The more I get to know and really understand the Amish, the more I see how they are so misunderstood. In the words of an Amish woman that I spoke with this week, "We do not have all these rules to keep us pushed down or 'under the law'. We have these rules to help us. We all get a voice to vote on what rules we want and do not want, down to the youngest woman in the church. We all need to agree 100% for a rule to be passed. When the rules are passed we write them down (Ordnung-different for each Amish sect) so we can have a copy of them. Having these rules makes our lives easier as we have 90% of our choices in life already decided for us. Today, most people suffer from choice overload. Go down any shampoo isle of the grocery store, even the little stores, and you have so many choices to choose from. For example, the little movie store in town with 40 or less movies to choose from. On his way home dad picks out a movie for the family to watch once a week. When he comes home everyone is happy to have a movie night. Later on a new and larger video store is built in town with over 1,000 choices of movies. The children find out and they all voice their requests. Daddy goes to the movie store and now spends an hour trying to figure out what would be the best fit for the family out of the 1,000 choices. Daddy brings the movie home for family night and when he pulls the choice out of the bag, everyone starts bickering because they now know of all the choices they could have had. Daddy feels guilty because he thinks of the other 7 movies he could have chosen… Being Amish helps with choices. You know what you can do and what you cannot. You do not worry each day if you are doing the right thing or choosing the best option, it is already figured out for you. Now you may go about your business and do what really matters: faith, family, community and work…"
The more I get to know and really understand the Amish, the more I see how they are RIGHT. Just like any group of people you choose to hang around with, go to church with or fellowship with, does not necessarily mean they believe the Word of God. The Amish as well, have many born again believers and some that are not. You would want to be choosy with who you spend your time with, just like we do now as we are English… It really has us thinking…. A few of our children see the logic in all of it and are really pondering how we live now. It is really hard to put it all into words. I guess it's one of those, "you've gotta be there moments"! Many myths of the Amish have been debunked for me. They can read their Bible privately in their own homes, they sing English Hymns, they really are just like you and I but they dress different and they do not have so many choices. Sounds kind of nice. SOUNDS very freeing to me…
Onto ice J… The last day, Thursday, was going to be about ¾ of a day of cutting to finish 2 ice houses. A large dinner was not being served. I decided when I dropped the men off I wanted to go back to the pond to see how this was all being done. I dressed in warm gear and sat on the back of the sleigh (see pregnant sleigh ride below). Our son got up on the cutter/sleigh with some Amish men and the Gentle Giant. One Amish man handed our son the reins. This made me very nervous… #1. Our son would be driving the team on the road to get to the back of the property… #2. I have quite a fear of horses… I figured, well I am just sitting on the back, it can't be too bad, I can always just stand up and get off if it gets to out of control. Boy was I wrong! I did not know these horses could pull this sleigh 12-15 miles an hour! That's not fast but definitely too fast to jump off of and especially while pregnant! I just had to pray, hold on and hope that no cars were coming. I would later find out it was a good thing the first 2 days I did not attend the ice cutting period! Men and dogs fell in the water, the buzz saw was uncovered and any one could have slipped on it, horses to pull in and out (some kicking wildly) and more… Moms should just stay back on these types of adventures J Dad's are better fit for these type of things.
We made it to the back of the 80 acres ok… Even though our son was driving on the wrong side of the road and the horses thought he was doing this to go to some other house so they decided to try to pull in that driveway… I was breathing pretty hard and trying to think mind over matter ANG… RELAX… When my two feet made it to the snowy ground I decided that after that adventure I would just take the truck back to the house J.
I was amazed at how straight and uniformed each piece of ice was cut. Each block of ice (75 lbs) had to picked up by hand with sharp tongs and then placed on the cutter sleigh. When the sleigh was full, it was pulled by a Belgian horse team to a truck with a goose neck trailer and each cube then had to be moved into that trailer. The ice was so thick and strong that the horses could stand on the ice with their cutter/ sleigh attached. The horses seriously really enjoyed being used for this purpose. Perfect temperature for them as well, a high of 10 degrees! One man said the horses love working in the cold but in the hot they have the huge horse flies to deal with etc.
I heard the men talking about the big dinner they were having and I remember the lady whose house ice was being unloaded saying she was just having coffee and cinnamon rolls. I felt panicked for her (being a woman and all) that 24 hungry people were going to be showing up starving. When I made it back to the house, by truck mind you, I quickly headed for home and grabbed some ground beef I had cooked the evening before, Lithuanian sausage and left over chicken. I piled in the van with the family and a few Amish riders and we headed that way. When we got there she was somewhat prepared but happy for the extra meat as she was only making calzones. We all sat down to calzones, a casserole and dessert and had a wonderful meal. Not a lot of talking. Morale seemed to be dwindling for the 3rd day of being in the frigid temperatures but all was still well. The men just wanted to be done with the work now… A few Amish ladies were missing as they were helping set up for church this Sunday.
The girls and I helped clean up the meal. Then D was so kind. She is very artistic. She got all of her paints out and showed the girls and I how to paint flowers, etc. Then she made some cards with us to take home as well. D used to be an artist for Pathway Readers while she lived in Canada. (I visited her this Saturday and she had hung the children's paintings up on her wall J) She is a great free hand sketcher and our son seems to be talented in this area so I may hire her for some art lessons. I tried to curl up in a chair with the Great Him, but he was cutting molars and NOT happy. We were finished with the day around 3:30 and all went home. The Gentle Giant, our 2 sons and I took NAPS!
I am so thankful the Lord's hand was on all of the ice cutters and the group for an accident free 3 days! I hear that is very rare!
Oh, one more thing I learned (boy do I have lots to learn). You do not store things in the ice house, you bring in a block every 5 days or so and use it in an old ice chest or cooler. Our next thing we are looking to purchase and really need: An antique ice chest or we can have the Amish make us one. Stay tuned J