Our main focus of our trip was to visit Lancaster County, PA, which is one of the largest settlements Amish and Mennonites in the world. After some research I found a working dairy farm that takes in guests (Eby Farms), and we stayed there for 3 nights. They were a wonderful Mennonite family, and it was a joy (and educational) talking with them.
Here are some of the similarities and differences between Amish and Mennonites. The Mennonites came about soon after the reformers and were part of the Ana-baptists, those who had been baptized as infants but believed that God wanted believer’s baptism by adults. The Amish broke off from them because they believed in having more conservative ways of living. Today, all Amish and some Mennonites dress “plainly.” Many Mennonites no longer dress in plain dress because they are trying to draw more people to Christ and feel it separates them. (I’m sure there are other reasons, too.) Amish only educate until 8th grade and with a one-room schoolhouse. They have received permission from the government to do this. Mennonites educate to 12th grade and beyond, through public, private, and home school. Amish don’t use electricity, cars, or many other modern conveniences; Mennonites do. Amish have church through church districts, all within a horse and buggy distance. They meet every other Sunday at a different family’s home. The opposite Sundays are reserved for visiting/ fellowship. The pastor/preacher is one of the 8th-grade-educated men who is chosen by lot. The Mennonites have churches like other Protestant denominations. The Amish are very big on coming together to support one of their members who is sick or has had a tragedy (fire, etc.) The Mennonites are committed to sending missionaries all over the world.
Now, back to the farm. This was my favorite spot: the porch! It had a view of a field of cows. I was wondering how they get those cows into the barn to milk them and found out that these are the pregnant ones and aren’t being milked. So, I asked if they just keep looking out there all day to see if a calf has been born, and they said, “Yes!”
This barn is newly rebuilt, having been destroyed by arsonists a few years ago. It pays to have lots of Amish friends; they got the new barn built as fast as it could possibly be built! (See more pictures here.)
Here’s me feeding a calf.
The cows being milked are kept in this barn. They have to be milked by machine and are on a 10-hour schedule. The farmer has hired someone to come in to do the milking. Land-O-Lakes picks up the milk twice a week.
We (the guests) got a chance to try milking. Here is Joyce Eby showing us how.
My son B.
And little T. He wanted to try it, but was afraid to look at the cow!
The kids had a ball playing in their yard and seeing the animals.
I didn’t know I had such a cat-lover. (I’m allergic to them.)
After arriving at the farm after a long day’s drive from Pittsburgh, we found that we were due to eat at an Amish lady’s house very soon. So, we packed up into the Suburban again and headed over to her house.
Ruth is a widow with 11 children. Her husband died about 7 years ago (when her newborn was 6 weeks old). She now cooks meals for guests in her home to supplement her income. It was so fun to have her hospitality. The food was great, and plentiful. She gratefully answered all of our questions. Her sons, ages 7 and 9, washed all the dishes while we continued to eat. Her daughters took our little baby, who was quite fussy from being restrained in a seat all day long, for a walk outside.
Here is the table piled with wonderful food. There was another family there, too.
Their swingset. We accidentally got a picture of Ruth’s granddaughter.
One of my favorite sights in driving around Lancaster County were the pulley-system laundry lines of clothes!
Now, this scene was when we went to the beach in Delaware!
On the way back home we were in a hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. My husband stopped by the breakfast room to have a cup of coffee. There was an Amish man in there doing the same, and they struck up a conversation. This man was originally from an Amish community in Indiana. He had left because after reading and studying the Bible more thoroughly, he had become a believer! Similarly to my husband, he had grown up in the church, but didn’t have a relationship with God. He found a few other families who also became believers and wanted to change the works-based beliefs that their church district was following. It couldn’t be done, so they all packed up and moved to Michigan and started a new community! (In case you’re wondering why he and his family were in Kentucky, they had hired a driver who was taking them to visit family in Tennessee!)
Here is a pamphlet that we found–
The Amish Challenge:
We realize that not everyone is cut out to be one of the plain people. Many have not the opportunity; but here is the challenge:
If you admire our faith, strengthen yours.
If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours
If you admire our community spirit, build your own.
If you admire our simple life, cut back.
If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them yourself.
(written by an Amish man writing in Small Farm Journal, summer 1993)