Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jean part 2: On being old order Mennonite.

Welcome Everyone. Well, finally we are able to plant our fields. The rain stopped, the water sunk into the ground and we can plant. We usually don't plant this late, but with all the water if we planted earlier the seeds would have just floated away. David, his Father, my Father, and several nephews started on Saturday and hope to get done planting ours tomorrow-then they will move over to David's Father's Farm, then my Father's Farm and so on until we get ours and all the helpers farms planted. Some of the helpers are nephews and cousins who are still at home and don't have farms. Because they are relatives we don't have to pay them-but David always pays the ones that are still at home. In fact even if they are not relatives and come to help us, we don't have to pay. That is our way to help one another, but David feels the young folks should have some money.

Now to some of your questions. Yes, David and I were born into Old Order Mennonite. Our families trace back in Old Order Mennonite till is was founded. We do have the Gmayhaus which in English would be church house. Marilyn thought you might like a little more information on our church house. God dwells in within the body of believers our body, not the building, should be holy. Therefore we do not consider this building a holy place. `This is a building for us to be together to worship-but the building is not considered holy or special. Our Gmay, as we call if for short, is plain-no statues, fancy windows (stained glass), etc. The walls are plain white and there are hardwood. The floors are flat,we do not have any lift for where the preachers table is located (where they speak from) or the Ministers Bench (behind the preachers table). In the Gmay-the women and girls sit on the left side, the men and boys on the right side. As we also speak a German similar to Pennsylvania Dutch our singing is in German. Also the preachers speak in German. The exception is if someone should be visiting that does not speak German-the preachers will usually speak in English. Our church service is about two hours long. Once worship is over we leave the building and talk outside. The building is locked again until next week unless a meeting comes up-which is very rare. Our meetings are held during the day-not in the evening. And regarding our weddings, old order Mennonite weddings are held in their home not in their church meeting building. Also, especially in the nice warm weather we leave for someone's house where we have dinner or each family bring a dish and meet at a certain persons house for dinner, talk, and enjoy each others company for the day. We know whose house we are going about a week before and if we should bring a dish. Yesterday, for Mother's Day, the men cooked chicken for us, set up the tables, put out the food, washed the dishes, and packed up for us when it was time to leave. Some of the men even cooked the dish that they brought. David made scalloped potatoes as the dish for us-somehow he made it on Saturday when I was at the farmers market. At these dinners we never know what someone is bringing, but it all somehow comes together.

When the Amish left the Mennonites there were many difference between us. The biggest difference was shunning-Mennonites do not shun. If someone does a sin against the Ordnung a Bishop or deacon will go the persons home to discuss this with the person. Usually the first Bishop or deacon visit settles the difference. If they try to work the problem out and it is not solved, it goes before the ministers. If it is still not settled after three tries the Bishop may excommunicate the person.Unlike the Amish, Even excommunicated the person is allowed to attend service, we may speak to them and do business with them. If it is a family member, we may eat at the same table with them or they can eat at our table. But, they are not allowed to receive the Lord's Supper (communion) in our church until the problem is settled. After the person confesses in front of the church, their wrong doing, they may return and be allowed at the Lord's Supper. Excommunication is very rare. To give you a little bit about us,we have another barn on the other side of our field that we have never used. David thought of taking it down,but we never did. When we first bought the farm, a schtedler (someone not Mennonite) asked if they could store their car in it for the winter. We got permission from the then Bishop and their car went into the barn. We have several cars, boats, travel on wheels with an engine vehicle (motor home) and more are stored in there during the winter. Since we have been doing that we have had two bishops pass away and we forgot to tell our most recent bishop what we were doing. A newer Old Order Mennonite family moved into the area and drove their buggy by one day and saw the door open. They told our Bishop that we had a car. The Bishop came to our home. We explained what we were doing, showed copies of receipts we gave to the people that rented spaces in our barn and even the receipts from the bank showing we made bank deposits from what they paid us. The Bishop went back to the people that came to him and explained what we were doing.

I believe I explained the Amish parting from the original Mennonite. We hold no grudge against them. I believe there was a great upset when it happened many years ago-but like the Amish-we forgive. We are taught to forgive and we did. In today's time, we have more Amish change to Mennonite than we have Mennonite change to Amish. In fact, it is rare for a Mennonite to change to Amish. When someone changes from Amish to Mennonite this does get the Amish upset. If they have received their Amish baptism they can be shunned for changing to the Mennonite. If they have not been baptized the Amish sometimes still do not speak to their child or allow them in their home. Should someone want to change from Amish to Mennonite we allow it. They must go through the as a young Mennonite child would to become baptized.

As far as the Amish being more popular maybe than Mennonites that is fine with us. I know there are large tourist areas and books that people go to and read about the Amish. Lately, I think the Mennonites have been slipped in the books especially Old Order Mennonite-not by our choice. I am talking about novels and alike. We enjoy people in our area who come to the farmers market, buy from items from our house. I enjoy people who come and ask questions. What we do not like is people who force our buggies off the road, try to take our pictures, who pass our buggy pull over to the road and try to take our pictures or our children's pictures. People who use bad language when they pass our buggy or throw things at us. No, a big tourist like that-we would move. I am not saying we do not like people,we enjoy them and many of our friends are people who are not Mennonite, but we are talking about the evil people-a tourist area would make it worse. We work to support our family and wish to make money, but not at the cost of beliefs or our way of life. Maybe, one of the ladies on Richards blog was right when she said "Many mainstream folk equate simplicity with ignorance-their lives are so complicated." Most are very nice, polite, and does us no evil or problems, but there are some out there that we believe fit her quote.

Our buggies have tops and are all black. Yes, we are allowed tops. Marilyn calls it the box buggy, which I think is kind of cute. We also have an open buggy with a back for David to haul on and we have a sleight buggy for the winter.

We do have running water and electric in our home. We have bathrooms with bath tub, shower, sink and toilet. All is inside.

We do not think that someone who is not Mennonite would be someone we would not want anything to do with or who is immortal or Godless. If someone who is Mennonite or Amish treats you like that,it is the person not our ways. Everyone is a sinner-God shed His Blood and died on the cross for us all. He did not say just for the Mennonites or just for the Amish or just one particular religion,but for all people. Now, we are all human and have different personalities. We also have good days and bad days. The way we dress or act should not be better than you. We are all the same,we are not better than you nor lower than you. If someone treats you that way do not judge us all by one. Like I said before, many of our friends, Marilyn is one, are not of our faith, but we do not think we are better or worse. I am sure Marilyn has seen me on some bad days and I her, but we are friends and take the good moods with the bad.

I believe this is the end for this week. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. For you, I will do a day on the farm, but they are never the same-each day goes as it happens-no two are ever alike. David also thinks I should do one on preparing for selling baked goods at the Farmers Market. I hope you enjoy what I am sending.
Follow God,


I've created this website out of my own interest in the Amish/Mennonite culture and of living in the country. Its a place for people who are interested in the Amish like myself, and its also a place to share Images of the beautiful country side that is all around me. my name is Richard, and I live very close to an Amish settlement here in Pennsylvania. This site is dedicated to my mother, who had started all of this by taking me as a child to Lancaster,pa from our apartment in the Bronx projects..........THANK YOU MOM............... Richard