the absurd. But, we can and should learn from them. It would enable us to live with healthier intentionality and build stronger relationships at every level.

 

QUESTION: What would you add to this brief list? Please share it below.

 

5 responses to Learning From the Amish

  1. Carol Troyer on July 11, 2013 at 9:16 AM Reply

    I loved your post about your time in “Amish Country”! That is the best way to learn who the Amish are. Last fall when I was getting new glasses, the lady helping me had no idea what my background is. She asked me whether I was watching the current Amish “reality show”? I told her my husband & I watched one episode and quit out of disgust. She asked why…she was totally enthralled by it. I then told her that my husband and I both have Amish background and have relatives that are still Amish and that we don’t know any Amish like that. I asked her if she realizes that those shows are so scripted and they aren’t real. She said, Really? My husband said, You shouldn’t have told her that….you spoiled it for her. (He was being sarcastic.) I said, Good!!!

    Thank you for showing the realistic side of Amish life.

  2. Barb on July 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM Reply

    The goodness we receive when we live simply and put God first!

  3. Jen Tapp on July 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM Reply

    Enjoyed the blog as I have been reading a recently published book, “The Amish,” by Donald B. Kraybill. Having grown up in OH, I too have always been interested in the Amish. I appreciated your comments and would probably add that hard work has it’s own rewards. On a personal level, I appreciate their attitudes of prevailing calm in the midst of life’s storm. Deeply relying on God, family & community. No, I don’t plan on converting either. However, I respect that their lifestyles set them apart from the world. As a Christian, I am called to be in this world – but not of this world. Do my choices distinguish me – but yet leave others curious? Am I approachable and burdened to share the thing that matters the very most to me?

  4. Ron on July 5, 2013 at 8:26 AM Reply

    They also value hard work. Having spent time with the Amish, I have been amazed at how hard they work, sun-up to sundown, never complaining…kids included. Everyone has “chores” to do, and they do them cheerfully. My grandfather hitched up the buggy every day to go to town for supplies until he died at 96 years old.

  5. Steve on July 5, 2013 at 7:55 AM Reply

    Thanks Dennis. This helped me to understand why the Amish live the way that they do.

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