Jackie and I live in the middle of a cross-cultural community where the differences that exist between the people and their way of life can be challenging. As most of you are aware, our little farm lies in the middle of an Amish community and Jackie and I live a life amidst a people whose lives are closely guarded from outsiders. Most English people, (that is how they refer to anyone non-Amish), find themselves fascinated by the Amish lifestyle. Visitors and on lookers unfamiliar with the true Amish ways base their opinions and perceptions of their lifestyle on commercial romance novels and made for television movies. While I myself have never read an Amish romance novel, I can promise you from first hand knowledge the lifestyle they live is not a step back in time to the prairies in which Laura Ingalls frolicked and played!
The first thing I would tell anyone interested in the Amish but knows little about the people is above all else it is a religion and not merely a lifestyle. This is the reason why so many tensions exists between them and the rest of the world and why such drastic divisions are drawn in communities such as ours. When I first moved to our farm I didn't know anything about the Amish and viewed them much like everyone else. However my reality check began almost immediately when I tried to befriend some of the women. I was told very directly in no uncertain terms was friendship allowed between the English and the Amish. Needless to say my feelings were bruised;however beyond my hurt feelings I was unable to conceive this sort of prejudice. I kept my distance after my stern warning, limiting my Amish interactions to lending my help when asked.
And then a couple of years later an Amish family from Minnesota bought a parcel of ground next to ours, built a house and became our neighbors. I did the Christian thing and baked something, took it next door and introduced myself. She was a very sweet looking woman who was old enough to have six children but young enough to be my daughter. Her name was Katie Ann and she actually seemed glad to have a visit from me. I didn't stay long and when I left I invited her to come over and visit whenever she would like. Much to my surprise a few days later she did come for a visit and again it was pleasant.
The visits Katie Ann and I shared continued for awhile but then she had a visit from her mother-in-law who told her it had to stop. It was obvious it hurt Katie Ann to tell me we could no longer visit one another and what was worse, the children didn't understand. However over the years we have kept in touch and every so often we send a little gift to each other which is usually some sort of food or a bouquet of something from our flower gardens. Yesterday she sent the children over with some fresh sweet corn as theirs is just coming in while ours came in a few weeks back. Today I made a big cake for the family which Jackie delivered after lunch.
Despite the many differences that exist between the Amish and English, we have found a way to co-exist with one another mostly in harmony. While Katie Ann and I know a friendship between us is not permissible we also both know the other is always there if needed. I was there for her during the pregnancy of her last few children and she was there with for me with my last surgery. See what people have yet to figure out is that they can make all the rules they wish to however rules will never cancel out what God puts in the heart.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.