Where do I begin? These last 3 days have been so full I am not quite sure I am even ready to write about the events that have transpired. I am overwhelmed with warm feelings and peace and I found a place in my life that I wish I could stay at… FOREVER…
Tuesday: I woke up a nervous wreck! I knew in a matter of a few short hours I would be taking my beautiful family to eat at our new neighbors for the first time… Not just any neighbors either, but our Amish neighbors. It wouldn't be a quick lunch; we would stay for the entire day and help with some inside housekeeping as well. I have done a lot of research about the Amish, so I felt very aware of what I was stepping into, but I did not want to offend in any way. The Amish are very private people. I considered it a great privilege to be asked to dine with them with my entire family inside their private home. I wanted to make sure to honor this wonderful invitation. It's kind of like when you expose your family to something and the whole entire time you wish you could leave the situation, but at that moment you are forced into it and you must, for the sake of getting along, tolerate others behaviors or life styles you usually would not consider being around. Then you get in the car and have to discuss it will the kids why we don't participate in these kind of things or behaviors, etc. and it really was a horrible time and your kids were over exposed to a bunch of crap and you feel sick about it. What am I saying? I was nervous because I did not want the Amish to feel we were intruding in their very own home with things they would not condone of… etc. and they would feel that way. I was in no way trying to "kiss up to them" but I surely did not want to be offensive to them in any way. Do you understand? If you are thinking at this time I am being self righteous (I am sure there are a few or more of you out there right now) you missed the entire point so if you really are interested in what I am trying to say, please read it again J I am just trying to paint a quick picture for you to understand.
Early Tuesday morning the Gentle Giant and our oldest son got up at the crack of dawn to get all bundled up to cut the ice. They had an idea of what they were signing up for, but just an idea… The plan was to fill 4 icehouses in the area. I ended up dropping them off down the road as we woke to 1 flat tire on the car he was going to drive to get there. I dropped him off quickly as I was only in my nightgown and robe. The temperature gauge in the car read -7 degrees! I pulled up quickly to drop the "men" into a group of Amish men hooking up the two Belgian horse teams to cutter sleighs to get to the back of the 80 acres by the pond to begin to cut the ice. I quickly returned home to get the rest of the school work finished with the other kitty cats and get ready to go to the dinner.
We were invited to arrive between 10 am and noon. I wanted to be fashionably late as so when I arrived I would be certain the other Amish friend of mine I know rather well would be there to help break the ice J. We arrived about 11:30 am and I handed the mistress of the house a box of my favorite Licorice Stash tea. We all wore our aprons so we were ready to get to work. I immediately noticed everyone pitching in. All the children were playing quietly on the floor with toys and The Great Him quickly joined in the fun. I noticed that 2 women were working at treadle sewing machines. I started to put mugs on the table, my girls poured waters and help rearrange some place settings. I immediately felt a warm welcome. The men arrived for the dinner at noon sharp. They all washed up. Men sit on one side of the table and women sit on the other. Both sides sit from oldest to youngest. Prayer began as a silent bowing of the head. It was very quiet. To signal the prayer being finished, the Man of the house moves and everyone is finished with prayer.
Immediately everyone broke out in to wonderful conversation as they started to move the food around family style. EVERY single thing was homemade and from their very own garden. Everything! We had freshly butchered fried chicken, green beans with a special sauce, fresh milk and fresh butter for homemade bread with homemade raspberry jam. Mashed potatoes with homemade gravy and homemade potato salad. We then could choose from a variety of 3 desserts. 1 of them being canned peaches and pears from their orchard. The meal was so delicious. I dare say if I ate like that each day things would well, you get the picture J. They had a lot of questions about how we were adjusting and all. The Gentle Giant told them about how my hand was caught in the wringer washer and then he said "I think she yelled something to me in Pennsylvania Dutch" and the all roared with laughter! It was a wonderful meal. They also ended the meal with a silent prayer.
The saying "many hands make light work" is so true. EVERY dish in that entire house was dirty before the dinner. EVERY ONE! In about ½ an hour all the dishes were washed and put away for 24 people and the house looked as if no one had just been there. Everyone helps each other. It was really neat to see them working together. I know families can work together as well. What was interesting though in these circumstances, no one was condescending to anyone else. No one sat there at shot their mouth off and gave unwanted advice about how they do something and made the other feel inferior. It was pretty cool. The mother treated her daughter in law as a daughter and all sisters were very fond of each other. I felt like one of the group. They had a lot of questions about homeschooling as 3 of the women were teachers in their day for an Amish school. They called their students "scholars".
I was looking out the window and suddenly saw my 11 year old son DRIVING A TEAM of BELGIANS attached to a cutter sleigh! In horror, I put my hand over my mouth and just prayed everything would go ok… I think it was a good idea that mom's do not witness the ice cutting. I wondered what else He had manned up to do out in the cold!? He looked so happy!
The women had me helping rip sheets for rag rugs and roll the fabric into balls. They wondered if I sew and I told them yes. They said they wanted to teach me how to do a treadle sewing machine. So, with 2 ladies helping I sat down at the treadle machine. It was actually very tricky to work. I kept having it go backwards and they would laugh as the thread tangled up. They were so patient and I said I should just let them sew the scraps together but they would not let me get up from the machine until I figured it out J after about 15 minutes I had it down pretty good. They said I would never forget now that I got it. So, I think this summer I am going to look for a treadle sewing machine at the various thrift/flea markets in the area.
While I was sewing, the girls were stuffing long john donuts made that morning as well as putting glaze on crispy crème type donuts. I will tell you, before all that wonderful meal that morning, the lady of the house got up and deep fried minimum 7 dozen of these donuts! Plus she had 4 loads of laundry on the line when we pulled up… I am amazed at their hard work and energy. Oh, and the donuts, you could not believe how good they were! I am going to order a dozen or so when I can. She starts making them to sell after Easter time.
After a donut and coffee, we helped to pick up the toys and gather up the kitty cats so The Great Him could get home to take a nap… I wanted one too as I knew the day ahead of me tomorrow J . I thanked them for their wonderful hospitality and they said they would see me tomorrow. We arrived home about 5:30 that evening. (no nap for me) Around 7 pm two young Amish gentlemen came to start to load our ice house with the team and then came in for a visit. They were hilarious! One did an auctioneer voice and acted as if he was auctioning off various items in our home while the older brother just gave him a hard time but was laughing with him. They wanted to show us something in the basement they knew off and found 3 bats (OH MY WORD!!!!) that they ended up kindly disposing off! YIKESSSSSS!
At the end of the day, the kids all had stars in their eyes. They said it was one of the best days of their life. They never imagined they would ever be able to experience a day like that! Matt and I were "star struck" as well. The day we had just experienced seemed surreal…
To be continued…