|Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.|
This Friday David and I went to Eva Hershberger's funeral. It was so sad to see everyone again. It made our hearts heavy to see their 13 children there without a Mother or a Father. Their Father's funeral was last week. Many asked what will happen to the children now. In an Amish or Old Order Mennonite Family the Bishop or Deacons will look to the family first born, the oldest of the children to see if they could take over the family. If not, they will look to grandparents, aunts, uncles to see if they can take all of the children together. If the family is unable to do that then they look to other Amish or Old Order Mennonites who would take all the children. If for some reason no one can take them all, they divide the children, but try to keep them in homes close so they can see each other-but that is a last resort. Most of the time all the children go to one home and stay together. Sometimes the family that gets to take them moves into their farm. Sometimes they bring the children to live with them. If they live with them and no son is old enough to take over the farm they sell it. The money can be used to support the children or depending on the financial position of the people taking care of the children the money may be divided and put in bank accounts for each of the children for when they become 18 or marry. I don't think there will be any problem finding a home for the Hershberger children. In the Amish and Old Order Mennonite no child is ever sent to a foster home nor does a child ever become property of the state.
I made a mistake in the post telling you the age of Martha and Joseph's children. Their eldest step-son is not turning 16-he will be 17. He made sure we understood that, lol. Time passes so fast, and they grow so fast. Martha and Joseph and David and I will both be celebrating our 15 wedding anniversaries this year.
We are members of Wenger Old Order Mennonite. Yes there are conferences twice a year that our Bishops and deacons attend. Yes David and I have close family. We are helping one another and see each other several times a week. Before we married, we saw some of the outside world, but neither of us thought of leaving Old Order Mennonite. Sometimes family seem to live too close because we may have a disagreement but we all get over it. Family are part of our life.
Saturday was Susan's birthday when she turned six. We decided to have a party on Sunday as the bake sale was on Saturday. Susan wanted three things for her birthday: a new dress for the first day of school, a cake with flowers on it (we do not decorate our cakes with flowers, etc.), and for Michael to attend. The I believe Saturday before Michael had left his foster home without their knowledge or where he was going. They searched for him - then called the police and us in case he was heading our way. David got a driver and went out to his friends homes, seeing if he had gone there. After many hours the police found Michael and brought him into the police state where they lectured him, his foster family lectured him and we lectured him. He was kept in the jail over night and let out the next morning. His foster parents took him home. The police said the night in jail would not go against his record if he did not do anything like this again. I think it was Saturday with the funerals and all I get my days mixed up in that week. When Michael got back to his foster home he was not allowed to leave under any circumstances so we thought he would not be able to attend Susan's birthday.
When we got home from the bake sale my Mother was there and said one of Susan's birthday gifts was in the refrigerator. Susan opened the door and there was a small birthday cake with flowers on it. Martha knew that Susan wanted a cake with flowers so she made one just for us. The cakes she made for the party on Sunday did not have flowers on them. We thought that was so kind of her. Before Martha joined us she had taken a course on decorating cakes. She makes special order cakes for weddings, birthdays, Valentine's Days, Easter, and more for those that are no among us. Sometimes she makes baked goods and sell them in from of her house.
We invited members of our service, some of our Amish neighbors (it was not their Gmay (church) week), and some outsiders. When we invited we did not call in a party nor did we say it was Susan's Birthday. We asked them come to dinner. We didn't want people bringing gifts for Susan. The ladies decided they would make a dish. Our yard was not big enough to have it so it went to Martha and Joseph's house. Their yard is much larger than ours. Our wagon and the Amish wagon came with the tables, silver ware, glasses, cups, etc. They came with dishes, but we decided to use paper plates. All ladies brought food. We were just about to sit down for dinner when Susan went running down the driveway as a van pulled up. David ran after he thought she was going to go in the road. When the van stopped out came Michael, and his foster family. For dinner we had hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, baked ham, french fries, mashed potatoes, salads, vegetables, chow chow and more I can't remember it all. For desert we had Martha's Birthday cakes. Just as we were about to sit for dinner-it started to rain-then men and boys filled their plates and went to the barns. Us ladies and the little girls filled our plates and went into the house. By the time we were done eating-the rain stopped.
Word had gotten out and Susan got many presents. She didn't get one new dress-she got three. David's Parents, My parents and my Grandma each gave her a dress, apron, bonnet and kap. David's grandmother gave her a lunch box for school. She got paper, pencils, pens, crayons, books, children games, and an Amish doll. Susan plays with an Amish girl and wanted a doll just like hers-and she got one. Michael bought Susan a book-I think his foster parents helped him select.
Michael is not Old Order Mennonite. He does know Jesus, but we don't feel he has any particular church or service. While at his current foster parents he has given them a difficult time in getting him to attend service with them. He didn't give us one problem here although he might have if he had stayed longer. It would be wonderful if when Michael grew up he became Old Order Mennonite, married and started his own farm. His is in our prayers. He did apologize to David and I for running away from his foster parents. He wanted to come to our house. David explained to him that is not the way to get here. We were again, sad to see him leave us when they went home.
On August 15th Susan will start going to school. Our schools start earlier than the public schools, but we get out earlier than they do in the spring. Our school does not take as many holidays off as the public school. The children bring their lunch to school most of the time, but sometimes us parents cook a lunch and bring it to school. The children are told a day ahead when someones mother is bringing lunch in the next day. It is a treat for the students and the teacher. David and I are going to take her to school in the buggy for her first day. I think it is harder on us seeing our little girl starting school that she is nervous about going. Right now she knows the alphabet, starting to speak English and knows how to count to 100. We also taught her some small addition, and subtraction. Helping in the kitchen she knows cup sizes and spoon sizes.
Be With God,
New post on Wednesday : With some images of Intercourse Pennsylvania from 1954, with Amish recipe.