Over the past several months, I’ve been blessed with numerous column readers who have made inquiries about various aspects of Amish life.
Today I got the inspiration to simply write some of my answers to all of you who may be interested.
A common question I get is about “rumschpringe.” While rumschpringe is a popular topic in many books about the Amish, it varies dramatically from one Amish community to the next. In our church, we do not have a period of rumschpringe for the young folks to go sow their wild oats. Our young people start with the youth at around age 15 or 16. We then have two couples coordinate youth activities, such as singing in the nursing homes, having work nights for someone needing a helping hand or occasionally planning a volleyball game for them. This gives the youth the opportunity to interact with the married folks on a regular basis in everyday life. So how do the young Amish people date and marry? I was on the “young side” in our community. Daniel and I started dating soon after my 19th birthday and married when I was 20. It’s as I always like to tell people, “Daniel is a little older than I, so he was mature enough to balance me out!” Of course there are also couples who are in their 30s when they marry, although the majority do so in their 20s.
To Vicki in Centerville, Ohio, who asks “what do we use to keep our food such as meat, fruit, and corn frozen?” While we don’t have line electricity, we generate our own from a solar system. Daniel put in a solar system that powers anything we need electricity for. (Editor’s note: Having travelled to Amish communities across the U.S.A., I know the issue of electricity varies widely and is often misunderstood by the general public. On one end, you have the “electric Amish” and the New Order Amish Fellowship in places like Crofton, Kentucky, Union Grove, North Carolina, and parts of Ohio, who have electric in their homes. On the other end, the most conservative Amish do not and there are many variations in the middle. Often the Amish don’t object to electricity itself. It’s connecting to the larger grid and outside influences like TV and the Internet they object to. Solar power allows the Amish to pick and choose what they want to power. Solar panels are very common on rooftops in Grabill, Indiana, and increasingly in places like Daviess County, Indiana, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. — Kevin Williams)
Now for the question of whether I use a computer for my letters? No, I write them all out by hand. While I do enjoy writing, my handwriting has never been the beautiful script I dreamt of when I was a young girl, but I’ve learned to enjoy life and what God gave me.
Photos are another topic I get asked about. This is a difficult topic about the Amish for people to understand simply because it varies so much. Our community does have some photographs. We don’t believe it is wrong to own photos or even have some pictures taken. Our greater concern is the vanity and pride that easily get entangled in picture-taking.
Talk about Amish reminds me of the new fuah we have (a Dutch word for horse and buggy). We’ve all been really excited about it. Some of you may remember our pony, Sassy Sundae. We often just call her Sassy for short, though 2-year-old Austin is constantly reminding me that it is “Sassy Sundae, not Sassy!” So call her what you want, Sassy has now been trained to pull a cart, and Daniel purchased a beautiful cart, the perfect size for our family. Julia and Austin never tire of going away with Sassy and helping us drive her. Not only is it fun for the children, a pony is so much easier for me to harness and hitch up since everything is on a smaller scale.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask. No question is too foolish. There really are all kinds of people out there with all kinds of views. Ultimately our goal is to live as Jesus taught us: be out for the good of others and join Him in Heaven some day.
Now for a good old Amish recipe. Can food be Amish? Anyway how about trying Grandma’s homemade apple pie? She has countless pies just like this. Everyone loves Grandma’s apple pie!
GRANDMA’S APPLE PIE
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust with a top pastry
6 apples, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pie: Mix sugar and cinnamon into apples. Spoon into unbaked crust. Cut butter into slivers and place on top. Transfer top pastry to top of pie. Trim off excess dough. Lightly press outer edges together and flute rim. Cut decorative slits on top to allow steam to escape. Spread desired amount of beaten egg white into top crust, forming little peaks. Bake on bottom rack at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 350 degrees for an additional 30 minutes.
Icing: While the pie is baking, mix icing ingredients and then spread over the top of pie while it is still hot, as soon as it is out of the oven.
Readers can write or visit Gloria at 10437 E. 300th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.