Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Living Like The Amish: Interviews With Three "English" Families PART I

Many people are obsessed with the Amish.
I know at one time I was as well, and to a degree I still am.
But my perception  has changed with experience.

It started a long time ago when my family went to an Amish-held auction (no, it's not a place where you can buy Amish children, but a place where you can buy things from the Amish). I was eleven years old and enthralled to be surrounded by so many Amish. I loved the cockscomb flowers they sold everywhere. I bought a whole box for $2 and dried them for seeds so I could plant my own.
But then I experienced my first reality shock concerning the Amish.
I had assumed since they lived a simpler life everything about them was completely old-fashioned and natural.
Imagine my horror when I saw Amish walking around with soda cans and store-bought ice cream.

"Mom," I said. "He's drinking soda!" 


Left to right, back row: Jonny, Jonathan (Dad).
Front row: Jacob, Keturah, Rebekah (Mom), Jonah (on Mom's lap), Joash (in front of Mom), Bekah Jo, Jerushah (sitting), Jesse, and Josiah.

During my years living with the Amish I learned a lot about them. As individuals. As a culture. And about their history. Recently I was surprised to discover I know more about their history than many of them do.

Most know they descended from Menno Simons, who the Mennonites are named after. But very few realize that the Amish broke off from the Mennonites in the early 1900s when Jakob Ammann decided the Mennonites were becoming too worldly as they were allowing electricity into their homes.

Many of the Amish don't know that their head covering was adapted from the Quakers (originally the women would wear straw hats). Most of them don't know that at one time the women wore plain clothes of the day and that their wedding rings were cut out of thimbles (now all jewelry is taboo).

Above all, many of the Amish don't realize why they left the Catholic Church with Menno Simons. Menno Simons was determined to teach all men to follow God's word rather than man's tradition. And maybe it's good they don't know the truth of their origins . . . for if they did, how would they be able to remain in their traditions, rarely actually studying the word of God?

Because of living with the Amish I can't stand most Amish fiction (Beverly Lewis is better than most, but still included). Because . . . most of it is false.

Last year I had the honor of meeting the Harrison family. After a few minutes of talking to the Harrison daughters I learned they had lived with the Amish.

"Really? So have I! We should do a collaborative interview with our families!" 

Sadly, the Harrison girls weren't able to do the interview, but their Mom was, along with another family and many of my siblings. Even so I must credit Molly and Megan Harrison for the original inspiration to do this collaborative interview.





The interviewed: 
The Richards family have seven children. They lived with the Amish for six months in 2011. Tammy, the mother, and her oldest daughter, Alexa Smith, are interviewed below. Alexa was fifteen when they lived with the Amish. The Richards lived in an Amish house a field away from ours and Alexa became one of my best friends.


The Harrison family have five children. I interviewed the mother of the family, Erin. She blogs at Keeper of the Homestead. They lived with the Amish for a year in 2013.


The Lamb family have eleven children.
I interviewed some of my siblings: 
Jonathan who was twelve to fifteen (now twenty-one)
Jerushah who was ten to thirteen (now nineteen)
Jesse who was nine to twelve (now eighteen)
Bekah Jo who was seven to ten (now sixteen)
Josiah who was six to nine (now fifteen)
Joash who was two to five (now eleven)
I thought Joash was too young to remember much, but he insisted that he remembered so, I let him participate. I also have an interview of my mom, Rebekah, and myself. (Yes, I interviewed myself). 
I was thirteen to sixteen while we lived with the Amish.

We lived with the Amish in Missouri for nearly two and a half years, 2010-2012.

Harrison family: Amish days. 
In a brief paragraph, please tell us a little about you and your family. 
Rebekah Lamb: I am a wife and a mom of eleven children. I am a food blogger at Lots a Little Lambs. I love to cook and create recipes. I used to love to sew and still do at times. We homeschool and live on a small farm in Montana. Most of all, I hope that I serve God in all that I do.

Tammy Richards: We are a Christian, homeschooling family of nine. We don't have television, though we do watch some movies. We enjoy cooking from scratch. We garden and raise chickens. We enjoy helping people. We like simple things and enjoy being out in nature.

Erin Harrison: I've been married twenty years and have five beautiful children.We were raised in the city, but decided to move "back to the land" about fifteen years ago and began homesteading and teaching other city people how to do it.
We did this with our children because we believe it's important to give children responsibilities and teach them skills that have been lost to the ages. The homesteading lifestyle gives them work ethics and teaches them to survive without money.
Besides being Christian, this is our life.

Alexa Smith (22): I am the oldest of seven children, have been married a little over a year and have a newborn son. We are currently living in a small cabin on my parent’s property with our three dogs. I worked at a local florist for about a year and a half, until I had my son, now I stay home with him.

Jerushah Lamb (19): I have ten siblings, at the time I had eight. I'm the third eldest, the second oldest girl. I was ten-thirteen.


Josiah Lamb (15): I have ten siblings and I have a hat.

Bekah Jo Lamb (16): There are thirteen in our family. I am the fifth oldest.

Jonathan (Jonny) Lamb (21): I am twenty-one years old and the second eldest of eleven siblings (eldest boy though). My favorite things to do are working with horses and gardening. Presently, I work at a place where I build green houses. 

Jesse Lamb (18): I have ten siblings. My dad has his own roofing business so we move a lot. 

Joash Lamb (11): I am one of eleven children. There are five girls and six boys. 

Keturah Lamb (22): I own this blog, Keturah's Korner. I love writing, but I clean houses during the day as I believe writers shouldn't starve. (I still live with my parents, and they would be happy for me to not work and still eat, but I love working). I like people most of the time and almost always dream of when I may next sleep.



Richards children, left to right: Alexa, Gideon, Brandon, Caleb (please ignore his hands, because they know not what they do), Hope, Iris, Faith. 
Why did you decide to live with the Amish?
Rebekah: My husband came home one day after picking up milk and probably produce and etc. My family had known this group since I was a kid. My dad had been their 'doctor'. My husband had also known some of these people, as their driver (our matchmaker!) had sometimes stopped by my husband's parents' house while driving them to spend the night . . . and for a hot meal! We had just recently re-connected with them after moving about an hour away. John told me they had offered us a place! The rent was cheap! We were living in a trailer house with nine kids and not a lot of acreage.

Tammy: We had been getting milk from the Amish for some time and had gotten to know some of them. There was a house we would drive by that wasn't being used. I thought it was beautiful and it bothered me that it wasn't being used. We wanted to sell our house and knew it would sell better if we weren't in it. I asked JJ to inquire about renting the place we kept driving by. We liked the idea of having room and having a simpler lifestyle.

Erin: I was not raised in a Christian home, but grew up in a rough environment. It was not a good lifestyle. For me, I partly wanted to raise my children around a purer, more conservative atmosphere. 
It's always been a dream of mine to live like "Little House on the Prairie" where all the women wore dresses and aprons and I felt called to homemaking and how the Amish women center their lives around such a lifestyle, unlike the rest of the world.
The Amish are not born again. By living with them and like them, I was able to better reach them.

Alexa: Technically, I didn’t. Dad and Mom were trying to sell our house (a bit hard with nine people living and homeschooling in a three bedroom, one bath house) so they asked if we could rent one of the empty houses to live in.

JerushahWe lived in a trailer house and he found a house that was nice and big.

Josiah: It wasn't my choice.

Bekah Jo: N/A

Jonny: They were friends of our parents and we like the sort of lifestyle where you don't have to depend on all the different conveniences.

Jesse I decided to live with the Amish because my parents said that we were moving.

Joash: I did not. My mom and dad did.

Keturah: As the rest of my siblings cleverly point out, it wasn't really our decision, but our parents'. Even so, my parents did talk with us to ask us what we thought. We had little acreage and lived in a small  mobile home, so the idea of moving into a large Amish house pleased us.

Erin Harrison

What were your first thoughts or reactions upon hearing that you would move?

Rebekah: It was a dream come true! I had always pined for a simpler lifestyle. Recently, my husband had started taking work away from home. This, I thought, would be a lifestyle we could do together. I had the idea in my head that we would work side by side with each other and the kids. We would grow our own food. The girls and I would bake, sew, can . . . things we already did . . . and learn new stuff. John and the boys would work with horses. All the things we had dreamed of would now be possible. And it would be a wholesome lifestyle for our kids.

TammyI was thrilled when the Amish agreed to let us rent! It was fun to walk through the place and clean it up.

ErinI was elated . . . so very excited. I felt it was the best thing in my life when they said they would rent to us — I was going to be right in the heart of the community! And I'd be able to drive the horse and buggy to all their events of canning and cleaning. I tried to get my kids into their school but they didn't allow that.


Alexa: "Seriously? Ok, this should be interesting. Why?"

JerushahHe told us we were moving and we were all excited to move. And I loved moving also.

Josiah: I can't remember. 

Bekah JoWhen I heard we were moving I was very excited.

Jonny: I was super excited and couldn't wait. 

Jesse: I always liked to move so I was happy.

Joash: I don't know.

Keturah: I never enjoyed moving except this one time. We were only moving about a half hour away so I wouldn't have to find new friends — in fact we were moving closer to where most of my friends now lived! I was a bit sad to be leaving an elderly couple that lived down the road from us — we would help them with their garden and they grew the best okra! Overall I was ready to have "my own selfish" room, as my mom named it years before when we said we wished for our own rooms. It would be the first time I'd have my own room since before I could remember.

Lamb kids: Amish days

How long did you live with the Amish?
Rebekah: About two and a half years. We moved there in January of 2010. We moved away in September of 2012

TammyWe were there about six months — spring, summer and fall.

ErinOne year almost exactly, but I knew them for ten years before that. We were very close — I had basically lived among them for all that time before, and had dressed completely Amish for three years before that.

AlexaAbout six months.

JerushahWe lived there for three years.

JosiahThree years.

Bekah JoWe lived with the Amish for three years.

JonnyWe lived with them about three years.

JesseWe lived with the Amish for three years.

JoashAbout three years.

KeturahWe say three years, but it was closer to two and a half.


Enjoying this? On Saturday I'll post PART II, and next Wednesday PART III will publish. Meanwhile, let me know what your thoughts! 

4 comments:

  1. I liked reading these interviews! A lot of times in the summer, we go to the Amish auction for produce and things. It's always fun to go to the auction! We also have Amish neighbors...
    Great post! :)
    -Brooklyne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Produce auctions are so fun! Glad you enjoyed this post :)

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  2. Oh what a wonderful post. Cant wait till the next installment. I at one point in my married life went though wanting to live as mong the Amish. My husband on the other hand not. So of course we didnt, but I still have a love for wanting simple. Blessing to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Simple living is desirable, but sometimes not always possible :)

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